You ever have one of those days? You know, those extra rough days that just wears on your soul? Yesterday was like that for me.

Excuse me a minute while I get personal — at the end of a long, stressful day, Mama Bella called to tell me that our family dog drowned in the pool (He was at least fourteen years old, and the poor guy had cataracts, bad hearing, persistent hot spots, a replaced joint, and arthritis so bad that the vet recommended he get a daily fragment of Tylenol Arthritis in his food. It was definitely his time to go, but I really wish that it wasn’t like that).

Let me tell you, I needed a good, long weep tonight after getting that news.

If you’re like me, you need a pick-me-up on days like that. Call me crazy; but even though I am not a particularly religious person, I’ve found that listening to religious music calms my spirit when I need respite. And being from the Caribbean, there’s something about the music of my region that connects with me like nothing else does.

Island people, you know what I’m talking about. You don’t tend to hear hip hop songs that give praise to a higher power on the radio or at the club; that’s what made “Jesus Walks” such a wonderful anomaly. But in reggae music, praising Jah has been a part of the music since back in Bob Marley’s day (just listen to Jah Live, which he composed in response to the naysayers who jeered at Rastafari following the death of Haile Selassie I in 1975).

That uplifting trend continues in Caribbean music. This might sound strange to those of you who have never tried it, but there’s something kind of awesome about being at a concert or nightclub, hearing a veritable hymn blast through the speakers, and being part of an audience that is moved by the music. And these aren’t squeaky clean functions where there’s someone taking up a collection or passing out wood-handled fans, either. Call me a heathen (seriously, my mom does!), but some of my most potent spiritual experiences have taken place while dancing, most likely with a drink in hand.

Some of my favorite religious reggae songs are by the late, great Garnet Silk, yet another reggae legend tragically cut down in his prime. Some of Garnet’s songs were little more than Bible verses set to song, and his singing really feels like church. Take a listen to the great man singing Fill Us Up With Your Mercy. I also have a lot of love for Luciano — It’s Me Again, Jah is a classic. Back in the day, Half Pint’s Greetings was one of the biggest tunes in the dancehall, and it remains one of my all time favorite songs.

Religious party music is also popular in my homeland. David Rudder has been called the Trinidadian Bob Marley, and his anthemic High Mas — essentially an “Our Father” for debauched Carnival revellers — is one of his all-time best. My new favorite is Issac Blackman’s To The Ceiling.

The video isn’t all slick BET style, and the lyrics might be hard to understand, so click here for a transcription. But the message was exactly what I needed to hear after all of today’s stress and heartache. “God you have my back, always defend me when I’m under attack.”

I love this song, and I hope you do too. Because we all have those days when we feel like there’s an invisible target on our backs.

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COMMENTS

curlylocks says:
February 8, 2007, 4:44 am
I am so sorry to hear about your old boy... I know how much it hurts to lose them. *hugs to you*
bella says:
February 8, 2007, 9:20 am
Thanks, curlylocks. He was always a cool, quirky dog. When he was a puppy, he was one of three dogs and the others passed away, so now I hope he's with them, wagging his tail in doggy heaven. Poor little dude. =(
jerseybred says:
February 8, 2007, 10:10 am
So sorry to hear about your dog, Bella. A song that uplifts me is "Ultimate Relationship" by MJB. I love that song.
titilayo says:
February 8, 2007, 11:00 am
I love that Issac Blackman song, but I have to admit that I get so caught up in the rhythm that I've never really heard what he was saying. Will definitely give a closer listen next time I hear it on the radio.
Davina says:
February 8, 2007, 11:01 am
Bella, Please accept my condolences for you and your family's loss. Dogs are family members & I know it's gonna be different for you when you go back home but just remember the good times you had with him. :)
bella says:
February 8, 2007, 11:12 am
Titilayo, I know -- one of my brothers thought the song was about a girl! Probably because so many of our soca songs are about sexiness or slackness. But I am so happy that the song became popular. It's a good one, and I think it's the kind of thing Trinidad needs more of these days.
Isis says:
February 8, 2007, 12:38 pm
Greetings I bring from Jah..to all..Raggamuffins..owee Respect Bella..Sorry to hear about your loss.. Jah BLess Sis
Katrina says:
February 8, 2007, 1:18 pm
I'm sooo sorry about your doggy. I know what you mean about the feeling of your soul hurting but keep smiling...you and your soul are BEAUTIFUL! Everything is gonna be alright! Loved "To the Ceiling"!
Coffy says:
February 8, 2007, 4:37 pm
sorry for your loss Bella
Brunsli says:
February 8, 2007, 8:58 pm
Oh, I'm so sorry to hear about your dog! Poor baby!
Dahls says:
February 8, 2007, 11:50 pm
I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your dog. My condolences go out to you & your family. I love To The Ceiling; I've had to get the lyrics many times for my friends who had no idea why they were making a jump to the ceiling. It is one of the weirdest yet beautiful moments to be at a "Glow" fete and then suddenly start singing (with equal fever) one of these religious songs.
Bygbaby says:
February 9, 2007, 1:47 am
Wow this is bad. Sorry to hear about your loss. When things happen like this, it is never easy! Keep your head up. Bygbaby
Suburbanbushbabe says:
February 10, 2007, 5:38 pm
So sorry to hear about your dog. One song that does it for me every time if Bobby McFerring's The 23rd Psalm, from his Medecine Music CD. Right to the heart and soul.
Dakota says:
February 20, 2007, 7:59 pm
i love this song so much and i am searching for the words and i just cant find them can anyone help me. This song is a major hit in Barbados keep doing your thing Issac Blackman
Olivia says:
May 29, 2012, 7:31 am
I could have wrote all of this. Please, listen to "Meditation" by Isaac Blackman. It breaks my heart and at the same time, it makes me feel good and relaxed. ("U got it" by him, is great too) Sorry for your loss.
Olivia says:
May 29, 2012, 7:34 am
(And i've just realised how old is this post)

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