Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Sounds: Two from Paul Simon

A beautiful morning in Tennessee...snow still on the ground, sun shining, and a never-ending bird show out my dining room window. A perfect day for Sunday Sounds!

Today...two more from Paul Simon. These songs are from the album, "You're The One." Reviews for this album were all over the place. Some loved it..some hated it...some wondered what Paul was smoking. I fall into the love it camp, lock, stock, and barrel.

Up first is "Old," a birthday song of the first order. Next is "Pigs, Sheep, and Wolves." Listen to that one carefully, and I'd be really interested in your thoughts about the story.

Enjoy yourself...and thanks for letting me share the music I love. If you like what you hear, you can buy "You're The One" here.


The first time I heard "Peggy Sue"
I was 12 years old
Russians up in rocket ships
and the war was cold
now many wars have come and gone
Genocide still goes on
Buddy Holly still goes on
but his catalog was sold

First time i smoked
guess what - paranoid
First time I heard "Satisfaction"
I was young and unemployed
Down the decades every year
Summer leaves and my birthday's here
And all my friends stand up and cheer
And say man you're old
Getting old
Getting old

We celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day
And Buddah found Nirvana along the Lotus Way
About 1,500 years ago the messenger Mohammed spoke
And his wisdom like a river flowed
Through hills of gold
Wisdom is old
The Koran is old
The Bible is old
Greatest story ever told

Work 'em out

The human race walked the Earth for 2.7 million
And we estimate the universe about 13-14 billion
When all these numbers tumble into your imagination
Consider that the Lord was there before creation
God is old
We're not old
God is old
He made the mold

Take your clothes off
Adam and Eve

Pigs, Sheep, and Wolves

Big and fat
Pig's supposed to look like that
Barnyard thug
Sleeps on straw and calls it a rug
Yeah that's a rug, ok
He's walking down the street
And nobody's gonna argue with him
He's a half-a-ton of pig meat

Up in the hills above the farm
Lives a pack of wolves
Never did no harm
Sleep all day
Hunt till four
Maybe catch a couple of rodents
You know a carnivore

Sheep in the meadow
Nibbling on some clover
One of the sheep just wanders over
Sits by a rock
Separated from the flock
He's just sitting by a rock

Where'd he go? I don't know
Well he was here a minute ago
I don't know
Sheep's dead
Got a gash as big as a wolf's head
Oh god
Big and fat
Pig's supposed to look like that
Wallowing in lanolin
He's rubbing it into his pigskin
Police are going crazy
Sayin' let's get him
Let's get that wolf
Let's get him
Let's get that wolf
Let's get him
Let's kill him, let's get him
Let's kill him

Court-appointed lawyer wasn't very bright
Maybe he was bright
Maybe he just had a late night
Yeah it was just a late night
And he files some feeble appeal
And the governor says forget it
It's a done deal
It's election, i don't care, election
Let's give that wolf a lethal injection
Let's get him, let's get him,
Let's kill him, let's get him
Let's kill him, let's get him, kill him
Let's get him and kill him

Whew, slow
Here comes the media
With their camera
Asking everybodys opinion

About pigs, sheep and wolves

Big and fat
Pig's supposed to laugh like that
This is hilarious
What a great time
I'm the pig who committed
The perfect crime

All around the world
France, Scandinavia
There's candle light vigils
Protesting this behavior
It s animal behavior
Animal behavior
Its pigs, sheep and wolves
Pigs, sheep and wolves
Pigs, sheep and wolves
It's animal behavior
It's pigs, sheep and wolves

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Missing a Post but Not the Point: A Haiti Prayer

Spent the weekend at Chattacon (sci-fi/fantasy convention) and failed to share a Sunday Sounds post for only the second time since I started the series. I'll be back next Sunday without fail. Thanks to those who let me know you missed the music.

Today, my thoughts are more focused. My beautiful friend Sitara Haye posted the following on her blog today. How can we not be filled with gratitude today for enough?

Goddess bless Haiti and all your children there. Amen.

A Haiti Prayer
- Sitara Haye

Thank you, Goddess, that I slept in a bed last night and not on the hard ground surrounded by the rubble of my hometown. Bless Haiti and all Your children there.

Thank you, Goddess, that I did not have to stand in line for water today and that the water I had was clean. Bless Haiti and all Your children there.

Thank you, Goddess, that my ears know only the hum of traffic and the ring of the phone and not the cries of hungry children or the grieving mothers or the displaced hundred-thousands. Bless Haiti and all Your children there.

Thank you, Goddess, that my daughter’s only care this morning was a loose tooth and not a lost world, a lost family, a lost home. Bless Haiti and all Your children there.

Thank you, Goddess, that I am capable of earning the money for and purchasing my own food, that I can be reliant on self and not the food wagon and the charity of a world I’ve never seen. Bless Haiti and all Your children there.

Thank you, Goddess, for a toilet for my bodily wastes and privacy, things I take for granted until I see the squalor of a wrecked nation. Bless Haiti and all Your children there.

