Musical Musings: May 22 – 28, 2022


     Music Notes – Sunday, May 22nd

This Sunday’s musician is UUCC Pianist Karin Tooley.

Opening Hymn: #346 Come, Sing a Song with Me – McDade

#346 in our Singing the Living Tradition hymnal, “Come, Sing a Song with Me” is a well-known and beloved hymn to many Unitarian Universalists. The words and music were written by Carolyn McDade (b. 1935), a self-described songwriter, spiritual feminist, and social activist. McDade is also the composer of two other UU favorites: “Spirit of Life” and “We’ll Build a Land”.

Centering Music: The Way It Is – Hornsby

“The Way It Is” is a 1986 song by Bruce Hornsby (b. 1954), an multi-Grammy Award winning American pianist and composer who has performed and recorded as a solo artist and with a number of groups, including The Range, The Noisemakers, and The Grateful Dead. Hornsby is an eclectic songwriter, touching upon blues, folk, jazz, bluegrass, rock, country and more with his music. “The Way It Is” was the title track and second single released from the debut album of Bruce Hornsby and the Range. It reached #1 in the U.S. and Canada and was a top 20 hit in many other countries as well. The lyrics for “The Way It Is” carry a message of social justice, referencing the Economic Opportunity Act (also known as the 1964 Poverty Act) as well as the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The song and its distinctive piano riff have been sampled in several hip-hop recordings, including “Things’ll Never Change” by E-40 (1996), “Changes” by Tupac Shakur (1998), “Never Change” by DJ Don Diablo (2019), and “Wishing for a Hero” by Polo G (2020).

Meditation Response: #123 Spirit of Life

“Spirit of Life” is #123 in our Singing the Living Tradition hymnal and is a favorite hymn of many UUs. The composer of “Spirit of Life”, Carolyn McDade (b. 1935), describes herself as “a songwriter, spiritual feminist, and social activist” ( Originally, McDade was reluctant to see “Spirit of Life” included in our hymnal, as she thinks of her song as a personal and living prayer as opposed to a hymn. Despite her misgivings at the time, “Spirit of Life” has become the most frequently sung hymn within UU congregations around the world – many UUs know the words by heart, and some of our sister churches sing this song together every Sunday.

Offertory Music: Catch the Wind – Donovan

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Donovan Phillips Leitch (b. 1946), most commonly known simply as Donovan, is a Scottish musician, songwriter, and music producer. Donovan was one of the most successful musical artists of the 1960s, blending rock with elements of folk, jazz, psychedelic, and calypso, resulting in hits such as “Sunshine Superman”, “Atlantis”, and “Mellow Yellow”. Released in 1965, “Catch the Wind” was Donovan’s first hit, reaching #4 in the U.K. and #23 in the U.S. It has been covered by dozens of other artists, including Eartha Kitt, Cher, and Flatt & Scruggs.

Special Music: Waiting on the World to Change – Mayer

American singer-songwriter and guitarist John Mayer (b. 1977) was born and raised in Connecticut and now makes his home in Montana. Since his debut album in 2001, Mayer’s music has earned him seven Grammy Awards, nine U.S. Billboard Top Ten albums, and nine U.S. Billboard Top 40 hits. “Waiting on the World to Change” was the first single released from Mayer’s 2006 album Continuum. The song was a top-20 hit in the U.S. and won the Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance at the 49th Grammy Awards.

Closing Hymn: The Fire of Commitment – Shelton  

Jason Shelton is an award-winning composer, arranger, conductor, song and worship leader, workshop presenter, and coach. He served as the Associate Minister for Music at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, Tennessee from 1998-2017, and is now engaged in a music ministry at-large, focused on serving the musical resource needs of UU (and other liberal) congregations around the country (from The Fire of Commitment (#1028) is one of many contributions Rev. Shelton has made to our Singing the Journey hymnbook. The unrest of its irregular meter and the insistent rhythmic pulse drive home the call to action that is at the core of the song’s message. 

Postlude: Changes – Bowie

Born David Robert Jones, David Bowie (1947-2016) was a British musician, actor, and songwriter who was undoubtedly one of the most interesting and influential figures of popular culture in the 20th century. Bowie helped to pioneer progressive rock, glam rock, and electronica, and his iconic style and stagecraft were as influential as his music. He was one of the most successful musical artists of all time, selling well over 100 million records to date, including 11 #1 albums. Bowie is a six-time Grammy Award-winner, and has received numerous other accolades, including a Saturn Award, multiple BRIT and MTV Music Awards, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. “Changes” was originally released on the 1971 album Hunky Dory, and is widely regarded as one of Bowie’s greatest songs, appearing on Ultimate Classic Rock’s list of the “Top 200 Songs of the 1970s”, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll, and on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.

                                                                    -Mike Carney, UUCC Music Director