The BIG DAY is coming !

 

The BIG DAY is coming !

I have another birthday coming up this weekend…  gonna be 72 on August the 19th (no, I’m not fishing for birthday presents, just send me a FB greeting, lol).  This will probably sound weird, and I don’t deny having a weird streak in me…  I have been planning my own Memorial Service, for when the BIG DAY arrives, or at least  planning the music part.  I suppose that may seem a bit morbid, but really, I am just trying to be practical about it. We all are gonna have a BIG DAY at some point, might as well be more or less prepared for it, right?  No different from financial planning, or planning for a retirement cottage, hmmm ?  And I get to have some small modicum of control over how it gets carried out.

Those of you that know me, know that music has been an extremely significant part of my life, and a source of immense influence and pleasure at the same time.  Music started shaping my life when I was 11 or 12 years old (1956 or ’57), and my Dad took me to a Kiwanis Club luncheon meeting at a local hotel. They always had a pretty good plate lunch, and a speaker for entertainment, usually a local high school coach to give us his preseason forecast for the local football team’s prospects, or an industry leader to fill everyone in on the new manufacturing plant coming to town, or maybe a ladies local singing group to entertain with a number of show tunes….  stuff like that.  The week that I accompanied my Dad, there was a young man a year older than me, who lived one block over from us on E. Adams St., named Hite McLean (the younger one, not his daddy the local lawyer).  Hite gave an impersonation of a new musical sensation who had just recently made a national splash on the Ed Sullivan Show, named Elvis Presley.  Now I had seen Elvis when he first appeared on Ed Sullivan, and I was mightily impressed.  Hite was dressed the part, with a black wig and long black sideburns, and accompanied himself on a box guitar singing Blue Suede Shoes, and Hound Dog, complete with all the hip swiveling moves that the real Elvis had displayed, and I was struck by lightening !   From that moment on, I knew that I would become a famous rock and roller like Hite and Elvis, and become a world famous TV star !

That night I started in on my Dad to buy me a guitar, and I never let up. It took the better part of a year, but finally on Christmas morning a black Silvertone electric guitar, complete with Bigsby tailpiece, a fancy case, and even a Silvertone amplifier so huge it took both of us to move it back to my room that afternoon. I had no earthly idea how to play it, but that was totally irrelevant.  Just hanging it around my neck and posing in the mirror, trying out Elvis moves, was enough to get started.  Later my older brother taught me a few basic things about music theory, like the names of the lines on a musical staff (Every Good Boy Does Fine) and the spaces (F-A-C-E), and I was off and running.

Fast forward a couple of years, like 1960 or so, and I had my first band, The Sweet Nothings, and we were hot stuff (so we thought). That began a long developmental period of learning new chords, new songs, different bands, steady improvement and pure addiction to this rock and roll wave that was sweeping the country.  Then I went off to Ole Miss, and the Beatles invaded America.  More lightning!  A SERIOUS bolt !  I had to start buying “Lilt” home perms at the drugstore, to straighten my curly hair, so I could accomplish a real Beatles hairdo !  I am NOT making this up.

I could go on for several pages about this, but you are already bored I’m sure. Let’s just say it started a 50 year career for me as a strictly amateur musician, made just enough money to spend it all on new guitars, new amps, sound systems, etc. and had a whole lot of fun. And the thirty odd years of the Curb Service Band, featuring the Curvettes ! – what a ride that was, but that’s a story for another day.

Along the way, about 1972, I came to be employed by a local manufacturing company who had come to Greenwood in 1960 from Cincinnati, Ohio. In fact the new plant manager they sent to manage this company moved in with his family directly across the street from our house at 303 E. Jefferson St. His name was Ed Reilly, and it so happened that I mowed his grass in the summers of 1961 and 1962, until I became too cool as a budding music star to trifle with such common menial labor.  Little did I know I would start work for the Baldwin Piano and Organ Co. a mere 10 years later.

Fast forward another 28 years to 2000, when Baldwin was in the throes of bankruptcy, and teetering on collapse, a fine 135 year old company brought down by a new but totally incompetent top management staff, brought in when the older guys retired. Such is life, and it marked the end of a fabulous period in my life, when I worked the last 20 years of those 28 as the Director of Product Design and Engineering for Baldwin.  I had the best, most personally rewarding job in the world, designing and creating fine musical instruments that were sold worldwide to hundreds of thousands of people, and enriching their lives with the gift of music.  It is a good feeling to walk into someone’s home and see one of my “children” sitting in the living room or den, and to hear the owners rave about how they much love their Baldwin.

So, yes, music is quite a great part of my life.  Although I was never a pro, never became a star performer, I had the time of my life.  So…. it seems only natural to me that I would want to try to put together a memorial service that would, when the BIG DAY came along, reflect what music has meant to me, and to my family and friends.

I think that this project may have gotten started a few weeks ago, when I had my desktop computer upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 10 (against by better judgment), but my usual mistrust of the unknown proved to be unfounded, and Windows 10 seems to be performing remarkably smoothly for me.  This, coupled with the seemingly unrelated fact that we have been studying various composers of famous hymns in our Westminster Presbyterian Church Sunday School classes in recent week (guys like John Newton, who wrote 8 verses of probably the best known and best loved hymn of all time, Amazing Grace, and several others), led me to decide to try to download several of MY favorite hymns from Amazon Music, to just, you know, have them on my hard drive, in case I needed to put something together for a memorial service, in case I started feeling bad or something ????

Well, I compiled 8 or 10 candidates for consideration, and decided to burn them to a CD, so I could play them in the car, and listen to them all, seeing if I could pick my top 5 or 6, and then share those with Rebecca, and let her help me pick the 3 or 4 finalists for the BIG DAY. And since I know that I will have absolutely no say in when the BIG DAY will arrive, I figured now was as good a time as any to finalize this project.

