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Does music really matter? The Queen of Iowa Part 2

August 14, 2007

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I spent time with the queen of Iowa again this weekend. If you remember my last blog posting about her, you’ll remember that time spent in their living room is a gift and in many ways life-changing. I came their doorstep dry, weary, and feeling a little lost in some ways – especially in regards to what I’m supposed to be doing next, specifically with music.


You see, I’m a music purist – even idealist – and I find myself often disappointed with the state of music consumption, the way others seem to receive music, the way they take it in themselves. Do they really let it into their hearts?

It’s no secret that record companies are struggling. Artist’s are struggling, too, and music listeners often seem apathetic. Few even give a second thought to pirating music and burning CDs they never paid for – a sign of the devaluation of music.

Of course I have a vested interest in that when people illegally copy my music it affects my ability to make my mortgage payment. But even if that weren’t the case, it would still bother me. It speaks of a failure to value music 

and those who are called to create it. As Thomas Paine has observed, “that which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly.”

Famed producer Daniel Lanois (U2, Bob Dylan) laments that music is too available, it’s everywhere – in elevators, in supermarkets, in any store you walk into – and you can’t get away from it even if you wanted to. All around us our culture is saturated with music. The problem with that is that music becomes common and people no longer regard it as precious. Music is little more than background noise for our day to day activities. But I think music was intended to be so much more.

Add to all this that all the power is now in the hands of the consumer, which I don’t’ think is necessarily best, either. People can now get the music they want, but will they listen to the music they need? For example, I record a song 

like “Blessed Be” in hopes that people will listen to “Everything I Own” or “The Cut”. All the songs are puzzle 

pieces of the story I believe God has for me to tell. When people only go and download the song “Blessed Be” from iTunes, it concerns me that they don’t get the rest of the story.

Well, I could go on (much could be said about the state of music)… but suffice it to say that I’ve been disheartened over the way people consume music and have wondered at times if music can really matter anymore. I have always loved music and believe that it was one of God’s gifts to us to help us keep our hearts working properly. It makes me feel. It moves me and illuminates, sometimes hallowing and adding meaning to life. In the movie Shadowlands about the life of C.S. Lewis, a student tells Lewis that books remind us that we are not alone. I think music does the same.

But increasingly I’ve had a hard time believing in the virtue and power of music. Can it really make a difference?

I recently posted about a remarkable encounter I had in May with Jody, a woman known to some as “the Queen of Iowa”. She lies on a couch near Cedar RapidsIA with her husband John lovingly attending to her every need. 

When I returned to Cedar Rapids this last weekend our mutual friend Jim Coates took me by for another visit with Jody and John, who was ready with a set list of songs they wanted to hear. I gave another mini-concert there in their living room.

The doctors have told John that due to strokes she has suffered that Jody’s responses are not genuine, but merely 

random reflexes. John refuses to believe this maintaining that she is aware of all that goes on around her and responds to it. Throughout the afternoon that we spent with them, we saw her smile at a number of our jokes and one time even seemed to laugh.

But then towards the end of my song “The Cut,” Jody stirred and opened her eyes. She looked up at John and though her speech was slurred, she told John that she loved him and that he looked nice. John asked us to come near the couch so she could see us and she greeted Jim and said “love to Ashley”, Jim’s wife. Then, as best she could she named all 4 of Jim’s children. She then greeted me and said “love to Taya.” It was this last detail that touched me the most. During our last visit in May, I wasn’t sure she was even aware of our presence. To hear her greet Taya by name was humbling.

She soon closed her eyes again, saying “music, music, music, music…” John said, “Jody just loves music”. And she was quiet again as he asked me to play some more.

Afterwards John told us that she hadn’t opened her eyes since March – nearly 5 months ago – and that it was a gift for him to see his bride’s baby blues again.

Her words haunt me and have helped me believe again. “music, music, music, music….”

Music still matters to those who need it most, I guess. It is one of the few things we enjoy here that we get to take to heaven with us. I think I have my sending orders…

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 11, 2016 2:40 pm

    Thank you for these posts about Jody. I was so moved by Andrew Peterson and Andy Gulihorn’s songs about her. I googled a few words to see if I could find out more about Jody and how she was doing, and came upon your posts. How wonderful to know that the most simple acts….a song, a touch, a word, when done in Jesus’ name…we enter holy ground. Thank you for being His voice in reminding John and Jody of how much they are loved. God bless you.

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