Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Best Thing I Heard Today: Mark Schultz doing "He's My Son" (MOM, YOU'LL LIKE THIS)

A beautiful song about sickness, death, and anger; a Christian ballad that portrays only desperation and refuses to show the consolation. In a CCM market that's full of pat answers and rehashed statements of easy faith, this song sounds miraculous. It sarcastically badgers God like a movie cop: "Am I getting through tonight?" When it ends, we have no idea how the parents' prayer will be answered--just like when most of our own prayers end. And it was a big hit. I still wonder if Mr. Schultz feels like he got away with something--but how could you hear this song and not be moved?

Before I'd ever heard "He's My Son," I thought it'd be a melodramatic statement placed into the mouth of God, probably focusing on the horrors of the crucifixion and all the bad stuff we've done to Jesus. Needless to say, I was relieved when it turned out to be one of the best songs about parenting ever recorded. But Christians are crafty--we read all sorts of free-lunch symbolic associations into our music, and this one is no exception. If you want "He's My Son" to be about parents at the end of their rope, it is. But if you'd rather imagine that it's narrated by God or Mary, as our thoughtful Youtube poster has done--well, that reading pretty much falls apart. HOWEVER, you can certainly compare the anguish of a parent with a sick kid to the anguish Mary (and God) must have felt 2,000 years ago. It doesn't hurt, and it might even help. I'm just glad Mr. Schultz trusted his audience to make that connection and didn't spell it out in his lyrics. The song would have lost most of its power as a result.

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