Shine A Light: Traveling Wilburys

Sometimes super groups just don’t work, it’s like a basket ball team with 5 superstars and they don’t win the championship. In the case of the Traveling Wilburys it worked wonderfully.

I think most of the reason that it worked so well was that they had no intentions of big success. That’s not what they set out to do. They all liked each other. They all liked music, and they were hanging out playing, so it just naturally happened. A rare thing in today’s world. All egos were set aside. They just wanted to have fun. What a concept.

Can you imagine being Tom Petty, a pretty successful artist is his own right looking across the room, and there’s Jeff Lynne(ELO), Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, oh yeah and that other guy….that Beatle, George Harrison !! Must have tickled him right down to his socks. And for George to just be one of the guys. It’s what they all wanted, to just be in a band together. Sometimes you have to go back to the root of something to find the original joy and it’s always the best part. Go check The Traveling Wilburys out….You’ll dig em for sure !

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Remembering Wounded Knee

On December 29th, 1890 at Cankpe Opi Wakpala, better known to the outside world as Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation, U.S. troops laid yet another black eye on the American landscape.

We could go on and on about war and greed and expansion. We can debate forever about why so much violence has happened in the name of the Christ, the most peaceful one. That kind of finger pointing has no end, but when you line hotchkiss guns, that are made to literally mow down large numbers, and just keep firing until every man, woman, elder and child are dead in the snow, well then there is something to talk about. Then there is a  place to draw a line in the sand.

I can’t wrap my mind around how someone could fire upon a child. The reports all say several children were found trying to nurse from their dead mothers as even they took their last breaths. A spirit never dies, and I believe they still haunt the land and they still gnaw as the consciousness of us. I believe everything in this life is connected and just because we can ignore something doesn’t mean we can escape it.

My apologies to Spotted Elk for using his photograph in this way, but I think he, another peaceful one, would want to use anything to bring more attention to the plight and treatment of his people.

Wounded Knee happened long after the governments forceful removal of the indigenous peoples of the east and south. They had already moved the Creek people to Oklahoma. My forefathers by that time had enough white blood, to claim white and therefore stay in southern Alabama. They claimed white wherever they could to avoid prejudice. They buried the Indian in all of them, never to be spoken of until it was essentially lost.

Nothing can be done to take away what has been done. But we as a culture and a people who I believe want to live honorably, need to be aware of what was done in our name. That history books are written by the victors and don’t come close to truth. Take a moment of your day on Dec 29 to remember those fallen. Those elders. Those women. Those helpless children. Remember to, the ones who pulled the triggers, for had they been more awake in spirit would have been horrified .

There must be understanding on both sides if the blood stains on this land are ever to heal. I can only speak from one side, and it is a side from the other side of the fence. I am a person that some might say has no right to speak to this. But I think everyone has a right to begin a healing.

While we can’t change the past, everyone can have a hand in the future. We are all brothers and sisters. We are all related. Mitakuye Oyasin !

 

Christmas; Red, green and the blues

It is said that there are more suicides in the month of December than any other month. That depression rears its ugly head more at Christmas than any other. Those among us, friends and family. The ones we love, that aren’t having the kind of Christmas they dream of.

These are the thoughts I woke up with this morning. Something wanted to remind me to remember and to be sensitive to those that are having a season they don’t want to remember. For me, to remember that not everyone I run across, even with that beautiful pasted on smile, is smiling on the inside.

For those I know that have lost loved ones; who aren’t working and feeling pain, especially in this season of materialism; for those working their way through the long and hard path of divorce. For the ones that hope is lost in the crumpled wrapping paper, Christmas parties and eggnog. These words are for me and you, my brothers and sisters. Reach out, be aware. Be encouragement for someone else. Be humble in your giving and getting.

In the season and all the seasons of life, I pray to be aware and that I remember to love. Merry Christmas to all, and embrace the truth that each new breath is a chance to move further from your heartache. Each breath is an opportunity for us to take our eyes off of ourselves, if even just for a moment.

Shine A Light: Garth Brooks

There was an old Elvis album titled “50,000, 000 fans can’t be wrong”. Garth Brooks immense popularity is that way as well. There is something about the accumulative aspects of Garth that made his popularity absolutely explode. In the early to mid 90’s it seemed that almost everybody had at least one Garth Brooks CD, even the folks you didn’t expect to.

There’s a lot that can be said about Garth Brooks. One of the best selling artist of all time, #1’s, CMA/ACM awards enough to fill a room. Ego galore. Sometimes overly emotional. Entertainer extraordinaire. Loving father. I’m sure you can find some ugly stories about him. Folks that rise to that level don’t do so without it. I have met him a few times and speaking from only those experiences, he was wonderful. Sincere, conversational, like talking to an old school friend.

I’ve not listened to his music in years, but it happened that I was at his Nashville flood relief concert this past week. It was the “first” concert Garth has done in about 10 years. It was undeniably great. A consummate entertainer and appeared to be having a wonderful time, but who wouldn’t enjoy 20,000 people screaming for you !! Everything aside, even if you don’t like his genre of music, the songs, every last one of them are solid as a rock. Add that with his personality and stage persona and well, you have all the makings of, well, Garth Brooks….

If you’ve not listened to Garth lately, go dig out a few tunes. Some of the arrangements are a little outdated, but hopefully the nostalgia will take over. He defined that space of time musically. For us raised in a world of country music, he was an artist that brought the world to country. For the most part it has been the other way around where country acts having always courted the rock/pop world. There is no shame in being country or liking a music that speaks to you and your life. Garth made it cool.

Oh, by the way, thanks to Garth for this series of shows..all sold out. Everything, ticket sales and merchandise, goes to the flood relief of Nashville. Way to step up.

Lead, follow or get out of the way

I was in a conversation with a friend recenty, when he said “ya know, I have liked most people I’ve met individually, but when they become the “collective whole”, not so much”. That has kinda stuck with me, chewing on it a little, trying to shape it.

It did make me think about us as individuals vs. society or vs. countries. I read a quote one time by Willie Nelson where he said something to the effect that “the worlds problems won’t ever be solved politically, but spiritually”. That’s a scary thought to me, because we are as individually as far apart “religiously” as we are politically. So, is it the case where we all want the same things? We all want, peace, love and harmony, but have different ideas on what paths leads us there.

Everyone I talk to, even the loud ones, when you get them away to a quiet spot, want the same things from this life. I believe that true around the world. Every parent wants their children to be safe. To give and receive love. What happens to that once it is shifted to our religions and our governments? It’s like everyone digs Jesus, but when you make that shift to God or religion, they are out. From personal to a system, in that space there, it all changes for some people.

I read a book once that said every single response we have in life stems from two thoughts; love or fear. does our personal DNA direct us to systems that house these two responses? some are of the “shoot first and ask questions later” stemmed from fear. Others dialog, and seek to understand other points. Love. do we shift from love as individuals to fear as a group, and respond accordingly?

Ok, so I sure don’t have answers here. Just kicking it around, trying for it to take shape in my mind. Then again maybe it’s just time to go have a cold beer, and let it all go. What do you think about this? Do you see shifts in people as individuals vs. groups?

How do you see it affecting the world? Is it the brokenness of man? Perhaps a small sliver of light reminding man that left to his own ego and devices will self implode !

Shine A Light: Silence

I love music. I really, really do. It has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember. My Mother tells me that i was hooked on the 60’s hit “Birds and the Bees”. I came from parents that like many of their generation, put music away once they started having children. That music was only for young folks or something like that. They were in high school when Elvis blasted on the scene, but Rock and Roll, especially at that time was for kids. They played the radio, and I remember us having Christmas albums from Firestone. But mostly it was the radio. My parents listening to WBSR AM radio in Pensacola and my grandparents listening to the Gospel stations like WCOA.

 

The first 45’s I bought were Bobby Sherman’s “Easy Come, Easy Go” and B.J. Thomas’ “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head”. But the Beatles were the first big “no turning back” music for me. “Let it Be”, was the one, and it’s funny to know now that they were already breaking up at that point. Since then, I have devoured many styles and feel like I am a pretty well rounded listener.

However these days, when I’m home alone, I find myself not listening to anything for a good part of the day. Silence. Music isn’t gone, it’s just different then. I still have music thoughts in my head and there is always lyrics floating by. But I really enjoy silence these days. Now I don’t want a steady diet of it, but it has become a wonderful balance to everything else.

I may play some Jazz in the morning or Tom Petty in the afternoon, but somewhere along the day, I will turn it all off. Maybe those stretches of silence somehow make the music even sweeter once I return.

 

Shine A Light: Bob Dylan

Well what can be said about Robert Zimmerman, north country boy who we later came to know as Bob Dylan? Probably not much, right? It’s all been said, sings with heart, can’t sing at all. Voice of a generation to “I just don’t get it”. I think Dylan is a poet, a great writer and interpreter of what and how he sees the world. For the record, he didn’t want to be called “The voice of a generation” or “the voice of anything”. He just wanted to be able to write and perform his music in the way he wanted at whatever time.

One thing that did amaze me was that Dylan didn’t start writing his own stuff until well after he arrived in New York City. He came as a folk singer, singing the traditional folk songs he knew. I thought he would have been the kind of guy writing amazing poetry as a child. But no, that wasn’t the case at all. All the stars were lining up. The turbulence of the 60’s, post beatniks and Kerouac devotees, social and racial injustice, Vietnam, Kennedy, King.

It was all primed for a voice, someone writing about what was going on. Someone to help us make sense or at the very least shed light on the world that was coming through our TVs and newspapers; the voices on the winds. “Love Me Tender” or “Beach Blanket Bingo” would no longer suffice. Not in times of such chaos and transition. So maybe the times, the newness of this type of writing, I don’t know what all the forces were that put not only Bob Dylan’s music, but Dylan himself square in the middle.

But Dylan did the only thing he knew how; he just kept writing and following his life’s journey. Wherever his road led, he followed. Into electric, back to folk, torch music, Gospel music and if I might add his “Christian” stuff was way cooler than a lot of “Christian Music” at the time. He, the one all other writers looked up to, joined a group. A group where he wasn’t the focus. A group of big names, but just guys that wanted to be a part of a band, that’s all. So Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, Bob and George Harrison formed the Traveling Wilburys. What a cool and fun thing to do. What a cool reminder to us that these guys didn’t consider themselves anything like what the press and the public made them out to be.

My thanks to Bob Dylan for many years of great music. I know all the jokes about understanding him these days live, but whatever. He is still a troubadour, a wandering player of music, still searching, still looking at the world and telling us what he sees through his music. He is in it with us. Not leading but reflecting.