Songs that Inspire: I Look to You

atkins-bookshelf-musicDuring difficult, dark times, people turn to prayer, poetry or songs to lift their souls or to remind themselves that they are not alone in their struggles. Every once in a while, a song comes a long that serves as all three (prayer, poetry, and song). “I Look to You” by Whitney Houston (1992 – 2012) is such a song. It was written by R. Kelly and recorded by Houston as the title track for her seventh and final album of the same name. The album was released in June of 2009, as part of the recording artist’s comeback after her absence from the recording studio for more than seven years. And it did quite well, becoming Houston’s 30th top 20 hit song.

The song is a return to Houston’s gospel roots and her Christian values: it is a beautiful and powerful piano ballad that expresses in very poetic terms how faith or trust in a loved one helps an individual overcome the trials and tribulations in life. In essence, the song is a lyrical prayer. This was a very personal song for Houston, who dealt with drug addiction, marital problems, financial problems, and legal disputes throughout her life. In an interview, Houston discussed why this so song meant so much to her: “That makes [the song] real. The changes that we go through, the transitions that we go through, the tests that we go through, being a mother, becoming a single mother. It all had its ups and its downs, but for the most part, I kept my faith and I kept my head up… I took my time. All the triumphs and the ups and downs and stuff, it’s all incorporated on the album, and hopefully not only does it inspire me, but inspires a whole lot of other people.”

What makes the song so haunting and so poignant, is that it was not enough to give her the strength to break the torturous bonds of her addiction (“I need you to set me free / Take me far away from the battle/I need you/Shine on me). Sadly, Houston died alone in a hotel room on February 9, 2012; that beautiful, soaring voice was forever silenced. “I Look to You” was her last gift to the world — a truly powerful and inspirational song that offers the hope of strength and personal salvation through love and faith, reminiscent of Shakespeare’s magnificent Sonnet 29: “Like to the lark at break of day arising / From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate; / For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings / That then I scorn to change my state with kings.”

I Look to You

As I lay me down,
Heaven hear me now.
I’m lost without a cause
After giving it my all.

Winter storms have come
And darkened my sun.
After all that I’ve been through
Who on earth can I turn to?

I look to you.
I look to you.
After all my strength is gone,
In you I can be strong
I look to you.
I look to you.
And when melodies are gone,
In you I hear a song.
I look to you.

About to lose my breathe,
There’s no more fighting left,
Sinking to rise no more,
Searching for that open door.

And every road that I’ve taken
Lead to my regret.
And I don’t know if I’m going to make it.
Nothing to do but lift my head

I look to you.
I look to you.
After all my strength is gone,
In you I can be strong
I look to you.
I look to you.
And when melodies are gone,
In you I hear a song.
I look to you.

My levees are broken
My walls have come
Tumbling down on me

The rain is falling.
Defeat is calling.
I need you to set me free.

Take me far away from the battle.
I need you.
Shine on me.

I look to you.
I look to you.
After all my strength is gone,
In you I can be strong
I look to you.
I look to you.
And when melodies are gone,
In you I hear a song.
I look to you.

Read related posts: The Story Behind the Cat’s in the Cradle
The Meaning of I Dreamed a Dream
The Poems I Turn to

For further reading: christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/octoberweb-only/whitneyhouston-oct09.html
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Look_to_You_(song)
apfix.mtv.com/2012/09/25/r-kelly-whitney-houston-i-look-to-you-duet/

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