Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: A Hallelujah from Lyle Lovett

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Song is Lyle Lovett’s “Church”:

I’ve wanted to post a piece of music from the great Lyle Lovett for some time. It’s been hard to choose just which. There’s any number of songs I could have posted. “Don’t Touch My Hat,” That’s Right You’re Not From Texasand “She’s No Lady” are a heck of a lot of fun. “She’s Hot to Go” swings. “Step Inside This House” is a bit of country with its taste of sadness and loneliness. But “Church” has won out.

Lyle Lovett burst upon the musical scene in the mid-eighties. When I first saw him on this or that tv show, I knew he was the genuine article. A great singer with a great sound with great songs. On top of it all, he was backed up by his Large Band.

When you search for his name on the Google, the Wiki proclaims him a country singer-songwriter. But like so many Texas musicians, he is larger than that. He does country, for sure. But he’s swing, gospel, blues and rock ‘n’ roll, depending on what he’s singing. And sometimes a stew of all of those traditions thrown in together for some good eatin’.

By the fact he’s from Texas. You’d know that just by seeing that he does his own “That’s Right You’re Not From Texas.” Like many Texas artists, he’s hard to peg down. Willie (that’s Willie Nelson) could easily be classified as a jazz singer. Townes Van Zant sang the blues like nobody. ‘Course he was a man who had lived those blues. Steve Earle is as much a folk singer as he is country. And where do you classify a song like Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother”?

And just for kicks, throw in Buddy Holly, Z Z Top, Norah Jones, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Dixie Chicks, Ornette Coleman, Erykah Badu, Gene Autry, Johnny Mathis, Janis Joplin, Barry White, Van Cliburn and the Winters Brothers, Johnny and Edgar. And never ever forget that Bob Wills is the daddy of them all. As you can see, Lyle Lovett fits right in.

“Church” takes me back to the time before the mega-churches starting mega-ing all over the  place. Before Tammy and Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggart showed us how much Elmer Gantry there still was in American Christianity. It takes me back to the time to Sunday-go-to-meeting-and-dinner-on-the-ground time when “just folks” gathered for a mighty good time on the Sabbath. I could wax nostalgia-like here but I’d be a bore. So enjoy the song and maybe it will take you back too.

And just in case you haven’t got enough of Lyle, here’s another one:

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Near 500 words: The King of Wands

Katherine looked into her daughter’s dark eyes. She loved the face with its smile and the blonde hair under the white bonnet. “The King of Wands is coming home,” she said.

Darla went into a little dance, her face all lit up like a Christmas tree trimmed in lights. She was a whirling dervish dancing before her mother, excitement pouring from her ten-year-old body, singing, “The King of Wands is coming home.” So much joy for a sailor who never stayed home. Then Darla stopped her dancing. “Will he stay this time?”

“Probably not,” Katherine answered.

Darla’s shoulders dropped. “Just like the King of Wands.”

Katherine was not happy. But she did not share her unhappiness with Darla. She was tired of the man who checked in for a couple of weeks, then was off for months. For fifteen years, Katherine endured. Each time he came home she hoped this was the last time he went away.

She tired of the life she lived, so she met another man a few days earlier. Horace was an older man, a widower of ten years. They were shopping for vegetables. Her hand went for the potatoes. His hand went for the potatoes. It was an absent-minded, accidental thing for the both of them.

“Sorry.” Horace drew back his hand.

Katherine managed to get out, “’S’okay.”

Neither knew what to say. So they said nothing for the next few minutes. They just stared into each other’s eyes.

Then Horace broke the silence. “You come here often?”

“Most everyday,” the words stumbled out of Katherine. “I like our vegetables fresh. And you?”

“Only occasionally. It’s on my way from the doctor’s.”

“Are you okay?” Concern entered Katherine’s voice, concern for the tall, white-haired man standing in front of her.

“It’s just my semi-annual physical.”

Relieved, Katherine let out a sigh.

“Would you like to get a glass of wine?” Horace let out. “I hear they have very good wines at the café next door.”

Katherine’s face blushed. No man had asked her out for years. Or perhaps they had tried. She ignored them because of her devotion to the King of Wands. Then she smiled. “Why not.”

At the café, the two laid their lives out on the table. At the end of the conversation, Horace asked, “Would you like to go to see a film? One afternoon, that is?”

Katherine’s pulse was racing. Her thoughts were “When?” But she did not let on to this. She simply said, “Maybe. What did you have in mind?”

“There’s a movie theater that shows classics and foreign films nearby.”

“I know the place.” She didn’t but she would find it.

“Next week they are showing ‘Jules and Jim’. It’s Truffaut.”

“I love Truffaut.”

“Then next Wednesday we can meet here at noon, have lunch, then see the film.”

“You’re not a sailor, are you?” she asked.

“I’m afraid not. I get seasick.”

As they readied to part, she let the older man kiss her on the cheek. Then she returned to the grocer for her vegetables. Darla would be home from school soon.

And so would the King of Wands. For the last time.

Hair

Greg was going to hate her hair. She just knew it. Or he would laugh. The woman who stared back at her in the mirror was not her. She didn’t have a forehead that showed like that. She loved a disappearing forehead. A forehead underneath a head of hair.

Here her hairdresser told her this was the fashion. All the women were wearing their hair this way. Her golden hair pulled back and held in place by the barrettes. No, Greg was going to hate it. What had she been thinking when the hairdresser proposed such an arrangement?

And now she was feeling the cold air against the skin of her forehead. She either had to go back to the hairdresser and admit she didn’t like it, go to another hairdresser or show Greg. None of the options were good ones. And she knew it.

Was there a way for her to make that forehead go away?

She started the unpinning. She shook her hair free of the constraints. It was short. She’d never had it this short before. What had she been thinking?

She picked up the scissors and snip, snip, snip. A little here, a little there. She fiddled with the strands for a half hour. Finally, the hair took shape the way she liked it. Though it was thin, the hair covered her forehead. Fashion or no fashion, this was going to have to do.

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Creator of the Week: Leonard Bernstein and the Joy of Music

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Creator is Leonard Bernstein:

When I was growing up, Leonard Bernstein was the one I thought of as a classical orchestra conductor was. Thinking back to the times, I can imagine other conductors being envious. So very envious. His personality looms over the classical world of the last half of the twentieth century more than any other personality.

Leonard Bernstein & Glenn Gould

Bernstein wasn’t just a classical conductor. He was a pianist. He was an educator with his Young People’s Concerts on CBS. He was a composer for the stage. His “West Side Story” is still considered one of the best stage musicals of all time. He composed ballets, classical, opera and film scores. He crammed more into his 72 years than most would get into 200 years.

Bernstein teaching

The reason Leonard Bernstein matters is he thought, spoke, played and passionately cared about music. And he communicated music to those who might not know it the way he did. He gave us an in to the music of Mahler, of Stravinsky, and Bach. And he treated us as adults. If you go to You tube and type in the name of Leonard Bernstein, you’ll find an embarrassment of riches. Watching any of them will not be time wasted.

The Kennedy Center Honors, 1980.

Micropoem for Thanksgiving: stuffing

It’s Thanksgiving, and oh, do I have much to be thankful for. Most of all it’s the beginning of that season we call The Holidays. The bright lights that come with Christmas and Hanukkah. And it culminates in the end of the year celebration, New Year’s Eve. Then we’ll get another eleven months to recuperate before we’re called back into combat. But for this moment, let’s think about what we have to be thankful for. That special Someone. Family. Friends. Work. Our health. The food we have on the table. Life is good. Now, let’s eat.

Oh the turkey,
oh the dressing,
oh the pecan pie.
Now I’m bursting.