Friday, August 18, 2017

I Can Only Imagine

This song has a special place in my heart. It was one of my son Micah's favorite song. We played it at his memorial service. As a parent there's probably nothing worse that can happen to you than for you to lose a child. This song was Micah's gift to us. I can't listen to it without weeping openly. After his death, I had to be strong for my wife who was devastated when Micah passed away. Mom's are not equipped to outlive their children.

I used to put the CD of this song and several others that were his favorites on the CD player in the car and drive around and have myself a good cry and sing this song at the top of my lungs. I still do it, though nowadays it's with my mp3 player while I'm out on a good long walk away from people. It has a cleansing effect - kind of like scrubbing your soul. 
Here's Mercyme's "I Can Only Imagine."

I've got another one of Micah's songs for next week.  Stay tuned.

Tom King

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


This little man did as much to end Apartheid as some activist groups. It's a little known fact that neither the government of South Africa, nor the African National Congress, the UN and half a dozen anti-apartheid groups wanted Paul Simon to do the Graceland Tour.  But the naysayers needn't have worried. Simon's incredible musical collaboration with some of Africa's finest musicians did probably more to discredit apartheid and helped unite Africans across the continent than anything done by any two liberal advocacy groups or government agencies.

I love this amazing music. Paul Simon introduced some marvelous musicians to the world, not the least of which included the likes of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Hugh Masekala, and Miriam Makeba. He really took a beating from anti-apartheid people and from the South African government. They were all wrong as was the cultural boycott that Simon was accused of violating. He was even accused of "exploiting African musicians."  The truth was, he paid the musicians triple and didn't take any money for himself.  Here was a case of good guys versus a good guy. How is it that people who put on the mantle of saviors of the downtrodden are so often selfish, power hungry, narrow-minded twits?

Here is "Homeless", a piece that showcases the talents of the inimitable Ladysmith Black Mambazo (who by the way started out as a church choir).

This clip includes commentary on the genesis of this particular song and the close relationship that developed between Simon and the African musicians during the tour.

And there's a lot more where that came from.

Tom King

Saturday, August 12, 2017

This World is Not My Home

Del even made an album with the boys. She later said she
knew what if felt like to be a leper afterward.
Today's song has a bit of a back story. The music is by Del Delker, longtime singer for HMS Richards Jr.'s Voice of Prophecy radio program, and the Wedgwood Folk Trio, an Adventist gospel group from the 60's. Elder Richards loved the boys of Wedgwood and took them along on some evangelistic meetings with VOP and they sang with Del Delker. Elder Richards felt that Wedgwood reached young people in a special way and good old Elder Richards was all about bringing as many people young and old as possible into the church to meet Jesus. IAMAonline described it this way:

Del and Wedgwood gather for a
reunion photo years after Del's fall
from grace for singing with them.
  • In 1966, H.M.S. Richards, Jr., heard Wedgwood perform and approached them about singing at evangelistic meetings he was holding in Texas on behalf of the Voice of Prophecy. Richards had a special interest in trying to connect with the young people of the church and saw the trio, with its music and informal comments between numbers as a way to reach that group.
    Their success in Texas led to another invitation from Richards to work with him at a second VOP evangelistic series in Hinsdale, Illinois. Richards noted their effectiveness in reaching young people and asked them to join with him and Del Delker that summer during their tours to camp meetings on behalf of the VOP. By the end of August 1967, travel with the VOP, combined with other appointments, totaled eighty thousand miles. It had been an exhausting, yet exhilarating eight months.
  • When summer ended, The Wedgwood Trio was nationally known in Adventist circles and hugely popular with young people. The reception accorded the group by older Adventists, however, was somewhat mixed. Conservative church members and ministers were convinced the trio constituted an endorsement for current popular music that would lead the youth away from, not into, the church.
  • The reaction was visceral, surfacing more than any other time during their travels with Richards and Delker that summer. After one introductory performance in an evening meeting at a Mid-western camp meeting, Richards was angrily confronted by the conference official in charge of music for the meetings. At the end of a discussion that continued into the early morning hours, Richards was told the trio would not be allowed to perform at the youth meetings the next day. 
  • This action, the most extreme that summer, was a blow to the trio as well as Delker and Richards. All during those travels they had to deal with objections over the music, the group's attire (matching double-breasted blue blazers with ties and gray slacks), Vollmer's naturally blond hair (thought to be bleached), and the "girls" who accompanied them (Hoyle's wife and Richards' wife and daughter).
    In spite of the criticisms, both Richards and Delker later talked about how they had personally enjoyed working with the trio and the positive impact it had had on the young people that summer during their travels in thirteen states and two provinces in Canada.
Here's the one of the horrible songs that caused all the trouble.

Appropriately enough one of the songs they performed was "This World is Not My Home". I would imagine that song came to mean something to Del and the boys.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Hukilau Song

Haoles at a Hukilau

Okay, I'm going to admit a secret here. I really dig Don Ho! I don't care if he's a Hawaiian lounge lizard or whatever his detractors may call him. I like his music. My daughter and I once sang a medley of Pearly Shells and Happy Trails (the Roy Rogers theme song) for a church banquet. Don's music is imminently singable and all you need in the way of an instrument is a ukelele. Don and Iz Kamakawiwo╩╗ole are two of my favorite island music singers. Ho sings a bit like Elvis did in his movie, Blue Hawaii. Or perhaps Elvis sang like Don Ho. It's kind of a chicken or the egg thing. 

For some reason I like the Hukilau song. Maybe I'm an island party animal at heart. Who knows? Here's Don with the Hukilau song.

 How many times can you sing "Huki!"  Don got in ten of them on that last line....


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Being a Pirate (is all fun and games)

I am here to tell you that being a pirate is a dangerous business. I know. When I was 10, I was a swashbuckling buccaneer - fearless, dangerous with a sword and ruthless. My brother and I tied our flag to the top of the swingset and strung an old sheet from the crossbar so that it would belly out when the winds came. Texas has a lot of wind, so of course we were often taking in sail, shortening sail and setting sail. As a pirate in a North Central Texas backyard, we didn't have a lot of plundering opportunities, though we somehow found ourselves in a lot of sword fights. I'm here to tell you that wooden swords hurt when your kid brother lands a lucky shot to your knuckles and if he refuses to fall down dead when you shoot him with your trusty pirate pistol, well, there's not a lot else you can do but climb up the mast and set sail again.

It was a grand life it was (except for all the X-rays, the Mercurochrome, which stung like the blazes and which the ship's doctor (my Mom) insisted upon. The bandages were kind of cool, though. They contributed to your piratical look I must say.

This little song is popular in Irish pubs and Renaissance fairs and often badly sung by people with eye patches and fake peg legs who'd never get away with singing in public if the song wasn't funny. But it is a funny song and so I put it on my mP3 player to remind me of my sea-faring youth.....

Here's one of the better sounding versions of this song on Youtube with a cobbled together video featuring shots from Pirates of the Caribbean.

See what I mean about piracy? Not a great career choice my young friends. Take it from one who knows!


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Ballin' the Jack

The first time I heard this song was in a Danny Kaye movie musical, "On the Riviera", but I think the definitive version is in the little known and highly under-appreciated Gene Wilder/Gilda Radner movie, "Haunted Honeymoon". It's a little dance number called "Ballin' the Jack". I don't know what that means, but Gilda Radner and Dom Deluise (in drag) demonstrate it if you want to see how it's done. Deluise was hilarious in this clip and Gilda kept up with him every step of the way.

If you haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend it. It's hilarious. Sheila and I watch it every Halloween. It's one of our favorites and it's become a holiday tradition. We also watch John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara in The Quiet Man every Saint Patrick's Day, Christopher Reeve and Roseanna Arquette in The Aviator every Thanksgiving and Albert Finney's fantastic musical version of Scrooge at Christmas. There are other holiday movies for other holidays that we watch, but I digress.

Here's Gilda and Dom with Ballin' the Jack.

Now didn't that look like all kinds of fun?


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Where I'm Bound

Take Three was an Adventist singing group with a folksy kind of sound. I heard a Christian radio guy compare them to Peter, Paul & Mary and they do have that kind of soft harmony, guitar and vocals sound. This is obviously taken from an old recording. You can still find their music if you do a little searching.  Bonnie Casey, the group's lead singer, still has the original recordings and sell CD versions of the original vinyl LPs.  You can buy the CDs here at this link.

Like The Wedgwood Trio, Bonnie and the gang took some heat from the traditional-hymns-only wing of the church and sadly disbanded and went their own way. The music is still lovely. Where I'm Bound is one of my favorites. Someone made this video with the music behind some lovely nature pictures. I wish the group had gone on to produce more music. They were certainly headed in a direction that I liked.


It's a pity they didn't produce more music than they did.