Saturday, August 13, 2016

"There's a Place for Us"

There's a lot in our world that revolves around romantic love.  Plenty of music has been written about it.  Whether it's wholesome and clean, more explicit or vulgar, there's a lot!  There was a time when I struggled with romantic songs.  With where I am now, I wonder if I could go back to when I was taking voice lessons and be able to sing those songs.  For a while I took comfort in the fact that I could never go wrong with singing about the Savior.  This is one major reason it's such a blessing to sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and yet...we still sing love songs!

It's understandable that our culture points toward romance and sex, and hopefully marriage in between.  We've all been given certain feelings that help us desire to marry and have a family.  Such is a central component to God's plan.  But for those of us who are gay and who desire to respect and live traditional Christian values, what can we do with the love that we have to give?  What do love songs mean to us?  Like the rest of the human race, we have needs for love and connection.

In the last year or so, it occurred to me that I can simply expand many of the love songs I hear to include other kinds of love; the love and devotion that is present in a family; the love that one can have for themselves; the love that one can have for anyone they meet; even the love that a man can have for another man.  Of course, there are some songs that are obviously romantic or even sexual in nature.  But for the most part, it seems like a lot of love songs are more general and can be used in other ways besides heterosexual love and marriage.


I first came to this realization when I met a new friend last year.  And yes, I may have fallen for him a little, but I was still thinking of all this within the context of friendship.  At around the same time, I bought the soundtrack to the TV show, Downton Abbey.  I didn't know the main theme song had words, but it does!  It's called "Did I Make the Most of Loving You?," and it is based on the complex relationship between Mary and Matthew.

Did I make the most of loving you?
So many things we didn’t do.
Did I give you all my heart could give?
Two unlived lives with lives to live.
When these endless, lonely days are through, I’ll make the most of loving you.
I’ll make the most of loving you.


Did we make the most of all we had?
Not seeing you makes my heart sad.
Did we make the most of summer days?
We still have time to change our ways.
When these endless, lonely days are through, I’ll make the most of loving you.
I’ll make the most of loving you.
I’ll make the most of loving you.
I’ll make the most of loving you.


Did those tender words stay in my head?
So many things were left unsaid.
Did I give you all my heart could give?
Two unlived lives with lives to live.
When these endless, lonely days are through, I’ll make the most of loving you.
I’ll make the most of loving you.
I’ll make the most of loving you.
I’ll make the most of loving you.


Of course, more than half of the magic lies in hearing it with the music and watching scenes from the show. The lyrics, the vocal line and the familiar accompaniment led me to apply the song to my life in unique ways.  Am I making the most of the love I have to give?  Are my relationships where they need to be?  Do my friends know that I love them?  Am I fulfilling the measure of my creation as a queer Latter-day Saint?  The message in this song can lend itself to many forms of love.  It can also be in reference to our measure of love and devotion to the Savior.

Another significant realization was at choir rehearsal a couple weeks ago.  We were rehearsing "Somewhere" from West Side Story.

There's a place for us,
Somewhere a place for us.
Peace and quiet and open air
Wait for us
Somewhere.

There's a time for us,
Some day a time for us,
Time together with time to spare,
Time to learn, time to care,
Some day!

Somewhere.
We'll find a new way of living,
We'll find a way of forgiving
Somewhere . . .

There's a place for us,
A time and place for us.
Hold my hand and we're halfway there.
Hold my hand and I'll take you there
Somehow,
Some day,
Somewhere!  


The arrangement we do is beautiful.  As we were singing it, I realized that it doesn't have to carry only its original meaning.  I don't need to think about romance between a man and a woman.  I don't have to dread singing this song because such a relationship might not be mine.  I can apply it to my life right now, to the friendships I have and to the hope I have of finding love and companionship in some form in this life.


More profoundly, I can also apply these lyrics to my relationship with the Savior.  The lyrics "hold my hand and I'll take you there..." reminded me of Jesus leading me through my life little by little.  I go back to the importance of this relationship with the Him.  I have found that when I am in a good place, when I am doing my best to keep the commandments and rely on the Atonement, that is when my love for others is most genuine.  That is when lyrics about love mean the most.

2 comments:

  1. I believe I get where you're coming from Alex. Altering our perspective and interpretation of a love song can give the music a different spin. Although I can't say it can be done in all cases. During the 80s when I was growing up, the music I heard was using the word "love" a lot, but the lyrics were describing more of a direction towards satifying lust and carnal desires. Therefore, IMHO we should be diligent in what songs we chose to embrace. Do you agree?

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  2. Hey thanks for your comment! Yeah, I know there are definitely some songs out there that are lustful in nature, and I don't tend to listen to them. I've just found most songs that mention love could be viewed within terms of friendship.

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