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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Words For The Ages, Line Twenty

"What does it avail a man to gain a fortune and lose his soul?"

I clearly recall how that closing question from Golden Ribbons struck me the first time I listened to Loggins & Messina's second album. Not long after, the song became a favorite in the repertoire of the cover band I belonged to at the time. 

What I don't recall is when I first learned that composer Jim Messina had modified a slightly longer passage from Mark 8:36 to use as a fitting conclusion for his 1972 antiwar song. If any reader knows of another instance when a biblical passage has been so seamlessly converted into a succinct phrase for use in a popular song, I'd welcome hearing about it. 

Given Messina's source material, I'm guessing only the most militant atheist questioning this terse phrase as appropriate for my Words for the Ages series. And here's a juicy piece of useless musical trivia for even those militant atheists: Golden Ribbons was a pivotal reason behind Jim Messina leaving Poco, the band he had co-formed with Richie Furay from the still-warm ashes of Buffalo Springfield. Soon after Poco rejected Messina's majestic composition as "too political", Messina left the band and went on to work with Kenny Loggins. The rest .. 

"What doth it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" 


  1. How about Turn! Turn! Turn! by the Birds?

    1. Nice work Kim; how did I forget this much-more-obvious Pete Seeger composition? "F" in Bible studies for me.

  2. Hello, Pat. I hope this finds you all doing well. Although I am not a very big fan of U2 - I like them but ... I would add their song '40'. Although not really 'their' song, as its really just Psalm 40. But it's usually a big hit during their concerts.
    And I have also read - somewhere, sometime - that 'Where You Lead', by the wonderful Carole King, was inspired by the 'Book of Ruth' in the Old Testament. I may be stretching a bit from what your Blog post is about, but I think it may count.


    1. Hey Bob; Thanks for "40", a song I'm unfamiliar with but now I have a reason to check it out. Re the Carole King song: Also news to me so I'll do some research on that to see if your "..somewhere, sometime.." reference holds up on "Where You Lead". You get an "A" in bible studies today. Thank for the effort. BTW, "Golden Ribbons" is about to become timely for you.