lenten journal: dance



If Ginger were writing this blog post tonight with this word in mind, I can guarantee it would have a completely different feel and would involve “Uptown Funk” in some way. What’s really played in the record player of my mind for a couple of days are waltzes, which are, I think, my favorite kind of song because they manage to carry hope and longing in their rhythm. Life, it seems to me, moves in three-quarter time.

Tonight, then, is a musical post of several of my favorite dance songs, starting with Lyle Lovett’s “The Waltzing Fool”—

and the waltzing fool
he knows they’re all thinking
he’s only an old waltzing fool . . .

The second song may be in 4/4, but it’s a waltz at heart and it tells a great story: Nanci Griffith’s “Love at the Five and Dime”—

they’d sing, dance a little closer to me . . .

David Wilcox wrote a song about going to his high school reunion called “Last Chance Waltz” that kills me every time I hear it.

won’t you please waltz me free
the turns of our steps are untangling me
free from some dragged around memory
and the rusty old remnants of fear
and after 10 years
I’m melting the shackles with tears

My closing offering comes from Pierce Pettis. The song is called “To Dance.” I couldn’t find a video clip, so I’ve uploaded the audio and offer the full lyric.

to dance
a perspective of bones
a musical bath
clearing a path of one’s own
blue jeans and muscle or crinoline rustle
you learn it in class or alone
yo dance

to dance
it’s a gravity thing
shoes to the earth
pulling toward a verse
that is beckoning
the dizzy effect of rhythm & sweat
flying like a kid in a swing
to dance

arms in a moment’s
unworried connection
a telling of hearts
where they don’t need protection
a journey in place
a private affection to share

to dance
is swimming in time
where passion in public
and prudence can somehow align
moving like lovers
on top of the covers
and everyone knows it’s alright
to dance

touch without touching love without grieving
hold on and let go without anyone leaving
all of it part of the beat you’re receiving
and sending back out through your feet
in itself, it’s complete
and God it is sweet
to dance

to dance
the movement confides
limbs in a language spoken in three quarter time
then is suddenly gone
at the end of the song
and you know you were safe all along
to dance, to dance
place in body part

Shall we dance?



  1. Milton, I love Pierce’s “dance” tune almost as much as I love Grace Pettis’ “Dancing”. Thank you for introducing me to it.

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