The Mysterious Marcus Mumford

Mumford & Sons

Marcus Mumford (Photo credit: Guus Krol)

My lovely sister just hooked us up with tickets to a Mumford & Sons show in November.  Huzzah!

My husband is a shift worker so we’re not actually sure if he’ll be able to make it. Sounds like a job for Facebook, I hear you say! Yes, indeed. So I’ve recruited a back-up friend in case he’s working that night.

Friends who belong to a Vineyard church then posted this article from The Cresset on my Mumford gig thread, which got me thinking again about lyrics.

The other day we were scattershotting through the radio frequencies looking for music to help SBJ get to sleep. One station we tried was playing a song that went ‘Ooh, baby. Baby, baby. Ooh, ooh, baby.’ You get the idea; I wouldn’t even say there were exclamation marks in it. We didn’t stay to listen to more, so I suppose we may have missed the metaphysical musings that grew out of pedestrian inanity, but I’m happy with our choice.  Because I like songs to, you know, say something.

Tori Amos performing at the 2005 Glastonbury f...

Tori Amos performing at the 2005 Glastonbury festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sophie introduced me to the lush, angsty lyrics of Counting Crows songs when we were supposed to be doing calculus. Around the same time I heard my first Tori Amos. ‘Angst’ doesn’t come anywhere near describing how she works through dysfunction with her piano and poetry.

I’d always read lyrics when they came with an album (this was before the internet, if you can believe it) so I could sing along, but like most teenagers, it was then that I started to relate to music and find my experience reflected or broadened by music. You can probably look back through your collection and find that turning point too – please comment below with the first bands that made you listen and feel and think.

Calvin was pretty suspicious about using music in church life, being so inflammatory of the senses, but Luther saw things differently, and set to writing a whole hymnal, putting theology to music, for the glory of God.

I’m with Luther. Music connects me to God, and especially music with words. Singing it with other people it church, yes. And also listening to not-particularly-churchy songs like those written by Joanna Newsom, Feist, Rufus Wainwright, Ben Harper, Turin Brakes, Johnny Cash and Marcus Mumford, all of whom I have played in church services as part of my preaching.

Sigh No More (Mumford & Sons album)

Photo credit: Wikipedia

You may know that Mumford, the singer and main songwriter of his band, grew up in a Vineyard church with parents who were leaders of the movement in the United Kingdom.

The Cresset article is just a tad gushy, given Marcus Mumford’s steadfast (and entirely reasonable) silence on the intentions of his songwriting, but it’s a good overview of the first album and how one person has experienced God through their music and lyrics. I’m not too interested, myself, in squeezing out of Mr Mumford all the ‘meaning’ of his words. I like that there’s room for lots of us to fit in the hall together listening to him.

I’ve played a couple of songs from their first album at church.  You can check out the blog posts making the connections at the West Baptist website if you like: one on ‘Awake My Soul‘ and one on ‘Timshel‘.

On message boards analysing the lyrics of ‘Timshel’ (yes, that’s boards plural), there seems to be general agreement that the song speaks to a pregnant woman.  But opinion is divided on whether it’s a statement of solidarity with a woman after an abortion, or an affirmation of support to a woman carrying a child alone. Or neither. I like that there’s enough space between the lines that it can go either way.

I’m looking forward to the gig.

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0 comments on “The Mysterious Marcus Mumford”

  1. Alex Reply

    Do you know, Mumford and Sons is one of those bands I’ve always just assumed I like, without actually ever actively listening to their music. Thanks for the excuse to belatedly check them out. :o) And even better, another cool Marcus to add to my list!
    I like lyrics, too. Beautiful South were the first band I really stopped to listen to, and Belle and Sebastian were the first “discovery” I made for myself via late night radio. I remember as a teenager sitting in my room copying out lyrics of songs that I found particularly profound (The Longpigs’ She Said springs to mind), and while on my gap year adventures in China me and a friend decorated an entire wall with quotations from our favourite tracks… I could go on, but probably shouldn’t. Off to listen to more by Mr Mumford now

  2. Caroline Reply

    Well – I’m totally the opposite. I’ve always assumed I wouldn’t like them & would find them annoying without actually having listened to them. Maybe I should give them a go.
    I can’t claim to have made any stunning musical discoveries for myself – all of my musical recommendations come from Alex!
    The first song lyrics I remember learning were Kylie’s Locomotion, although I’m not sure that spoke to me at any deep level. It was mostly WetWetWet & Sting in my teenage years (time for confessions?!) & some of the Sting songs were probably the first ones with real meaning in the lyrics (They Dance Alone can still bring a tear to my eye).

  3. Rebekah Noakes Reply

    U2, Achtung Baby “wild horses” ” end of the world” “mysterious ways” etc etc. There were probably others earlier, but that whole albumn

  4. Al Reply

    Modern songwriters reflect the pain of dealing with the emptiness – been listening to Black River Drive – “call the doctor” and “bullet for your gun”

  5. Rochelle Reply

    Really, really enjoying listening to Mumford and Son. Thanks T! I feel like I’ve been very late coming to this!! Might even go crazy and buy and album (currently getting irritated by Spotify ads instead…).

    • not a wild hera Reply

      Great! We’re going to the gig on Monday night (not at all sure whether SBJ will forgive us, but ah well).

      We’ve been listening to the new album on high rotate for the last few weeks. It’s too early to be sure, but my feeling is definitely that I like the first album better. I’d start there anyway. The second is very much a continuation but with a few innovations and I’m not completely convinced. So, the first one is called Sigh No More I think. (The second is Babel). Enjoy!

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