Saturday, May 31, 2014

There's an evenin' haze settlin' over town ...

Click here for the song:

There's an evenin' haze settlin' over town
Starlight by the edge of the creek
The buyin' power of the proletariat's gone down
Money's gettin' shallow and weak

The place I love best is a sweet memory
It's a new path that we trod
They say low wages are a reality
If we want to compete abroad

My cruel weapons have been put on the shelf
Come sit down on my knee
You are dearer to me than myself
As you yourself can see

I'm listenin' to the steel rails hum
Got both eyes tight shut
Just sitting here trying to keep the hunger from
Creeping it's way into my gut

Meet me at the bottom, don't lag behind
Bring me my boots and shoes
You can hang back or fight your best on the front line
Sing a little bit of these workingman's blues

Now, I'm sailin' on back, ready for the long haul
Tossed by the winds and the seas
I'll drag ‘em all down to hell and I'll stand ‘em at the wall
I'll sell ‘em to their enemies

I'm tryin' to feed my soul with thought
Gonna sleep off the rest of the day
Sometimes no one wants what we got
Sometimes you can't give it away

Now the place is ringed with countless foes
Some of them may be deaf and dumb
No man, no woman knows
The hour that sorrow will come

In the dark I hear the night birds call
I can hear a lover's breath
I sleep in the kitchen with my feet in the hall
Sleep is like a temporary death

Meet me at the bottom, don't lag behind
Bring me my boots and shoes
You can hang back or fight your best on the front line
Sing a little bit of these workingman's blues

Well, they burned my barn, they stole my horse
I can't save a dime
I got to be careful, I don't want to be forced
Into a life of continual crime

I can see for myself that the sun is sinking
How I wish you were here to see
Tell me now, am I wrong in thinking
That you have forgotten me?

Now they worry and they hurry and they fuss and they fret
They waste your nights and days
Them I will forget
But you I'll remember always

Old memories of you to me have clung
You've wounded me with words
Gonna have to straighten out your tongue
It's all true, everything you have heard

Meet me at the bottom, don't lag behind
Bring me my boots and shoes
You can hang back or fight your best on the front line
Sing a little bit of these workingman's blues

In you, my friend, I find no blame
Wanna look in my eyes, please do
No one can ever claim
That I took up arms against you

All across the peaceful sacred fields
They will lay you low
They'll break your horns and slash you with steel
I say it so it must be so

Now I'm down on my luck and I'm black and blue
Gonna give you another chance
I'm all alone and I'm expecting you
To lead me off in a cheerful dance

Got a brand new suit and a brand new wife
I can live on rice and beans
Some people never worked a day in their life
Don't know what work even means

Meet me at the bottom, don't lag behind
Bring me my boots and shoes
You can hang back or fight your best on the front line
Sing a little bit of these workingman's blues

B. Dylan 2006

UPDATE: The song above by Bob Dylan is called Workingman's Blues #2.  It seems to be a follow-up or inspired by Merle Haggard's Workingman's Blues.  Merle Haggard, as I recall, was touring with Dylan around the time it was written.  Here is Merle Haggard's Workingman's Blues:

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day: Giving thanks for those who sacrifice it all

When they say goodbye they do not know if those they love who serve in the United States Armed Services will ever return. Our troops indeed are the bravest men and women on the planet, but their families who let them go are also brave, standing courageously and steadfast in their love and support of those serving their country so far from home. 

Today at the Cafe we remember the families who also sacrifice so much and especially those who let go of the ones they love forever.

I especially want to remember my grandfather, John William Ailes III.

Grandaddy on board ship circa WWII.
John William Ailes III

The Navy Cross is presented to John W. Ailes, Commander, U.S. Navy, for extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession as Commanding officer of the U.S.S. Cassin Young in action off Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, on 12 April 1945. His conduct throughout was in keeping with the highest traditions of the Navy of the United States.

The Navy Cross is the second highest medal that can be awarded by the Department of the Navy and the second highest award given for valor. It is normally only awarded to members of the United States Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard but could be awarded to all branches of United States military. It was established by Act of Congress (Pub.L. 65-253) and approved on February 4, 1919. The Navy Cross is equivalent to the Distinguished Service Cross (Army) and the Air Force Cross.

Grandaddy with his sons, CAPT J.W Ailes and RADM R.H. Ailes
April 1, 1945, was D-day at Okinawa. After escorting assault craft to the beaches and providing shore bombardment, Cassin Young took up the duties of radar picket ship, possibly the most hazardous duty performed by any warship during World War II. The picket's role was to provide early warning of impending air attacks to the main fleet. The ships assigned to the fifteen picket stations bore the brunt of over fifteen hundred kamikaze attacks in the weeks and months ahead. Radar Picket (RP) Stations 1,2, and 3 faced the worst of these attacks. On April 6 the Japanese launched the first of ten massed attacks, sending 355 kamikazes and 341 bombers towards Okinawa. Cassin Young was on duty at RP Station 3. The ship downed three "bogeys" (enemy planes) and picked up survivors from the destroyers assigned to RP Stations 1 and 2 (both were hit and sunk by kamikazes).

