I had lunch with 4 writers today. 3 already published, the last aspiring to publish soon. Stories — the source from which they spring, the process for grasping them as they emerge, their meanings, and the stories feeding each of us now — filled our time together. The conversation resonated with me for two reasons.
Valentine’s Day was last weekend. I just found some boxes of those little conversation heart candies that I had picked up in mid-January as an impulse purchase, stashed, and promptly forgot about. Too late to hand them out, might as well crack open a box. They weren’t what I remembered.
The guys have been singing Born Again for years. It’s been in the show so long that I’ve heard Jim, Greg, and Dominic all have a turn on the lead part. I’ve enjoyed the song from the very beginning, tapping my feet, singing along quietly at the board, feeling a rush of endorphins as it came to a close. But after the song — somewhere between packing up the gear and getting home from the gig or being at work the next day — the song gnawed at me a bit. And if I’m honest, it’s a gnawing that started back in college. It all comes down to the line where they are talking about Jesus and sing,
If you hadn’t died, my soul wouldn’t be saved.
That’s the reason, I been born again.
The thing that baffles me is why doesn’t the NFL set the PSI requirements to maximize offensive performance? The NBA wanted higher scoring games so they introduced a three point shot. Eventually the NCAA followed suit. The NBA wanted power forwards to easily slash through the paint and slamdunk and therefore they made zone defense an “illegal defense.” Want more shots, faster shots? How about a 24 second shot clock? And miracle of miracles, the Major League Baseball is testing a pitch clock this year in triple A. Hey NFL, if 11 psi results in more completions, more touchdowns, then for Lombardi’s sake, make that the rule. Geesh!
But I digress, I love football! Always have. But at the Indiana University School of Music in the 80s, I hung out with a hippie crowd that was way too serious to be swayed by pop culture, pop music or Mozart forbid, sports. Actually Mozart was too Milquetoast for my crowd. We grooved on all things avant garde. My Neanderthal proclivities revealed themselves at Super Bowl XX.
One of our favorite groups, The Fairfield Four, was appearing on A Prairie Home Companion on the first weekend of November 1997. We bought tickets as a group, and went to the Fitzgerald Theater in Saint Paul and watched them.
I have a long, checkered musical past. I performed on stage well over 500 times before I was 23. Then, thoroughly burned out, I quit all things musical for several years. When my wife Vera and I stumbled into Bryn Mawr in 1992, I didn’t tell anyone I was a singer. Eventually, I was ready to start music again. I knew I would eventually start singing in this little church, but the choir only rehearsed on Sunday mornings 30 minutes before church, and not regularly. I struggled with that for 2 years.
Tonight we sang at the Union Gospel Mission in St Paul. We’ve been there may be as many as 6 times now, and each time it is a different experience. This night we were invited to eat with the residents – otherwise homeless people, almost exclusively men. We don’t do that often, and it was a nice opportunity to meet with the folks we’d be singing for in a new way. We split ourselves up and found seats at the cafeteria tables randomly – some of the guys we sat with were very open and talkative, others reserved, but it was a nice way to start the event. And the food was really good! Scalloped Potatoes with Ham, green beans, salad, and donuts!