Every few weeks, I make a pilgrimage to CD Central in Lexington, my local record store, to while away an hour or so, thumbing through rows upon rows of compact discs and vinyl. This is a time-tested journey for me, one I have taken in cities too numerous to count. I go in search of new music, which I inevitably find—the latest release from long-time favorites like Rosanne Cash or Teddy Thompson, to more recent discoveries such as Caitlin Rose and Emeli Sandé—but I also make this trip for something more.

I come to these buildings to worship, to retreat into some inner sanctuary and commune only with the music and the artists who have created it. Here, within these hallowed walls layered with posters and shelves of box sets, I turn myself over to ritual. I hear my own private Eucharist coming from the speakers scattered throughout the store. I recite a liturgy of familiar lyrics, commune with relics of timeworn vinyl. I take in the familiar incense of must and mold, paying tribute to images of singers like Nina Simone and John Lennon that have been cut from worn album covers and posted on the walls—Stations of the Cross. I make my offering at the cash register, an attempt to keep these churches and their ministers going. When this service ends and I exit back into the world, I go in peace, eager to share the good news of my finds with friends.

This ceremony has its roots in my childhood. As an only child, I spent many an afternoon in front of my father’s RCA turntable in his library, kneeling on the orange shag carpet, absorbing the catholic tastes of his record collection—the sounds of Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, the Beatles, Barbra Streisand, Herb Alpert, and the Andrews Sisters. There, in that room, surrounded by vinyl and books, I slowly made a connection that endures in my life—that art and the divine are inseparable. Since then, I have committed to living a life circumscribed by this union, to be a captive of beauty and enlightenment and creative revelation, whether it be found in the nave of a cathedral or at a listening station in a record shop.

“He who sings, prays twice,” tradition holds that St. Augustine said. It’s a creed I know to be true whenever I hear the ambered voice of Patty Griffin or the tattered sounds of Billie Holiday, each time I listen to the Scottish folksinger Jean Redpath croon Robert Burns’s “My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose” in tones as clear as the River Dee.

This I believe—that in lifting our voices or pens we approach the divine, offering a prayer that rises through the air like incense.

October 16, 2019

Touching the Divine

When Jason Howard was young, he spent many afternoons listening to his father's record collection on an RCA turntable. That was the beginning of Howard's lifelong belief that music and art are connected to the divine.
December 2, 2015


I am a music student. In the world of music you hear a lot about talent. However, I am not a talented musician. What I want to end up doing in my life is teaching music to middle and high...
July 2, 2015

The Music in Me

I believe in music. I believe in its power to fill me with hope, joy, sadness, anger, and so many other emotions. Music strengthens these emotions and allows me to feel even more than I did before. Music has always...
July 1, 2015

Life is Music

I believe in music and the power it has on us. Everyone has different reasons to why they listen to music and many of us listen to music for certain activities in our day. Some like me have music to...
June 17, 2015

The Power of Music

I believe the words of a song can guide you along your life’s journey starting at any age because what you hear goes into your subconscious mind. For me, I first heard Sam Cooke’s legendary voice when I was about...
June 17, 2015

Celebration of a Black Sabbath

I have been introduced to many popular ideas and countless philosophies for most of my life. Yet not all of those ideas there are very few things that I actually believe in. But there's one thing I'm sure of -...
June 2, 2015

Music Labels

It was July 29th, 2013, eight o'clock pm. Twelve hours had passed since I arrived at the Warped Tour venue. I was there to watch my favorite bands play. The place was reaching closing hours as the final bands finished...
May 15, 2015

Music, My Superhero

When I was six, my mama would always have music playing in the car. It was either The Beatles, Enya, David Bowie, Paul Simon, David Grey, or Neil Young. I grew up listening to these artists, and they became a...
May 15, 2015

Music is Magnificent

I believe in the power of music. It works in mysterious and magnificent ways that helps build relationships with others, and develop self awareness. Music is a huge influence on the experiences of life. It works all the time, whatever...