Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Snobbery or Spiritual Sensitivity?

I am a music snob.  I totally own that.  For this reason I am dreading the release of the Les Misérables film.  I saw the trailer, you know.  And Anne Hathaway simply does not cut it as Fantine, and I am angry with Hollywood for what will just become another travesty of a musical film a la Sweeney Todd and Phantom of the Opera. End of discussion.


End. of. Discussion.

Because I tried to have a discussion about it on Facebook and it just turned into a kind of a Facebook brawl: Music Snobs vs. Not Music Snobs.

My name is Lara and I am a music snob.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I want to share a little story with you about how the Lord used my music snobbishness for good.  At least, that's what my Stake Relief Society President*(SRSP) thinks.

Last July, while we were vacationing in Chicago, my cell phone rang at 6:00 in the morning.  I am not a morning person in normal life, and especially not while I am on vacation, but for some reason I answered that phone call.  Probably because I wasn't awake enough to think through it all logically.

It was the SRSP on the other end of the line.  Why on earth was she calling me at 6:00 in the morning!?  I realize that I live in the time zone that is one hour later than Chicago, but, SRSP actually lives in the same time zone as Chicago, all because I live in the nether regions of our stake boundaries.

She was calling to ask me to sing at a Stake Relief Society function to be held in October.  She specifically asked me to sing a song by the name of I Heard Him Come.

Now, even at 6:00 in the morning, when I am too groggy to be aware of most things, I am still painfully aware that I Heard Him Come is perhaps the most awful song in the history of "Mormon Pop," which, by the way, is the most awful genre of music in the history of, well, ever.  Except maybe rap.

(If you don't agree with me, that's fine.  Probably you aren't a music snob.  We can still be friends.  I'll even go see Les Misérables with you and pretend to like it.)

I totally understand that this music has a place, and hey--if it's going to help some 16-year-old girl at EFY* to understand Christ better, then more power to it.  I just don't want to hear it.

Or sing it.  I thought I got that song all out of my system when I was 16.

So when the SRSP asked me to sing this particular song at a moment when I was still lying in bed, barely awake, barely able to process, the only thing I could think to say was, "Could I sing something else?"

"No.  Sister Smith (not her real name) has asked for YOU to sing THIS song in particular.  She has the program all planned and feels very strongly about it."

I've been taught to help where I'm needed, and if they needed me to sing this particular song, well, then I guess I had to do it.  So, I agreed and hung up the phone and went back to sleep.

I tried. I really did.  I bought the sheet music.  I sat at the piano and sang it.  And I just couldn't do it.

So, I emailed Sister Smith, who by now was the new SRSP, and said the following:

Hi Sister Smith,

I told Sister Former SRSP that I would sing "I Heard Him Come" for the October RS conference, as you know.  I am having reservations about the song, though.  I have sung it many times (mostly when I was a young woman), but it is just not really the right genre of music for my voice and I am not very comfortable singing it.  I have been thinking and have come up with a couple other suggestions that are more suitable for my voice type. They have a similar message to "I Heard Him Come" and I am wondering if you would think over them.  I would, however,  be happy to sing "I Heard Him Come" if you feel that is best.

Here are my other suggestions:

1.  O Divine Redeemer by Charles Gounod 
2.  Weepin' Mary by David Fletcher 
3.  Wondrous Love by David Fletcher

Like I said, I'm willing to do whatever you feel is best, but I thought I'd throw these out there.

I sent along some sound clips and copies of the lyrics and awaited her reply.

And what do you know?  She emailed me back and said that she herself had been having reservations about that particular song, but didn't know of anything else that had the message she was hoping for.  She thanked me for being so sensitive to the Spirit and asked me to sing Weepin' Mary instead.

First I breathed a sigh of relief, but then I had to laugh.  I didn't think I was being very sensitive to the Spirit at all.  I was just being a music snob who could not handle singing a song that was beneath my musical sensibilities.  I actually felt really bad about sending the email in the first place instead of just graciously doing what I was asked to do.

But, maybe Sister Smith was right. Maybe my musical snobbery was used for good.  I mean, the song I ended up singing was definitely way better than the original selection.  And I am probably one of the only sisters in the entire stake who even knew of its existence.  I know the Lord works in mysterious ways, so if that was the case, I am happy to have been his vehicle.

However, I learned another important lesson at the same time.  I probably should have actually prayed about it instead of letting my prejudices drive my decision to email Sister Smith.  I may have come up with the same answer, but then at least I would have known that I was following the Spirit instead of being a snob.

