Category Archives: Soundtracks of Our Lives

S.O.L.: Sunday praises on a Tuesday evening

There was a woman living in the apartment building across the street from me who, beginning early every Sunday morning and ending around 4 in the afternoon, would play a continuous catalog of classic gospel tunes on her record player.

Notice I said record player, so you know I mean classic;  you might hear the Staple Singers, the Mighty Clouds of Joy and the Dixie Hummingbirds, or maybe even some early Sam Cooke, a bunch of good stuff.

Sometimes you’d hear the same songs more than once in the afternoon but that was OK.  And every now and then, it seemed she’d get a bit moved and you’d hear her singing ever so softly along with the records, clapping her hands to the beat, holding church right there in her living room.

It was infectious.  Pretty soon, a neighbor down the block started getting his praise on with his own particular mix of early and more contemporary gospel artists.  He brought Mary, Mary, Kirk Franklin and others to the table.  It was during early summer, so it was a time of open windows when the sound of music coming from a neighbor’s home could travel along the breezes from one house to another.  And like I said, it was infectious.

Other neighbors began doing the same; not all with the same regularity as the neighborhood’s original Sunday morning DJ nor with the same level of volume, but they did seek their own version of Sabbath musical entertainment.  Language barriers were broken, age limits were defied and musical genres were crossed.

I guess that’s what’s meant when they talk about “getting your praise on”.  I remember the first time I heard the expression.  Coming from an old Baptist and Catholic upbringing, I immediately thought, there they go, blaspheming.  Little did I know I was doing the same thing, and had been for quite some time.

That’s because praise is both a universal and personal thing and can be found in some of the damnedest places.  Praise can be contemporary as well as old-fashioned.  Praise is heavy metal.  It’s the blues, with or without rhythm and rock, with or without the roll.  Praise is jazz, Latin or folk and comes in many different languages.  Most of all, praise doesn’t have to come on Sundays, alone.

So as you turn Mahavishnu up loudly, listen to the words of Eternity’s Breath, part 1 and 2 and realize what they’re saying, who they’re talking to and what they’re talking about.   Try to seize on the prayer that exists in music.  And don’t be surprised to find out that while you were diddybopping along, you were also giving thanks, or exalting His name or just expressing joy for being able to draw a lasting breath.

It may not be a Sunday but that’s cool too.

Mahavishnu Orchestra, Visions of the Emerald Beyond, a musical video by Bryan Trannin was downloaded from YouTube.  You can see his other videos here.

Additional music:  John Scofield, from the album Piety Street

“Lord God, Supreme, Supreme

Let me fulfill thy will”

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Filed under Religion, Soundtracks of Our Lives, Uncategorized

S.O.L.: A Dystopian Society? The Time is now

Read a review of Divergent and it got me thinking about new-age civilizations, good and bad.

It could be argued then that we’ve been living in a dystopian society for quite some time now.  But compared to what?  Even during the years when Orwell, Huxley and Harrison were penning their works, things were quietly, yet judiciously, going to pot.

Back then, progress in the way of technological advances was making it easier for men to not only kill his fellowman but also to heal him.  Eventually war, that messy, costly endeavor took a decidedly mild yet sinister turn and became something a bit more sneakily antiseptic, yet no less costly.

Today, despite the fact that none of us is leading the dazzling fictitious existence of a genetically altered superhuman the likes depicted in any futuristic tale, things are no less wrong out there.

We’re still pigeon-holed into this category or that one. However today, economics, education, labor and income do the jobs that would’ve been accomplished by some sinister ultramodern cabal.

Homelessness and the corresponding apathy regarding it run rampant in America and in other countries.

War, bloody and active, has replaced its cold counterpart and threatens to engulf every nation on the globe.

Cities are rapidly becoming police states where the right to take a human life is determined by whoever is the last man standing.

We already have living zombies attacking unsuspecting citizens, new age drugs turning folk into the undead and prehistoric diseases reanimating themselves to possibly wreak their Neolithic havoc in this new millennium.

When you add it all up and lay it out, it seems like the stuff of novel fantasy, but it’s not; it’s real.  And that probably makes it a little harder to swallow, especially since none of us is endowed with anything extracurricular or extraordinary.   But that’s the good thing.  Now we have to do something to change it instead of just reading about it.  We, simple humans that we are, are going to have to make the difference.

Compared to WhatLyrics

Les McCann and Eddie Harris at Montreux, a You Tube presentation from VinylVinnie60.  See more of his videos here.

Other music:  Compared to What?, Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express, Closer to It (1973).


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Filed under Life and Society, Music, Soundtracks of Our Lives

Soundtracks of Our Lives – Get Thine House in Order

You know in the MIB series, there’s always some reference to the fact that not only is man not alone in the universe, he also inhabits only a very, very small part of it.

I think of that as we prepare for another bout with Mother Nature; with a lot of us probably feeling a whole heck of a lot smaller and insignificant than anything that’ll fit inside a locker at your Greyhound bus station. adventures of astral pirates

So as we run around for supplies and get ready to dig ourselves out of another of the Grand Dame’s lessons, it might be a good time to reflect on who and what we truly are, in the scheme of things, as opposed to what we’d like to think we are.  Let’s face it; man has always had a high opinion of himself.

The old folks would say to get our house in order for those last days in time. I’m not going to profess such doom-and-gloom but current events do make you think twice about such things.

Listening to some tunes today, there were a few that marked a tone of readiness, reconciliation, love and tolerance; along with questions of who we are and what are we doing here.  I’d like to share them with you.

The first is a remake of an old classic from the Chambers Brothers, redone by Maceo Parker on his Roots Revisited CD.  “People Get Ready” is still the admonition to prepare that it was over thirty years ago.  Whether or not the warning was heeded back in the sixties is open for debate but the song remains a caution that, in spite of all that history has shown us, will probably largely remain ignored today.

Lenny White’s “Universal Love” sings to the love of the family of man, and other beings.  From the Adventures of Astral Pirates, the song speaks to the need for collaboration and compromise, as well as the recognition of how the gift of family can assist in all of man’s endeavors.

The last song for this installment, “Milky Way” is by Marcus Miller from his CD entitled simply, Marcus.  I like Milky Way because it suggests that maybe we’re not originally from here.  It appeals to the sci-fi buff in me, alluding to the possibility that there is something out there much greater than us or anything here on earth and that maybe soon, they’ll (or he) come back to fix the problems we’ve created and just in general, give us a hand to straighten things out.

That sounds a lot like hope to me, and that’s not a bad thing.

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Filed under Music, Soundtracks of Our Lives