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typewriterAre you a writer interested in exploring music through the grid of the gospel? Then we invite you to join the conversation by submitting an article or article idea to matt@theretuned.com. We will read over your article and get back to you. Before submitting an article please read our About page and a few articles to get a sense of what we are all about. Articles should follow these guidelines:

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Jazz

Apocalyptic Romance: ‘Blue Moon’

In this series we explore music which places the need for significance and transcendence into romance and love.

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The singer’s fear of being alone is also our fear…

[/pullquote]Originally sung by Connee Boswell, Blue Moon is a jazz standard which has been covered by some of the greatest vocalists of the 20th century, from Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme and Elvis Pressley. A story of loneliness unfolds in Blue Moon with the protagonist’s “dream” and “prayer” is for “a love of my own.” Opening with a wailing violin portamento underscored with harp-like figures from the piano and continuing in descending chordal motion expressing the singer’s forlorn state, the blue moon symbolizes the impossibility of finding love. Then in a surprising twist of fate suddenly appears the one who will remove the disgrace of loneliness (“And then there suddenly appeared before me/ The only one my arms will hold”). An ascending piano line through this passage exemplifies the elevating exhilaration the vocalist feels drawing close to the lover and then in a moment of utter ecstasy the singer declares with the highest and longest held note of the song that the moon has turned to “gold.” What was once the protagonist’s enemy has been transformed with dramatic musical/poetical changes signifying the new found love and no longer is the moon characterized by loneliness but now is coupled with romance.

 

While we can celebrate and rejoice that the singer has found someone who loves them, we must concede that their loneliness will never end. One day the moon will turn back to blue as the lover passes away or finds another whom is more desirable, attractive, interesting or exciting. The singer’s fear of being alone is also our fear and so engrained into our cultural milieu that we desire to be connected with others at all times through smartphones, social media and the internet. Yet these methods for building community seem to distract us from building deep, loving relationships with others as most communications between people are reduced to quick notes given out erratically throughout the day without much purpose. We want our relationships to be instantly gratifying and able to take away our feelings of loneliness without much effort on our part. To say that our God given desire for community with fellow human beings has been skewed is an understatement.

In a hyper-connected age where one can easily purchase the company of a friend, we fail to realize that it is impossible to never feel alone. Think of the Psalmist who cried out to God “Where are you?” or Job who wondered why God had abandoned him or Elijah looking for God in the natural disasters surrounding him or most powerfully, Jesus on the cross asking “My God, My God. Why have you forsaken me?” Since the fall our interconnectedness with God and others has been severed and any man-made solution to rectify our inward yearning for community will be lacking. Though hope lies in God’s total and complete abandonment of Jesus on the cross so that we are no longer abandoned but we are accepted as sons and daughters of God. Does this mean we will never feel lonely again? No, that will have to wait until the consummation of history where we will be in perfect communion with the triune God and others. However, if we feel alone, abandoned and lonely in our present state, as children of God we can rest in the assurance that God is there with us although we might not think he is.

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