Monday, June 4, 2012

Saved My Soul

In Muskogee, Oklahoma I met a man named David, or should I say a man named David materialized before me because there's no accounting for our encounter in the empty dark downtown as I sang my Merle Haggard songs. My earthly mission here is to learn Western Swing music and it seems that again I've started walking on the 4th floor. The actual lesson concerning Western Swing music begins with simple Gospel Hymns.

The Old Rugged Cross is a song that will forever bring back memories of the Fairbanks Rescue Mission, during a time when I actually had never played an instrument except harmonica. The bedraggled and drunken Eskimos and down on luck gold miners hung our heads over our worn bibles as the grumbling in our bellies reached a crescendo that would drown out the snores from the exhausted street urchins living in clothing donation boxes to escape the 23 hours of daylight. Sometimes there was an accompanist on the out of tune piano and sometimes the preacher would stumble through the music himself and sing with the handful of devout. The Old Rugged Cross was a crowd favorite and of course I came to loathe the music, God, People, my debilitating injuries, all the accursed land. I was forsaken and the mission tried to break my spirit and mend it with God's love. I resented that but the message of the preacher was always so appropriate. I was broken. I was longing for redemption. I was confused. No one else had the answer so why not bow down before God and admit my sins? My defiance kept me in pain and awash with sin. (not really, I was a vegetarian, never drank, never used drugs, avoided salt, but the story works better if I'm a sinner)

Flash forward a few decades to Muskogee and David the commercial truckdriver starts showing me pictures with him next to every western swing musician ever to play with Elvis or Willie Nelson. And of course David owns a $5000 inlayed Martin D28 guitar signed by the greats of country music. How is it that he came before me? Because God answers the prayers of man and my prayer was to learn Western Swing and David said, No, you want to learn Gospel and I'm going to school you in gospel..which has its roots in the simple hymns. And he took my guitar and sang in a sweet Arkansas/Okie accent, in perfect pitch and untrained authentic wholesome quality of devout tears branching down his crows feet and splashing on the Muskogee brick. He sang "Old Rugged Cross" and I nodded, yes yes. I know this song. Or do I?

David also introduced me to The Hinsons, a gospel group that could make Osama bin Laden rise from the dead and give praise to a blond Jewish guy nailed to a plastic Chinese crucifix! I feel that it's my duty to introduce you to their message but you must mentally prepare yourself. Pretend that you have sinned and that you want to atone for your sins. The Hinsons will take it from there.

They say the Lord works in mysterious ways, if ye seek, so shall ye find. This trip into Muskogee confirms these statements.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.