Cassin Young was then assigned to RP Station 1 where, on April 12, the ship came under massive attack. Six kamikazes were shot down, but one hit the mast and exploded fifty feet above the ship. One sailor was killed and 59 were wounded. 

Grandaddy and me.
RADM John W. Ailes, III (1907-1974) was the commanding officer of the USS Cassin Young in April, 1945. He was a member of the crew of the USS Honolulu in Pearl Habor on December 7, 1941. In addition, he was the commanding officer of the Battleship, the USS Iowa (1955-1956) during the Korean War, was Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Flotilla 6 during the Cuban Missle Crisis (1962) and was Inspector General of the United States Navy.

But to me he was Granddaddy, always ready with a bottle of "Cherry Smash" or to  take me fishing or go to MacDonald's.  I had no idea about his background when I was growing up - he was just Grandaddy.  But you didn't tell him no.

You may visit the USS Cassin Young. It is open to the public and moored next to the USS Constitution in Charlestown Harbor in Boston, MA. Read more about it at the webpage of the Boston National Historic Park. The tour includes Granddaddy's Cabin - restored to it's World War II period. You may see a presentation on the kamikazes attack here.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Happy Birthday, Bob Dylan

Yes, he is celebrating his 73rd birthday today.  So with that in mind, here is one of the great "newer" ones, When the Deal Goes Down from Modern Times (2006).  Happy Birthday.

In the still of the night, in the world's ancient light
Where wisdom grows up in strife
My bewildering brain, toils in vain
Through the darkness on the pathways of life
Each invisible prayer is like a cloud in the air
Tomorrow keeps turning around
We live and we die, we know not why
But I'll be with you when the deal goes down
We eat and we drink, we feel and we think
Far down the street we stray
I laugh and I cry and I'm haunted by
Things I never meant nor wished to say
The midnight rain follows the train
We all wear the same thorny crown
Soul to soul, our shadows roll
And I'll be with you when the deal goes down
The moon gives light and shines by night
I scarcely feel the glow
We learn to live and then we forgive
O'er the road we're bound to go
More frailer than the flowers, these precious hours
That keep us so tightly bound
You come to my eyes like a vision from the skies
And I'll be with you when the deal goes down
I picked up a rose and it poked through my clothes
I followed the winding stream
I heard a deafening noise, I felt transient joys
I know they're not what they seem
In this earthly domain, full of disappointment and pain
You'll never see me frown
I owe my heart to you, and that's sayin' it true
And I'll be with you when the deal goes down

Bob Dylan 2006

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Evangelical Worship in the Church: Are we headed for a crash?

Jamie Brown of The Falls Church Anglican is just back from the National Worship Leaders Conference in the DC metro area.  He reflects on his experience there and the current state of evangelical worship:

Worship Leader Magazine does a fantastic job of putting on a worship conference that will expose the attendees to a wide variety of resources, techniques, workshops, songs, new artists, approaches, teachings, and perspectives. I thought of Mark Twain’s famous quote “If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait 5 minutes.” 
The same could be said of this conference. It’s an intentionally eclectic mix of different speakers, teachers, worship leaders, and performers from different traditions, theological convictions, and worship leading philosophies. You’ll hear and see some stuff you like and agree with, and then 5 minutes later you’ll hear and see some stuff you don’t agree with at all. 
It’s good for worship leaders to experience this kind of wide-exposure from time to time, and the National Worship Leader Conference certainly provides it. 
Yet throughout the conference, at different sessions, with different worship leaders, from different circles, using different approaches, and leading with different bands, I picked up on a common theme. It’s been growing over the last few decades. And to be honest, it’s a troubling theme. And if this current generation of worship leaders doesn’t change this theme, then corporate worship in evangelicalism really is headed for a major crash. 
It’s the theme of performancism. The worship leader as the performer. The congregation as the audience. The sanctuary as the concert hall. 
It really is a problem. It really is a thing. And we really can’t allow it to become the norm. Worship leaders, we must identify and kill performancism while we can.

