Hope as a Companion: Music for the Journey

by Kerry Dexter /
Kerry Dexter's picture
Apr 20, 2020 / 0 comments

There are so many ways music can speak to, and with, these shifting and changing times. For this part of the adventure of Music for Shifting Times, come along on a journey that takes in dark and light, but always with hope as a companion.

Hope as a Companion: Music for the Journey

Maura O'Connell sings Trouble in the Fields, with Nanci Griffith on harmony. Nanci wrote the song with Rick West at another time several decades ago, when things were hard for farmers, and it recalls another time of challenge; it's worth listening to in these times, too. Nanci first released the song on her album Lone Star State of Mind, and Maura recorded it on her album Helpless Heart. Kyle Carey has also put her own stamp on the song, on her recent album, called The Art of Forgetting.

Matraca Berg is one of the few Nashville musicians who was born and raised in Nashville. She wrote the song O Cumberland about that, about memories, about thinking of well loved places. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band backs her on this video, and she recorded it with them on their album Will the Circle Be Unbroken part III.

Picking up the tempo a bit, David Foley on flute and Jack Smedley on fiddle invite listeners along on a musical journey from their album Time to Fly. It is a set called Head East, in which a tune composed by Jack is bookended by two tunes by David. Guitarist Jenn Butterworth joins them here and on the album. All three musicians are based in Glasgow in Scotland.

Rani Arbo and the three men who make up daisy mayhem often choose songs that talk of hope in the midst of darkness. Agnostic gospel, they have been known to call it. Here, they have a good time with the song Joy Comes Back with Scott Kessel on percussion, Anand Nayak on guitar, Andrew Kinsey on bass, and Rani Arbo on fiddle trading lead and harmony vocals and getting the audience to sing along. You might too, as you take in this lively and uplifting performance. It was recorded at the Me and Thee Coffeehouse in Marblehead, Massachusetts. You will find the song recorded on Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem's album Big Old Life.

You will have met Carrie Newcomer's music before if you've been reading past stories in this series of Music for Shifting Times. One aspect of her work, Newcomer says, is finding the sacred in the ordinary, the everyday. What she finds there often infuses her songs. This one, called Holy As The Day Is Spent, offers not only thanksgiving for such things as warn wool socks and the dog who runs in her sleep, but finds that frying eggs sound like psalms and a skein of geese make up a hymn. "Holy is the place I stand, to give whatever small good I can," is one of the lines, as is "Morning light sings providence."  

Along with the others you have explored, this is also a good song for reflection in these times, and brings things full circle from the hope of the farm couple in Trouble in the Fields. Newcomer first recorded it on her album The Gathering of Spirits. You may also find it on her album Kindred Spirits: A Collection.

May this circle of song help you as you make your way through this season, and beyond.



Thank you for staying with us through this journey. Below, you'll find a link that will take you to an article which has a bit more backstory on the series. It also has links to a number of the stories, including ones called Listening for Community, Music for Winter's Changes, and The Geography of Hope.

Music for Shifting Times

Music for Shifting Times




Kerry Dexter is Music Editor at Wandering Educators. You may reach Kerry at music at wanderingeducators dot com.

You may find more of Kerry's work in National Geographic Traveler, Strings, Perceptive Travel, Journey to Scotland, Irish Fireside, and other places, as well as at her own site, Music Road.