Memorial Day 2010

It really doesn’t matter what our personal opinion of war is. We may agree with one and not another war. This war was reason enough, that one wasn’t. There was sure a different sentiment from WWII to Vietnam. One thing that is hard to escape is the immensity of emotion that hits you when you walk into a veterans cemetery. Row after row. Stone after stone. Name after name. Then you remember that every state has several of these. There is a great sadness that came over me today as I walked through, reading names and dates.

What was John Gregory’s story? Had he ever fallen in love? Was he the high school football star or maybe just that quiet kid that kind of kept to himself. What was going through his parents minds as they kissed him goodbye, telling him to be safe? Was there a girl waiting for him, sending him letters to keep him from going crazy?

Every single one of these stones has a story lying beneath them. The were white, black , Indian. Boys from Florida, Montana, and Maine. They were somebody’s son, brother, uncle or father. They not only lost what they had but anything they ever would have. Bullets know no creed or color. They don’t know if you only have a few days left of your tour or if you just got here yesterday. They don’t know if you are scared to death or if you just watched your best friend die.

I think of my children. If the draft was still in place, I would already have one son in the middle of it. I would have another one in a year and one more in 4 years. How do you go from a life where your biggest thing is girls and Friday night football games, to sitting in the middle of a war zone, far far far from home? It makes my heart sink. It makes me thankful and it makes me proud of those that have fought for the honor of their country. I could never say a big enough thank you to all that have served. It would be a dream world to live where we didn’t settle differences by war, if we all followed the heart of Jesus. I guess I don’t ever really see that happening. So how many more flags will we plant in the grass? How many more names will we read? How many more families will be destroyed?

Shine A Light: New Jack Johnson CD

Set to release June 1, 2010, the new CD from Jack Johnson, “To The Sea”. For those of us water babies, sea lovers and lovers of a laid back beach vibe, there’s not much to choose from these days.

But if you are, then Johnson’s CD should give us something to get us through the summer. More than just a cool songwriter with an infectious voice and groovy little riffs, Jack Johnson walks the walk. Native to Hawaii, he lives in the Aloha tradition. Much like our Native American brothers, that tradition is walking lightly upon this earth. Taking only what it needs and seeing God in everything. That’s big stuff and there’s a lot of folk talking about it, but a few like Jack living it.

So if you are looking for new music, whether Jack is a fav or not, go check it out, and purchase To The Sea.

Shine A Light: Michael Franks

Boy Howdy, when I was 20 years old I worked in a very hip record store in Pensacola called The Record Bar. I got the musical education of my life there. I was turned onto so much cool music, I thought my wallet would bust. Thank God for promos !

I was at the stage of wanting to grow up and weave a little more sophistication into my life. Michael Frank’s “One Bad Habit” was the record that fit that bill. He is a great songwriter, cool vibe, the whole package. If you are looking for some cool dinner music or music on a rainy night, then give it a try. Frank’s music has stayed with me through the years and I’m so thankful for my early musical education. Thanks to the fine co workers in University Mall, Record Bar, Penacola, Florida !!

Well It’s Floodin’ Down in Nashville

On May 2, 2010, Stevie Ray Vaughns song Texas Flood, could have easily and appropriately have been rename Nashville Flood, because that’s exactly what it did. Was it the 50 year flood? Some say it’s a 100 year flood. Nobody alive could remember anything even close to it.

Streams turned to creeks. Creeks to rivers, and rivers, well to lakes where lakes weren’t planned for. Like in peoples houses, churches, and businesses. Many lost everything. Most feel fortunate however. It affected young and old, rich and poor . Folks like Brad Paisley lost almost everything. Entire subdivisions gone. So not only have they lost their homes there is a good chance that they won’t be allowed to rebuild there. Now it’s a flood zone !

There are great organizations like Hands on Nashville doing wonderful things to help. http://www.hon.org/HomePage/index.php/home.html.

I’ll just leave you with a couple of pics of that used to be a baseball field. Now a landfill of what just a few days before were peoples treasured possessions. If you have the means to help, please do so. If you live far away you can send donations to the Red Cross or contact Hands on Nashville.

