When I was 14 years old I was in some ways sheltered. Well, maybe not sheltered so much as limited in musical experience. I knew more about classical and sacred music than a lot of the other kids my age. I knew every word to every Monkees song. But there were some genres about which I knew very little, and some I’d never really even heard of.
One day an older man (he was probably about 16 at the time) took my hand and said, “Come here, little girl, and listen to this.” Then he put on an album and my whole world view changed. It was Sly and the Family Stone. I began my love affair with funk.
To this day when I hear those opening chords”Ba da da, Ba da da, Ba da da, Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Beat is getting stronger…” I am instantly transported to a place of energy and power and joy. And I dance. Even in the car. There is no way I can sit still. “I wanna take you higher!” That’s where I go – higher!
It’s been many years since the first time I heard funk. I am a long way from 14. And every time is like the first time. Something happens to me, not just in my brain, to all of me. It’s not something conscious. It’s transcendent. It’s mystical. Some might call it worship, except I don’t worship Sly and the Family Stone or any other funk band. But that sound somehow takes me, not just higher; it takes me closer to God.
Today’s reading is Daniel 3:14-20. Nebuchadnezzar tells Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that when the music starts playing they better start worshiping. He wants them to worship him. They defiantly refuse and insist they’d rather burn up in the furnace than worship Nebuchadnezzar. I hope I would be that brave, and maybe I’d have a shot as long as he didn’t play any Sly and the Family Stone. Nah, I’m just kidding. Even if it was Sly in his prime (which is also long gone) playing in person I think maybe I could resist old Nebuchadnezzar.
Boom Laka-laka-laka! Boom Laka-laka-laka!