I have the song Speed of Sound
from the Coldplay album “X&Y” stuck in my head. I don’t know the words, and the music won’t go away. This happens frequently to me, when a new piece of music somehow synchronizes perfectly with the events of my life. This album will forever be the soundtrack for these few weeks, just the way Joni Mitchell’s song My Secret Place
will forever be connected to the fall of 1991, when I went on a different kind of retreat, and began to come to terms with my alcoholism.A couple of weeks ago, at the end of a vacation trip to New Hampshire, exhausted and stressed out and parenting solo with both kids, Fix You
from this Coldplay album came on the radio as I was standing in the kitchen. I had just yelled at Griffen, my six year old, and I was feeling really low. I stood there in a place I love and cried to this music. Ella, my two year old, wandered in to the kitchen and watched me quietly. The song touches me because I know something of it’s genesis. Chris Martin, the lead singer of Coldplay, is married to the actress Gwyneth Paltrow. Her father died within the last two years, and the song Fix You
was born in part out of Chris being confronted by Gwyneth’s deep despair over her father’s death. Somehow this little window into that song opened me up to it, and I felt Coldplay was trying to fix me that night in New Hampshire.
God took Gwyneth’s Dad away and put her in a despair beyond reaching. But her lover reached anyway, and out of that reach came a song, and through that song, God reached into my heart years later and unlocked my sadness. This is how God speaks to me, across time, through art, through others, sometimes others I will never know. This is how God feels to me, with feelings that change me. God did this to me through Ricki Lee Jones’ cover of My Funny Valentine off her EP “Girl at her Volcano”. In the summer of 1984, trying to drink a different sadness away, I played this song in order to sob. And it always worked. But I was drunk and the release was not a real one. Only years later did I realize that Ricki Lee was probably drunk when that song was recorded. These connections bring me closer to her and to Chris and Gwyneth, to the point that I can write about them almost as if they’re my friends. These connections create a spirit community between us through art.