Secular Hymns

March 09, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

      …Long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile...
So, I was out last night.  Drinking.  Listening to music.  Drinking.  
Four of us at a little, unbalanced, wobbly table.  Damp from drinks being jostled on it, testing its balance.  Our wobbly table is in a place called The Shout House in downtown's Gaslamp.  
Two pianos and their players on the stage, dueling.  That's the theme anyway.  Not much dueling but lots of singing, taunting the audience, teasing the audience, getting the audience to do things the audience wouldn't do of their own accord. 
      …and I dig those rhythm and blues….
The pianists knew their crowd and played all the tunes we'd respond to.  Upbeat, R&R, blues, even a touch of hip hop.  The first notes of Don McLean's American Pie segued from You've Lost that Loving Feeling, and everyone, regardless of age, gender, politics or hair style knew the words, the melody, the cryptic metaphors, the nostalgia.  It was church.  Yeah, church.  
    …can music save your mortal soul...
Because, what is a church other than a building with all inside looking for the same thing and finding it there.   So, here we were; we all knew the words, the melodies, we tapped our feet and bobbed our heads in time to a long remembered tune; some broke loose and danced on the stage as though in religious revelry.  Music is a unifying force.  I still remember the hymns sung under St. Ambrose's vaulted ceilings; Gloria in exelcis deo.  We all knew the words, the melodies, and we swayed in religious revelry as we sang hymns taught from childhood.  
     …and good ol' boys were drinking whiskey and rye...
Liquor, liberally administered, is, of course, the glue that binds us to that experience in the not-so-vaulted ceilings of The Shout House.  From young 20-somethings to a couple celebrating 47 years of marriage, music and drink bound us to the night and each other.  For sure, tomorrow or the next day all will ignore each other and we'll get flipped-off on the highway but tonight we all knew the words.  
   …the marching band refused to yield...


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