Have you ever heard a song that, on your first listen, left you rapt, somewhere else, lost in a moment where time itself halted? Where a conduit opened between you and Truth? I have, twice.
Both times have happened in the last decade, after I turned 40. The number itself is not, I believe, significant; what is meaningful is that I finally had enough experience at life to realize what I was hearing. This probably means that there were other times that I missed such an experience, but what of that? It's the times I was aware of that are of consequence, not the ones I wasn't.
Each song was marked by an uncommon richness of compassion, imagery, and melody; they're each a draught of fine vintage, not to be cavalierly decanted.
The first one was Alan Jackson's stunning composition Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning). I saw his first public performance of the song at the 2001 CMA Awards, and I knew that we had begun healing from our national trauma of 9/11. Yes, that's a lot to pile on a five minute song, but it's sturdy enough to bear up under the load.
The second one was Live Like You Were Dying. Tim McGraw didn't write this story of how precious life becomes when it's at risk of slipping away, but he owns it. This song has a special resonance with Lisa and I, as both of our mothers are cancer survivors. It also has a dangerous side; that first time I heard it and was whisked away for an infinite moment, I was driving on Battleground Avenue here in Greensboro. My automatic pilot must've been in a state of grace, as I and the drivers I passed all survived my musical fugue.
Both AJ and Tim are consistent entertainers, have been for 20 and 15 years respectively. With these songs, they became artists of enduring stature, and we have been uplifted along with them.