But I'm still a music snob.  Just so we keep that straight.

Stake - a geographical unit made up of several smaller LDS congregations.  Because of where we live, our particular stake is geographically very large and covers area in two state and hundreds of square miles.  When we lived in Utah, our stake only covered a couple square miles.

Relief Society - The Church's Women's Organization.  Each smaller congregation has a sister who serves as Relief Society President, and each Stake has a Stake Relief Society President - a sister who oversees those Presidents.  There is also a General Relief Society President who oversees the Relief Society of the entire Church, worldwide.

EFY - Especially For Youth.
Lara Neves
Lara Neves

Lara is mom to three daughters—two teens and a tween. She loves to share her parenting and homemaking triumphs and failures here at Overstuffed! She was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2015 and has been fighting it ever since. When she isn't working on her mother of the year award, you can find her reading, singing, or taking photos.


  1. Mormon/Christian pop literally makes me cringe. I realize some people really feel great when they hear it but...just, ugh. I suppose I am also a music snob---although mine is more geared towards piano and some of the "arrangements" people do of hymns and other popular music just makes me sad.

    That being said---and despite my dislike of Anne Hathaway---I'm SO excited for Les Mis! Mainly cuz I LOVE Hugh Jackman. Over three years ago I wrote a blog post about how they should do a musical Les Mis and he should be Val Jean. (I'm still waiting for Hollywood to give me credit...) Plus, it looks like at least Eponine and Marius will be played by legit singers, right?

    Also, I hope you wanted a really long comment from me since that's what you got:)

  2. This was too funny! I wouldn't say I'm a music snob, but most of EFY songs make me cringe! I prefer sticking to basic hymns over the Momon pop

  3. I can't really claim to be a music snob because I simply don't know enough about music to warrant the title, but my sister could get into a BIG LONG discussion about this with you. She is asked to play her viola everywhere, for any kind of function and I know she has cringed at the selection of music frequently thrust her way.

    As for Les Mis, I'm not a big Anne Hathaway fan either, but I really, really hope Hugh Jackman can impress me. I am also impressed with the casting of Marius... don't know much about the rest of them. I love the musical so much, I have to hope I love the rest of the casting.

  4. I swear that italicized parenthesis were for me! lol I could even picture you saying it!It's okay. I wouldn't ask you to sit through Les Mis anyway. lol I wouldn't want to rush you to the hospital afterwards for your bleeding ears! hahaha

  5. I will see Les Miz, but I doubt I'll like it. Ever since PBS released a rendition, I can't see anything else coming close.

    Music snob? I think not. But if you were, I would totally want you to live near me so I could take advantage of said snobbery : )

  6. I adore you, I hope you know that.

    I am an unabashed music snob. I can't stand Mormon pop music, and hearing some of the musical numbers that happen in my ward make me cringe on a very regular basis.

    My best music snob story is when I was asked to sing in a group for an RS meeting. I agreed without knowing what the music was. It was the most cheesy, horrid thing I've ever sung or performed. What made it worse was that the women I was singing with kept talking about what a beautiful, spiritual song it was an how much they loved it. I couldn't even sing it with a straight face! I almost dropped out before my husband reminded me I had committed to it and should follow through. As we rehearsed, they kept asking me what I thought, and I kept biting my lip to keep from thinking "Just pick another song, please?"

    Yes, I'm a music snob, and I don't apologize for it. Usually.

    (And I could talk about this topic for hours!)

  7. Thank you for saying what you did about Anne Hathaway, who, I am sure, is a lovely person and to whom I wish no ill. But she is not Fantine. I thought I was the only person in the world who was not blown away by the tailer and was feeling lonely. Thank you for allowing a safe space to speak out. Do you need a treasurer or doorholder for the music snob meeting? Maybe a sub-committee chair for Musical Theatre Snobbery?

  8. Such a relief I can still be your friend even though I liked Sweeney Todd! *whew* Interesting how our Heavenly Father speaks even when we're not intentionally listening... ;o)

  9. I'm with you on the Mormon Pop stuff. I heard a song several years ago that was supposed to be from a single woman's perspective about how she didn't have a man to bring her flowers, but Heavenly Father made wild flowers bloom and that was good enough.

    I was single at the time and just about crashed my car from gagging. I know Heavenly Father loves me. He doesn't need to bring me flowers to prove it, and neither does my husband.

    Visiting from MMB.

  10. I Heard Him Come makes me want to cut off my arm with a spoon and beat myself to death with it.

    Can I join your club? I can be the food committee chair. I make killer treats!