Saturday, April 11, 2020

"The age's most uncertain hour"

Paul Simon has a knack for writing deeply Christian songs as if by accident. I Some people get really angry about this; I've seen people both figuratively and literally pound the table while insisting that “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is not a religious song. What they actually mean is that Paul Simon didn't intend it as a Christian song but as a love song and they're right about that but the end result is about as solidly Christian a song as you could hope for. (And Paul Simon not only didn't object but praised the Aretha Franklin version which is overtly Christian.)

No one I know has called his “American Tune” a Christian song but it also is.

It's Christian for two reasons. First of all because that melody comes straight from the Saint Matthew Passion; which Josh Turner has brilliantly underlined here by using Bach's harmony. The Christian heritage of that melody carries an association that will assert itself as much as the gospel music heritage of “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Second, it's a Christian song because of the line, “The age's most uncertain hour.”

Paul Simon actually was responding to the election of Richard Nixon when he wrote it. That he was unhappy at that event is understandable even if you happened to disagree with him. That he would regard it as the age's most uncertain hour is crazy. The only thing worse than to have your side lose an election would be to live in a country where the other side never won. And yet that is what Paul Simon wanted when he wrote this.

Anyway and who cares he wrote it an it's wonderful.

It's the perfect song for Holy Saturday. The first Holy Saturday really was the age's most uncertain hour.

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