Shine A Light: Elton John and Leon Russell

Either of these artists is deserved of a post by themselves, but I wanted to draw your attention to the tour they are doing together. They seem unlikely to work together, don’t they? I thought so, but surprises like that often bring the richest stuff.

Such is the case. From the songs I’ve heard the tracks are great and vocals really cool. Elton is so strong and clear as a singer, then Leon comes in with that lazy, swampy vibe that is such a compliment to Elton.

I love it when guys like these choose to make great art in the back half of their careers. It’s just cool, that’s all there is to it. Go pick up a copy !

Advertisements

Reading List: A Haunting Reverence

The Nerburn jag continues. This is a really good book and reading it in the fall is perfect timing. I’ve never been to this land that Nerburn speaks so eloquently, but his words draw the reader into its space and texture.

Being from the south where the culture is open, words and casual conversation come easy, Minnesota intrigues me, and the feeling I get is quiet, barren but not in the usual way. The inhabitants more reserved, like the land itself. It’s a harsh land, strong and dominating, yet when embraced and understood for what it is, just as giving as any other.

Nerburn takes us on a pilgrimage through its back roads and it’s forgotten people. They are not the people of Sunset Strip or New York. They are shaped by their landscape and attached to a life closer to the earth. I am envious in some ways. Envious that they are stripped down possibly by things that weigh me down. But life is life and we can only be born in one place.

Pick up a copy of “A Haunting Reverence”. Go with Kent Nerburn, on those back roads, listening to the trees and rocks, hearing what the animals have to teach us. Be the fly on the wall at a young Ojibwe boys funeral who left this earth much too soon, torn between cultures. torn between the logic of the present world and the faith of a culture that spanned thousands of years. Visit the trailer on a dirt road that its dweller seems to come and go like the wind. People that have dark, heavy stories, but are as elusive as the Northern winds. It is strong and holy. It is a haunting reverence.

Can’t You See, can’t you see?

I’ve had that old Marshall Tucker song “Can’t You See” stuck in my head today. Not without good reason I tell ya. I am at that stage of life where, and I use these terms loosely, I’m not young and I’m not old. What I am is that wonderful state of in between.

The reason for the Marshall Tucker song is, I need my glasses to see small print things, like billboards ! Just kidding….Reading glasses are all over our house, but I’m not at the stage of having them with me all the time. So when I’m about to do something like read, I sit down with something to drink, the book, etc, then realize I have forgot to bring my reading glasses !! Guess I also have a bad case of CRS….can’t remember sh#$ ! It’s a bad combination or at least a frustrating one.

I’m really pretty cool with being 50. I like where I’m at. I just don’t like the things that come with the age!! Who does, right?

So I guess I’m young enough to fool em most of the time, but old enough to never fool the ones who know. I remember Joe Namath and disco. wide lapels, and when pro basketball players still wore Chuck Taylors. I’m still young enough to stay out really late on occasion (if I’m allowed the next day to recover), see movies and search for new music. Young enough to still dream and old enough to smile at most things and say “everything’s gonna be alright”.

So for all my younger friends, I can just say this “laugh while you can, cause it don’t last forever”! Your flat tummies, hip clothes, lingo, and yes your “reader-less glasses” world ! All too soon you will get your CRS application in the mail, and you’ll need to fill it out if you can find your readers and remember where you put the form ! Till then, enjoy

The Scope of Prayer

Prayer

For something that most of us raised in a Christian tradition have done since we were small children, prayer sure can get interesting the older we get. At least it has for me. As a child, I prayed for my family, both on the earth as well as the ones that had crossed over. Prayed for safety and happiness.

I never thought that God hadn’t heard my prayers when something like a death happened. Never thought my prayers hadn’t worked. I didn’t really connect my prayers to the events that played out in my life. Then again for many years, my faith really hadn’t been a deeply connected component in the way I saw my world.

I believe now, I was working through the “religion” that had been passed to me. I was doing that with my spirituality as well as everything else that my forefathers had passed down. It was all passed down with love. It was all passed down in good conscious. There has been much I have held onto but there also has been much that I have shaped in different ways, as I see the world through a different lens than they did. They used their own lens as they viewed their lives differently from the generation before them. Once I granted myself that freedom to pursue my life and seek my own views of my Creator, I believe my life opened up significantly to the endless faces of God.

So, back to prayer. I moved through my stages of life to a form of prayer  which now consists mostly of thankfulness. Thankfulness for another day on the earth, to see creation with all of its colors; all of its smells and tastes. To live in the moment. To be present with each breath. I admit that when it really hits the fan though, I pray out for certain things to happen. For certain outcomes.

But it doesn’t entwine with my beliefs of not seeing God as a puppeteer. I don’t think he chooses the Giants over the Cowboys. I don’t believe he chooses one person over another in a car wreck. I don’t think he does any kind of “1,2. 3, you’re it” kind of thing. I think all of that stuff is the product of free will and we are to look for God in everything. Even in sadness. Easy to say, not so easy to do, and as I face bigger life challenges, I know I will point a finger or two.

That’s just the way I see it, here at 50 years old. Ask me tomorrow and I’m sure it will shape out differently. I hope so, as I hope my relationship with my Creator continues to shape and grow.