Read it all here.  And be sure to read the comments to the article - they are a must-read as well.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Tonight at the Cafe: My Back Pages

From the 30th Anniversary Concert:

Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin’ high and mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps
“We’ll meet on edges, soon,” said I
Proud ’neath heated brow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now
Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
“Rip down all hate,” I screamed
Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull. I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now
Girls’ faces formed the forward path
From phony jealousy
To memorizing politics
Of ancient history
Flung down by corpse evangelists
Unthought of, though, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now
A self-ordained professor’s tongue
Too serious to fool
Spouted out that liberty
Is just equality in school
“Equality,” I spoke the word
As if a wedding vow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now
In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I’d become my enemy
In the instant that I preach
My pathway led by confusion boats
Mutiny from stern to bow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now
Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats
Too noble to neglect
Deceived me into thinking
I had something to protect
Good and bad, I define these terms
Quite clear, no doubt, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now
Bob Dylan 1964

From here.

Time to put this one up again

Sometimes it seems helpful to take the long view.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


In 2007, I wrote this piece about my mother, Marian Coleman Ailes (1933-1977).  With Mother's Day here I thought I'd republish it.  I am so very grateful for her life.

My brother and I with mom, circa 1964.
This past week was my mother's birthday and it's caused me to reflect, as I often do on her birthday. She was the one most responsible for bringing me to the Lord. She was a devoted Christian Scientist who had an extraordinary transformation in her life when she came to Christ in 1974. She impacted so many people around her. Not long ago, my dad told me that in the last years of her life, when we were living in Hawaii, she use to go the local Episcopal Church for Eucharist and prayer. I had no idea - my first introduction to the Episcopal Church was when I first walked into Truro in 1979. But according to dad, she was on the Canterbury Trail. I can certainly see that now.

She won a full four-year scholarship to Smith College in the early 1950s (her college roommate was the poet, Sylvia Plath), but she hadn't been there long before she found that the school was teaching a radical secular humanism which she totally rejected and so she resigned her scholarship and put herself through college, graduating from Hunter College in New York City while working at McGraw Hill.

When we were living in Charleston, South Carolina (1971-1973), we were all still devout Christian Scientists. We only saw the Christian Science Practitioner when we were sick (though we were all immunized, and I do remember my dad giving me aspirin when I had a fever). Yet, my mother was all ready searching—she had tried out Edgar Casey and Transcendental Meditation (that was an interesting time) and then thought it might be a good idea to have an inductive Bible Study on Sunday mornings before the service began at the First Church of Christ Scientist in downtown Charleston.

That went on for a while and she a got a good group together—only they were studying the Bible without the Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy (just not done). They were just actually reading it - the whole thing, not just the bits like the Science & Health instructed, each week. Somehow the "Mother Church" in Boston got wind of it and told her to shut it down.

That sure left a lasting impression. Why did this beloved church suddenly get so put-out because some lady in Charleston wanted to study the Bible with a bunch of other Christian Scientists? Was it dangerous? It had them scared to death and they shut it down. She was pretty ticked off about that. I wasn't so unhappy because we were coming to church early and I had to hang around for an hour being still.

We moved to San Diego and she got so sick with cancer and through friends back east, a local pastor from the United Methodist Church (who had no idea she was a Christian Scientist) came to visit her in the hospital and shared the Gospel with her, not only in word, but through friendship. After a year of conversation, she made a commitment to follow Jesus rather than Mary Baker Eddy and we gave up going to the Christian Science Church, after four generations in my mother's family.

She then started praying for her family, for my dad, my brother and me. I was a particular challenge in that I was wanted to grow up as fast as I could so I could be a flower child and move to San Francisco with flowers in my hair (of course, by the time I would actually be old enough to do that the flowers would all be gone, replaced with Disco balls). But I was pretty determined to be rebellious (I escaped to an Alice Cooper Concert on my twelfth birthday, but that's another story). 

My brother and I with mom in Hawaii, circa 1977.
So she was praying, and getting all her friends to pray. Finally, she persuaded me to go to a Christian coffeehouse sponsored by this pastor's church. It turned out it was a Methodist church in renewal and reaching out to to all the hippies floating down the coast from San Francisco to San Diego. 

Of course, the Jesus Movement was in full swing. Bob Dylan was about to be hit up north in LA and Bono was experiencing his version in Ireland (and surprisingly, even Alice Cooper would come to follow Jesus too). At the time, though, I just couldn't believe it when mom said that I could stay out until midnight as long as I stayed with her designated people (who looked like hippies to me). I thought she had either lost her mind or she'd become, like, the coolest mother ever. So I did it, I went, and well, that changed everything for me.

We moved to Hawaii and mom's cancer returned and it was a great challenge for our family. But we stayed together, laughed together, cried together, prayed together, and somewhere along the way my mother and I became friends. Very good friends. In her last weeks we started each morning off, before I went to school, with Bible Study. She was teaching to the end.

I try to live my life in a way that I would hope would honor her. In these rather tough days, I think about her and her little Bible Study in Charleston, and the Mother Church up north and all that it led to. God turned a defeat into a brand new life. And then He did it again. And again. And again. And He'll do it again. That's His Promise.

Thanks, Mom, I do miss you. Thanks for giving me life - and showing me the Way to Life.


Wednesday, May 07, 2014

A pledge we can agree on

After I read the list of signatories I was amazed, simply amazed.  I tweeted to @markdtooley Still amazed to see you and PB Schori on the same signature list - and not one piglet in the sky!

From here:

More than 150 American Christian leaders from across ecumenical lines are issuing a call to action in response to a crisis facing ancient faith communities.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), co-chairs of the bipartisan Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus, hosted a Capitol Hill press conference this morning featuring several prominent American Christian leaders who will be releasing a “Pledge of Solidarity & Call to Action” on behalf of Christians and other religious communities in Egypt, Iraq and Syria who are increasingly threatened in the lands they have inhabited for centuries.

The Pledge, in part, says: “Now facing an existential threat to their presence in the lands where Christianity has its roots, the Churches in the Middle East fear they have been largely ignored by their coreligionists in the West… American religious leaders need to pray and speak with greater urgency about this human rights crisis.”

Read it all here.  

More than 100 Christian leaders supporting the document include:

  • Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals
  • Robert Duncan, Archbishop, Anglican Church in North America
  • Timothy George, Dean, Beeson Divinity School
  • Russell D. Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
  • Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop, the Episcopal Church
  • Mark Tooley, President, Institute on Religion & Democracy
  • Jim Wallis, President and Founder, Sojourners
  • Donald Wuerl, Cardinal and Archbishop, Archdiocese of Washington

Among those scheduled to attend the press conference include Canon Andrew White.

Read the pledge here.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" and "Hard Rain" go on the block

Bob Dylan's working drafts of Like a Rolling Stone and Hard Rain are going to be auctioned by Sotheby's.

From here:

One of the most popular songs of all time, Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone," is going to auction this summer.

Sotheby's is offering a working draft of the finished song in Dylan's own hand for an estimated $1 million to $2 million.The song is about a debutante who becomes a loner when she's cast from upper-class social circles.

The draft is written in pencil on four sheets of hotel letterhead stationery with revisions, additions, notes and doodles: a hat, a bird, an animal with antlers. The stationery comes from the Roger Smith hotel in Washington, D.C.

"How does it feel To be on your own" it says in his handwriting. "No direction home Like a complete unknown Like a rolling stone."

Scrawls seem to reflect the artist's experimentation with rhymes.

More here.

The New York Times also writes:

Both manuscripts offer a great deal of information about Mr. Dylan’s writing process, or at least, about ideas that ran through his mind as he worked on those songs. “Hard Rain,” from 1962, is on pages ripped from a spiral notebook, and is in virtually finished form. But marginal notes are plentiful. They include a quotation from the biblical book of Jeremiah (“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew and approved of you”), the notation “diamond desert” to the right of the second verse, and what appear to be unrelated notes referring to titles of books and records. 

Probably most telling, if also uncharacteristically obvious, given that most listeners regard the song as a vision of a post-nuclear landscape, are the names Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The “Like a Rolling Stone” manuscript, written on stationery from the Roger Smith Hotel in Washington, has similar marginal notes, including record titles (“Midnight Special,” for example) that could relate to his composing process, or might simply be contemporaneous notes he made on an available scrap of paper. But because this four-page version is from earlier in the process than the “Hard Rain” manuscript, it also shows the song as very much a work in progress. 

 The full refrain as we know it – “How does it feel / to be on your own / no direction home / like a complete unknown / like a rolling stone” – does not turn up until the fourth page. Even there, rejected lines are interspersed. A rejected third line was, “like a dog without a bone,” which gives way to “now you’re unknown” and then “forever” replacing “you’re.” 

Earlier, he had considered working the name Al Capone into the rhyme scheme, and he was stuck for a while on whether to build a rhyme on “how does it feel,” penciling in “it feels real,” “does it feel real,” “shut up and deal,” “get down and kneel” and “raw deal.”“If you look at these four pages,” Richard Austin, Sotheby’s manuscript expert, said in a telephone interview, “you can see that at this stage there are rhyme schemes that he didn’t pursue, and I suppose the chorus is the biggest surprise. Here you have a chorus that is such an iconic piece of history, but it clearly didn’t arrive fully formed. And you wonder, if he chose another rhyme, would it have had the same impact?”

Read more here.

Sotheby's expects that the auction may break the record, now held by John Lennon's A Day in the Life manuscript.

Here is the original recording of Like a Rolling Stone:


Here is a performance of Hard Rain: