Falling together 911

The Choice

Everyone has a memory from the day the towers fell.

Close your eyes and you can still see the haunting images from that horrible day: planes colliding with glass and steel, smoke and dust and panic in the streets…tales of valor and heroism, and the heartbreak stories of loved ones left behind.

All this and more will be recounted tomorrow as our country remembers the deep wounds inflicted upon us. Cries of vengeance will once again fill the air, yet retribution will not return those lost that day.

The image seared upon my soul from 911 is of those who leapt from the burning towers. Death was a certainty, and their only choice was how to meet it.

What must they have felt? Fear, most certainly. And from the unasked-for choice thrust upon them, despair and hopelessness. Most fell alone, but some met their end hand in hand.

I will remember the hopeless, and honor the memory of those brave souls who faced and entered eternity by the fall and not the flames.

I remember and will never forget.

An old rusty lock on a gate to nowhere

All You Are

It is written that we should bear one another’s burdens. But no one can wear the yoke of someone else’s failure; how else will a man learn his lesson?

Some will point out that Christ paid the price for our failings and falls, but I sometimes wonder if he ever felt the weight of failure. I believe he suffers all those lost…but isn’t that ‘lostness’ due to choice?

But down here you make your choice and pay the fare…time to move on. Best to be prepared to wear the sigil of your fall for longer than you can imagine.

The weight of failure staggering
The sting of bitterness blinding
Abandonment and loss
Forged the chains forever binding
Years will be required to pay the cost
In the end all you are is lost

The Last Time

It was only ten long years ago when I saw her last. We had just moved to the Nashville area, yet this weekend I was once again working in Birmingham (as I would for many years). I don’t even remember where and for whom I was playing. All I know is that Katrina was ravaging the Gulf and was making herself known even this far north and beyond. I was anxious to get back to the new house in Tennessee that would be home for the long decade to come.

She was ill, and had been for a while. My visits were becoming more infrequent despite my continued presence in the area. There was more than a share of guilt and fear that shadowed my heart, and my memories of hospitals and abandonment played out in my avoidance of those hurts and the frail, aging woman who seemingly embodied them.

It had been a long day, and night and Katrina’s storms were falling. I had promised to stop by on the way back, but still wrestled with myself as to find a way to circumvent the visit.

Love and loyalty and guilt won out over fear and hurt when I saw my mother for the last time.

All I remember was the watery gleam of her eyes in the flickering glow from the nearby television. She couldn’t speak, forcing me to mumble pleasantries and empty promises for my next visit. She opened her mouth and the words “I love you” crumbled from her lips. I replied in kind, kissed her dry as dust cheek, and left for my long drive.

It seemed that I rode Katrina’s coat tails on the way back, my car buffeted by wind and constant rain. My heart was heavy and my thoughts filled with images and memories of my mom.

While her spirit didn’t find release until the early part of March, my farewell was granted on a stormy night in August ten years gone.

Much has changed and much has been lost. While memory remains I embrace the moments that define a life, and learn the lessons of last times.

“Cross the River”

I cross the river
And I think of you
Memories haunt me
But you never do
The river is deep
This river wide
Wide as my longing
Deep as my pride

River flow on to the sea
River roll and set me free
River flow inside my soul
Wash the stains and make me whole


Back roads

Lyrics tell the story that many times we don’t want or even know how to tell. The first set came from a random phrase uttered by my son Cameron as we drove the back roads from Columbia to Thompsons Station.

Almost a year to the day, the second lyrics continue an unbroken narrative about brokenness.

“Falling Away”
August 28, 2014

The leaves are falling
First signs of winter
The pressures building
I start to splinter
My strength is falling away

No pearls in the making
Only spirit breaking
These words are lonely
My hands are shaking

So tired of hurting
Weary of calling
The leaves are falling
The leaves are falling
Until they all fall away…
August 22, 2015

Broken like the strings on my guitar
Wanderin’ like a man without a star
Broken as I am I won’t get far
I’m broken
I’m broken

Broken like the songs I used to sing
Wonderin’ how my pain is an offering
Broken by the breaking of everything
I’m broken
I’m broken…

Full Circle

NOYOKO Band collage


40 summers ago a painfully shy and nerdy kid picked up his brother’s acoustic guitar and fell in love. The first songs learned in this lifelong romance were all by the Beatles.

Other than a song or two in a gig here and there, I have never performed them live. These songs are powerful; they have informed my art and craft from day one. If you listen to the songs I have written, the DNA of the Beatles are woven into their very fabric, however pale the imitation. Tonight I’ll play 90 minutes of ALL Beatles tunes with my friends and band mates in NOYOKO at the Workplay Theatre in Birmingham Alabama.

It feels like I’ve come full circle. My career (such as it is) has been changing and changed greatly…and with this concert it feels like a chapter has come to a close.

“And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make”

After tonight, music for me will never be the same again.


Looking For the Uncloudy Day

2014 Dusking


Social media can be a wonderful tool. It can provide great entertainment, or provide a platform to spew and spleen. But so easy to overlook the very real people at the other end of a post. I can post an emoticon that reads “feeling sad/angry/blah”…and we glance and scroll on past to kitten videos or the latest thing/person we hate.

Today and tonight I’m feeling overwhelmed. No cute emoji…no insightful meme. Overwhelmed…by change and loss and uncertainty. My faith in Christ promises eventual comfort, but in this moment the reality is far from the promise of an uncloudy day.

Remember today all who stumble under the weight of their burdens. Prayers for those who know in their head that tomorrow is not promised and are living today with little to no hope in their heart.

A Song of Ice & Fire

These days (weeks/months) I’ve been trying to write. But not just write, but to do so with candor and courage. And every single time, I’m finding myself either playing it safe, or editing out the dangerous parts. Cleaning it up or hiding behind metaphor to make it “universal.”

To write something less than truth means I’m either a coward or a liar. I’m not really sure which is worse…

Perhaps it’s both, really.

Jesus was right. Lukewarm lyrics or words or even a life makes you want to puke…

But in the dark hours of the night, and in the heat of the afternoon, thoughts roll out that alternately freeze the marrow or sear the soul, sometimes all at once. Icy clarity joins with fiery passion and the result are words/lyrics/poetry that must find some release…or else.

Hot or cold. Take your pick.

Metaphor still reigns, but the feelings are real. One day if I ever grow up, I’ll use big boy words to tell the story. For now, play the game with me one more time…

Do you wanna play a game?
How about pretend?
There’s no hurt, no pain
Just the illusion I maintain
And fear whispering the end is close at hand
So one day I’ll cross the river
Pay the ferryman his fee
I’ll collect my last belongings
The memories of me