When The Winter Comes

Winter-Love

Children are the heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. – Psalms 127:3

When your summer days come tumbling down
And you find yourself alone
Then you can come back and be with me
Just close your eyes and I’ll be there

I’ve always believed that the greatest blessings that God gives us in this world are the human relationships we share. Family, neighbors, freinds, colleagues and yes, our social media families, too. But among these, our children have to be the absolute greatest of all.

Listen to the sound
Of this old heart beating for you
Yes I’d miss you
But I never want to hold you down
You might say I’m here for you

And it’s funny how these blessings and the feelings we have for our children can be so distinctively different depending upon gender. Mother/daughter, Father/son and vice versa, they’re all filled with love, yet somehow unique.

Not to downplay any others, but it seems as if the relationship between a dad and his baby girl (and yes, she’ll always be his baby girl, even when she’s 40) will always be special. Mama Bear will always be protective of all their cubs, but not in the same way fathers can be for their daughters.

When the winter comes to your new home
And snowflakes are falling down
Then you can come back and be with me
Just close your eyes and I’ll be there

A father knows that his relationship with and the way he treats his wife will serve as the standard for how his daughter will set expectations for the men in her life. The Bible says husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the Church and that’s probably a good guideline to follow. And, rest assured that Dad will be keeping a keen eye on any young man in her life and will expect no lesser standard from him.

In the spring, protective arms surrounding you
In the fall, we let you go your way
Happiness I know will always find you
And when it does, I hope that it will stay

In all seasons fathers seek to protect their daughters, while still taking pride in their growth and independence as young women and watching them develop in the pathways provided by their mothers. We hope only for their safety and happiness in their lives beyond us, while still secretly wishing they could stay with us forever.

Yes I miss you
But I never want to hold you down
You might say I’m here for you
Yes I miss you
But I never want to hold you down
You might say I’m here for you
I’ll always be here for you

“Here For You” was released on Neil Young’s 27th studio LP Prairie Wind in 2005. It was written for his daughter, Amber Jean, who was 21 years old and in her final year at college.  Prairie Wind  marked yet another distinctive twist in Neil’s constantly shifting musical stylings, following the 60’s soul-infused Are You Passionate? in 2002 and the rock opera-esq Greendale in 2003.

And just like a father’s reminiscence, Prairie Wind appeared to harken back to his writings on the Harvest and Harvest Moon albums. It came at a time in Neil’s life when he was feeling a bit of his own mortality, coming closely on the heels of the death of his father and an operation for a minor brain aneurysm in the spring of 2005.

The whole album has a lustrous and bittersweet country rock tone, and “Here For You” is surely no exception.

So, to all the Dads out there with daughters, you’ll definitely relate – either now or down the road. And just let them know, no matter what, we’ll always be here…just for them.

This post is dedicated to my daughter, Amanda (who is quite a gifted and creative writer herself).

Listen to the original here:

My sources for this post included:

Songfacts: http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=5994

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prairie_Wind

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A Problem You’ll Understand

leaningbuilding

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:  If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain, we all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

Yes, we all have our problems. But the good news of Jesus is that there will always be at least one “someone to lean on”. And though true friends can be hard to find, sometimes help can come from people and places you would not normally expect.

Lean on me when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on

John Lennon once said Instant Karma was gonna get you, but it can just as easily help you. It’s a two-way street. Maybe I’ve lived a charmed life, but I honestly can’t recall a single time in my life when I really needed help and couldn’t find it.

The “snow-jam” last winter in Atlanta was a testimony to folks reaching out to help others in any way they could. I-75 was a literal parking lot, with cars stranded and stuck in all lanes, rapidly running out of gas (and heat) in sub-zero temps for hours and hours. I was at home watching the news and saw where people that lived nearby were hiking out from their homes, sometimes walking miles, bringing blankets, water and food to those stuck in their cars.

Please, swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won’t let show

But it doesn’t take a natural disaster to bring the best out in our fellow man. I’ve found that if you’ll just be humble enough to ask, more times than not you’ll find people willing and even eager to lend a helping hand. And that can be tough for some of us – especially men – to do.

In this month of Thanksgiving, we all should take time out to be thankful for those we lean on for support. The greatest blessings God has bestowed on us are the human relationships in our lives.

You just call on me, brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on

Bill Withers knows firsthand what it is like to be in need. Bill was born in the rural coal mining town of Slab Fork, West Virginia, the youngest of 13 children. Bill’s father died when he was only 13 years old and at age 18, he enlisted in the Navy. It was during his nine year Navy service that Bill truly began to develop his singing and songwriting style.

After leaving the Navy, Bill took a job on the assembly line at Douglas Aircraft and was so unsure of his future in music that he refused to quit his job even as his first hit single “Ain’t No Sunshine” was hitting the charts.

If there is a load
You have to bear that you can’t carry
I’m right up the road, I’ll share your load
If you just call me

“Lean On Me” was Bill’s biggest hit, going to #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Soul Singles charts in 1972. It was the first single off his breakthrough LP Still Bill and was ranked #205 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. It is one of only nine songs in rock history to reach #1 on the charts for two different artists; Club Nouveau also hit the top spot with their funky hip hop dance version in 1987.

Bill’s inspiration for “Lean On Me” came after he had moved to Los Angeles to further pursue his music career. He was living in a seedy, West LA apartment and thinking of how different it was and how the different the people were, too.

