Monday, January 25, 2010

Seen Your Video: "Hard Times Come Again No More" by Mary J. Blige on Hope for Haiti Benefit

I feel silly even writing what I'm about to write, but the beauty of a voice carrying a piece of music made me weep this weekend. Sure, music is a big part of my life and sure, I've been "moved" by music, like getting goosebumps or not breathing for a second when a song or a lyric has especially hit home. But never, ever, have I been moved to tears by the beauty of a voice. And oddly, it happened by way of an artist whose music I never follow-Mary J Blige.

Though I'm not a fan of her music, I have always thought that Blige had an amazing voice; how could you not? The power and emotion that she employs makes a listener feel like you and Mary are having a heart-to-heart, like she's really feeling everything she's singing. Blige also doesn't seem to employ vocal gymnastics and go all over a register to be impressive (I'm looking at you Beyonce).

But this weekend I was watching clips from Friday's Hope for Haiti Benefit broadcast and I randomly clicked on hers. The waterworks weren't immediate, but about half way through her version of "Hard Times Come Again No More," I felt myself getting choked up. The song, written in 1854 by Stephen Foster, is a song of endurance, of sympathy, and of strength of character. The song has been done wonderfully by a good many others, but the stunning magnificence and grace that is Blige's voice, coupled with a song about perseverance and appreciation of life itself, just put it over the edge. It seemed so silly at first, having tears fall over a singer's voice. But it gave me a great reminder that music can (and has) moved people to move proverbial mountains, as well as make one's heart sing if you just listen.

Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears,
While we all sup sorrow with the poor;
There's a song that will linger forever in our ears;
Oh Hard times come again no more.

Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard Times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door;
Oh hard times come again no more.
While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay,
There are frail forms fainting at the door;
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say
Oh hard times come again no more.

There's a pale drooping maiden who toils her life away,
With a worn heart whose better days are o'er:
Though her voice would be merry, 'tis sighing all the day,
Oh hard times come again no more.

Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave,
Tis a wail that is heard upon the shore
Tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave
Oh hard times come again no more.

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