How do you see prayer? There is no right or wrong, only your journey and how it speaks to you. I hope you feel free enough to seek the Creator in your own way. If God is in everything, if he is the alpha and the omega, then he is in the eyes of the old. The touch of a child, and the hawk that floats on the currents high above. God is in the Palestinian, Buddhist monk, Catholic priest, Lakota elder. In the sunsets and on the wind. God is right there in every embrace and the wag of my dogs tail.

Where are you on your journey? We are all in this together. I’d love to hear about your experiences, and how you’ve felt that presence of pure love.

Wanted to add this. I’d posted this and then the first thing I saw on Facebook was a friend in Florida that is dealing with some type of tragedy with her child. To see all of the people sending her prayers was extremely powerful. And we are all praying for a certain outcome, for something good to happen. So like she said, go hug your children. Hug your family, heck, go hug the world as we are all in need of love and prayers. Pray Pray Pray in your own and honest way………………….



Reading List: The Wolf at Twilight

For those of you that read Kent Nerburn’s great and now classic book, Neither Wolf Nor Dog”, the ride continues with Lakota elder Dan on the back roads of Indian land.

“The Wolf At Twilight” has Nerburn returning to the Pine Ridge Reservation at the request of Dan to help him find his sister. Problem is, he hasn’t seen or heard from her in about 80 years, since she was abducted and sent off to boarding school.

So we travel on with Dan, Grover, and Nerburn, learning about Indian culture, as well as the despicable acts committed by the U.S. government as well as the church.

What I marvel most about Dan is his constant connection with God. In every breath the Creator is present. While that’s true for all of us, Dan is aware of it!

Through that awareness comes his thankfulness. His reverence.

In the end of all things, Dan is looking for all cultures to connect and respect each other under the Creators spirit. Dan believed that God gave every culture a specific gift; a way of understanding and interpreting Him. In that, we should reach out to other cultures to learn more about the One God that created all of us.

Indian culture has been largely forgotten in our culture. Sure they are remembered with painted horses and war bonnets. They are remembered for Tipis and eloquent speeches, but they are rarely thought of a present day people. People with ipods, t shirt and jeans, sending children off to school. They are largely though of as charactures.

If non Indian cultures are ever to grow to their full potential and receive the gifts the Creator gave to Indian then they must be seen as real people. People of today. To do that in part we will have to face the atrocities that were committed, but atrocities that we can’t reverse. We can’t give back their land. We’d have to give back the entire United States! My people, the Lower Creeks, were here thousands of years before Don Tristan DeLuna “discovered” the area now known as Pensacola. So what can we do? We can open our hearts and minds to their culture. Allow their voices to be heard and say a prayer for the way they have been treated and continue to be treated. Make no mistake, it is still going on. Once the government wanted their land and now they want what’s under their land, the uranium.

Ok, this post is about Nerburn’s great book, The Wolf At Twilight. If you haven’t read “Neither Wolf Nor Dog”, then you are in a wonderful place as you have two books that will warm your heart, bring a tear, and help you see the wonder of the Creator in beautiful new ways.

Shine A Light: Don Williams

In a world that seems to be focused much of the time on silliness, and trivial soundbites, Don Williams music is the calm inside the storm. With a stretch of major hits from the mid 70’s to the early 90’s, Williams lent his voice to lyrics that grounded many of us during trying times.

With a string of 17 #1’s, the depth of Williams music feels endless. Great tunes like “Love is on a good roll”, “Amanda”, “I’m just a country boy, and the masterpiece “Good ole boys like me”, roll of Williams tongue like warm honey. Live, he seems to exert little energy, yet the audience is glued to him.

I was fortunate to see him at the historic Ryman auditorium in Nashville this week. After retiring for a few years he is doing a few shows here and there. He had the house spellbound and we hung on every lyric. “Lord, I hope this day is good”, and ” I believe in you” had all of us singing along, not so much down memory lane, but very present in a timeless lyric “I don’t believe heaven waits for only those that congregate, I think of God as all around and up above, I believe in love, and I believe in you”.

If you’ve never listened to Don Williams then don’t hesitate, grab a few off of i tunes, sit back, relax and find that something that’s been missing in your day. Quietness and humbleness aren’t qualities we revere much these days, but we should. Don Williams is both. If he is your memory lane, then turn don that ole road, and let the smiles begin.

 

Shine A Light: Ray Charles

I’m not sure if the world that just listens to music as something to tap their toes to, will ever realize how many barriers were broken and bridges were built by Ray Charles.

Brother Ray was born Ray Charles Robinson in Albany Georgia. Blind since the age of 7, Ray attended Florida School for the deaf and blind in St. Augustine, Florida. Rays penchant for boogie woogie music led him into one of the most diverse musical styles the worlds ever seen.

Here is  video of Ray doing the famous “Georgia On My Mind”.

How can you not believe every word he says!

Ray Charles lent his voice to the blues, gospel, jazz and country. Friend Willie Nelson said Rays Country and Western Album was one of the most influential country albums of all time. Ray lent his time and talent to “We Are The World”, and recorded with many country artists such as Johnny Cash, The Oak Ridge Boys and Ricky Skaggs.

There were no musical lines for Ray. Thank God. Check out some Ray Charles music if you don’t have any. As we say here in the South, “you will be blessed”. If you do have some, dig ’em out. We are not likely to have another Ray Charles in our lifetime.