Tuneful Tuesday: Frail

Apparently, “snafu” is a curse word.

snafuWell, it’s not a curse word in itself, but it is an acronym which contains a curse word. I’m not going to spell it out here; a simple Google search will tell you what the individual letters stand for. I was not so lucky as to discover the meaning of each letter through an internet search, however. No, I learned their meaning after I uttered the word on live Christian radio today.

I have been using that word for years and had absolutely no clue it was an acronym. Of course, now that I know, I definitely won’t use it on the radio anymore. What’s interesting to me as I sit here and reflect on my gaffe is that something which meant one thing to me when the day started now means something else as it is ending. The word didn’t change, though; my perception of it did.

Sometimes songs are like that. You go for years thinking a song means one thing, then one day you realize you had one of the words wrong and suddenly it takes on a completely different meaning. Ironically, on the same day I learned what “snafu” really meant, one of these song occurrences happened to me.

I’ve written about Jars of Clay here before, so I’m not going to rehash all that. The group’s second album, Much Afraid, was a bit of a dud for me. It was almost as if after the enormous success of their debut album they were given free rein on their sophomore project, which unfortunately resulted in some over-elaborate production that nearly drowned many of the songs. There are some interesting arrangements on the album, though, including a nearly seven-minute song titled “Frail.”

For years, I believed this song was about someone lamenting their inability to be a good friend. I thought this mainly because I believed the last word of the song was “friend.” Well, it’s actually “frail,” which sort of debunks my theory. I’m stubborn, though, so I’ll probably stick with my version at least a little while longer. Besides, it fits better with how I’m feeling today anyway.

“If I was not so weak/If I was not so cold/If I was not so scared of being broken/Growing old…” It’s a spiritual metaphor in the song, representing why someone can’t submit to God, but aren’t these all attitudes that keep us from being good friends? They’re also attitudes that are incredibly difficult to face in ourselves. Finally, they’re attitudes that require a lot of patience from our friends to put up with.

It’s all about the perceptions. Sometimes we’re right, sometimes we’re wrong. Sometimes we’re not exactly either one, but the hopeful side of me likes to believe things will become clearer over time. That makes the snafus … er, mistakes easier to deal with along the way.

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Worlds Apart

I’m not exactly sure how to say this, so I’ll just say it: I’ve seen Jars of Clay in concert four times, and one of those times they were jerks. I expect artists to have off-nights every now and then, but on this particular evening they came across as arrogant, snarky, and kind of bored with the whole affair. Combine that with lead singer Dan Haseltine’s apparent inability to tweet without starting an argument these days, and the seeds were kind of sown for me to not follow the group as closely as I once did.

Nevertheless, one of those songs that always gets to me is “Worlds Apart,” from the group’s self-titled debut project. I am the only one to blame for this/Somehow is all ends up the same… It’s still my favorite Jars of Clay song today, but its meaning for me always seems to be evolving. At first, it was the praise-and-worshipy chorus that caught my ear. As time went by, however, I came to realize the song is really a call for help from the bottom, when we realize we just can’t do it anymore.

So today’s post is “Worlds Apart.” If you haven’t listened to it in a while, listen to it again.