The Bliss Blog


Jesse Winchester Smile JazzFest 2011.jpg

Another soul passed into the Light yesterday to join the celestial choir. I first heard Jesse Winchester’s music in the 80’s. As a consummate singer songwriter, he had  a gift for vivid imagery that took the listener along for the ride.

Songs such as Mississippi, You’re On My Mind, The Brand New Tennessee Waltz , Yankee Lady and Rhumba Man will forever be part of his lyrical legacy. Cosmically coincidentally, I was listening to WXPN, which is a member supported NPR station in Philly while writing this and the song Yankee Lady came on.

His work was covered by the likes of other musical masters, including Jimmy Buffett, Joan Baez, Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello, Raffi, The Everly Brothers and Wynona Judd whose version of the song That’s What Makes You Strong,  still brings tears to my eyes.

That’s What Makes You Strong-Jesse Winchester

If you love somebody

Then that means you need somebody

And if you need somebody

That’s what makes you weak

But if you know you’re weak…

And you love someone

Oh it’s a funny thing

That’s what makes you strong

That’s what makes you strong

That’s what gives you power

That’s what lets the meek come sit beside the king

That’s what makes us smile

In our final hour

That’s what moves our souls

And that’s what makes us sing


When I consider those words, I think about the polarity we take for granted; that of strength vs. ‘weakness’. What if the other side of strong is ‘vulnerable’? Even that definition carries with it the risk of wounding. But imagine this, when you are willing bare your soul to another, you also make yourself available to love. For a long time, I have held on to the belief that it wasn’t ok to need anyone, since I translated need to neediness and boy, did that feel sucky! It wasn’t until I recognized that being human carries with it the opportunity to ride a see-saw. If you are the only one on it, you can’t make it go anywhere. When you are on it with someone else, sometimes your feet are on the ground and sometimes up in the air. You need to trust that the other person will move it up and down with ease and grace and not leave you hanging or crash land you on the ground and they are called on to do the same with you.  That way, you can both enjoy the ride.

Hoping that Jesse smiled in his final hour~



Photo credit:  flickr/robbiesaurus

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