Archives for posts with tag: music

Dan Fogelberg was a successful singer/songwriter with a string of platinum-selling albums and singles in the 1970s, the early ’80s, and a long career afterward. His debut album, “Home Free,” was recorded in Nashville, in 1972.

This gifted man was born into a musical family in Peoria, IL, where his father was an established musician, teacher, and bandleader. Unlike many boys his age, he was more interested in music than sports. His first instrument was the piano. His personal musical turning point came in the early ’60s, before he’d reached his teens. A gift of an old Hawaiian guitar from his grandfather introduced him to the instrument that would soon replace the piano.

One song for which Fogelberg is best remembered is The Leader of the Band from his album The Innocent Age, released in 1981. It was written as a tribute to his father who was still alive at the time of its release. His father died one year later but not before this hit song made him a celebrity with numerous media interviews interested in him as its inspiration.

The Leader of the Band is one of Fogelberg’s most personal songs. One biographer said “it expressed something that many children have trouble articulating: a love for their father. The intimacy of the song actually broadened its appeal and it became one of his most enduring songs.”

One line in the song, “Thank you for the freedom when it came my time go,” refers to the time Dan decided to drop out of college in the middle of a semester to pursue music. Although his father was disappointed, he supported his son’s decision and told him to try it for a year.

The song’s lyrics described Fogelberg’s father in the following manner:

A quiet man of music denied a simpler fate
He tried to be a soldier once, but his music wouldn’t wait
He earned his love through discipline, a thundering velvet hand
His gentle means of sculpting souls took me years to understand

The songwriter then goes on to say:
The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul
My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man
I’m just a living legacy to the leader of the band

The Leader of the Band is a memorable song that stands on its own merits. It is not a “Christian song” but it contains a reminder for Christians of our role in the world and who we are supposed to be. Jesus said that He came to show us what our Heavenly Father was like. He said, “If you have seen me, you have seen my Father” (John 14:7-10). And he added, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (John 20:21). Our calling is to be the “living legacy of the Leader of the Band.”

God help us to fulfill our calling.

Jamie Jenkins

“Without music, life is a journey through a desert.” I don’t know if I fully agree with that statement by Pat Conroy but I do believe music is one of God’s greatest gifts.

I enjoy music. Many different kinds. Secular and sacred. Instrumental and vocal. Although I like music I do not know enough to really appreciate it. My understanding is limited regarding the gifts and efforts of songwriters, composers, arrangers, musicians, and vocalists.

Next to the Bible the hymns of the Church have fed my soul more than anything else.  I cannot imagine a life of faith without sacred music. The solid theology and the strong words of hymn  writers like Charles Wesley, Isaac Watts, John Newton, Fanny Crosby, Philip Bliss, and countless others are invaluable. Hymns like Christ the Lord is Risen Today, Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah, How Great Thou Art, Amazing Grace, Rock of Ages, and Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing have helped to lay sound foundations for Christians of many generations.

Much of more modern Christian music has also inspired me and lifted my spirits. Larry Norman, Andrae Crouch, Third Day, Amy Grant, Chris Tomlin, Michael W. Smith, James Cleveland, Keith Green and countless others have made valuable contributions through contemporary Christian music.

I listen to Christian music on the outward bound leg of my morning walks and Bible readings on my return home. My morning routine helps get me started on the right track with a more spiritual emphasis. It is secular music in the afternoon walk.

God uses music of all kinds to speak to me. To encourage and inspire me. To challenge and guide me.

Beyond my love for sacred music, blues and jazz are my favorite genres. The list of great blues and jazz musicians from the past and the present includes B.B. King, Etta James, Nina Simone, Billie Holliday, Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, Jellyroll Morton, Diana Krall, Bill Withers, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Harry Connick, Jr., Duke Ellington, and Bonnie Raitt.

For a good number of years when I was home on Saturday night I listened to the music of the Ben Tucker Trio on the radio as they performed from Hard Hearted Hannah’s in Savannah. Following them was the Jim Collum Jazz Band and Riverwalk Jazz Live from the Landing in San Antonio.

It has been said that every bad situation is a blues song waiting to be written. B.B. King said, “Blues is a tonic for whatever ails you. I could play the blues and then not be blue anymore.” Wynton Marsalis adds, “Everything comes out in blues music: joy, pain, struggle. Blues is affirmation with absolute elegance.”

Dixieland Jazz is different from the blues. This music is often associated with New Orleans where it originated in the early 20th century and later flourished in Chicago after World War I. When Joe “Fingers” Webster and his River City Jazzmen play the Muskrat Ramble Medley, try as you will but you cannot keep your feet from tapping and a smile breaking out on your face.

Like Dixieland Jazz, Bluegrass music gets your toes tapping and your hands clapping. This form of music is named after the Blue Grass Boys, a band led by Bill Monroe, a Kentucky mandolin player and songwriter, who is considered “the father of bluegrass.” My father thought that Bill Monroe, banjo playing Earl Scruggs and guitarist Lester Flatt were the greatest.

I am convinced that you cannot be unhappy when you are listening to Bluegrass or Dixieland Jazz.

Aaron Copland said, “To stop the flow of music would be like the stopping of time itself, incredible and inconceivable.” Thank God for music that entertains, educates, and inspires.

Jamie Jenkins

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States and I have much for which to be thankful. I am thankful for (not necessarily in this order):

– comfortable shoes that fit

– one shoulder that does not hurt

– the Atlanta Braves baseball team (but I am not happy with the front office for recent rules violations).

