Finding grace in the second verse

The weekend’s news was filled with the glitter and fluff of New Year’s Eve celebrations around the world. According to several reports, the criticism of Mariah Carey’s appearance Saturday night on national TV quickly dissolved into trashing Carey, her plea to the audience to sing, and barbs between Carey and the show’s producer over sound systems and lip-syncing gone bad.

I was reminded of the incredible grace that Patti Smith displayed, and received from the audience, when she performed on behalf of Bob Dylan’s recognition as the 2016 recipient for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Smith lost her way in Dylan’s winding second verse of A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall. When she realized she was repeating words, tried to find her place, and had to pause again, Smith told the audience,“I’m sorry, I’m so nervous.”

The audience, filled with dignitaries, responded with grace and kindness by offering applause. Smith regained her composure, the musicians helped her return to the song, and Smith finished the song.

The audience at Times Square on New Year’s Eve isn’t there to be somber and sit still. It is due professional respect, the same kind that Smith extended to her audience in Sweden last month, and that she received in return.

Patti Smith writes in The New Yorker on her Nobel Prize performance

Don’t sit out on the work that needs to be done

James Taylor’s song Shed a Little Light, is not new, nor is my posting it here on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Performance of the song in the video below is unique.

When Taylor’s summer tour last year took him to Columbia, South Carolina, he was joined by the Lowcountry Voices, a group based in Charleston.

The night following the Columbia concert, I was lucky enough to see James Taylor in North Carolina. As soon as Taylor and his band began singing Shed a Little Light, the audience came to its feet, but not for a standing ovation.

We stood as a sign of respect for the people of Charleston, still reeling from the massacre at the historic Mother Emanuel Church. We also stood because the song, as beautiful and subtle as it is when sung, is also, in many ways, a protest song.

Dr King’s work is unfinished. Don’t sit out on opportunities for greater equality.

Shed A Little Light
James Taylor

 

Let us turn our thoughts today
To Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women
Living on the earth
Ties of hope and love
Sister and brotherhood
That we are bound together
In our desire to see the world become
A place in which our children
Can grow free and strong
We are bound together
By the task that stands before us
And the road that lies ahead
We are bound and we are bound

There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
And though the body sleeps the heart will never rest

(chorus)
Shed a little light, oh Lord
So that we can see
Just a little light, oh Lord
Wanna stand it on up
Stand it on up, oh Lord
Wanna walk it on down
Shed a little light, oh Lord

Can’t get no light from the dollar bill
Don’t give me no light from a tv screen
When I open my eyes
I wanna drink my fill
From the well on the hill

(do you know what I mean? )
– chorus –

There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
And though the body sleeps the heart will never rest

Oh, let us turn our thoughts today
To Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women
Living on the earth
Ties of hope and love
Sister and brotherhood


Oh let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women, living on the earth
Ties of hope and love, sister and brotherhood
That we are bound together
With a desire to see the world become
A place in which our children can grow free and strong
We are bound together by the task that stands before us
And the road that lies ahead, we are bound then we are bound

There is a feeling like the clenching of the fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
Though the body sleeps the heart will never rest

(Shed a little light ohh lord) Shed a little light oh lord
(So that we can see) Ohh now
(Just a little light ohh lord) Just a little light oh lord
(Gonna stand it on up) Stand it on up
(Stand it up ohh Lord) Get down
(Gonna walk it on down) Gonna shed a little
(Shed a little light ohh lord)

(Can’t get no light from a dollar bill)
(Don’t give no light from the TV screen) No No No No
(When I open my eyes, I want to drink my fill)
(From the well on the hill)
Then you know where I’ll be

(Shed a little light ohh lord) Shed a little light oh lord
(So that we can see) Ahh yes
(Just a little light ohh lord) Just a little light oh lord
(We’re gonna stand it on up) Stand it on up
(Stand it up ohh Lord, Stand it up ohh lord)
(Gonna walk it on down) Gonna shed a little
(Shed a little light ohh lord)

