Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Monday, January 12, 2015

Death Warmed Over, Eating a Cracker

CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter… ©

We heard Bryan Bowers, the great autoharpist-folk singer last night. He looked like death warmed over, eating a cracker.

No, I’m not being nasty. Those were his words. He had a cold, and he said, “People will probably say I looked like death warmed over, eating a cracker.” So I said it.

We were at The Second Sunday Folk Dance at Fortune Lake Lutheran Camp. It’s the 30th year that Dean & Bette Premo, who perform as White Water, have produced SSFD. They are PhD environmental consultants by profession, but they are also professional level musicians.

They mentor young people as part of White Water, too. Recently Carrie Dlutkowski has been one of those. A few years from now, when I’m hanging around with Carrie Newcomer, and Rev. Peyton and the Big Damn Band, and Richard Thompson, they’ll say, “Can you get Carrie’s autograph for me?” She’s that good.

Each SSFD opens with a set by White Water, and then comes the special guest, and after that we dance. Every January the special guest is Bryan Bowers, because he does not have good sense and thinks January is a good time to come to the Upper Peninsula. He lives on the west coast. UP here we are on the cold coast.

After Bryan’s set, while others danced, Bryan and I talked. Usually we tell each other jokes, but this time he read his poetry from the last year to me, because his muse has been so active. Bryan is well into his 70s. He still has that powerful voice, those marvelous fingers, and that nimble mind. Don’t assume that because you’re old you can’t be creative.

He said that he has written, as a rough estimate, about a thousand songs, only a dozen or so have caught on and stayed around. He doesn’t think that’s a good batting average. It would not be if he were a first baseman, but the averages are different for song writers. Charles Wesley wrote 20 thousand hymns. Only a few are still in the Methodist hymnal. But every Methodist, and a lot of other folks, can sing “Oh, for a thousand tongues” and “Hark, the herald angels sing.”

I sing every morning, quietly, so I won’t wake Helen, as I putter around the kitchen. I sing Wesley. If folks are still singing your songs 300 years after you’re dead, your batting average is pretty good. I think folks will be singing Bryan’s great “When you learn a song, you’ve got a friend for life” long after he’s eaten his last cracker.

I really should have titled this CIW with “When you learn a song, you’ve got a friend for life,” but I figured you would be more intrigued by “Death Warmed Over, Eating a Cracker.” See, I still have a nimble mind, too.

When you learn a song, you’ve got a friend for life
That you can call on, in the still of the night
When you’re down and out, on a two-lane road
Your friend the song will be there to ease your load

When your mom and dad cross your mind
Thinking back to the ties that bind
Won’t fill your heart like singing some old song
They used to sing back when you were young [Chorus]

When time hangs heavy on your hands
That novel that you burn your eyes out on
Won’t fill your heart like learning some old song
That will be there to help you later on. [Chorus]

When the night is young but you’re feeling old
TV’s empty hours won’t fill your soul
Like singing some old song that was your friend
When you were young, and you are young again. [Chorus]

Here’s a youtube link to Bryan singing about our friend for life.

John Robert McFarland

The “place of winter” mentioned in the title line is Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula [The UP], where life is defined by winter even in the summer! [This phrase is explained in the post for March 20, 2014.]

I used to keep a careful index of all the things I told in this blog so that I would not repeat. That has become unwieldy. Now I just trust to memory. Sorry about that.

I have also started an author blog, about writing, in preparation for the publication, by Black Opal Books, of my novel, VETS, about four handicapped and homeless Iraqistan veterans who are accused of murdering a VA doctor, n 2015.

I tweet as yooper1721.

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