The Adele phenomenon

I like many others enjoyed listening to Adele’s music in recent years.

Her latest Album “25” was selling 1 million copies per week in the lead up to Christmas.

She has a wonderful voice. But there is also something about her down-to-earth and grounded approach to her music which stays with you. She seems prepared to parody herself (see the wonderful sketch on the Graham Norton show!) and speaks with earthy honesty.

The best known track on her album is “Hello” listing the apologies over a broken relationship ending with these words:

Hello from the other side
I must’ve called a thousand times 
To tell you I’m sorry, for everything that I’ve done
But when I call you never seem to be home

Hello from the outside
At least I can say that I’ve tried 
To tell you I’m sorry, for breaking your heart
But it don’t matter, it clearly doesn’t tear you apart anymore

For me, though, the most humbling and heartfelt words are in the track “Million Years Ago

I know I’m not the only one
Who regrets the things they’ve done
Sometimes I just feel it’s only me
Who can’t stand the reflection that they see
I wish I could live a little more
Look up to the sky, not just the floor

I feel like my life is flashing by
And all I can do is watch and cry
I miss the air, I miss my friends
I miss my mother; I miss it when
Life was a party to be thrown
But that was a million years ago

This track speaks about loss, regret, the passing of time, and the fear of wasted opportunities. People in our lives come and go with little time for us to say everything we mean. And the busyness of life means lost opportunities fill our memories with a sense of wistful longing:

I know I’m not the only one
Who regrets the things they’ve done
Sometimes I just feel it’s only me
Who never became who they thought they’d be
I wish I could live a little more
Look up to the sky, not just the floor
I feel like my life is flashing by
And all I can do is watch and cry
I miss the air, I miss my friends
I miss my mother, I miss it when
Life was a party to be thrown
But that was a million years ago

I am not emotionally moved by much contemporary music (but Mozart’s Requiem might do that to me!), but the close of this track is mournful; soulful, even. These words are emotionally laden:

“Sometimes I just feel like it’s only me” – Adele creates great empathy, not least with the sentiment that we suspect that others too sometime wonder: “Am I the only one who feels like this!”

How about: “I wish I could live a little more, look up to the sky, not just the floor”. Wouldn’t it be good to look “up” and not just see the world directly in front of me.

And, she sings, life is passing by; the past seemed young and carefree. I miss those who passed through my life.

Adele has a way of capturing human angst and longing for intimacy and something that lasts forever.

Our 21st century western world is full of Adeles. Generally speaking the Church has been pretty poor at reaching them with a message of love, hope, fulfilment, meaning…. But wouldn’t it be great if we could help them “look up” to God, not just to the floor? To have that loss and longing met in the God who is love?

I have no easy answer: but I do recognise that I need to hear the longing of a lost human heart, and ensure that my preaching is full of empathy, speaking “heart to heart” (not just “head to head”) and full of real hope.

As C.S. Lewis wisely observed: “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

Here are a few texts that might help:

  • 1 Peter 3:15 encourages to be prepared to “always give a reason for our hope” (not just reasons for “faith”)
  • Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” As Augustine said “God has made us restless until we find our rest in Him”
  • To the woman at the well, who had gone from man to man, looking for love, but never finding satisfaction, Jesus said:”If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

There are plenty more examples, but the main point for me is the need to connect to the human heart and show that our deepest longings are best satisfied in God.

And my prayers are with Adele and many other young women like her, that they may find a reason for living in the Lord Jesus.

 

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2 thoughts on “The Adele phenomenon

  1. Naomi January 18, 2016 / 10:06 pm

    I agree, modern music is so often devoid of real human emotion but Adele has a way of connecting with real every day problems.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. metamorphe January 23, 2016 / 9:06 am

    an early version of the song “Million years ago” may be found here (I’m not on commission by the way!) this is the track http://www.rollingstone.com/…/watch-adele-perform-smoky…

    Watch Adele Perform Smoky ’25’ Ballad ‘Million Years Ago’
    ROLLINGSTONE.COM

    Like

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