There is a feeling like the clenching of the fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
Though the body sleeps the heart will never rest

Oh let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women, living on the earth
Ties of hope and love, sister and brotherhood
That we are bound together
With a desire to see the world become
A place in which our children can grow free and strong
We are bound together by the task that ties before us
And the road that lies ahead, we are bound and we are bound

Oh let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women, living on the earth
Ties of hope and love, sister and brotherhood
That we are bound together
With a desire to see the world become
A place in which our children can grow free and strong
We are bound together by the task that stands before us
And the road that lies ahead, we are bound then we are bound

There is a feeling like the clenching of the fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
Though the body sleeps the heart will never rest

(Shed a little light ohh lord) Shed a little light oh lord
(So that we can see) Ohh now
(Just a little light ohh lord) Just a little light oh lord
(Gonna stand it on up) Stand it on up
(Stand it up ohh Lord) Get down
(Gonna walk it on down) Gonna shed a little
(Shed a little light ohh lord)

(Can’t get no light from a dollar bill)
(Don’t give no light from the TV screen) No No No No
(When I open my eyes, I want to drink my fill)
(From the well on the hill)
Then you know where I’ll be

(Shed a little light ohh lord) Shed a little light oh lord
(So that we can see) Ahh yes
(Just a little light ohh lord) Just a little light oh lord
(We’re gonna stand it on up) Stand it on up
(Stand it up ohh Lord, Stand it up ohh lord)
(Gonna walk it on down) Gonna shed a little
(Shed a little light ohh lord)

There is a feeling like the clenching of the fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
Though the body sleeps the heart will never rest

Oh let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women, living on the earth
Ties of hope and love, sister and brotherhood
That we are bound together
With a desire to see the world become
A place in which our children can grow free and strong
We are bound together by the task that ties before us
And the road that lies ahead, we are bound and we are bound

Fitting for a Monday

David-Bowie_Chicago_2002-08-08_photoby_Adam-Bielawski-croppedThe last way I wanted to start my day was learning that music/acting/fashion icon David Bowie died yesterday just two days after releasing a new album, Blackstar.

This song, Under Pressure, pairing Bowie’s voice with the equally talented Freddie Mercury (whose talent was also gone too soon) and Queen, is appropriate for a Monday.

We need more imagination

The Friday Photo
November 21, 2014

I decided to sew last and skipped President Obama’s address about immigration. Later when I sat down in front of the TV this ad from values.com was what I saw first.

What if we imagined a world where children never sit alone at lunch, students in a library worry more about turning in a research paper than being gunned while they study, where people earn enough money to have a little left over at the end of the month, where we inspire people rather than building fences.

Urban Outfitters has no fashion sense

Fresh on the heels of the National Guard “quelling” the unrest in Ferguson, MO,  Urban Outfitters listed a “vintage” Kent State sweatshirt for $129 yesterday.

Urban Outfitters "Vintage" Kent State sweatshirt
Urban Outfitters “Vintage” Kent State sweatshirt

This fashion backwards item wasn’t well received. Urban Outfitters issued this statement:

“Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray. Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset.”

What’s next Urban Outfitters? Will you debut a line of Napalm Personal Care Products next week?

For the youngsters among Rural and Progressive readers, this is what happened in 1970 when the National Guard was sent to Kent State.

How we have failed since September 11, 2001

Tonight President Obama will address the nation about ISIS and any actions that we may take in response to the horrific murders of Americans and innocent civilians at the hands of terrorists.

Tomorrow there will be an observance in my community, and many others, to honor the thousands of lives lost to hate and terrorism, and to support the families and friends who knew someone they loved would never return home again.

