Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Carly Simon and Roberta Flack point to Christ?

Last week for days I couldn't get this song out of my head. Roberta Flack's recording of "Will you still love me tomorrow?" by Carole King. [My apologies, I couldn't find the actual recording, but here is a beautiful cover (of the cover). Now before I get to the point, let me just say, yes Roberta Flack had a low alto voice and this guy can sing as high in the tenor range as I can, but I can't sound soft and sultry like this. It's kind of creepy, but a great recording...]

Anyhoo, I've always found this song to be haunting, but I never put my finger on why. But the more it played over and over again in my head, a clearer understanding began to form. For the same reason that this song has captivated so many people (and been re-recorded by just about everyone who ever sang into a microphone) is that is expresses a longing, fragile tenderness that exists in every human heart. This song, whether the singer knows it or not, is about the search for God.

At first glance, that may not be what you see. In fact, at first glance, you could assume that this song is either about a couple growing serious in their affection for one another and about to make love (out of wedlock, we assume) or it could be about a one-night stand.

Now, let me get something out of the way. A good friend of mine frequently makes the "poop in the brownie" argument, which goes sort of like this: Good stories don't need to engage in gratuitous sin, even if it's just a little bit. After all, just a little bit of dog poop ruins the brownie batter. When she first made that argument it disengaged me, knocking me from my perch, rendering me unable to press for what I believed. Yet that argument, while relevant in many discussions, doesn't enter here. I'm not talking here about a gratuitous sex scene that adds nothing to the plot of a story, but is obligatory in order to reap box office cash, nor am I talking about torture porn (read: "Saw"), no matter how compelling the story may have ended up being. I'm talking about the glimmers of hope and transcendence even in sinful endeavors, the rays of light that may peek into a darkened corner that nonetheless reveal that there is a sun above.

The woman in this song is about to give herself to her lover, opening her body to his, revealing her inmost self. And in a moment frozen in time, she stops to question him. She is suspended in time while he stands before her, oblivious to the torrent of her heart within. Like Tevya, she wrestles with questions that may not have an answer. She looks to her lover to question him, but no answer comes, for the question remains only in her heart. But also like Tevya, it's not the answer that's important for the moment, but the fact that she grapples with the question.

Tonight you're mine completely,
You give your love so sweetly,
Tonight the light of love is in your eyes,
But will you love me tomorrow?

Is this a lasting treasure,
Or just a moment's pleasure,
Can I believe the magic of your sighs,
Will you still love me tomorrow?

Tonight with words unspoken,
You said that I'm the only one,
But will my heart be broken,
When the night (When the night)
Meets the morning sun.

I'd like to know that your love,
Is love I can be sure of,
So tell me now and I won't ask again,
Will you still love me tomorrow?
Will you still love me tomorrow?
-Carole King

What she is looking for, what we all are looking for, is not a love that is illusory, nor a love that only seeks its own pleasure, for that is not love at all. She seeks a love that lasts, a love that has no bounds. She wants a love that is everlasting. The woman in the song is playing at a dangerous game of trust, and she knows how dangerous it is, yet she can't do anything but trust anyway. She needs to trust, she needs to succumb to a love outside of herself. She needs to fall, hoping that her lover will catch her, though she knows that he may fail her.

Why, then, must she fall anyway? Why do we all run headlong into the abyss seeking after something that in this life seems never to fulfill but always to disappoint?

It is because we are made that way. We are created with one goal in mind: love. God, who is Love itself, created us with the sole intention that we might be one, in love, with Him for all eternity. But God does not force this love upon us. We must choose Him, Who loves us so much that he gave himself up for us, yet still allows us the freedom to love Him in return.

"27The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for:
    The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God. This invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being. For if man exists, it is because God has created him through love, and through love continues to hold him in existence. He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creator."
Psalm 63:2-8
O God, you are my God-- for you I long! For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, Like a land parched, lifeless, and without water.
So I look to you in the sanctuary to see your power and glory.
For your love is better than life; my lips offer you worship!
I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands, calling on your name.
My soul shall savor the rich banquet of praise, with joyous lips my mouth shall honor you!
When I think of you upon my bed, through the night watches I will recall
That you indeed are my help, and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.

The woman in the song is not looking for sex; she's looking for unending love. Like that quote from Chesterton, every man who walks into a brothel is looking for God.

Btw, if you want to read about other songs in our culture that in their own way point to the reality of Christ, visit Twisted Mystics.


Patty in CT said...

Wow Honey! What a great post! Keep em' coming!
Hey, tell me what are you doing, for the rest of your life?
Now there's one of my favorites:)

Catholic Mom of 10 said...

Amy Whinehouse sings it too..great song..

Mike in CT said...

Yeah Jackie,

I tried, but I couldn't get into AW's recording of it. If you Google the song, it seems that every singer in history has sung it.

Thanks for visiting!