“You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant.” Or so Arlo Guthrie tells us. But if you want to hear music and watch a concert you can get anything you want on youtube.
I had an eclectic evening on youtube. I don’t stick to Christian music as I used to do. Not that there isn’t good Christian music on youtube. You can hear and see Keith Green. But today I was interested in something else.
I started and ended with Jethro Tull. Hearing Jethro Tull is wonderful. Watching them is well over the border into amazing. The lead man, Ian Anderson, who sings, plays acoustic guitar and the flute has a stage presence all his own. The music is raw, the singer looks crazy and the music is free. Don’t take my word for it. Take a look at “Thick as a Brick.” It took me back but it also put me in one of those wild moods that only Jethro Tull can produce.
Then I switched over to Blood, Sweat and Tears, at least for a bit. I was looking for their old version of “God Bless the Child". During my search I listened to Billie Holiday, Diana Ross and Blood, Sweat and Tears. I thought Diana Ross sang it best but the instrumentals were best by Blood Sweat and Tears. Who knew back in the late sixties and early seventies that Jazz could be so popular? And such a big sound too with all the brass and saxophone. I dropped in on an old version of “When I die” as well. I felt joy and hit by a wall of music.
I listened to the great Louis Armstrong, my favorite by him “What a Wonderful World.” The great Satchmo gives me hope for humanity and makes me think that there really is a way to peace.
I couldn’t skip The Who. My favorite, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” informs my opinion of politicians, the human predicament and good and evil. Political leaders, after all, are human. They can do some good. They can fail miserably. But when it all ends they never fulfill their campaign promises because there are all those other politicians trying to stop them and humans can’t achieve miracles. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” Still, I love Pete Townsend on guitar, doing his act. But I don’t approve of destroying perfectly good instruments.
And then to Celtic, Christian (sometimes), rock, jazz fusion: Iona. Who else combines rock guitars, bass, drums of various sorts, (including old Irish and Scottish drums), keyboards, flute, sax and, of course, bagpipes. For something completely different listen to their “Dancing on the Wall” and “Catslerigg.” Yup, that guy is playing the bagpipes. The Irish/Scottish mix fills me with joy and their hope in Christ gives me hope.
And back to the beginning, Arlo Guthrie. Arlo’s getting old but he still tells a great story and
sings great ballads. His introduction to “Flying to Los Angeles” is hilarious in a folk doper
kind of way. Oh, and the song itself.
But my favorite is by Arlo is still “Alice’s Restaurant.” Ten minutes into talking about Alice, the
dump closed on Thanksgiving and a trial before a blind judge he tells us, “And we was fined
$50 and had to pick up the garbage in the snow, but that’s not what I came to tell you about.
Came to talk about the draft.” Huh? And then that great line about the physical, “They got a
building down New York City, it's called Whitehall Street, where you walk in, you get injected,
inspected, detected, infected, neglected and selected.” Arlo reminds me of my not so
innocent youth and the horrors of Vietnam (and therefore also of Iraq and Afghanistan).
Joy, anger and sorrow mixed.
Music does wonders in catching us up to heaven, getting us down and dirty, and speaking
about real problems for real people.
And just in case you think it can’t wretch your heart and put you in tears, listen to Arlo singing
about old trains and deportees.
Thank God for the gift of music. It makes life more real.