John Thornley takes delight in digging deep into the meaning and spiritual side of music.

His passion launched him into publishing and radio shows where he analysed music and artists for many years.

Between 1996 and 2015 John edited and published 40 issues of the journal, 'Music in the Air'.

On local Access radio, John has been a presenter for Wesley Broadway's half hour and he has been a regular quest on Bryan Crump's RNZ night programme, 'Songs of the Spirit'.


Now John's last 'Songs of the Spirit' programme for 2018 will be broadcast 7pm, September 3 on RNZ.

In his work he analyses music in terms of rhythm, vocal, performance, melody, lyrics and accompaniment.

"If you place a song in its social context and relate it to the performer's life you can write books on one song," he says.

"Sometimes in the instruments and vocals you can feel the pain of the artist.

"Music helps them to rise above their pain," said John.

John counts himself lucky that his wife, Gillian who lectured in mathematics at Massey University gave him freedom to pursue his lifelong passion for language and arts.

He has special interest in New Zealand artists - Brooke Fraser, Dave Dobbyn, Ariana Tikao, Moana Maniapoto, Ria Hall and Don McGlashan who is currently touring New Zealand.

John also appreciates the works of Bob Marley and interprets them for New Zealand listeners.

"Marley was a poet with a very eloquent voice.

"I love the off-beat style and rhythm of his reggae, not minding his choice of lifestyle."

He also enjoys music styles of African Americans, singer-song writers, and the rock and roll of the 50s.

In his 20-year journal, Music in the Air he uses the words of Bishop David Edwards.

"It is estimated that at least 45million Africans were shipped as slaves to America.

"There they gave to the world, as voices for their patience and courage, the Negro spiritual and jazz. Most of the popular music of the modern west is one long echo of Africa's resurrection across the Atlantic."

John will talk about Bob Dylan's 'born again' years and play "Pressing On' from Dylan's live gospel concerts on his last programme.