Saturday, April 09, 2011

Loving Blind

Many thanks to everyone who tuned in to 96.3 to hear us on Remedy After Dark on Thursday. Burt, Patricia, and I piled into the storied old studio whence J. Bazzel Mull broadcast southern gospel for more years than anyone likes to count. I loitered in the front office of the building, reading the plaques on the wall, and discovered that Reverend Mull had been blind from the age of 11 months. He is dead now, but this bit of trivia made me wish I could have a conversation with him. He spent most of his life as a radio tycoon of sorts and a music promoter. He had a long-standing relationship with The Chuck Wagon Gang - whom Greg Adkins and I played opposite to a humorously sparse crowd at the Tennessee Valley Fair. We can't think of it nowadays without laughing. I had only vaguely heard of The Chuck Wagon Gang before, but the name unfailingly brought to mind a bubbling vat of beans, and that's never dull.

Still I was amazed at the man's blindness, mostly because of his marriage. He had never seen his wife's face, looked into her eyes, yet their marriage was undoubtedly dedicated according to the tales. It reminded me of the Lover in the Song of Solomon. The Beloved sees his face, but we never do. She describes him, wonderfully and eloquently, but description of a face, no matter how good, always falls short of seeing the person with your own eyes. Yet we are commanded to fall in love with a groom whose face we've never seen. Like Elijah, we see the back of him everywhere if we're paying attention. Walking through the majesty of the world he created, smelling the piquant cleanliness and the cool rush before a summer rain, running our hands across the rustling crowns of broom sedge, feeling the sun and the snow, it's like seeing the back of someone you know in a crowd. You rush to catch up with him, but he keeps walking, almost as if he knew you were there. Doggedly you call out his name, and he waits at a corner until you get close before taking off again. He seems to want you to follow him. You still haven't seen his face. How does a blind man fall in love? Is it the best way? I don't know, but we're all hoping for it in some way or another.

In the chasing of that groom, Bill Wolf, a great, humble, and dedicated songwriter - who I'm privileged to call my friend - put together a song cycle called Easter Stories & Songs. A gaggle of folks that graciously includes myself is leaving town in a few days to drive under the wide skies of Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio to share the music. If you're in the area, come by, because you're an invaluable part of the conversation that is Us. The dates can be found to your right, dear reader. Also, they are on Bill's website. If you call Knoxville home, or at least the land where you wander, we'll be playing both West Towne Christian Church (April 20th) and St. John's Cathedral (April 22nd). This music is joyful, like silver out of the crucible, and I hope we get to spend the evening sharing it with you.


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