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Christmas Goes Pop: A Holiday Music Buffet

Friends of Padre Steve’s Word,

Once again I delve into the vault of Christmas Past and post yet another collection of Christmas music from various Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country artists that I enjoy. I hope that you will as well.

I grew up in the 1960’s 1970’s and went to college in the 1980s. As such my musical taste reflects much of the Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country crossovers of the era. So here are some of those artists performing some of their Christmas music. I have also included some more contemporary artists whose music I enjoy. Some are religious in nature and some not. While some are just fun to listen to there are others that speak to the sadness and melancholy that some people feel this time of year. As I have grown older I have come to appreciate non-religious Christmas or holiday music, especially that which touches the deepest emotions and longings that I feel, just as much as I do the traditional hymns of Advent and Christmas. I find it interesting as I have mentioned before that so many of the performers are people who would not be welcome in any church because of their faith, or lack of, their politics, or their sexual preference. But I digress…

I have posted over sixty songs here and they are no particular order, and I hope that you enjoy them.  My wish is that you enjoy the Christmas or whatever holiday you are celebrating; after all the key is to enjoy life and hopefully love as well this holiday season.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

 

 

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Pop Goes Christmas: A Holiday Music Collection 

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Pop Goes the Christmas

Friends of Padre Steve’s Word,

I have been immersing myself in a lot of Christmas and other holiday music as it is one of the few things that can put me into a mood suitable for the season, otherwise I would be as jolly as George Costanza at Festivus, yes “Serenity Now!”

I grew up in the 1960’s 1970’s and went to college in the 1980s. As such my musical taste reflects much of the Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country crossovers of the era. So here are some of those artists performing some of their Christmas music. I have also included some more contemporary artists whose music I enjoy. Some are religious in nature and some not. While some are just fun to listen to there are others that speak to the sadness and melancholy that some people feel this time of year. As I have grown older I have come to appreciate non-religious Christmas or holiday music, especially that which touches the deepest emotions and longings that I feel, just as much as I do the traditional hymns of Advent and Christmas. I find it interesting as I have mentioned before that so many of the performers are people who would not be welcome in any church because of their faith, or lack of, their politics, or their sexual preference. But I digress…

I have posted over sixty songs here and they are no particular order, and I hope that you enjoy them.  My wish is that you enjoy the Christmas or whatever holiday you are celebrating; after all the key is to enjoy life and hopefully love as well this holiday season.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve’s Favorite Story Songs

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I like songs that tell good stories. Unfortunately many of them are sad stories, which makes them somewhat different than sad love songs. Sad love songs generally don’t really have to have a story other than what Lieutenant Frank Drebin said in the Naked Gun: “It’s the same old story. Boy finds girl, boy loses girl, girl finds boy, boy forgets girl, boy remembers girl, girls dies in a tragic blimp accident over the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Day.”

However these songs are about life, disappointment, tragedy as well as real events and people. Sometimes they deal with love, other times loss and sometimes real world events and people. Some are songs that appeal to simpler times, but all tell stories.

I think that songs that tell stories speak to us in ways that we might not otherwise expect. But then for me music is something that can reach my heart in ways that written words cannot. Most of these songs come out of the 1960s and 1970s, which I really think was the time where such songs were most influential and popular. There are others that I could list her but for now I will leave you with these.

Please enjoy them.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Terry Jacks Seasons in the Sun http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhQ13geD2OA is an English adaptation of Jacque Brel’s song Le Moribond.

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Gordon Lightfoot The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0DqPSF2fyo is about the loss of the large bulk carrier SS Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior in 1975.

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Harry Chapin’s Cat’s in the Cradle http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCpsD0ZDfus is a song that speaks about a father who is too busy for his son as the son is growing up and finds that when he is old that his son has “grown up just like me.”

Goodnight_Saigon

Billy Joel Piano Man http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxEPV4kolz0 tells the story of a bar musician and is a fictionalized retelling of his life before he became famous. His song Goodnight Saigon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJFmRA7ousE is an ode to the Vietnam Veterans that came out as the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial was being constructed.

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Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler’s The Ballad of the Green Beret http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34CXcgJURbg was written after Sadler recovered from wounds that he received in Vietnam.

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One song that has always gotten me is the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Mr Bojangles http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3YMyW0SqmU was written by Jerry Jeff Walker and recounted his meeting a street performer in a New Orleans jail.

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Elton John’s Candle in the Wind http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoOhnrjdYOc was written in honor of the late Marilyn Monroe.

