“Words and music did for me what solid, even rigorous, religious argument could never do, they introduced me to God, not belief in God, more an experiential sense of GOD.” - Bono
I didn't know what to expect when I bought my ticket to Muscle Shoals. Like any good WASP, I'm a sucker for documentaries in general, music documentaries in particular. If you want to win a white person over simply invite them over to split a bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir and watch a music documentary on Netflix. You're well on your way to being BFFs for life.
Muscle Shoals tells the incredible story of how one poverty stricken country boy from the tiny town of Muscle Shoals, AL founded a recording studio so big artists like the Rolling Stones and Aretha Franklin were practically begging to come record there. It's a rags to riches (to loneliness) kind of story.
It's also a story about what music means to us. Where it comes from. Where it takes us. Bach once said that "the final aim of all music should be to the glory of God." He could have just as easily said that music doesn't only aim to glorify God, it also conveys the glory of God. It's why Jesus tells the people singing his praises that if they wouldn't the rivers, rocks and trees would.
How a town so small made such a huge impact in the music business is a David & Goliath type storyline, the kind Malcom Gladwell could easily write about. And the clips with Bono, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, and Steve Winwood certainly don't hurt either. Who doesn't love to see half-drunk Brits talk about, well, anything really? Fun laced fascination.
But the thing I kept thinking during the film, and well after, is that even though you buy a ticket to watch Muscle Shoals, somewhere in the middle you find yourself not just watching, but worshipping. How does the old hymn go? Lost in wonder, love and praise? Yes. Lost in wonder, love and praise.