Skip to main content

When hero's and mentor's die . . . what next?

This has been one of those years.  If I was any kind of songwriter, I would have written a lot of songs this year.  It's been a year of personal growth.  It has also been a year of personal loss.

My very first music hero, Pete Seeger, passed away in January.  I first became a fan of his music back in my teenage years, when folk music was all that we pretty much sang in our youth group down in McAllen at the St. Mark United Methodist Church.  We sang the same songs at district church camp in Weslaco, or at Mount Wesley, our annual conference church camp in Kerrville.  How I remember those grand music circles composed of guitar, banjo and harmonica players, with everyone singing. And this was back in the days when we did not have good mics or sound systems.  Sometimes we gathered together in assembly or fellowship halls.  Sometimes we would gather and sing around a campfire at church camp or at the beach.  Often we sang in people's living rooms.  We sang outside in area parks.  We sang way more than we watched television.  We only had 2 English channels back then! 

I've pretty much been a folkie at heart every since.  Later as I learned more about Pete's life, I discovered that I disagreed with some of his political stances in the past.  But despite that, I grew up singing his songs that he helped write or arrange in new ways: If I Had A Hammer; Turn, Turn, Turn; We Shall Overcome; You Got to Walk That Lonesone Valley,;Kisses Sweeter Than Wine; Waste Deep in the Big Muddie;  and his famous rendition of Guantanamera, a song he sang in over 100+ countries.

They were all such good songs, at least to me and to those I sang with.

Pete's legacy, in my humble opinion, was that he could get people to sing together.  That's why I admired him so much.  For years he toured with Arlo Guthrie's band, and when Pete came up to sing, it was always a song that everyone could join in on.  You had to join in, because Pete would tell you the words!  He was a folk singer, singing the songs of the people. 

Musically, Pete was a great influence on my singing and playing. I have a passion for helping people sing together.  Always have. Always will.

Another dear music hero died in September.  Joe Laughlin was my adopted big brother, guitar and vocal teacher and best friend.  But, Joe was much more than a music hero.  He was my guitar and vocal mentor.  I've shared already in several blogs how much he meant to me.  I put the guitar down once, to never play again.  He made me pick it back up.

I admire a lot of other singers and musicians.  Very much so.  I get to sing and play with several excellent singers and musicians here in the DFW area on occasion every now and then.  They are all good friends.  But none of them are a music hero or mentor in the way that Pete and Joe were.

So, what do you do when your music hero and music mentor both die so close together?  

What do you do when the grief grabs at you suddenly and unexpectedly.  

What do you do when playing the guitar and singing reminds you even more of your loss?

First . . . I have to have faith.  My experience is that faith is one of the things in life that helps heal grief.  My gut and heart tell me to keep the faith.

And second, even in grief, I have to keep on singing and playing.  If I don't, I risk denying who I am and what I am called to do in my life.

One of the old songs Pete Seeger used to sing was "How Can I Keep From Singing."  It was written by Robert Lowry and Ira Stankey in 1860.  The words below are Pete's arrangement.   They ring very true at this moment of my life and I handle my grief and loss through faith and continuing to sing.

My life flows on in endless song
Above earth's lamentation.
I hear the real, though far off hymn
That hails the new creation
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I'm clinging.
It sounds an echo in my soul
How can I keep from singing?

What though the tempest round me roars
I know the truth it liveth
What though the darkness round me close
Songs in the night it giveth
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I'm clinging.
Since love is lord of Heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

God's grace, and singing . . . still amazes me . . . ><>

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Tuning a baritone uke to G-C-E-A ??

Well I'll be . . . it can be done.
If you didn't know, I use Aquila Nylgut Ukulele strings on my tenor and baritone ukes. Best sounding uke strings out there in my humble opinion.
I love my Kala tenor uke . . . but I've got such big bo-honking fingers, and the frets on a tenor uke are not exactly large . . . I can really only play chords on the first 5 frets.
Then one day a while back, I noticed on the package that Aquila makes a Baritone set tuned to G-C-E-A, just like my tenor. A baritone uke is usually tuned like the bottom 4 strings of a guitar . . . D-G-B-E.
Well, I jumped in and ordered a couple of sets. And . . . they work . . . at least to me. Now, I am not by any means a uke "purist." They are the "tools" I use as instruments when I sing certain songs. Restrung with the new strings, the Kala baritone is about as loud as my tenor . . . but with a little deeper sound. Some may not like it . . . but I do, especially as I work to learn the names of…

Goodbye Tom Petty . . ..

It was confirmed last night that Tom Petty died after being found in his home unresponsive and in full cardiac arrest.  Tom and the Heartbreakers has just finished up their 40th anniversary tour.  Tom was planning to spend more time at home with his new grandchild. 

Everyday is precious.  Live each day as if it is your last.

RIP Tom.  Thank you for the music!

God's grace, and cherished memories of people that made great music, still amaze me . . . ><>

Would you life to share share about your favorite musical instrument?

What is your favorite guitar or other musical instrument?  Please let me know.  I'd like to interview you about your relationship with your favorite instrument.

I am interested in talking with, and getting to know, everyday people who make music.  That's the kind of person I am.  I'm an everyday kind of guy, and I love to sing and play guitar for everyday people. 

Although I have too many guitars, several ukes, a couple of old banjo's, a bunch of harmonicas and several Native American flutes, I am interested in stories about other instruments as well.  I have it in my mind that this blog will probably feature more stories about guitars and singer-songwriters.  However, I am open to stories about people and their love for other instruments.  So, if you play the accordion, piano, pennywhistle, drums . . . or can crack your knuckles in time to music . . . I want to hear your story.

All inquiries from interested, or from the curious as well, can be sent to revrickmang@gm…