Monday, March 17, 2008

Christian music

A friend came up to me at school and the next thing I know I am listening to a praise band in a church of the Nazarene. Life is like that, if you open it up to things which are not in the comfort zone.

My friend's son was playing guitar and singing about Jesus and my thoughts wondered. I wished that I could interview these high school students in 30 years to see where their spiritual journey will lead them. For now it will lead them to compete against and meet other bands at a conference in Boston.

When I was their age I was headed away from church, while mosaic woman was immersed in the youth group. Now, I kiss her good bye on Sundays as I head off to church.

At one quieter point during the concert I leaned over to Mosaic Woman and said, "If we are lucky they will play a Mark Heard song."

Her eyes lit up and said, "do they know his music?"

I said, "I don't know, but if we are lucky...."

Mark Heard died at the age of 40 from cardiac arrest two weeks after having a heart attack on stage while performing with none other than Pierce Pettis, who I wrote about in the past. We left the concert without hearing a Mark Heard tune.

Finding a CD, that was put out to support Mark's widow and child, was much easier than trying to find the cassettes buried away of his own voice. Like I said, as a punk I left the church and freely mocked Christian rock, but in my late 30's the music of Mark, and Pierce led me back to God. And there on the CD are names of other musicians who influenced me in my journey: Victoria Williams, Bruce Cockburn, Julie Miller, Buddy Miller.

I get up from this post to start track 7, Pierce singing Nod Over Coffee, and tears enter my eyes. Are these the tears that formed last night as the spiritual exercises led to the nails entering Jesus. I wondered when they would flow.

Two songs later, I pause the CD and click this and there are Pierce and Mark joking with each other, then Mark is gone and Pierce is singing at a tribute concert. Half way though the video, Mosaic woman comes over and kisses me, as the curse of the second hand sends her off to work.....

All the unsaid words that I might be thinking
And all the little signs that I might give you
They would not be enough
No they would not be enough

So we nod over coffee and say goodbye
Smile over coffee and turn to go
We know the drill and we do it well
We love it, we hate it
Ain't that life

Ain't that the curse of the second hand
Ain't that the way of the hour and the day

If I weren't so alone and afraid
They might pay me what I am worth
But it would not be enough
You deserve better

So we nod over coffee and say goodbye
Do whatever has to be done again today
Get in the traffic and time will fly
Look at the sun and pray for rain

Ain't that the curse of the second hand
Ain't that the way of the hour and the day

The dam of time cannot hold back
The dust that will surely come of these bones
And I'm sure I will not have loved enough
Will not have loved enough

If we could see with wiser eyes
What is good and what is sad and what is true
Still it would not be enough
Could never be enough

So we nod over coffee and say goodbye
Bolt the door it's time to go
Into the car with the radio on
Roll down the window and blow the horn

Ain't that the curse of the second hand
Ain't that the way of the hour and the day


  1. Your world of music has differed so much from my own. My head is yet full of songs from the 40's & 50's, overheard in growing up. I well remember the Lucky Strike Hit Parade on TV, Snooky Lanson & Giselle McKensie being blown away by R&R's invasion, my teenage years full of Fonzy "Happy Days" dancing to Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and such. The Navy took me overseas and I found myself in a bar jukebox world that fed young sailors a review of it all. Then Motown swept through and stayed until the Beatles changed it all. Heavy metal rock sent me over to Country and a conversion to Christ buried me to resurrect me in the songs of the Gospel. Nowadays I love bluegrass, some jazz, still and ever those old songs from the 40/50s, and my taste depends on the mood I'm in........

  2. Jim-- change the decades and the differences fade. if a song from the 70's enters my brain, I can sing along. can't always name the singer or song title. I too love motown and the Beatles, swung into alt country, folk, singer-songwriters for a while, then ended up in jazz, for now. Johnny Cash has survived the whole trip with me starting in my grandma's living room.

  3. Yes, yes, yes, yes.
    There has never been another songwriter like Mark Heard for me. Bruce Cockburn comes close.

    Sentimental hearts
    Hunger for the past
    Penniless at the wishing well
    Memories will last
    And cover certain scars
    Acquired in the daily grind
    Of being what we are

    Lay me down to sleep
    Come and comfort me
    I will sleep in peace
    In a house of broken dreams

    I could (but probably won't) write a very personal post about that song, and some others too.

  4. I love Bruce C. Have you listened to Julie Miller?

  5. Not much, but I love Buddy's "Universal United House of Prayer".


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