Since September 11, 2001 we as a country have talked a lot about being kinder to one another and being a better country. Yet 13 years later this is what consumes us as a country:

  • fighting about allowing two consenting adults of the same-sex to legally marry each
  • failing to take care of the thousands of veterans who have defended our country, many of whom returned with horrible wounds from the Middle East since September 2001
  • allowing private corporations to decided which forms of legal birth control they will cover for employees through company based health insurance because some corporations should have the same privileges as churches
  • granting corporations the same rights as citizens so businesses can pour money into elections and our representatives’ pockets
  • making it harder for citizens to exercise their right to vote
  • subsidizing corporations with huge tax breaks while their employees working full-time never earn enough to break the poverty barrier
  • denying the hard facts of science because profits should come before cleaning up the mess we’ve made of the entire planet
  • deporting children
  • complaining about failing schools while slashing teacher pay and testing our children to death
  • sitting by silently while racism and sexism are displayed proudly
  • being sure we can take our assault rifles into the grocery store
  • we pay for and support violence on playing fields, in the movies we watch, video games we buy, music we listen to, and television shows we watch, but we react with horror when students are sprayed with bullets in their classrooms, women are drug from elevators by their hair, students are bullied, children and women are raped as well as being forced into prostitution
  • too many among us are convinced that their brand of faith should be followed above all others, and if necessary the rights of other citizens should be denied because they choose to worship differently, or not at all

We absolutely should remember and honor the victims of September 11th’s violence. I’m just not convinced we are a country that is a better reflection of the democratic values and freedoms which terrorists intended to destroy 13 years ago.

 

A year’s worth of happiness

The Friday Photo
January 24, 2014

20140123-222816.jpg
I don’t keep a diary or journal. As 2012 was winding down a friend suggested collecting the high points throughout the course of the year, writing them down, and keeping them in a container. At the end of the year it could serve as a reminder of happy moments that were worth writing down. This is what my 2013 container looked like.

On January 3rd I recorded my first contribution for 2014: New Year’s Day with Brenda, Diana, Maia, and Karrie (close in my heart).

What’s your personal anthem?

I plugged in my iPod on my way into work this morning, and was surprised to see that Jay Bookman’s column today is all about what I listened to while I drove.

I owned a small market radio station and on September 11, 2001, ABC Radio told affiliates we shouldn’t play John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Well my station did play it.

As the Iraq War began, comments by Natalie Maines of The Dixie Chicks, weren’t well received when she criticized the President (she named W, but should have added President Cheney too).

Male country musicians in particular were among the worse in condemning Maines.

Did that embolden the public to go so far as to threaten her life? It sure didn’t help.

In my family, we bought two copies of “Taking the Long Way.” We went to hear the Dixie Chicks in Atlanta when they toured to promote the CD. And I have the DVD “Shut Up and Sing” for good measure.

We also went to hear Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young tour after Neil Young released “Living with War.” In the documentary about that tour, fans in Atlanta, where we heard CSNY sing, left the concert because they were singing war protest songs.

Hello? Anybody in there? Did they think those four got a different religion on the way to Phillips Arena? (“The Cost of Freedom” was sung with a slide show of soldiers lost in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the audience came silently to our feet while they performed.)

Oh yeah, we didn’t stop playing the Dixie Chicks at WJFL anymore than we stopped playing John Lennon. We could all use a little more “Give Peace a Chance” too.

Homeward Bound

I remember seeing this Saturday Night Live short years ago when it was broadcast. This year it serves as a poignant reminder of simpler times, the joy of family and friends, and how important being with those we love is the real point of celebrating any holiday.

How to throw a great July 4th party

The Friday Photo
A weekly photo inspired by spontaneity, art, and community.
July 6, 2012

Lucy and Robert Whelchel’s fence on July 4th

Live bluegrass music played by a beaming grandfather and granddaughter

Old friends, new friends, great food

An African doctor, educated in Communist Russian, returning home to use years of experience working in war torn Eastern Europe to open a women’s health clinic

Politics, religion, books, health care, retirement, tales about travel, history, family

Cool breezes after dinner stirred with a soft British accent

And so much laughter