Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunday Inspiration: John the Revelator

There was period last year that I didn't want to listen to any music. Weird, right?  A collision of personal events left me empty and numb, and my soul just didn't want to be succored. But then one day, it broke, and then all I wanted to do was listen to music, but not any or all kinds of music. All I wanted to listen to was the blues, Delta Blues to be exact. Old, gritty, and deep, the kind of music that seems to break me down to a mass of molecules. There is a misconception that the blues is all about wallowing in sadness. To me it is worlds and universes more. It is all about connecting with some of the raw things that make us human, things like grief and pain and lost of any and all kinds, those type of things that don't discriminate among people. Life is all about separation and connection, breaking apart and building up, and that is what the blues is all about. And sometimes, you just want to be sad, but don't know how to express it, so you let the music do it for you.

And now that that time has past and my little tattered heart has once again embraced a lotta music stuffs, on Sundays, those quiet days that I  can sink a little deeper into life, I still turn to the blues, clapping my hands and declaring to everyone and no one at once, Sunday is for the Blues.

John the Revelator has become one my favorites Sunday morning serenades, it's like going to the hippest  church around.   And I am not alone in my love of this song, it has been covered so many times, each new voice adding another layer of human experience.

Blues legends Blind Willie Johnson and Son House both have wicked versions of it. Wicked, as in Whoa Nelly, this is good.

Son House's version is Son House at his best, just his rich voice and hand claps keeping the beat.



Blind Willie Johnson's version is in the traditional call and respond format and his voice has a sense of of doom in it, that adds a level of intensity that, it you will let it, will shake you down.



On the more modern front, I love, love this version by The Dustbowl Revival. If I were to ever to be in a swanky jazz band, I would want it to sound like this:



And Jack White/The White Stripes do a total-blast out the speakers- rock and roll version of it, that just is kind of amazing in it own right.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Resurfacing (And a Little Father's Day Tribute)

My father and I used to have a little inside joke. When we were saying our good-byes at the end of our weekly phone calls, my dad would always warn me to "watch out for the bromines."

My father was a chemistry professor and therefore I developed an early love for the periodic table of elements. I mean c'mon, all the elements of the known universe organized into neat little and color coded boxes? How could a mind that aches for organizing the chaos the world, NOT love the periodic table. In fact, growing up, I had a copy of this neat little chart that  I loved dearly and even named it Gilgamish.  My quirky childhood apparently also included ancient folk tales. 

And aside from his family, chemistry and science really was my dad's life. Even when he was very, very sick and so much was slipping from his mind on a daily, and hourly basis, the science was still solidly  there.  Family and friends would set by his bedside and talk about all the science we could think of, just so we can hold on to whatever piece of that great man that we could before it all got taken away from us And even at the end, he told to watch out for the bromines. 

So what's up with bromines? Well, you see, bromine is rather unpredictable element. So "watch out for the bromines" became my dad's way to tell me to watch out for the unpredictable things in life. Not to avoid them, not hide from them, but watch out for, be ready and be prepared for whatever comes my way. Now, if you get in contact with real bromine, get your little feet moving fast, that kind of  unpredictability can be toxic, but outside of the periodic table, the unknowns of life are not all bad.  In fact, some unpredictably is good and some is exciting and some makes you move across the country in a very short period of time. And I know that last little of bit of unpredictability to be true because as of typing this post, I have been back in Washington DC for exactly one week and one day. I was given a great opportunity to return to DC and to work that will challenge and push me, but that I also know can be very rewarding. Returning to the beltway also means that I won't be talking about my job or professional on this blog, but don't fret (I'm not), there is the rest of DC and the whole the East Coast to fall in love with again.  And with returning to Capital City comes a more valiant effort from myself to revitalize this blog and again share my love of music, life and pie with all that stumble across this dusty corner of the series of tubes we call the Internet.