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Bridge Jumping and Sinatra: Does Experience Elevate Communication?

I’ve been ruminating on an op-ed piece that Bono wrote for the New York Times recently. After getting over the fact that the man seems to know no bounds of influence (and I admire his tenacity), I was particularly struck by a thesis in his article. The foundation of Bono’s piece is the duality of celebrating this New Year, which he likens to two Sinatra renditions of "My Way"; one brash and cocky, the other regretful and introspective.

I’ve been ruminating on an op-ed piece that Bono wrote for the New York Times recently. After getting over the fact that the man seems to know no bounds of influence (and I admire his tenacity), I was particularly struck by a thesis in his article. The foundation of Bono’s piece is the duality of celebrating this New Year, which he likens to two Sinatra renditions of "My Way"; one brash and cocky, the other regretful and introspective.

Nestled in the middle of Bono’s piece was this thought:

Like Bob Dylan’s, Nina Simone’s, Pavarotti’s, Sinatra’s voice is improved by age, by years spent fermenting in cracked and whiskeyed oak barrels. As a communicator, hitting the notes is only part of the story, of course.

Singers, more than other musicians, depend on what they know — as opposed to what they don’t want to know about the world. While there is a danger in this — the loss of naïveté, for instance, which holds its own certain power — interpretive skills generally gain in the course of a life well abused.

Sinatra sang "My Way" with more depth and complexity towards the end of his life, and interpreted the song with a vulnerability and honesty absent from his earlier rendition. With time, and experience, came a richer, more didactic performance.

My question: do you think Bono’s assertion is true, and how far does this truth extend (beyond singers) in ministry, teaching, counseling, pastoring, and even friendships, marriage, and our relationship with the Lord? Is "hitting the notes only part of the story"? How much should we "depend upon what we know" in interpreting what we communicate?

My bias? I think, speaking in the singing realm, that there is a LOT of truth to Bono’s statement. A worship leader who sings and a talented vocalist singing are worlds apart because the former believes in the subject of her song, and the latter just strives to impress. After having my heart broken a few times, I feel the blues I sing.

Of course, the paradigm of experience = honest, better communication can fall short. I don’t need to experience everything in order to share honestly and compellingly. The authority of the Bible is my strength; observing family, friends, and opponents teaches valuable lessons, and common sense serves as a beautiful boundary (just because everyone else is jumping off a bridge, doesn’t mean I will! But I can still write a song about the pain of broken bones).

But enough about me – do you resonate with Bono’s statement in your sphere of communicating?

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Sharifa Stevens

Sharifa Stevens is a Manhattan-born, Bronx-raised child of the King, born to Jamaican immigrants, and currently living in Dallas. Sharifa's been singing since she was born. Her passion is to serve God's kingdom by leading His people in worship through music, speaking and writing, and relationships with people. Her heart is also unity, inspired by John. Sharifa hates exercise but likes Chipotle, bagels with a schmeer and lox, salmon sushi, chicken tikka, curried goat (yeah, it's good) with rice and peas, and chocolate lava cakes. She's been happily married to Jonathan since 2006...and he buys her Chipotle.

3 Comments

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    bleek

    truth from ruin
    beauty for/from ashes, truth for/from ruin. I agree with you and Bono – two ministers I admire.

    having been a strong athlete for many years, I was utterly depressed when I had severe back trouble. my dreams were dashed in many arenas – I had no delusions of playing in the NFL, but I did have plans to run marathons, etc.

    the interesting thing about God’s paradoxical upside-down kingdom is that with the destruction of my dreams came the unveiling of his. and his are not mere dreams, but realities that ignite hope…resurrection, perfection, and peace will come.

    in short, experiencing disillusionment, pain, and loss enabled me to connect with people more compassionately than ever, and infused my communication – music, preaching, and teaching – with more passion than ever. strange, this God we serve.

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    Sandra Glahn

    Blue eyes, red eyes

    Okay, let’s begin by acknowledging that the man Bono has a gift for words. Was that a great ending, or what?

    I do resonate with Bono’s words about Old Blue Eyes in the same way I draw insight from the John 8 story (inspired or not) that says those

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    Gwynne Johnson

    Resonance?
    When I think of this concept, I can’t help but think of fine instruments like a violin.

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