Every year around Easter time I remind myself to watch this Monty Python classic: The Life of Brian. This closing ditty always got to me. The absurdity of blind optimism in the face of such horrific circumstances: to be hung on a cross whistling and singing “Always look on the bright side of life.”
So I again watched this movie a mere week after watching this years Oscar winner for best picture ‘Spotlight’. The one-two punch of the juxtaposition of both movies basically drove a nail through my Easter plans.
Then three days ago we put my mother into a respite home as she was in need of urgent care. When I arrived yesterday to visit, I noticed among the many magazines, one simple book nestled beside her. The Holy Bible. My mother was an avid reader, yet I’d never seen her read the Bible before. Yes she has unshakeable faith but we certainly weren’t thumpers.
There are no Atheists in fox-holes as they say, so I’m sure when my final hours arrive, I’ll be reexamining the complete works of Emily Bronte, William Blake, Dylan, Ghandi or a host of other spiritually connected folks who’ve shaped my faith – whatever that really means. I left my mothers bed side and drove home thinking about the years we spent dedicated to the Catholic church. As altar boys; attending Catholic schools; youth encounters; social functions etc..
So much of our lives were spent in this Catholic kaleidoscope. If I feel guilty for writing about leaving the church, it’s probably because I was taught how to feel guilty through the church. That’s not to criticize my mother for her faith or for any soul that holds the same strong convictions for any good word. It just had me thinking – what would I likely hold strong to before the curtain falls.
Maybe it would be the church of music. Specifically the music that has shaped me. Music that fights for the oppressed or rejoices in freedom. Music that makes you sing and dance. Music that makes you think and feel. Music that brings passion or pure joy.
Maybe someday someone will try to convince me that my faith in music is all just a myth. They will argue that my music is devoid of cultural or spiritual significance. I will rail against those comments as falsehoods, knowing the everlasting power of the music that shaped me.
Why am I writing this?
Today, as I as repacked my bags to prepare for a two month US tour, I looked inside my Larivee Guitar for the first time in a long time (to search for a serial number) and noticed the blood-stained manufacturers label.The blood was from a friend who I allowed on stage over ten years ago to perform a set of original music. Memories flooded back on how this old guitar had been with me for so many events. It’s ludicrous to have faith in an inanimate object. I know this. For some inexplicable reason, an instrument can often feel alive. Perhaps I should to have faith in the luthier? The human who constructed the guitar.In this case it’s Mr. Jean Larivee.
“Happy Easter Mr. Jean Larivee and thank you for creating this guitar that continues to inspire performances. You’ve been dropped in the water, left overnight in the sand beside campfires, pulled apart by the European air, briefly stolen then replaced by a gang of crack addicts, braced together three separate times and lastly…bled upon by a player who strummed violently with his fingers. The blood stains on this label are a reminder of how much you’ve sacrificed for my unholy treatment of you. Please forgive me if I keep you shrouded in your case until Tuesday morning. You’re ascension onto the stage will happen in Columbus Ohio where you will once again perform miracles.
You will sing:
“We turned Jesus in Elvis who turned records into bread
We work the world for prophets
Now that our King is dead
From the Vatican to Graceland
We’re playing in one chord
And singing gospel numbers
In the name of the Lord
We all loved the King
Yet we crucified him too
Love me tender baby
I’m only passing through”
As for you dear reader:
I’ll be out there for 10 straight months often touring with a fiddle player and additional players. Starting in Columbus Ohio, down to Alabama, up through NY and Maine, into the Maritimes and over to the BC islands then into the US again for October and November. (all dates to be posted shortly)
I’ll be singing new songs that were brought to me from this old guitar.
Here’s a new one captured a few weeks ago in Kansas City:
Jay Aymar: Live at The Folk Alliance in KC
See you on the trail soon enough!
Oh and for the record: