Uplifting Non-LDS Music

jmb275Happiness, LDS, media, music, spirituality 32 Comments

I really like music. I like just about every kind of music. I like to choose it according to my mood to help me achieve a goal. Perhaps it is to relax, or maybe inspire me. Sometimes it’s nothing more than a distraction. Sometimes it moves me deeply in a very spiritual way. I really like most LDS hymns and children’s songs precisely because they move me spiritually. Nevertheless, there is a plethora of non-LDS songs that lift me spiritually as well.

In this post, I’m taking a break from my normal analysis to report on the non-LDS songs that move me spiritually or uplift or inspire me in some way. Here is a small, eclectic smattering of these songs in random order:

  • 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky. My favorite piece of classical music.
  • John Rutter’s Requiem. Best Requiem EVER!
  • August’s Rhapsody from the August Rush soundtrack.
  • Piano Man by Billy Joel. A great story told.
  • You Make Me So Very Happy by Blood, Sweat & Tears.
  • Turn! Turn! Turn! by The Byrds. There’s a great lesson in this song.
  • The Devil Went Down to Georgia by Charlie Daniels Band. Making deals with the Devil produces awesome music!
  • Listen to the Music by The Doobie Brothers. Great song, great lyrics, great band.
  • The Mission soundtrack by Ennio Morricone. Seriously, ’nuff said.
  • Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton. Great message, made better when you know the history of the song.
  • Shower the People by James Taylor. If more of us took the message of this song to heart there would be much less heartache in the world.
  • Perhaps Love by John Denver. Who doesn’t love John Denver? He’s a national treasure.
  • To the Summit by Jon Schmidt. I know Jon Schmidt is sort of Mormon-ish music, but his music is really insipiring.
  • Don’t Stop Believing by Journey.
  • Dust in the Wind by Kansas. Humility is a virtue!
  • Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin. DUH!
  • What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong. Indeed!
  • Black or White by Michael Jackson. Great message, still sorely needed.
  • Symphony #40 by Mozart. Moving, brilliant.
  • Exogenesis: Symphony (3 parts) by Muse. Very moving, beautiful, and a strange twist of hard rock, classical, and new age.
  • You Get What You Give by New Radicals. Stupid band, but has one song with a great message.
  • This Too Shall Pass by OK Go. New song by a great group.
  • The entire musical score from Les Miserables. Music from one of the best musicals ever produced from one of the most influential philosophical and sociological novels ever written.
  • Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right by Peter, Paul And Mary (obviously a remake of Bob Dylan’s classic). Still brilliant.
  • If I Had a Hammer by Peter, Paul And Mary (also a remake). A bit hippy, but was THE anthem for the civil rights movement.
  • Take the Power Back by Rage Against The Machine. RATM is a bit over-the-top for me sometimes, but their lyrics send clear messages of pushing back against the “system” which I think we all need to do sometimes.
  • Life is a Highway by Rascall Flatts (cover of Tom Cochrane’s hit, but RF does it so much better). Great message, uplifting.
  • You Can’t Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones. This is the theme song at my house whenever my kids start whining!
  • The Sounds of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel.
  • Joy To The World by Three Dog Night. Uplifting, fun, done by a great band.
  • Pretty much all of U2’s albums. Seriously, how does one pick a favorite U2 song? It’s like trying to pick a favorite child!
  • Right Now by Van Halen. Current events gone wild!
  • Album Live At The Acropolis by Yanni. New age brilliance!
  • Album Appassionato by Yo-Yo Ma. Need I say more?
  • Laughing With by Regina Spektor. A song about atheists in foxholes.

So now, readers (if you actually made it through my extensive list) what are your favorite non-LDS songs which uplift and/or inspire you in some way?

Comments 32

  1. “Get down on it” – Kool & the Gang: It reminds me that sometimes I need to get my back up off the wall, like when I spend too much times here.

  2. The first time I heard “What a wonderful world” was in 1986. I was sixteen, we were on a family vacation from SLC to SoCal. My dad was driving the station wagon with my mom and numbers 4 and 5 inside, along with the family tent and most of the sleeping bags. I am kid #1, and was driving a 1972 Bonneville Brougham with my sisters, #2 and #3, and kid brother, #6. It was 3 am. In my car, everyone was asleep but me. The old car was quiet as my dad had wanted to rest for a few minutes in the California desert before descending the big hill. The AM radio was tuned to an almost perfectly clear station. It really was a wonderful world with a clear sky, the stars, and the moonlight, my driver’s license, and my dad trusting me.

  3. I love this list! I haven’t heard all of them, but the ones I have I totally agree with. Even Yanni 🙂

    Every time I hear Louis Armstrong’s version of “Its a Wonderful World” (yes I know its the original, but there have been so many covers) I think of “Good Morning Vietnam”. I’m not anti-war (and support Bush’s decision to enter the current one), but seeing images of young soldiers set to Louis Armstrong’s soulful voice singing about all the good in the world is really powerful, and all the emotion that Robin William’s character puts into singing the final “oh, yeah” always touches me.

    I’m also a big fan of the mashup of over the rainbow/its a wonderful world the Hawaiian singer did (sorry I can’t remember his name and am too lazy right now to look it up)

  4. As a Michael Jackson fanatic, I feel the need to list a few more, since he wrote so many message songs. 🙂

    -We Are The World – Written in 1985 to raise money for famine relief in Africa, this song encourages us to give of ourselves to the less fortunate.
    -Man In The Mirror – a positive reminder that change begins with us.
    -Heal the World – his anthem for peace off the same album as Black or White.
    -Keep the Faith – the title says it all.
    -Will You Be There – a plea for support, love, and understanding.
    -Money – an excellent reminder of the perils of serving Mammon.
    -Earth Song – an environmentalist anthem. The passion with which he sings this is incredible.
    -We’ve Had Enough – unreleased except in the Ultimate Collection, it’s a cry against senseless violence, both on the streets and in wartime.

  5. For inspiration, I often listen to Michael Card, Casting Crowns, and Twyla Paris. Many evangelical hymnnists are writing works of pure praise, and need not trouble us about theological differences, and you’ll often find meaningful “life lesson” songs on the country stations, but the quality there will be scattered among things TBM’s probably have to stay away from from religious reasons. So, know what you’re getting: its sort of like eating wild mushrooms — it should only be none by experts who’ve tested them before.

  6. Great list!

    I love that my kids watch the Cars DVD and so I get to hear the Rascall Flatts cover of Life is a highway every time I watch it.

    My recommendations for the list:

    Beethoven’s 9th

    Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copland

    The Age of Aquarius by the 5th Dimension

    Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys

    New World Symphony by Anton Dvorak

    Come Undone and Ordinary World by Duran Duran (their thoughtful resurgence into top hits long after other bands would have faded out)

    Gloria by John Rutter with the collection of “Anthem’s” on the Same Album. Love the sweet mixture of Brass, Organ, and Choir.

    Caribe by Jazz Pianist Michel Camilo

    A Mis Abuelos by Jazz Trumpeter Arturo Sandoval

  7. You can count me as one who believes that any musical contributions offered by Michael Jackson, are mitigated by his admitted behavior with children. The fact that so many people put this aside to celebrate his musical “genius”, makes me wonder if other child abusers fail socially only because they fail to contribute to pop culture.

  8. “I Talk to the Wind” by King Crimson, for those times you feel you just don’t fit in

    “Dun Ringill” by Jethro Tull, a simple guitar pattern that sticks in your head

    “Hearts” by YES, no better rock lyric poet than Jon Anderson

    “Mansions of the Lord” from the movie WE WERE SOLDIERS, sung at President Reagan’s funeral. I don’t shed a tear upon hearing it; I WEEP.

  9. #9- Very brave confession my friend. (Personally I’d rather eat glass.)

    Off the top of my head and in no particular order, I’ll add these to the mix.

    Angel – Sarah McLachlan (reminds me of a dear friend who passed a few years back. Always makes me feel good)
    Hallelujah – kd Lang (She does the best version)
    Annie’s Song – John Denver (Don’t know why)
    Under the Boardwalk – The Drifters (No explanation needed I think)
    Smile – Uncle Kracker

  10. A few comments:
    Re #3 Paul
    Thanks for the story. Music is made even more powerful when there’s a great story attached!

    Re #6 D.H.

    I’m also a big fan of the mashup of over the rainbow/its a wonderful world the Hawaiian

    Oh yeah, that is a great one. The artist is Israel Kamakawiwoʻole.

    Re #7 Duerma
    Yeah, there are a lot of great ones. Despite MJ’s behavior, I’ll continue to praise his music (though I see Cowboy’s point). I agree with your selections, those are good ones.