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Gilbert O’Sullivan’s Alone Again http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_P-v1BVQn8 is a really sad and introspective song about a man who struggles with life.

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The Beatles Yesterday http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIc6AH_2TEs is about the break up of a relationship and was the first Beatles song that only one member sang, in this case Paul McCartney.

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Janis Joplin’s Me and Bobby McGee http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHkBv-AtKDA was written by Kris Kristofferson and recorded by others before it became a number one hit for Joplin after her death to a heroin overdose in 1970.

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Abba’s Fernando http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xv_-6XQyIq0 is a song of two veteran’s of the Mexican Revolution remembering their younger days in that conflict.

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I have always liked Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcrEqIpi6sg

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Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods Billy Don’t Be a Hero http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0lKmznjgfQ is an anti-war song that they recorded and released just before Paper Lace in the United States and deals with a love story set amid the Civil War.

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Paper Lace’s The Night Chicago Died http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryVh9BuwOs4 tells a fictional story of a police shoot out with the Al Capone gang.

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Cher’s Gypsies Tramps and Thieves http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOSZwEwl_1Q is the story of the daughter of a Gypsy family and her struggles to survive.

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Joan Baez’s The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnS9M03F-fA was originally written and recorded by Robbie Robinson and Levon Helm of The Band. It tells the story of a Confederate soldier in the closing days of the Civil War.

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Bobby Gentry’s Ode to Billie Joe http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDHpkYI5_FY is a Southern Gothic type song about suicide, grief, emotional separation and other tragedies set alongside the banal happenings of everyday life.

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Coven’s One Tin Soldier http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qswm7lHp7oY is another anti-war song but is a story about tow peoples and the desire of one people to attain the treasure held by the other, a treasure that was to be shared, that of peace on earth.

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Arlo Guthrie’s City of New Orleans http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfxoM6trtZE was written by Steve Goodman and is set on a nostalgic and bittersweet ride on the Illinois Central Railroad’s City of New Orleans. It was released in 1971 at a time when my family still road the railroads to cross the country and I can feel the emotion of those trips when I hear the song.

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Barry Manilow’s Copacabana http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oU8TAkl7Tbg is the story of a tragedy that unfolds in the lives of a singer named Lola and her bartender boyfriend Tony in a clash with a mafia don named Rico at the famed New York nightclub Copacabana. Unlike most of Manilow’s songs and for that matter most of these story songs, it is a Disco song.

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Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jj4nJ1YEAp4 became the epitome of a story song that spawned a number of movies.

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Olivia Newton-John’s Please Mister Please http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULJ3KrFwdbA is a song about a woman who cannot bear hearing a song that she associates with her lost love when people play it on the bar jukebox.

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Linda Ronstadt’s Blue Bayou http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58id5JIzFao is a sad song about a woman who has lost her love and is away from home longing to return.

The Eagles Lyin’ Eyes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nk1g6jJTsXY is one of a number of story songs by that super-group and is the story of a woman who has married a rich old man, but unfulfilled enters into an affair while lying to her husband about it.

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I think the way to end this list is with Tony Orlando and Dawn’s Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3ouKAhxZbQ

 

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The Long and Winding Road: My Journey to Life

“Ministry means the ongoing attempt to put one’s own search for God, with all the moments of pain and joy, despair and hope, at the disposal of those who want to join this search but do not know how.” Henri Nouwen

 In February 2009, about eight months after psychological physical and spiritual collapse due to the effects of PTSD and in the midst of my struggle I began to write about my experiences on this site. My psychologist at the time had suggested that I go public with my struggles using my writing as a means to do so. It was something that I had contemplated for some time. I was a mess and struggling many days to even get to work. I was depressed much of the time, continually on edge, still suffered from nightmares, night terrors, flashbacks and sometimes an angry rage which swept over me when I felt threatened.  I avoided big crowds, was afraid to even go to church and I had a hard time trusting anyone.  In that time I would listen to the Beatle’s song “The Long and Winding Road” which in some ways became a prayer for me.