Shine A Light: Zac Brown Band

I’m not too prone to wrap my arms around very much new music these days. Especially when I hear stuff through the country music market. I’m not a card carrying member by any means of the Zac Brown Band, but there is something in there that I am really drawn to. I haven’t heard all of their stuff, but I really like “Free” and “Toes”.

Maybe it’s kind of an extension of a Grateful Dead thing. Zac’s voice is warm, and has an honesty to it,and maybe that’s the key right there. Who’s to say what their ride will be or how long, but I hope they enjoy it. And if they keep doing stuff like “Free, I know I will be enjoying it as well. The only question I have is what is he going to do with that knit hat when summer comes !!

So What Is Country Music ?

Who would have that answer? Who gets to say? I wonder why Elvis was rock and roll, and so is Led Zeppelin and so is  Tom Petty. They are all different, and that genre has moved and changed but everything from the Everly Brothers to Buddy Holly to the Allman Brothers are considered rock. Soul and R/B don’t seem to have this Dilemma.

So why does country? What constitutes real country from well, everything else. Eddie Rabbit was from New Jersey, the great great hall of fame writer Harland Howard was born in Detroit. Hank Williams Sr was definitely country but what about Jim Reeves or Eddy Arnold? By the time those two guys hit a stride that sounded a lot more like they were going for the Frank Sinatra crowd. How about Kenny Rogers? He was sure different from George Jones or Gene Watson or Buck Owens.

It can’t be lyric. There just aren’t that many topics to write about. We all fall in and out of love. So heartache and happiness are in everyone’s lives. Is it the way it’s told? Maybe it’s the instruments? Rock players don’t usually use a pedal steel guitar, but wait neither does Willie Nelson, so that’s out. Is Willie country?

But as most of us get older we start drawing lines that we didn’t draw earlier. So the new stuff is harder for me to gravitate to, and maybe that’s some of the subject matter. I’m a long way from high school and the market is sure geared for a young audience. I was talking to hall of fame writer Bob McDill one day and mentioned that I thought maybe back in the day it was country people writing about life. Writing about all the things folks go through and that now it’s folks writing about a “concieved” country life, where they have a grocery list of things like pick up trucks, pigs in the ground, strippers on party boats, Mom, dogs oh yeah and of course church. Each of those subjects are fine to write about but you don’t have to list every last one of them in every last song ! McDill nodded and grinned, saying he understood, but that we all get older and the market gets younger…

I realize this isn’t a subject a lot of folks spend much time thinking about and hopefully I will give it less attention tomorrow than today. I like the way folks in Texas generally look at music. If they like they don’t really give a damn what you call it ! So I guess we should all but the stuff we like and don’t buy the stuff we don’t like , which is really what we’d do anyway, we just like to have an opinion!!!

Shine A Light: The Staple Singers

In a time where very few singers open their mouths and soul simply floods out, this is what happened every time Pops or Mavis Staple sang, or talked for that matter. I think there are some great singers out there today but I think a lot of time they over sing the lyric. Maybe they don’t believe in the lyric or pay close enough attention to it. Or maybe they think they are more important than the message.

There was something magical in the whole thing that the Staple Singers did. It was soulful voices of course and great songs with a meaning for the healing of mankind, and most of all folks that believed in that healing and that message. It only works to such a great height when all of those entities are present. Songs like “Reach Out and Touch a Hand”, “Respect Yourself” and “I’ll Take You There” are but just a few examples of their commitment to a better world, young and old, rich and poor, black, white, yellow or red as they used to say. We are all Gods children.

Oh . . . mmm
I know a place
Ain’t nobody cryin’
Ain’t nobody worried
Ain’t no smilin’ faces
Mmm, no no
Lyin’ to the races
Help me, come on, come on
Somebody, help me now
(I’ll take you there)
Help me, ya’all
(I’ll take you there)
Help me now
(I’ll take you there)
Oh!
(I’ll take you there)
Oh! Oh! Mercy!
(I’ll take you there)
Oh, let me take you there
(I’ll take you there)