Thank you, Goddess, for the lesson of seeing a world pouring forth aid and for letting me be part of that help. Bless Haiti and all Your children there.

Thank you, Goddess, for a firm earth beneath my feet, unshaken and unbroken. This, too, I rarely think about, and yet, a whole generation of Haitian children will grow up with the memory of the day the earth rocked beneath them. Bless Haiti and all Your children there.

Thank you, Goddess, for internet communication that allows for swift aid organization and response and brings to my eyes the devastation so that I can have this still moment being ever so grateful for the small things which, really, are not so small at all. Bless Haiti and all Your children there.

Thank you, Goddess, for my safety and sustenance today for me and my child and my family and my friends and my community. But today, we have enough. Be with Haiti and all Your children there.

Bless Haiti.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Staying in the Heart of Compassion

I'm way behind on blog posts. A recent event has consumed my thoughts for weeks. This post has been on my mind every day and I'm still not sure I can adequately say what I want to say.

On December 23, a friend and co-worker, Susan Wood, was killed by a hit-and-run driver. She was crossing the street on her walk from the parking lot to the office. The driver apparently went on to park his car at a friend's apartment complex, then went to another location and called the police, claiming to have been the victim of a carjacking. I have to add here that he has not been tried and found guilty, though the events are fairly clear. Police reports do indicate that he was intoxicated.

My first reaction, after the initial shock and sadness, was anger. That's no surprise. The driver's actions took the life of a beautiful, loving woman, one whose life had been a positive force at work and in the lives of her husband, her two young children, and all the family and friends who loved her. I'm still angry.

But then the recognition of the broader scope of the tragedy became apparent to me. The young man who is charged with her death is only 24 years old. He has a mother, a father, friends, possibly siblings, maybe a girlfriend. Susan's family and friends were not the only ones suffering, grieving, reeling from the events of that morning. I thought about how I would feel if it were my child who had killed this woman.

As days went on, I thought a lot about staying in the heart of compassion...about not letting the anger and grief consume me...about not letting it prevent me from honoring the memory of a friend whose life was about love for her God, her family, her friends.

I thought, too, about justice. What, exactly, is that? How is there any justice possible when a life is taken? Nothing can bring her back. She cannot be replaced. You cannot minimize the grief of her family by taking the life of another, not even the one responsible for her death. The only result of taking his life would be more grief, more pain. His family, like Susan's family, is innocent. Is there any good to be gained for her family by causing his family to suffer, too? I'm still trying to figure out what justice is in a case like this.

Compassion is, in my opinion, poorly defined in the dictionary: "A feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering." ( I do not believe that the pain the young man in this incident is feeling should be alleviated. He is accountable for his actions and accountability involves dealing with consequences, and the biggest consequence of this tragedy for him, even bigger than potential jail time, is living with the knowledge that his choices and actions took a human life and caused untold suffering. We should not seek to remove that accountability nor the legal consequences from him, nor to prevent his being jailed or otherwise kept from hurting someone again by his actions. But that doesn't mean that we can't try to understand the depth of his pain, his family's pain, and feel compassion.

Perhaps "sympathy" or "empathy" are better words...but I don't think so. The word "compassion" speaks to me of common passion, of common experience, of the knowledge that there but for grace go I. Maybe we need to redefine compassion in this sense as the acknowledgement that another human being is suffering...that even though that suffering was self-incurred, it is still human suffering...that any one of us could find ourselves in the same position at any time.

We all make bad choices. Have you ever driven impaired? Tired? Distracted? Kids arguing in the back making you nuts? Ever run over a curb because you were looking elsewhere? Ever run a light or a stop sign by accident? I have. And in doing so, I could have hit someone and killed them, and then it would be me living with that for the rest of my life, and my family suffering.

I do not want this young man to be "let off the hook" for his actions. He is responsible. He is accountable. But I'm able to feel compassion for his suffering, for his family's suffering. I'm heartbroken at the loss of a friend, more heartbroken at the pain I see on her husband's face, the knowledge that her children whom she loved so much and was so proud of are without their mother. And I'm grateful to All that I am able to remain in the heart of compassion...that I am not poisoned by the anger.

The young man involved will be held accountable for his actions and I would not remove that accountability if I could. But I will not let my heart of compassion be destroyed by his actions. For the life of me, I cannot help but believe that my friend Susan would agree.

Sunday Sounds: Dougie Maclean

Have you ever been homesick? Ever found yourself at a place in your life - a physical place and a spot in your life journey - when you know it's time to go home? "Caledonia" captures the essence of that emotion.

I love Dougie Maclean's music, and this song was my first introduction to this man's genius and heart. My husband and I were at a Celtic festival in Gainsville, Georgia. As part of the session crew in the makeshift pub, we had "performer" status and were invited to join a late-night session of musicians. A gentleman from Scotland whose name I have sadly forgotten mentioned this beautiful song he knew and began singing a few bars. Susan Hickey, another delightful performer, brightened and said, "I know that song!" She picked up her guitar and played and sang...and my heart soared. It didn't hurt that the lovely Scottish gent leaned back against the wall, eyes closed, so plainly moved and unashamed that it made me cry.