    Re #8 FireTag
    Hmm, I’ve not listened to them. I’ll have to give them a try.

    Re #10 Riguel

    Beethoven’s 9th

    Seriously, I have no idea how this one escaped my list. Great song.

    Great selections all around!

  11. Beethoven’s 5th and 9th symphonies do a lot for me, each movement in turn. Lots of people just know the first movement of the 5th, and the last movement of the 9th, but each movement adds to the story of each piece.

  12. I expected the accusations would be brought up as soon as I stepped up to the plate for MJ – thank you for keeping it civil. @11, he never admitted to anything. I’ll toss you a few links that detail what really happened in the cases (vs. media distortions) so your consciences can be at ease listening to his music. 😉
    Michael Jackson: The Making of the Myth – this details the 1993 case and the reasons behind the settlement.
    A blog post re: the 1993 case (much shorter, but more biased than the first – this guy’s mad)
    Huffington Post article by the same angry guy, re: the 2005 case.
    Roger Friedman @ Hollywood Reporter gives a brief summation of the 2005 case without nearly so much emotion.

    And now, so I haven’t COMPLETELY hijacked this post, here’s some more offerings from people who are not MJ:
    Pocketful of Sunshine by Natasha Beddingfield
    Rhythm Nation – Janet Jackson
    Make It Happen – Mariah Carey
    When You Believe – Mariah Carey & Whitney Houston (this is the song from The Prince of Egypt)
    Circle of Life – Elton John (or the Lion King soundtrack version)

    These don’t have messages so much as being light-hearted and silly. Sometimes just giggling to a song full of nonsense is such a pick me up! 🙂
    Another Postcard – Barenaked Ladies
    If I Had $1,000,000 – Barenaked Ladies
    One Week – Barenaked Ladies
    Birdhouse In Your Soul – They Might Be Giants
    Istanbul – They Might Be Giants
    The Saga Begins – Weird Al Yankovic (heck, most stuff by Weird Al falls in this category)

  13. There is inspirational music and there is music which uplifts. Lady Gaga, for example, doesn’t especially inspire in a religious or spiritual sense, but always makes me happy when I hear her music. I think the same would be true for James Taylor, “Belfast to Boston,” “You can Close Your Eyes” and “Copperline” being good example tracks.

    Bluegrass is always uplifting. As is old-timey gospel music.

    Other inspiring or uplifting music:

    Contemporary Christian or Contemporary Folk
    -David Phelps: “Just as I am”
    (don’t miss the vocal high point at the 2:20 mark)
    -David Phelps: “Gentle Savior”
    -Michael Card: “Joseph’s Song”
    -Beth Nielsen Chapman: “I Find You Love”
    -Valencia Vas: “Wonderous Love” (a Christian Hymn)
    -Lucy Kaplansky: “Broken Things”

    -Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, The Lark Ascending, “Romanza” from Symphony No. 5
    -Ravel: Piano Concerto in G
    -Samuel Barber – Violin Concerto

    -Alexandre Gretchaninoff: Of Thy Mystical Supper
    -Morten Lauridsen: O Magnum Mysterium
    -Eric Whitacre: Sleep
    -Maurice Duruflé: Ubi Caritas
    -John Rutter: “There is a Flower,” “God Be In My Head”
    -Franz Biebl: Ave Maria
    -Frank Ticheli: There Will Be Rest
    -Libera (boys choir): “Stay With Me,” “Voca Me,” “Far Away”

  14. “Yup. The exception being when he collaborated with vocalist Nathan Pacheco, fresh out of BYU:”

    Yanni – No exceptions! :0)

  15. Many dittos from above. Some of mine:

    Fishin’ in the Dark, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Not normally my thing, but wife loves it. Then she taught my kids to love it and sing it out loud in the car. Now we all love it as our family anthem. Down home kind of song.

    Anything by Egypt’s most beloved living singer Mohamed Mounir. The most uplifting joyful human being and singer imaginable. I love his ‘Alli Sawtak “Raise Your Voice” from the movie Destiny by director Yousef Chahine. On youtube with badly translated subtitles here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQj_eewMv-s. Mounir’s contribution to the world peace religious co-existence genre is Madad. Madad is an old Arabic term which is hard to translate but is basically used to call for divine aid. On youtube here with subtitles http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hG2m626N_YI Can’t find it on youtube, but the kids and I all love his upbeat make-ya-wanna-dance So Ya So. And his ‘Albi Masakin Shaabiya “My Heart is the Humble People’s Homes” just makes you believe the world and its people are fundamentally good.

