Every year a pop song is dubbed the hit of the summer. This year, it seems to be that catchy (annoying?) tune by Carly Ray Jepson, “Call Me Maybe.” The song has been showcased by everyone from NPR news announcers to President Obama (in a really funny YouTube video that someone painstakingly spliced together). The only redeeming value of this song which has a repeating mantra of “here’s my number, so call me maybe” is that every time it comes on the radio (which is often), I remind my daughter that she should never, ever give out her phone number to a guy she just met. Actually I don’t even remind her anymore. Every time we hear it, before I can say anything, she just looks at me and says, “I know, Mom.” My job is done.
But for those who like a little more substance to their summer songs, I offer up “Hold On” by Alabama Shakes, an indie roots rock band named one of MTV’s 11 artists to watch in 2012.
The lead singer, Brittany Howard, offers up lyrics reminiscent of a latter-day Habakkuk (at least to those who know who Habakkuk is).
“So, bless my heart and bless yours, too.
“I don’t know where I’m gonna go
“don’t know what I’m gonna do.
“Must be somebody up above sayin’ ‘Come on, Brittany,
“You got to come on up!
“You got to hold on … ’ ”
It’s a place we’ve all been. A place where we feel utterly lost and clueless as to what to do or where to go next. It is in that place when we are most likely to turn to God—when we’ve exhausted all our own resources.
In the chorus, Brittany becomes a modern-day Psalmist evoking the words of Psalm 27:14. The chorus gets louder and moves to almost a wail of:
“YEAH! YOU GOT TO WAIT!
“YEAH! YOU GOT TO WAIT!”
And then she moves on to the mantra that we all seem to cling to throughout our Christian journey.
“BUT, I DON’T WANNA WAIT!
“I DON’T WANNA WAIT … “
None of us like to wait. We don’t even like to wait while our high-speed Internet moves from page to page with a speed no one would have imagined just a couple of years ago, and we sure don’t like waiting on God. And most of us do not wait well.
Fortunately, the song does not wrap up with the chorus. It goes back to the title, reminding us to “hold on.”
If you’re looking for a soulful, bluesy and theologically sound alternative to the bubble gum pop hit of the summer, check out “Hold On.” It’s a good song for anyone who is struggling with the whole waiting thing.
The Rev. Anne Russ is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of North Little Rock’s downtown Argenta neighborhood. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.