The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I’ve seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to your door

The wild and windy night
That the rain washed away
Has left a pool of tears
Crying for the day
Why leave me standing here?
Let me know the way

Many times I’ve been alone
And many times I’ve cried
Anyway you’ll never know

The many ways I’ve tried

And still they lead me back
To the long winding road
You left me standing here
A long long time ago
Don’t leave me waiting here
Lead me to your door


But still they lead me back
To the long winding road
You left me standing here
A long long time ago
Don’t keep me waiting here
Lead me to your door

The Long And Winding Road lyrics: Songwriters: Mccartney, Paul; Lennon, John. © SONY BEATLES LTD; SONY/ATV TUNES LLC

So I began to write and find some solace even as I struggled with even the existence of God.  One thing that I found was that there were really very few people, especially ministers secure enough to enter into a healing relationship with me. I felt isolated among my peers especially those from my own church.  Since I have detailed that journey to include a restoration of faith in God in December 2009 about two years after my struggle began I won’t go into great detail in this article.  All I knew is that it seemed that most Priests and other ministers either didn’t know how to walk with me, were afraid to walk with me and were most certainly uncomfortable with a colleague, especially one with my experience dealing with the pain psychological and spiritual effects of PTSD including being from all practical purposes an agnostic.  As one psychotherapist labeled it I was “radioactive.”

Eventually some in the leadership of my former denomination which I had served faithfully as a priest for 14 years asked me to leave the church because I had become “I had changed since coming back from Iraq” and “had become too liberal.”I had known this was coming for some time and had been making preparations for it but the timing of the notice from my former Bishop came as a surprise.

I had begun to voice opinions, especially on social and political issues that rankled some, maybe many in my former church. Since only a few friends from that church remain in contact with me I presume that I rankled more than I did not.  There were times during the early part of 2010 that my wife would ask me after reading something that I had published if I was trying to get thrown out. I wasn’t trying to but I was at the point where I knew that I had to be honest and transparent about my struggle as well as how my beliefs had changed a result of war and of PTSD.  I was diplomatic and tried to say what I had to say without getting too controversial. That began to change in the summer of 2010 and reached its head on September 23rd when I published Faith Journeys: Why I am Still a Christian. https://padresteve.wordpress.com/2010/09/22/faith-journey%E2%80%99s-why-i-am-still-a-christian/

I actually did not intend for the article to be too controversial, but looking back I can see how it was interpreted that way. It was for all practical purposes a declaration of independence and a severe criticism of the lack of care that I had felt from the church that I had served for most of my ministerial career. I think that the central part of that article that attracted the attention and wrath of my Bishop was this section”

“This is the Jesus that I follow and the Jesus that I believe is present in body, soul and spirit in the Eucharist.  I believe like Hans Kung and others that this table belongs to the baptized community of faith and not to an exclusive Priestly class who dictate who can come to the table.  It is not the exclusive property of any denomination or Church organization especially those that most loudly state this to be the case.

Now if saying this makes me a heretic then a heretic I will be. It is better to be a heretic in the eyes of Pharisees than to be one that denies justice to the persecuted people of God.  I guess that makes this moderate a liberal and to some an unbeliever.  Yet I believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I believe in the Jesus that defied religious systems to offer the grace of God to the people that those systems rejected and the Jesus that was far more critical of “believers’ than those rejected as unbelievers.  I guess that is why I can accept women as ministers or even Priests, accept homosexuals as Christian brothers and sisters, and see Christ and the grace and love of God in people that are not “Christians” even the Muslims in Iraq that treated me with respect and even if they had an “Aryan” view of Jesus still showed a greater reverence for Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary than many that claim Jesus for themselves.”

I ended the article with this gem: “Why am I still a Christian when I have so many problems with how many Christians practice the faith? Because I believe and not because will not I tow anyone’s party line be they liberals or conservatives….So in the words of my favorite heretic Martin Luther I say “Here I stand, I can do no other. So help me God. Amen.”

My goal since faith began to return was to be available to those that feel cut off from God and the Church, to walk with people in the midst of struggle, pain and despair, especially fellow ministers and chaplains.  I don’t have all the answers, in fact I know very few, except that I know that God can use the pain, alienation, struggle and despair that I went through then, as well as the struggles that I still have in the lives of others like me that are willing to walk that lonely path to reconciliation with God and humanity.

As far as my former church and bishop are concerned I still care about them and hope for the best. There are many there that I still call friends and a very few that I can be completely honest and transparent with for they while remaining in the church think much as I do even if they do not agree with me entirely.  Since my departure a number of others have left that church for other reasons, mostly because they wanted to be in communion with a larger number of Anglican Christians.  Others have stayed in the hopes of working toward renewal.  The Bishop who asked me to leave was himself asked to leave when he attempted to secretly take the priests of the military diocese to another communion barely four months later.

It is a long, winding and often lonely road but I have found solace, community and faith upon it. Those that I have met traveling on it have become my brothers and sisters on the journey. And that my friend makes it all worth it.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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