-my wife of 49 years (in 35 Days)

– my three children and their spouses

– my church where my faith is nurtured by excellent preaching, exceptional music, and friends that are invaluable

– good health (for a man my age)

– the rhythmic sound of ocean waves crashing onto the shore

– civil discourse where mutual respect is practiced

– the privilege of living in the United States

– the Bible and the guidance it gives

– opportunities to travel and experience the wonderful world and it’s diverse peoples and cultures

– my bed and pillow when I return from traveling

– opportunities to serve others

-blues singers like Etta James, B.B. King, Diana Krall, Muddy Waters

– my extraordinary grandchildren (a biased opinion but true nonetheless)

– ice cream

– the laughter of children

– people who are smarter than me who don’t make me feel like an idiot

– Skype webcam

– air conditioning (I live in the Deep South)

– people who love me in spite of myself

– the Comics- especially Peanuts, Pearls Before Swine, Get Fuzzy, Baby Blues, Zits, and Garfield

– preachers, politicians, and other public servants who know it is not about them

– the Church (with all it faults)

– teachers

– the diverse community in which I live

– good food and good friends

– quiet time

– coffee in the morning

– Alex Trebeck and Jeopardy

– hats that protect my bald head from the cold and sun

– neighbors who look out for each other

– soul (southern) food and cornbread

– growing older without getting “old”

– folks who are not like me who like me

– God who loves and forgives me

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

 

 

It’s beginning to look and sound a lot like Christmas and nothing characterizes that statement more than the concert I attended last Sunday night. An eighty-five voice choir and a thirty-five piece orchestra under the direction of Scott Atchison presented The Many Moods of Christmas concert in the beautiful sanctuary of the Peachtree Road United Methodist Church.Many Moods 1

The Many Moods of Christmas is based on the 1963 program of eighteen Christmas carols conducted by Robert Shaw, grouped into four suites. The carols were arranged for chorus and orchestra by famed Broadway orchestrator Robert Russel Bennett. It was performed by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Robert Shaw Chorale. That recording more than 50 years ago is still a very popular favorite- and nobody does it better than the choir and orchestra at this church in Atlanta.

 

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The concert begins with selections from Handel’s Messiah, an oratorio composed in 1741. It has become one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music. The program continues with one of John Rutter’s most well-known works, Gloria in excelsis Deo. The splendid evening of music concludes with a medley of old favorite Christmas carols.

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Plan to join me and hundreds of others next year when the tradition continues. If you are already in the Christmas spirit, this concert will cause you to soar to greater heights. If you are in the doldrums during December, the beauty of the music and the setting will lift your spirits. I promise.

You will “experience the wonder and joy of the Advent season” just like the publicity suggests.

After the concert, I started thinking about the many moods of Christmas. The secular and the sacred traditions. The cultural practices and family rituals. The music that ranges from the ridiculous (I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, Have a Holly Jolly Christmas) to the sublime (Silent Night, O Holy Night). The parties and food. The wrapping and exchanging of gifts. The trips to the mall to have a picture sitting on Santa’s lap. Travels to be with family.Many Moods 5

Christmas is indeed “the most wonderful time of the year. The hap-happiest season of all.”

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All of this merry making and joy began as a way to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the world. The festivities have expanded to include many things that have no direct connection to that event long ago in the austere environment of a cow stall in Bethlehem. Nevertheless, that event changed the world. Regardless of how we celebrate the occasion today it is a reminder of the announcement of the angels to the shepherds, “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy. For unto you is born this day… a Savior who is Christ the Lord.” And we sing robustly “Joy to the world, the Lord is Come.”

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Merry Christmas!

Jamie Jenkins

Aaron Copeland music quote

I am not a musician and I have no formal musical training but I do enjoy and value a variety of music. Martin Luther and I agree, “Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.”

A few years ago USA Today included Peachtree Road United Methodist Church in a list of “10 great places to be enthralled by heavenly music.” The people that filled the church sanctuary last Sunday night would agree with that claim. The 75 voice Chancel Choir accompanied by a 35 piece orchestra and 27 members of the Georgia Boy Choir offered the 25th Anniversary presentation of The Many Moods of Christmas, a spectacular program of Christmas music.

Tonight my wife and I plan to join friends to “celebrate the season through song” at a Coffee House Concert. I am looking forward to enjoying the coffee and desserts along with friends and members of the community where I live.

Then tomorrow night my wife and I will attend “Jesus and Aretha: The King and Queen of Soul” at Inman Park United Methodist Church. Publicity for this event cautions that we should not “expect the usual Christmas pageant. It’s more meaningful that Hallmark-y, more rock-and-roll than church-y, and lots of fun!” I can hardly wait.

Then on Saturday night we plan to attend the Georgia Boy Choir concert featuring all five levels of boys, a full orchestra, and lots of audience participation including Atlanta’s largest “Twelve Days of Christmas Sing-along.” And next Monday we hope to be present at the Red Clay Theater for Joe Gransden’s Big Band Holiday Show with special guest, Francine Reed.

These events complement what I hear everywhere during this season of the year and affirms Edgar Winter’s assertion that “music is very spiritual, it has the power to bring people together.” Music gives wings to the soul and teaches it to fly. And especially Christmas music.

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The sacred songs of the season are especially meaningful but who doesn’t love to hear and sing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer or Frosty the Snowman. The peppy tunes of Here Comes Santa Claus and Jingle Bells bring a smile to your face and you can’t keep from patting your feet. And you cannot help but become a bit nostalgic when you hear the smooth sounds of White Christmas.

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Friedrich Nietzsche said “without music, life would be a mistake.” I agree but I must admit that when I hear “Rocking around the Christmas tree, have a happy holiday” on the radio or in a shopping mall for what seems like the 10,000th time, I cringe and wonder if life is really any better because of that song.

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The legendary musician, Ray Charles, said **Music is like breathing. I don’t get tired of breathing and I don’t get tired of music.” Neither do I, Ray. And especially Christmas music.

Jamie Jenkins