Hail, Hail Rock and Roll

Dear Laura Barton

Last week I wrote a tribute to Dorian and Readers Recommend. I want to let you know that “Hail, Hail Rock and Roll” is equally important in my enjoyment of Guardian Film and Music.

Today you invoked the wonders of “Where the Wild Things Are”. <link

“In 1963, Maurice Sendak wrote a 10-sentence children’s book named Where the Wild Things Are. It was about a boy named Max, banished to his bedroom for misbehaving – indeed for the heinous crime of chasing the family dog with a fork while wearing a wolf costume. Alone in his room, his imagination spawns a wild forest, which allows Max to travel to the land of the Wild Things – a land of gruesome monsters that “roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws”.

“…There are times when I think there is no better analogy for what rock’n’roll is to most of us: in our minds we are rebelling, but in truth what we are is a youthful enthusiast dressed up as a wild animal, armed only with the most domestic of implements, chasing a tamed beast through the house.”

I loved reading this book to my young son. I loved the place it takes you to. And a bookshop near where I work is selling a first edition. It is so tempting. 

Last week it was churches. <link>

“…the air was still warm, you could hear birdsong drifting through the open chapel door, and as they played, I remember a feeling more transcendent, more glad-hearted than I had experienced at any harvest festival or carol service. It appeared to me then, as it appears to me now, that it does not matter whether it is Silent Night or Svefn-g-englar that fills those church walls; the thing about music in churches is that its performance feels like a celebration of creation, an affirmation of how damned glorious it is to be alive.”

“…To hear the heave and huff of the church organ, to hear the swell of the choir and the congregation, to feel music and voices rising to the rafters, is to see life breathed into the building itself.

“…And then in the final moment comes a clutch of pale-skinned, blue-clad choirboys rehearsing Ye Holy Angels Bright. “Behold! Behold! Behold!” they sing, as the choirmaster tuts, and the piano wheezes, breathing life, suddenly, into their stained-glass friends. And above it all, in its well-articulated chug, rises the voice of Betjeman himself, reading a line from Psalm 150:6: ‘Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.'”

We once walked into Yorkminster as the choir rehearsed. It was truly the voices of angels. It felt uplifting and amazing to be alive. Spiritual; not religious. Wonderful.

Your articles captured exactly how I feel about a wonderful children’s book and the wonders of music in churches. Thank you. Your writing made me feel warm inside.

Yours sincerely, The Displaced Kiwi


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