Reflections along El Camino de Santiago
I was surprised by many things along the Way, but one thing I should have not been surprised about was the power of music to attract people. I’ve loved music ever since I was a toddler and remember spinning 45’s on a battery powered record player.
I’m old enough to remember Woodstock which was billed as “3 days of love, peace and music.” I’ve seen the movie and concluded it was a relic of a bygone era, much like bellbottom jeans or big sideburns. I know older Baby Boomers used to love music, but they grew up, right?
I was wrong.
While I knew I loved music, everything from Gregorian Chant to Zydeco, I failed to realize how many people loved music and were attracted to it like bees to honey. Damon, an old friend, is a gifted musician. He plays an awesome guitar and can do everything from rock and roll, blues, flamenco to contemporary praise music. He leads praise and worship at his home church in Southern California. Damon was one of the four mentors who went along El Camino with the six young guys.
To paraphrase the old E.F. Hutton commercial, when “Damon plays, people listen.”
I first witnessed the power of music in the courtyard of the alburgue in El Burgo de Raneros. It was a nice sunny day, the courtyard was a good gathering place for folks to rest their weary feet or do their laundry.
Damon started playing some music on his travel guitar and almost instantly a crowd appeared. He’d play some rock classics, take some requests and occasionally play some praise music. Eduardo, from Brazil, stood nearby and whistled a mean accompaniment to Damon’s playing. It was a special moment.
Later in the courtyard in Leon, Damon would play some more and again, folks gravitated to him. Marina sat just behind him and sang. Damon brought his iPad which had lyrics on it, so it was easy to sing words to songs you didn’t know.
Music is powerful.
All along El Camino I heard music. Much of it was American pop music, but I did hear a little European chill music. We heard the Notre Dame Glee Club sing at the Leon Cathedral. They were good, singing sacred music in Latin and also what used to be called “Negro Spirituals” when I was a kid. “Swing low sweet chariot” and old African American church classics like that. Incredibly, one of the singers knew Sunoh, who had just graduated from Notre Dame the week before. Coincidence? Doubtful.
The one thing I would have loved to have heard was Gregorian Chant—I just missed Santo Domingo. Its Benedictine Monastery put out a platinum hit in the 1990s called “Chant”. I’ve listened to it countless times over the years.
Music can also be the “joyful noise” that David wrote of in the Psalms. In fact, he writes of that type of “noise” seven times; Psalms 66:1, 81:1, 95:1, 95:2, 98:4, 98:6, and 100:1.
Clearly Damon was gifted in music, the joy was evident. He played and we listened as the joy emanated from his guitar like ripples on a pond.