    For messages that lift: Goo Goo Dolls, Better Days and Let Love In. Five For Fighting, The Riddle and 100 Years. Nickelback, If Today Was Your Last Day and Far Away, also favorites of the kiddos. Rob Thomas, Someday. All American Rejects, Move Along. Van Halen, Dreams. Rush, Bravado – it’s an atheist humanist anthem, but I change a single letter in the song and it’s my feelings about the Atonement.

    For pondering the mysteries of love: Aicha, both the original Cheb Khaled version and the mostly English version by Outlandish. Kazem al-Saher’s Madrasat al-Hub “School of Love” – he’s an Iraqi who is one of the most famous singers in the Arab world blending classical and pop Arab music, and the famous Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani wrote many of his songs including this one. Police, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic. Sting, Fields of Gold among so much else by Sting. Dave Matthews Band, You and Me.

    Christmas is an almost exclusively Mannheim Steamroller time for me 🙂 Though I always make room for the MoTab rendition of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

    Could go on and on like I’m sure everyone could. I’ll stop there.

  16. The best “Life is a Highway” is the Chris LeDoux version.

    In e more I’d add to the list is:
    “One Clear Voice” — Peter Cetera (I like some of his stuff with Chicago, too)

    Beyond that, I don’t know where to draw the line between “stuff I like” and “stuff that’s inspirational.” Personally, I find a lot of movie themes uplifting (Gettysburg, Out of Africa, Exodus, etc.) On the other hand, I hate it when people confuse emotion with the Spirit, so maybe uplifting is the wrong word. In any case, this was a fun post–and comments–to read through.

  17. I am a John Denver fan and I do like some folk music.
    Lateralus (Tool) performed on piano is awe inspiring.
    joseph schwantner “the mountains rising nowhere” is pure spirituality I can scarcely comprehend.
    Elliott Carter’s Second String Quartet is also a personal favorite of mine.

  18. ‘Take Me Back’ by Noiseworks.

    ‘Hall of the Mountain King’ by Greig.

    ‘Drops of Jupiter’ by Train.

    ‘Red Heart’ by Midnight Oil.

    ‘Stop the Cavalry’ by Jona Lewie.

    Anything from Billy Joel.

    ‘I Do it for You’ by Brian Adams.

    I love music in general and what I think is great depends on my mood at the time.

  19. Went off to think about things and stuck my MP3 player on and came up with a few more –

    ‘Like Wow! Wipeout!’; ‘Place in the Sun’; ‘Axe Grinder’; ‘Miss Freelove’ by Hoodoo Gurus

    ‘Days Like These’ by Cat Empire

    ‘Nosebleed Section’; ‘The Hard Road’; ‘Chase That Feeling’ by Hilltop Hoods

    ‘Uprising’ by Muse

  20. Wow, lots of great music here. Lots of these suggestions I haven’t heard, so I’m anxious to listen to all the great music that uplifts everyone.

    Re Ralph

    Anything from Billy Joel

    Amen to that.

    Re Clark

    Beyond that, I don’t know where to draw the line between “stuff I like” and “stuff that’s inspirational.” Personally, I find a lot of movie themes uplifting (Gettysburg, Out of Africa, Exodus, etc.) On the other hand, I hate it when people confuse emotion with the Spirit, so maybe uplifting is the wrong word.

    I suppose it’s different for everyone. I really am uplifted by songs that make a political, moral, or philosophical statement of some kind so I consider such songs “inspirational.” Songs by RATM fall into this category, even though for some I am sure such music would drive away the Spirit. I suppose I see a powerful message in the words.

  21. If we are going to allow movie scores into the list as inspirational, I LOVE(!) the score for Remember the Titans. Really gets the blood pumping and the emotions flowing.

  22. Re #29 Steven B
    I love the song “Leningrad.” It is even more meaningful for me since I served my mission in Russia. The people over there hold a special place in my heart.

  23. I think you would like music from Vienna Teng. Not very well known, But she is a wonderful talent. I’d start with the album Waking Hour. Many of the songs from that album inspire me, including Enough To Go By (Healing wounds), Eric’s Song (Inspires forgiveness), Lullabye For A Stormy Night (Parental inspiration), and Soon Love Soon (Very spiritual). I think you’ll appreciate those and more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *