Here is a poem for your consideration as we celebrate Holy Week in the midst of sadness over the great damage to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. This poem does not come from a post-Christian, unbelieving viewpoint, teetering on the edge of depression. I spared you my comments on those poems. Instead I have a different poem to offer. This is a manly poem, encouraging us to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and start all over again, striding out with confidence in the approaching bright Easter Day.
Built on the Rock, the church shall stand even when steeples are falling; Crumbled have spires in ev’ry land; bells still are chiming and calling. Calling the young and old to rest, calling the souls of those distressed, longing for life everlasting.
Not in a temple made with hands God the Almighty is dwelling; high in the heav’ns His temple stands, all earthly temples excelling. Yet He who dwells in heaven above chooses to live with us in love, making our bodies His temple.
We are God’s house of living stones, built for His own habitation; He fills our hearts, His humble thrones, granting us life and salvation. Yet to the place, an earthly frame, we come with thanks to praise His name; God grants His people true blessing.
Thro’ all the passing years, O Lord, grant that, when church bells are ringing, many may come to hear God’s Word where He His promise is bringing: “I know My own, My own know Me, you, not the world, My face shall see; My peace I leave with you. Amen.”
The author was Nikolai Fredrik Severin Grundtvig. It was translated from Danish by Carl Döving.
Tonight was the annual concert of my village’s brass band, L’Avenir. The brass band has two major concerts per year, in the spring and at Advent, and performs at events such as the 1er août and Désalpe. The band often has joint concerts with other bands in the region, both in Lignières and their homes, and competes in regional and national contests and has historically performed very well for a volunteer band from a village of around 1000 people.
The concerts turn out a substantial fraction of the village. I’m not skilled at estimating crowds, but this one pretty much filled up the school gymnasium where it was held, and I’d guess there were around 350 people there. I rarely miss a concert, but this was one where attendance was obligatoire, because I was to be made an honorary member of the band due to my support over the last quarter century. (If you knew how rudimentary my musical talent is, you’d appreciate what an honour this is.) I got a specially inscribed magnum of Neuchâtel Pinot Noir and applause from the crowd.
Let’s get to the music. Here are three of the pieces from the concert. These were recorded with my Canon S100 pocket camera (the same one that froze solid at the South Pole, but worked fine when it thawed out and continues to soldier on six years later), then converted with OpenShot to OGG (Theora/Vobis) format at 360 pixel resolution with medium quality video, but full CD-quality stereo audio, which is what matters. I’ll bet you can’t turn your computer speakers up high enough to be as loud as it was in person.
The repertoire is varied: lots of classic brass band material like marches, but also jazz, classical music like Grieg’s Peer Gynt suite and, as you’ll see and hear, movie music. Goutez!
The best selling album is The Eagles’ “Greatest Hits 1971-1975. Thriller by Michael Jackson no longer has the title.
What is your number one Eagles’ tune?
Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975
Take It Easy
One Of These Nights
Take It To The Limit
Peaceful Easy Feeling
The Best Of My Love
Eagles Greatest Hits Volume 2
Seven Bridges Road (Live Version)
Victim Of Love
The Sad Cafe
Life In The Fast Lane
I Can’t Tell You Why
New Kid In Town
The Long Run
After The Thrill Is Gone
You know, in the bayous of Louisiana – quelle beau pays – that’s what the Cajuns say.
And in New York’s Little Italy – que bella terra – that’s how they say it their way.
And in the beer halls of Milwaukee, you’ll hear the words wie schöne das Land.
And it’s que lindo país – that’s what you’ll hear them say along the border, down by the Rio Grande.
You know there’s a lot of ways to say it. And it’s a privilege to play it.
‘Cause a lot of good people earned it. And this is how I learned it…
About once a month, usually in the months with an ‘r’ in their names, a painter near me hosts a concert or recital in his studio. He’s a fairly traditional representational artist who eschews aspects of modernity.* Last night, he made an exception for a group of Boston-based musicians** on tour. They were brilliant.
During the intermission, I spoke to one of the violists, asking if they were on Patreon since I was interested in supporting them. She told me they were, and would say something about that at the end of the concert. We were subsequently informed that they were passionate about social justice issues, particularly “immigrant rights.” Well, that put an end to any thoughts of helping them. If only they’d kept their stupid political mouths shut! The Left are shooting themselves in the foot every day.
*In the program notes for a previous concert, the host artist had written some things that reminded me of the work of philosopher Roger Scruton. During a break I asked him if he was familiar with Scruton’s ideas. He said, “not only that but Scruton sat for a portrait here last last time he was in Los Angeles.”
**The group’s name is Palaver Strings. When I think of palaver it’s in the context of pointless palaver. They have a different interpretation but mine is closer to the mark, at least when they open their mouths. They should stick to bowing strings.
I could feel at the time
There was no way of knowing
Fallen leaves in the night
Who can say where they’re blowing?
As free as the wind
Why the sea on the tide
Has no way of turning
More than this
You know there’s nothing
More than this
Tell me one thing
More than this
Ooh, there’s nothing
It was fun for a while
There was no way of knowing
Like a dream in the night
Who can say where we’re going?
No care in the world
(Maybe I’m learning
Why the sea on the tide
Has no way of turning)
The Hymn of the Soviet Union was the national anthem of the USSR from 1944 through 1991 (replacing the Internationale). The melody remains the anthem of the Russian Federation today, although the lyrics have been changed. (Indeed, the lyrics of the Soviet version were changed from the 1944 original as the past was revised.)
Just for fun, here is a stirring rendition of the hymn as misheard by an English speaker, illustrated by the images summoned.
Having been born in 1975, the ‘80s were my childhood. During that decade, there were a number of musical groups whose names were acronyms, such as R.E.M., AC/DC, REO Speedwagon, and ELO. In addition, there was also a short-lived country band called S-K-O, named after its three members: songwriters Thom Schuyler, Fred Knobloch, and Paul Overstreet.
I hadn’t thought of S-K-O in years, but my memory of them came flooding back a couple of days ago when one of their songs popped up on my YouTube Music app: “Baby’s Got a New Baby”:
Released in 1986, the song rose to number one on the country charts. It is a wistful, yet upbeat tune about a man worrying that he’s losing his girlfriend.
Regrettably, it was the only number one tune the group would ever have. Paul Overstreet left in 1987 to pursue a solo career. The band replaced him with another songwriter named Craig Bickhardt and renamed itself S-K-B, but it never again reached the same level of success and disbanded in 1989.
Meanwhile, Paul Overstreet achieved some notable success as a solo act with ten studio albums and sixteen charted singles, two of which made it to #1. My favorite song of his was “Me and My Baby,” released during the summer of 1992 just ahead of my senior year of high school.
Such songs evoke a sense of joy that has largely vanished from my life, and I treasure them as I would the most priceless jewels.
Dad died a year and a half ago. Gee I miss him. I was very fortunate to have him for so long; he was 85. I saw Fathers Day mentioned today, so when I got a chance to kick back this evening, I went to listen to the stuff he listened to. I was never musical much, though I enjoy singing in church. I also was never much into pop music. Not rock and roll, either. I was a jazz fan, because Dad was a jazz fan. We lived within radio range of the public radio station at the University of Tennessee, and they played jazz in the evenings beginning shortly before my bedtime.
I still have some of Dad’s favorites on real honest vinyl, but since we moved to new digs in February I have not found the time to set up the turntable. So here is a Youtube link to one of our favorites. Bossa nova. Enjoy; this is Stan Getz on saxophone, but the thing that makes the album shine is the fabulous guitar of Charlie Byrd.
A recently released song by two dead men has been weighing on my mind since it came out. The song is entitled “You Never Knew My Mind” off the new anthology album Forever Words. The album consists of songs that were originally poems written by Johnny Cash and adapted into songs by various artists at the request of the Cash family. This particular song was done by Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave fame.
The song describes two people in a relationship: one of whom thinks the relationship is healthy, the other who is less positive and more aloof despite admitting there were good moments. What is particularly poignant about the song are the circumstances around the timing of its composition and release.
This is the first song by Cornell released since his suicide one year ago next week. Cornell had a history of drug addiction (which he put behind him over a decade ago) and depression which he apparently never had been able to overcome. He’d spoken of his depression before, “I know what it feels like to be suicidal, and I know what it feels like to be hopeless,”and, “No one really knows what run-of-the-mill depression is. You’ll think somebody has run-of-the-mill depression, and then the next thing you know, they’re hanging from a rope. It’s hard to tell the difference.”
To all outside appearances, his second marriage and children had provided him with the emotional grounding he needed, and the charitable work he did had provided him with purpose beyond music. His suicide says otherwise. His wife still maintains that he took too much Ativan and had a bad reaction, but the coroner says the drugs in his system played no part in his death. Cornell’s brother also maintains that Chris had undiagnosed mental illness that the family was too embarrassed to admit which led to his suicide during another depressive episode. The fact his wife refuses to admit the possibility that he chose suicide suggests she may not have known his mind like she thought.
The film Solaris touched on this idea of not truly knowing someone that you think you know well. In this film, George Clooney’s character is visited by a manifestation of his dead wife generated from his memories of his wife. He rejects this manifestation despite it looking and sounding like her because he comes to realize that his memories of his wife are his superficial impressions of her and lack her real personality.
It is hard enough for us to truly know others when we struggle to know ourselves. Even in antiquity, we find, “Know thyself,” as a maxim inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi and expounded upon by Greek philosophers. Man has an infinite capacity for self-deception. Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who was tortured for 14 years in a Romanian communist prison for running an underground church, described this even among people who sincerely thought they believed in something. “There are two kinds of Christians: those who sincerely believe in God and those who, just as sincerely, believe that they believe. You can tell them apart by their actions in decisive moments.” “A man really believes not what he recites in his creed, but only the things he is ready to die for.” If we cannot know our own hearts without extreme testing, how can we know another’s?
We have long had a problem in discerning the real person when dealing with celebrities or public figures with whom we have no personal contact. What we see is an image, carefully crafted, sometimes by the person, sometimes by a PR team. We mistake that for the real person and then are shocked when we find out the real person isn’t like their persona at all. This problem has now extended into common life (if not entirely new, certainly to a greater extent than before) via social media. We now all construct online personae or ideal versions of ourselves to display to the world, often hiding the struggles and real person buried beneath. A recent article reported the following findings:
More than half of survey respondents — 54 percent — said they always or sometimes feel that no one knows them well. Fifty-six percent reported they sometimes or always felt like the people around them “are not necessarily with them.” And 2 in 5 felt like “they lack companionship,” that their “relationships aren’t meaningful” and that they “are isolated from others.”
As I listened to this song, it struck me that this would have to be just about the most devastating thing a loved one could tell me at the end of their life. I can’t imagine going through life thinking you know someone intimately only to find out at the end you never knew them at all. It is the essence of Christ’s warning in Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’.”