They were my kinfolk, my people - many of whom I'm still friends with today, though we've scattered across the country, spilling out in different directions as fast as we could once we'd tossed our graduation caps in the air.

Aimee Nezhukumatathail - World of Wonders

For quote archives click here

It's In the Past

Three Dave's No Waiting

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Muzak Lessons: Sometimes You're The Windshield

Muzak Lessons; Sometimes You're the Windshield

The premise of this feature is to take music I overhear on the PA system at my grocery store and  try to dispense some wisdom from it.   At my grocery store they tend to play the same songs over and over on a regular basis.  Some songs are on a heavier rotation than other songs.  There are 2 songs that get played twice seemingly every 8 hours shift.  There are other songs like this one that has a lighter rotation.  I hear it about once every week.  

The Bug - Mary Chapin Carpenter 1992

Now before I try to teach some life lessons from this song, I need to set a couple facts straight.

 1) I am not the first blogger to mention this song and wax poetic about it. Patricia J Finley had this to say about the song back in 2015.

2) While the Mary Chapin Carpenter version is the version they play at my grocery store , and the only version I had heard before starting to work on this article (in fact I didn't hear this song at all until I started working at the grocery store this Spring), her version is just a cover.  The song was written by Mark Knopfler and was originally released by Dire Straits.  You can find the lyric in their entirety here.

The Bug - Dire Straits 1991

I like both versions of the song.  The lyrics are a little easier to understand in the Chapin version. Although I think I do prefer the Dire Straits version a little better. 

The key lyrics to either version are found in the chorus ...

Sometimes you're the windshield
Sometimes you're the bug
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you're a fool in love
Sometimes you're the louisville slugger
Sometimes you're the ball
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you're going to lose it all

2020 has seemed more like a bug and ball year than a windshield or Louisville Slugger year .  But the truth as usual  is a little more simple and a little more complex than the lyrics of a song. It's true, life has it's mountains and it's valleys.  It's victories and it's defeats.  

Life sometimes seem like a flip of a coin determines the outcome.  I believe that God is in control of this universe.  God brings us out of difficulties that were beyond our  control and also delivers us from the folly that we authored ourselves.  

In Psalm 40 David  wrote a song of deliverance.  He did not know what a windshield or a Louisville Slugger but he certainly had his troubles (like ours many were self inflicted).  To end this post I am sharing Psalm 40 and put highlighted some of the verses that spoke to me.  

40 I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord.

Blessed is the man who makes
    the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
    to those who go astray after a lie!
You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
    your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
    none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
    yet they are more than can be told.

In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,
    but you have given me an open ear.[a]
Burnt offering and sin offering
    you have not required.
Then I said, “Behold, I have come;
    in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
I delight to do your will, O my God;
    your law is within my heart.”

I have told the glad news of deliverance[b]
    in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips,
    as you know, O Lord.
10 I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
    I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
    from the great congregation.

11 As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain
    your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will
    ever preserve me!

12 For evils have encompassed me
    beyond number;
my iniquities have overtaken me,
    and I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head;
    my heart fails me.

13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!
    Lord, make haste to help me!
14 Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether
    who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
    who delight in my hurt!
15 Let those be appalled because of their shame
    who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”

16 But may all who seek you
    rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
    say continually, “Great is the Lord!”
17 As for me, I am poor and needy,
    but the Lord takes thought for me.

You are my help and my deliverer;
    do not delay, O my God!


Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Keith for 50

Today is my brother Keith's birthday.  He would have turned 50 today. He died in April of 2009 at the age of 38.  Over the years I have written a lot about his life  and death many of those posts can be found by clicking here.

Over the years I have also written about a musician friend of mine Allen Levi.  He also lost a brother and chronicled their story in an excellent memoir called The Last Sweet Mile. I mislaid my copy a few years ago when we moved into our current house.  It is probably in a box in the basement some where.

I found 2 posts I wrote about Keith that I wanted to share.  One was written on 11/11/11 which was a birthday he has been looking forward to as it resonated firmly in his mathematical mind. The other was written a year earlier than that when he would have turned 40.  I will reprint it here as it is also features the aforementioned Allen Levi.

Big 40 minus the birthday boy

My brother Keith would have turned 40 today. He died 18 months ago so he never quite made the milestone. When My Mom turned 40, my Dad put a banner across our garage that read "Jeanne's 40 today. But don't tell anyone!". We lived across from the local library at the time and man people people became aware of the event. When I turned 40, Amy had a surprise party for me and had one of my favorite musicians, Allen Levi, fly in from Alabama and sing at my party. He performed the following song among others...

 When Amy turned 40, relatives teamed with me so I could give her 40 rolls of quarters. (Amy loves quarters) Keith died 18 months ago, so he never quite made the milestone. Keith was born on Veteran's day and loved that his birthday was celebrated by many people even though they might not be aware they were doing so. Today as you reflect on the men and women who served our country in the military. Reflect also on the men and women boys and girls who left the party before we had a chance to throw them one.

Meanwhile back in 2020

On occasions like this I really want to say something profound about Keith.  Instead I'll just say this...

There really has never been anyone exactly like him.  .  I find it fitting that Keith's 50th birthday falls on the heels of the death of Alex Trebek.  He loved Jeopardy and even auditioned for the show, easily making it to the 2nd part of the process.   Keith excelled in trivia but there wasn't anything trivial about him. Keith was Bi-polar but his mental illness did not define him.  What defined Keith was a world class mind, a kind and gentle spirit, a quirky and quick sense of humor, a simple but abundant faith, and a love for his family and friends.  

Keith visited me when I was living in Russia, teaching English as a Second Language and working as a Baptist Missionary.  One day Keith and I were on a bus on the way to visit a family I knew.  Keith heard someone speaking Spanish and started talking to them in Spanish.  I didn't realize how much Spanish Keith knew.  He studied it  a little in High School but picked it up mostly working at McDonalds.  The Person Keith was speaking to was a  Brazilian missionary who had only been in the Russia  for about 2 weeks.  He spoke very little Russian no English,  ,some Spanish but mostly Portuguese.   Keith invites him to visit this family with us. We get to the families house they have never met Keith or this guy before. The family consisted of a high school girl that I was tutoring in English, her college aged sister and their mother. Their English ranged between somewhat fluent and none at all. This family loved foreigners and were really interested in getting to know Keith and this Brazilian betters.   The guy from Brazil  would speak in Spanish, Keith would translate it into English and I would try to  translate it into Russian.  Then we would reverse the process.  Keith would get off on these crazy tangents and try to explain an idiom or a pun  and I would have no way to translate it with my limited Russian.  

Everybody had a wonderful time.  When I would see that family or that missionary after that they always commented on how much they enjoyed that evening. This is not surprising.  Keith made life an adventure. When I hear Spanish, I sometimes remember the day Keith turned a bus ride into a party.  He may have left the party early but he certainly made a lasting impression.