REMEMBERING THE DREAM
Sharing the Best of America’s Story
This time of separation has included a lot of remembering where we’ve been as well as dreaming of where we may go from here. Growing up in Spokane, Washington in the 50’s and early 60’s I learned in Sunday School that we are all made in God image and are all equally precious in God’s sight. In school I learned that one of the bedrock principles of our country is that we are all created equal and that our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness cannot be given or taken away. The summer before my junior year in high school, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shared a dream that our country might finally live up to the ideas and ideals I learned in Sunday School and at school.
Half a dozen times between 2014 and 2017 I traveled south and visited sights, heard stories, and sang songs of the Civil Rights Movement of the 50’s and 60’s. I came to understand it is a truly American Story of high moral purpose rooted in love based on non-violence filled with inspiring heroes of all ages who displayed selfless acts of courage described in exalted language and celebrated in uplifting songs.
The Story includes Presidents using the power of their office to inspire and do good. President Kennedy proclaimed the Story was “as old as the scriptures and as clear as the Constitution.” President Johnson declared the Story speaks to “the dignity of man and the destiny of democracy.” The Congress played its part in the Story, passing meaningful legislation including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Supreme Court did its part in the Story by declaring in Brown vs the Board of Education that separate is not equal. The Free Press played its role by bringing The Story in both words and pictures to the country and the world.
Even in the most challenging of times The Story gives me faith in, hope for, and love of this country. As someone who has spent a lifetime singing songs and telling stories, I was inspired to tell The Story.
You are invited to share and become part of The Story while we’re Remembering the Dream. The link below will connect you with the opening chapter.
THE SONG CIRCLE
One of the gifts of the last few years has been the bond and friendship that has formed between Michael Kirkland and me. As many of you know Michael was a founding member of The Brothers Four who I replaced at the end of 1968. A few years ago, I heard he was having some health issues. I reached out to tell him that, though I had once felt stuck in his shadow, that I’d come to understand that all this time I’d been standing on his shoulders and walking in his shoes. I also explained that had always been and forever would be a part of every Brothers Four show.
About three months ago I started sending him a song every day along with a little background or story. For instance a few days ago I sent him a Brothers Four recording along with this note:
Some songs are filled with memories - during the Brothers Four tour of Japan in 2019 we visited the Peace Park in Hiroshima. It was raining lightly. There were groups of school children. The museum documented the devastation with photos and artifacts. The A-Bomb dome stood as a stark reminder. The Children’s Peace Monument alive with folded cranes. The Peace Bell. The eternal flame. The Cenotaph containing 290,000 names. At each concert Mike McCoy talks about our visit and the hope that the world may never again know such a moment. Amen.
The Song Circle has grown slowly and fairly organically over the last few months. If you’d like to become a part of it, contact me and we will welcome you into the circle with a song sent to you most days.
OLD FRIENDS, BROTHERS TOO/TWO
As many of you know, Mike McCoy has been a friend and a singing partner going back 55 years. Besides singing together in The Brothers Four we have recorded a couple of albums of original music, Between Friends (1981) and Between Old Friends (2009). We are planning on going into the recording studio in July to record a new group of songs.
We’re calling the project we are working on “Old Friends, Brothers Too/Two.”
Here’s a home recording of what may become the title song.
SCHOOL YARD BULLIES AND CLASS CLOWNS
Every day it appears we become more and more a country defined by our school yard bullies and class clowns. Recently I woke up thinking of Robert Fulghum and the kind, gentle, and sage thoughts he shared with us some 35 years ago. He explained to us that all we really needed to know we learned in Kindergarten:
1. Share everything 2. Play fair 3. Don't hit people 4. Put things back where you found them 5. CLEAN UP YOUR MESS 6. Don't take things that aren't yours. 7. Say you're SORRY when you hurt somebody. 8. Wash your hands before you eat. 9. Flush. 10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. 11. Live a balanced life - learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work every day some. 12. Take a nap every afternoon 13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. 14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam up: The Roots go down and plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. 15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we. 16. And then remember the Dick and Jane books and the first word we learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK
One of my favorite folksingers, John McCutcheon, wrote a song inspired by Fulghum's words.