In a 2004 interview with Carl Wiser of Songfacts, Bill said, “(I know) it sounds idealized if you are from an environment where it’s (helping others out) not ordinarily practical to do that. But I’m from an environment where it was practical to do that.”

As an example, Bill recalled an incident from earlier days: “When I was in the Navy, I must have been about 18, 19 years old, and I was stationed in Pensacola, Florida. It was some holiday, I had this car that I was able to buy and I was driving from Pensacola, Florida up to West Virginia. As is the case with young people with cheap cars, the tires weren’t that great, so one of my tire blew out on this rural Alabama road. This guy comes walking over the hill that looked like he was right out of the movie Deliverance. Did you see that movie?”

“He says to me, ‘Oh, you had a blowout.’ Well, I didn’t have a spare tire. This guy goes walking back across the hill, and I’m not too comfortable here because I know where I am. He comes back walking with a tire, and he actually helps me put the tire on the car. My circumstance, this was not an idealized concept, this was real to me.”

“Still Bill” is still around, doing some writing and producing; mostly working with new artists to help them get a start. So, let’s all take a few minutes while we’re giving thanks this week to reflect on the simple human kindnesses that abound out there. And know that there’s always somebody out there that needs somebody to lean on.

Listen to the sweet sounds of “Still Bill” here:

Club Nouveau cover here:

My sources for this post included:

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lean_on_Me_%28song%29

Songfacts: http://www.songfacts.com/blog/interviews/bill_withers/

Singing To My Soul

goldbars

By your wisdom and your understanding you have made wealth for yourself, and have gathered gold and silver into your treasuries. – Ezekiel 28:4

When the lights go down in the California town
People are in for the evening
I jump into my car and I throw in my guitar
My heart beatin’ time with my breathin’
Drivin’ over Kanan, singin’ to my soul
There’s people out there turnin’ music into gold

In 1978, I was an up and coming college student struggling to get by on my part time gig at a local steak house and trying to figure out what I was ultimately going to do with myself. I had given up on my fantasy of becoming a part of the Turner Broadcasting team working Atlanta Braves games (via an Electrical Engineering degree – not for me, thank you) and had settled into a more manageable course of study in Mass Communications and Journalism at Georgia State University in downtown Atlanta.

Sports and music were my two favorite hobbies, but I was not good enough at either of them (drums and baseball) to even remotely imagine making money in those endeavors, so I was slowly coming to the realization that I needed to figure out a career path.

Well my buddy Jim Bass he’s a-workin’ pumpin gas
And he makes two fifty for an hour
He’s got rythm in his hands as he’s tappin’ on the cans
Sings rock and roll in the shower
Drivin’ over Kanan, singin’ to my soul
There’s people out there turnin’ music into gold

I was making exactly $2.50 an hour at that steak house and with winter break approaching, I saw an opportunity to pump up my barely visible checking account balance. I say “saw” literally, because as I was sitting at a red light one day, I glanced over at the shopping center on my left to see a new record store that had recently opened. Hey, I thought, maybe I could get an extra part time job over the break…and what better place for a music junkie to work than a record store?

I pulled up, parked in front and approached the guy who owned the place. His name was Al. I needed a job and he needed some extra help checking in merchandise. Sixteen years – and hundreds of new stores – later I was still there, trying to help Big Al turn music into gold.

Ah, the California girls are the greatest in the world
Each one’s a song in the making
Singin’ rock to me I can hear the melody
The story is there for the takin’
Drivin’ over Kanan, singin’ to my soul
There’s people out there turnin’ music into gold

John Stewart was a legendary singer-songwriter long before he teamed up with Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham to turn a bit of music into “Gold”, his come-from-out-of-nowhere top 5 single in 1979. John started his career in folk music with The Cumberland Three and then became a member of the Kingston Trio, replacing founding member, Dave Guard, in 1961. The Kingston Trio continued to perform and record throughout the early 60″s, but as the British Invasion took hold, the folk music scene began to decline and John’s writing shifted to a pop tilt.  His biggest claim to fame before hitting with “Gold” was composing The Monkee’s smash hit “Daydream Believer”.

John’s golden decision to team up with Buckingham and Nicks was obviously a terrific move as his album Bombs Away Dream Babies spawned three Top 40 hits including “Gold”, “Midnight Wind” and “Lost Her In The Sun”.

When the lights go down in the California town
People are in for the evening
I jump into my car and I throw in my guitar
My heart beatin’ time with my breathin’
Drivin’ over Kanan, singin’ to my soul
There’s people out there turnin’ music into gold

Yes, sometimes life and success are more about good timing than anything else. It was surely good timing that put me in front of the record store that day and launched my career path. The music industry itself went from being a lucrative business for label execs to becoming the ruler of pop culture in the 70’s and 80’s with the product rolling from vinyl to cassette to CD’s, and everybody demanding their MTV on cable.

Record sales benchmarks went from being measured in terms of gold records to platinum to multi platinum. For those artists entering the market during these boom times, the sky truly was the limit. For a time during the second British Invasion of the 80’s, it seemed that all you needed was a guitar and the right hair (see Flock Of Seagulls) to turn music into literal gold.

John’s timing was perfect too, coming into folk, pop, rock and on into Americana at just the right time with just the right songs.

So, turn down the lights and give this little nugget a listen. And get a glimpse of the way the record biz – back in the good old days – could turn a blob of black wax into pure gold.

Listen to the original here:

My sources for this post include:

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stewart_%28musician%29