Archives for posts with tag: Aretha Franklin

Recent events in the United States and across the globe could easily plunge one into depression.Suicide bombings, killing of police, military unrest, continued threat of ISIS and other terrorist organizations, violence of all sorts seem to be everywhere. It is not hard to see how discouragement and despair could easily reign.

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In the face of current conditions we must be diligent to guard our minds and spirits. The dark days of inhumanity compete with the light of everyday. If we give into the darkness, then evil wins.

This is not a time for a Pollyanna attitude. An unreasonably or illogically optimistic attitude is not the solution. However, as we face what seems to be our new reality we maintain a positive and hopeful perspective. The glass may be half-empty but at the same time it is also half-full.

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Optimism does not require one to deny reality no matter how harsh it may be. Unless one recognizes things as they are, at least momentarily, one cannot contribute effectively to finding the solutions to problems. Realistic optimism sees things as they really are and hopes, believes, and works to make them better.

Trouble in Mind is a blues song written by jazz pianist Richard M. Jones. The first known recording of the song was in 1924 by singer Thelma La Vizzo with Jones providing the piano accompaniment. Since then it has become a blues standard and has been recorded by many artists including Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Hot Tuna, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, The Texas Playboys, Dinah Washington, and Hank Williams, Jr.

There have been numerous renditions by a variety of musicians. In many versions, new lyrics are added. However, most usually include the opening verse:

Trouble in mind, I’m blue
But I won’t be blue always
‘Cause I know the sun’s gonna shine in my back door someday

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In spite of the positive expression of hope in the original first verse, Janis Joplin’s version in 1963 and Nina Simone’s 1965 rendition sounded a note of desperation and hopelessness. Recently I was listening to Atlanta resident Francine Reed singing and her version communicated hope in spite of the obvious troubles of life.

If you follow the news reports you can honestly conclude that the world is a dangerous place and fear can overcome you. There are too many stories to ignore the serious implications of the climate of culture in many places. However, all forms evil and violence cannot be allowed to triumph. There is something we can do about the harshness of hatred.

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In a world where unrest and turmoil are prevalent people of faith are called to be peacemakers. In an environment of hatred and prejudice we are called to love our neighbor and even our enemies. Even as darkness hangs over us much of the time we are called to be the light in the midst of darkness. When others look for and point out the worst in others we are called to see the best in everyone and to stand against the worst that is also present.

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I am not suggesting that we ignore or deny the difficulties that are all around but our attitude and action can and will make a difference. There is no doubt that trouble is all around but we can proclaim with certainty, “I’m blue but I won’t be blue always ‘cause the sun’s gonna shine in my back door someday.”

Jamie Jenkins

 

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I have enjoyed listening to Aretha Franklin sing for as long as I can remember. She is a P.K. (preacher’s kid) who grew up singing gospel music in the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit where her father was the pastor. But I never expected to receive spiritual counsel from the Queen of Soul. However, last week I did.

I was driving along in my quiet, comfortable, zero emission electric car listening to a CD of Aretha’s hit songs. Although it was a love song, the lyrics gave instructions for one’s prayer life.*

I know folks who have a highly structured and disciplined routine for praying. All my Christian life I have found that to be a struggle. I pray. I pray often. But I do not have a well defined ritual that I practice.

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The Apostle Paul instructs the Thessalonians  to “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). The Common English Bible translates Paul’s words to say “pray continually.” Eugene Peterson’s translation of the Bible, The Message, translates Paul’s words as “pray all the time.” How do you pray all the time? Continuously? After all there is work to be done. Duties to be performed. Relationships to be maintained. How is it possible to carry on all that daily life requires and always be praying?

Aretha reminded me of what I already knew. Too often we equate prayer with a certain posture and ritual. Don’t get me wrong, I believe there are times when kneeling or bowing your head when you pray is appropriate. Religious rituals can be wonderful resources for prayer. The words of others can be great tools to use in praying. Having a quiet and private place in which to meditate is invaluable. But the circumstances of daily life does not always allow for these aids to prayer.

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So how do we pray continually? Aretha says (sings) “Each morning I wake up. Before I put on my make up I say a little prayer for you.” She says that as she considers her wardrobe and performs the simple act of combing her hair, she says “a little prayer” for the object of her affection. On her way to work and even when she takes her coffee break, there is opportunity to pray.

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There needs to be time intentionally set aside for prayer- to offer our petitions and praise to God. It is certainly appropriate for collective prayer when people of faith gather in worship together. Equally important is the awareness that prayer can be offered at anytime and in any place. It is not difficult to pray continually because prayer is simply conversation with God and God is with us wherever we are and whatever we may be doing.

Thank you God. And thank you Aretha.

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

*I Say a Little Prayer for You lyrics

The moment I wake up
Before I put on my makeup
I say a little pray for you
While combing my hair now
And wondering what dress to wear now
I say a little prayer for you

 

Forever and ever, you’ll stay in my heart
And I will love you
Forever and ever, we never will part
Oh, how I love you
Together, forever, that’s how it must be
To live without you
Would only mean heartbreak for me

I run for the bus, dear
While riding I think of us, dear
I say a little prayer for you
At work I just take time
And all through my coffee break time
I say a little prayer for you

Forever and ever, you’ll stay in my heart
And I will love you
Forever and ever we never will part
Oh, how I’ll love you
Together, forever, that’s how it must be
To live without you
Would only mean heartbreak for me

 

Writers: Hal David, Burt F. Bacharach, Burt Bacharach

Copyright: BMG Gold Songs