Once home, we looked up the song and found Dougie Maclean, and what a gift he is! We have a number of his CDs and will undoubtedly buy more. The sound on the "Caledonia" video isn't the best, but it is a nice live performance. The second video is from "The Transatlantic Sessions" - available on DVD that I do not own yet (but I will fix that soon, too), and features another favorite artist, Kathy Mattea, and some brilliant musicians.

Enjoy the music of Dougie Maclean on this Sunday morning. If you like what you hear, you can purchase your own copies here.

- Dougie Maclean

I don't know if you can see
The changes that have come over me
In these last few days I've been afraid
That I might drift away
So I've been telling old stories, singing songs
That make me think about where I came from
And that's the reason why I seem
So far away today

Oh, but let me tell you that I love you
That I think about you all the time
Caledonia you're calling me
And now I'm going home
If I should become a stranger
You know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia's been everything
I've ever had

Now I have moved and I've kept on moving
Proved the points that I needed proving
Lost the friends that I needed losing
Found others on the way
I have kissed the ladies and left them crying
Stolen dreams, yes there's no denying
I have traveled hard with coattails flying
Somewhere in the wind

Now I'm sitting here before the fire
The empty room, the forest choir
The flames that could not get any higher
They've withered now they've gone
But I'm steady thinking my way is clear
And I know what I will do tomorrow
When the hands are shaken and the kisses flow
Then I will disappear

Ready For the Storm
- Dougie Maclean

O the waves crash in and the tide pulls out
It's an angry sea but there is no doubt
That the lighthouse will keep shining out
To warn the lonely sailor
And the lightning strikes and the wind cuts cold
Through the sailor's bones to the sailor's soul
Till there's nothing left that he can hold
Except the rolling ocean


But I am ready for the storm, yes sir ready
I am ready for the storm, I'm ready for the storm

Give me mercy for my dreams
For every confrontation seems
To tell me what it really means
To be this lonely sailor
But when the sky begins to clear
And the sun it melts away my fear
I'll cry a silent weary tear
For those that need to love me


But distance it is no real friend
And time it takes its time
But you will find that in the end
It brings you me the lonely sailor
But when you take me by your side
You love me warm, you love me
And I should have realized
I had no reasons to be frightened

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Sunday Sounds: The Infamous Stringdusters

I love bluegrass music. That hasn't always been true. As a child I hated the "twangy" sounds and thought it was hopelessly old-fashioned and uncool. Ah, but I grew up. :) There is something so rich and honest about the harmony, something so communal and shared about the traditional way bluegrass musicians lean in and share a microphone, keying off each other for their pitches, a cooperative, shared experience.

And then there are the stories. Like its Celtic grandparents, bluegrass often tells sad tales of war, lost love, disaster, and broken hearts. One way the human spirit heals itself is through poetry and song, turning something too painful to express in everyday language into something beautiful and haunting, something that goes straight to the heart and is instantly recognized there, a familiar pain.

Sharing my bluegrass love this morning with The Infamous Stringdusters. This song is "Three Days in July," a civil war tale. If you like what you hear, you can find the album here.

And if you're new to bluegrass listening, do yourself a favor - go to a festival and listen to live music for a few hours. Watch the musicians, open yourself to the experience of community music-making, and enjoy.

Three Days in July
(John Weisberger)

I was born in Pennsylvania
In 1851
I grew up on my father's farm
The youngest of three sons
The Civil War was raging
The year that I turned twelve
My father joined the ranks of blue
Left us by ourselves
Boys I tell'n ya true
I learned things I never knew

In summer heat we prayed for rain
The first day of July
Far off thunder rumbleing
No storm clouds in the sky
My brothers grabbed their riffles
"Stay" my mother urged
"Mama that's the sound of canon
Up by Gettysburg"
Boys I tell'n ya true
I learned things I never knew

Two fearful days and sleepless nights
We waited with no word
Till the guns fell silent
On the morning of the third
My mother watched the road all day
And kept me there close by
Till dusk was hard upon us
And the water jug was dry

With bucket and a lantern
I crossed the field alone
Heard the sound of snapping twigs
And then a quiet moan
Captured in my lantern light
His face in ashen gray
Huddled in a bloody coat
A rebel soldier lay
Boys I tell'n ya true
I learned things I never knew

"I see you have a kind face
Please don't raise a cry
If I am taken prisoner
I know I'll surely die
"I'm wounded and I mean no harm
I just need to rest a spell
I have fled the battlefield
I've seen the face of hell

"We came by tens of thousands
The battle faught to lose
And we only marched on Gettysburg
Bcause we needed shoes"
I look down at his swollen feet
And tried to understand
And wondered if my brothers
Had died at this man's hand
Boys I tell'n ya true
I learned things I never knew

I walked back in the cabin
Sat the bucket down
I spoke no word to mother
Of why I'd been so long
All night we sat beside the fire
Praying for good news
Then mother she looked down and asked
"Son where are your shoes?"
Boys I tell'n ya true
I learned things I never knew

Photo Credits: