Choosing a Title
I encountered the song “For the Love of it All” when I was struggling to understand my own very new and confusing revealed relationship to our Lord. I knew all the references in the lyric and was grateful to have the song as a framework for my belief and to provide some language to express the revelations.
I think this title perfectly expresses what lies behind and surrounds the life and work of the Lord working through the man. If the title also leads a young reader to the song... Added bonus.
For me "On the Slant" may be too esoteric, I for one am not familiar with more than a superficial sampling of Emily Dickenson's work. My bad I know but there it is. "Don't Use My Name" too cryptic. Agree with Diana about the Noel/Paul thing. "For the Love of It All" resonates in my heart. Gets my vote!
"For The Love Of It All" -- perfect!
I always thought that "Paul and" was a brilliant title for the 1971 LP. Two words that timelessly evoke spiritual and musical collaboration , while leaving the details up for grabs. Given the subject matter it seems like it would make a great book title too.
I love "Don't Use My Name," both the actual title as well as the story behind it, which I hadn't heard. Oddly, I also don't remember hearing the song from _Something New And Fresh_, which is odd because that album was on our KLH for years and I must have heard it dozens of times (but: at a very young age). Side note: my first thought on seeing the album cover on YouTube was, "why doesn't it glow in the dark???" but, of course it doesn't; things can't glow in the dark on a computer screen - or rather, everything glows in the dark on a computer screen. I think I need more coffee before expounding further on this half-baked idea (okay, quarter-baked) :)
"Don't Use My Name" also has a nice double meaning in the context of Noel's belief that some of his work is divinely inspired. And a nice triple meaning in the context of Noel's songwriting style, which as far as I know generally doesn't usually (or ever?) reference the divine explicitly.
For what it's worth, a title like "Noel Paul Stookey: There Is Love" also works very well, unless I misunderstand the objection to it. I don't think most people would take that title as an indication that this is a book about "The Wedding Song." If for no other reason than that many musical biographies/autobiographies contain song titles or lyrics.
"Behind Blue Eyes", a bio of Pete Townshend, is not about that particular Who song; "Stairway to Heaven" is a general bio of Zeppelin rather than a book about that song; there are several books by or about Joni Mitchell referring to album titles and/or songs which are all general-interest books ("Ladies Of the Canyon"; "Reckless Daughter"; "Both Sides Now," and I think there are others). The Band: "Across the Great Divide." Dylan: "No Direction Home." Paul Simon: "Homeward Bound." Simon and Garfunkel: "Old Friends." The Doors: "Riders On the Storm," "Set the Night on Fire," "Light My Fire," "Love Becomes a Funeral Pyre." Nirvana: "Come As You Are." The Police: "Every Little Thing," "Demolition Man." The BeeGees: "You Should Be Dancing." Marvin Gaye: "Mercy, Mercy Me." Stevie Wonder: "Signed, Sealed and Delivered." Bill Withers: "Ain't No Sunshine."
...Just my two cents! I also feel that "There Is Love" is a pretty apt description of a book about Noel.
But having said alllllll that in my very charming and long-winded way: unless a book title is straight-up misleading, I don't think you can go too far wrong!
Your progression toward the title "For the Love of it all" carries me along to that conclusion.
It's the right title! Even though I found "Don't Use My Name" intriguing, it would also be confusing with "Noel Paul Stookey" in the same title as there's a "Noel" versus "Paul" issue, and then thousands of years of theological debate about name to use for God. No doubts about "For the Love of it All."
That's part of what I always loved about the album title. The Iconic P. P. and M. typeface on all three album covers plus the "and" connoting a link between you something greater than yourself while leaving the specific interpretation to the viewer/listener. Anywho ...I definitely get that" Paul" has largely drifted off into the sunset. So glad my old pal Noel is still here. See you Sunday!
Look forward to it Noel, and thanks so much for writing back.
I wanted to throw one more suggestion into the mix: “Right Field”. Noel’s cover of this song on the “Campfire” album carries the message that all of us are important, even if we don’t always see it. It also carries a special meaning for our family. My son Aaron, who is 30 and has moderate-to-severe autism, loves Noel’s rendition of this song so much that he has adopted it as his own personal lullaby, and will not go to sleep at night unless we play it at bedtime. He sometimes strums the guitar that he does not know how to play, in his own way a musician just like his mom, who passed nineteen years after we adopted him as a newborn. It is not only the love that this song transmits, but the humor, innocence and kindness that the song conveys when Noel sings it that helps make it as special as it is (“little leagues never have lefties that pull”). To us, it is an irresistible rejoinder to ableism, a reminder that even the most innocent and overlooked of us do things of great importance, and that all of us in our own way have things that are a little harder for or different about us, but that do not make us “less than”. Ulterior motive disclaimer: Aaron and I are making the journey from Vermont down to New York next Friday night for Noel’s and Peter’s concert; we promise not to object if “Right Field” makes it into the setlist even if it doesn’t make it onto the cover. Also, Aaron and Paul do have some history together: https://youtu.be/DwD4CyO4uCY?si=2LYPXx3_PsEMb3Wt
Regarding the book name, glad you did not stay with the "slant" and ".. my name" titles. Even with your explanations, I could never relate--that could just be me. I think the current "For the love..." would definitely be a relatable title to a much wider audience, which you want right? But like the others live with it for a while--see if sticks. I like your methodical approach.
I re-reads this part: "..a concise statement of his theology, a reason for caring for the world and the flourishing of life, and music that beautifully integrates the complex themes of the song." And while my sense is Noel would not want this to be so directly tied to him---it is. And I thought of a slight change to the title: "For my love in it all".
When I read the title of this Substack, I immediately thought of this song ... for whatever it's worth ... if anything. https://youtu.be/zSAJ0l4OBHM?si=JgcKgnkiE_QWffwd