On the cover of Wrecking Ball, Bruce Springsteen holds his iconic Fender Esquire guitar, the same ax he sported on his 1975 masterpiece Born to Run. Back then, saxophonist Clarence Clemons stood to his left, coaxing an impish grin from the young rocker. Now, on his first disc since Clemons’s death, Bruce stands solitary and sullen against a black backdrop.
Most Westerners know Sufi music through the great singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. This digital-download collection introduces six Sufi and Baul/Hindu artists largely unheard outside India. It’s a spellbinding trip into mystical art with a tender heart, showcased in poignant, centuries-old teaching songs about love, humanity and devotion.
When I was growing up, the music that got played at my house consisted of choral music, showtunes, CCM and praise bands (the last two being considerably more distinct in those days than they are now). Before and for a while after they had kids, my parents played in an CCM-ish band. Another couple from that group remained close friends of my parents, and their son and I--living a half mile from each other, each surrounded by sisters--were inseparable from birth to college.
On many Saturday nights, I slept in my friend's basement. His dad liked to wake us for church by putting on records by Doc Watson--who died Tuesday--and cranking the volume.
Here’s your Ash Wednesday story. A mother carries her tiny daughter With her as she gets ashed and the Girl, curious and wriggly, squirms Into the path of the priest’s thumb Just as the finger is about to arrive On the mother’s forehead, and the Ashes go right in the kid’s left eye. She starts to cry, and there’s a split Second as the priest and the mother Gawk, and then they both burst out Laughing. The kid is too little to be Offended, and the line moves along, But this stays with me; not the ashy Eye as much as the instant when all Could have been pain and awkward But instead it led to mutual giggling. We are born of dust and star-scatter And unto this we shall return, this is The Law, but meantime, by God, we Can laugh our asses off. What a gift, You know? Let us snicker while we Can, brothers and sisters. Let us use That which makes dark things quail.