Part 1. Music, a Mission, Joy, Harps, Poop and Dreams...

I've said before, one of the hardest things I'll ever do is to say goodbye. To friends and family, but also to "things." For the record, I'm not necessarily talking about possessions. And I'm definitely not talking about money. Lord knows, I said goodbye to that long ago.

Music is one of those "things." Everything about it. The ease, the difficulty, the equal opportunity, the joy, the sadness, the history and evolution, the stories, the music itself. Call me crazy but there has been a soundtrack constantly playing through the events in my life. As far back as I can remember. Right now even! Kinda like in the old cartoons, it can be quite dramatic at times.

I've had a life filled with music. Sad songs, happy songs, songs that aren't either of those. Songs that aren't even songs. It's a gift that compares to only a few other gifts I've been given.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a household that more often than not was FULL of music. Whether it was my Brother's Black Sabbath, Santana, etc., my Father's Beatles, Grandma Dunbar's piano (and lessons... ugh!), my Stepdad's whistling, or his Floyd Cramer, Mozart (or otherwise inspired and high-volume music), or my Mother's head-turning soprano singing voice. I get goosebumps remembering her singing Oh Holy Night. She can still pull it off at 82 years old but shys away. I'll admit it right here and now, I'm going to play the "C-Card" and get her to belt it out one more time for me! She won't be able to refuse.

And Mom and Dad's over the top duets. A soprano and an Irish tenor singing beautifully, sometimes at the TOP of their lungs, sometimes softly. I wish so badly I could hear them again. Back then there were four kids, simultaneously thought-bubbling "Oh Jesus God here they go again!" Well, maybe not always.

Oh, and HeeHaw. Every week. HeeHaw. We lived in some seriously remote places when I was a kid but somehow, if there was only ONE show that would come through the rabbit ears crystal clear... HeeHaw. Salut!

My Father, a Presbyterian Minister LOVED music. He was one of the most tone-deaf humans to ever live. In our small town of Huntingdon, PA there were a handful of churches. They took turns sharing their services with the local AM radio station, WHUN every Sunday. The Reverend William Bernerd  Payne of First Presbyterian Church would stand at the pulpit with a microphone less than a foot from his mouth and sing along with the choir whenever they sang. He didn't have to sing along but he couldn't help himself NOT to.

You could hear the choir in the background well enough but the loudest noise came from Dad. And what a noise it was. It was almost like he was singing a completely different song - no doubt in a completely different key. I don't remember the look on his face when I was a kid in his church, and certainly couldn't see the look on his face through the am radio. But I guarantee, he was singing from his heart, as loud as he could muster, smiling ear to ear. I don't think he was even slightly worried about how he sounded.

I wish I would have thought that through earlier in life. There's a lesson there... Kind of like that song about dancing. Sing. Sing loud. Sing from your heart. Sing as though NOBODY is listening. An aside... I contacted WHUN a couple years ago asking if they might have any recordings of those old services. They didn't. I never contacted the local library or the church to ask whether they had any recordings though. Maybe I will, or maybe one of my brothers or sisters will. It would be an absolute treasure to hear them. Kinda...   :)

For me, the thought of singing in front of actual humans is petrifying. I've likened it to a dream I had about Mr. Bellamy - a science teacher in Southport NC. I dreamed that I had to poop during one of his classes. I raised my hand to ask permission to "go." He made me actually ask the question out loud. He said "ok" but made me sit on the toilet that was up next to his desk. Right there in front of the whole class.

For the record, there was no toilet next to his desk. And also for the record, there's a reason I haven't shared that story with too many people. That's the kind of shit they send people away for. No pun intended but I'll leave it there none the less. Safe to say, only 2 or 3 people have ever heard me sing.

Part II soon.

Big shock here. Nancy Grandinetti, (a friend you'd wish you had too) once nicknamed me "Bill, that reminds me of a story, Payne." There's a point to all this. Well... maybe.


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Part 2. Music, a Mission, Joy, Harps, Poop and Dreams...