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Saturday, June 12, 2010


jewelweed forest

The sun has set. We are in the gloaming, the light between sunset and dark, a calm, peaceful time of day. Not much breeze. Just enough to make a few leaves move slowly up and down at the end of a thin twig. Tapo is curled up on my reading/watching movies chair. Caterpillar may be outside. She was on the footstool cushion and vanished. It's the time of day she likes to explore in the jungle of jewelweed and ferns, maybe looking for mice. She has become peculiar about what she eats. There's only one kind of catfood she likes now and when I get her nothing but that, she quits liking it. Oh well. I went through enough of that with TarBaby. I do the best I can and if they don't like catfood, then they have my permission to eat whatever they can catch.

I'm enjoying playing mountain gospel music on the radio show more every week. This morning I played several by Wade Mainer, somebody my listeners like almost as much as Ralph Stanley. I have only 1 cd of him, though a few LPs, and the station has nothing by him. I'll see if Sue can put the LPs I have of Wade and Julia Mainer on cd. I like Wade's singing of the Cat Came Back. I thought he was a gonner, but the cat came back. Also played several by the Peaceful Valley Qtet, a local gospel group of 30 years ago, more or less. They sounded good. Played a couple of Ola Belle Reed songs, Ernest & Agnes Joines when they was younguns, a few Carter Family.

The gospel hour and the original hour of traditional music are bleeding together in my mind. I may catch myself playing some gospel in the first hour and some traditional in the 2nd hour, mixing them up at will, possibly to be a permanent way of doing it, mixing them. I see no reason to do otherwise. My listeners love the gospel at least as much as the traditional, and more in a lot of cases. I see no reason to keep them separate. We live our spiritual lives and our everyday lives together. They are woven together to the point they become one. Seems like a good way to go with the music. I like the woven together aspect of it. It's mountain music for mountain people and mountain people love gospel. A lot of gospel songs have powerful meaning.

I believe people who like gospel music like the songs largely because they have meaning that is worth thinking about. One of the first characteristics I found in mountain people is a shared philosophical way of thinking. I don't mean philosophical to mean resignation like it is used so much for, but the original meaning, thinking about life and what's important. In the old days, the man worked the farm alone and the woman did her work largely alone, but for the kids. Farm labor was essentially solitary work in the old days, except for harvest and firewood for winter. The farmers didn't have iPods in the field playing outlaw country. No distractions. Alone with his mind all day every day, the only life he ever knew, the farmer in the Age before electricity preferred silence and absence of distractions. Tom Pruitt could sit and look at his wall all day every day of the winter and never be depressed. It's how he got his thinking done. Like now, I like to take a good drive without radio to get some thinking done.

I like about mixing the gospel and traditional as something to think about regarding the 2 hour show. I see no reason why not and a major reason for it would be that the mountain people I know and the ones listening to the show are a mix of their spiritual lives and their everyday lives, people who say, I suwannee, to avoiding saying, I swear, as Jesus recommended not swearing. Some preachers say Jesus never recommended or suggested anything. He commanded. Everything Jesus said is a commandment. For one thing, Love doesn't command. Another, Jesus with God consciousness knows human beings only pay negative attention to a commandment, brace up against it to the point it becomes something insurmountable. A commandment doesn't allow us the time to think about it and see the good sense in it, which, I believe, is essential to understanding what Jesus was doing, pointing out the Way. Once we catch on to the Way with some experience, we're headed where Jesus is leading us, making our own decisions in accordance with understanding the Way, decisions that don't come back and bite us.

I feel like the traditional (I don't like the word secular) music and the gospel music make up the whole of mountain music, like the example of a bird with 2 wings, the traditional on one side and gospel on the other. The bird can't fly without both wings. Like our left brain and right brain have very different functions and together make the whole. The Eastern part of the world is very different from the Western part of the world. Together they make the whole. I'm convincing myself as I write that this is the way to go. It makes the presentation of the music more like our lives. I'm not one who believes we have church on the one hand and the rest of our lives on the other. It's all interwoven. Our most egoic thoughts are mixed up with our most selflessly motivated thoughts. It's all part of the whole. We are spiritual beings who have to work and deal with money, other people and our own desires. It feels important to me not just to complete the circle, but to circumvent the whole. It feels right. Feels good as a way of looking at it making a whole, and it feels good like it's how we are in our lives. Humming a gospel song at work, while driving, any time of day. Calling it a gospel hour seems to me to separate it from our everyday lives, when I see it as mixed in.

That answers it. Thanks for listening to the thought process. When the threads that make the warp are red and the threads making the woof are yellow, they make orange by pixels. Maybe that says mixing the traditional and the gospel could create an entity independent of either red or yellow. Like the way the music is an entity that occurs when all the musicians are playing together. It seems like something separate from the individual musicians, yet dependent on each one. I like mixing the two different approaches and making a whole of them. They are equally important aspects of mountain music. It used to be they were held strictly separate. The fiddle was said to be the devil's instrument, because it played for dances and dancing was a sin as bad as playing cards and drinking. That absolutist thinking is fading away and the mix seems to be the way we're going in this day and time.

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