In the computer field (or maybe it’s the educational field), there is an old saying “use it, or lose it” !  It refers to the concept of staying familiar with the operation of any complex process, such as a software program, or a difficult operating procedure, or else you become rusty at it, and after a certain period of abstinence, you lose the ability to do what was once routine, easy, and familiar.  Enter Windows Media Player version 12, a new part of Windows 10, a new operating system.  WMP is a music file management program, obviously, for playing your tunes on your hard drive, or from “the cloud”, or from one of your connected “devices” like your phone, or tablet.  You can see right off that this technology stuff has quickly advanced to the point that you have to have your own personal teenager to be able to navigate the twisted landscape of IT proficiency/fluency. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your viewpoint), all my teenagers have moved away, and are working on raising their own teenagers.  And seeing as how I have not burned .mp3 files to a CD in over 10 years, I spent 3 nights staring at the WMP graphical user interface as if it were written in Greek, or Russian, or perhaps even Martian.

Anyway, I finally came to terms with sending the files I wanted to a CD drive, putting about 9 possible cuts on there, for Rebecca and I to preview as we drove to Memphis this past Saturday for our grandson JPS III’s 4th birthday. As it turned out she loved my 4 favorites, and we agreed that not only would we use those 4 for my Memorial Service on my BIG DAY, but she wanted to use the SAME ONES for her BIG DAY as well!  I was gonna say “kill 2 birds with one stone”, but somehow that seems to not fit this narrative. The Church will like it, since they can just use the same program, same lyrics, etc, all they will have to do is change one line,  the honoree’s name. (I told you I had a weird streak in me)  LOL.

Now, I know you are all dying (oops, sorry again) waiting anxiously to know what we have picked…  I suppose I could say, “Well, you’ll just have to wait and see”, in a dubious effort to ensure a good crowd to see me off, but I really would be interested in some feedback about our choices, in case y’all just hate one, or two, or even all four picks.  So, let me insert here a few you tube links to the 4 tunes that made the cut (if I can figure out how to do that). I know how to insert pictures, and I have done a you tube link a few years ago, but (use it, or lose it) ?

Before I add the video links, let me say that I chose 4 hymns, 3 of them  fairly old, and one of the 4 is even 1,200 years old, from Ireland, but 2 of the 4 are done by more contemporary artists, and the other 2 are traditional thundering pipe organ and choir pieces.  I wanted to present a balanced mix, from soft, sweet and emotionally moving, to powerful, soaring, “rock the house and blast out the stained glass windows” statements.

I would hope folks would appreciate my choices, and that they would remember how important all music has been to me, and hopefully to those in attendance will feel the power of God’s grace and majesty in the presentation.  I would want people to know that THIS music was important to me, for the message of redemption, salvation and eternal life it still carries to the World.

I know you can’t get the full experience of a 10,000 watt sound system on your phone or tablet for this preview of what I hope will happen at the Church, but give a listen to these four below, and let me know how you like them if you want to comment, and whether they seem appropriate choices for a Memorial Service.

And the usual disclaimer applies to the links below…   I do not own the rights to any of these works of intellectual property, and present them only for demonstration purposes, If you need to contact my lawyer, at least wait til after the BIG DAY.

 

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#1 – Festival Canticle:  “Worthy is Christ” – Richard Hillert – 1976

(after all are seated but prior to any remarks)

 

 

#2 – “Amazing Grace” – Celtic Woman – John Newton – circa. 1779

(about one-third through the service)

 

 

#3 – “Be Thou My Vision” – Selah – 1,200 yr old traditional Irish melody

(about two-thirds through the service)

 

 

#4 – “Lift High The Cross” – St. Michael’s Singers – George Kitchin – 1887

(following the benediction, and before the family exits the Church)

 

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Now that I have a completed plan for the music for our two mutual, but separate Memorial Services, and have distributed copies of the CD’s to my three children (I hope they won’t argue over the selections), and prepared written pages of lyrics for the program, and copies of the instruction sheet for the Church sound board operator/technician, I can sit back and hope earnestly that the BIG DAY doesn’t arrive TOO SOON.   Maybe by then CD’s will have gone the way of the dinosaurs, and be a forgotten technology, and my kids can then fall back onto the thumb drives I have prepared, to be use with a laptop to patch into the sound board at the Church….    🙂

 

– –  JOE SEAWRIGHT  (and REBECCA too)

At least one of us will get to hear it live at the Church, and can maybe report to the other how it went, when meet again.   🙂

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SELLING THE HOUSE – MOVING OUT or MOVING ON ?

SELLING THE HOUSE – MOVING OUT, OR MOVING ON ???

Rebecca and I decided a few weeks ago, that perhaps the time was right that we should try to sell our house that we have lived in for many years…  almost 40 years for me, as we moved in with Rebecca’s Mother in the late 70’s, and nearly 65 years for Rebecca, as she literally grew up in this house from about age 4 or 5 on, and to try to move away from the burdensome taxation of our lifelong hometown of Greenwood, and “up the hill” to the East, out of our beloved Mississippi Delta, to a place with a quieter and slower pace, Carrollton, MS, and to build a small retirement cottage, where we could enjoy a downsized home, more energy efficient, and hopefully no more house payment!  She will likely be retiring in another year or so from the Leflore County Court House, where she works as a tax clerk in the Tax Collectors office, and I already retired in 2011, after nearly 28 years with Baldwin Piano and Organ Co., as their Director of Product Design.

This has been a big decision for us, one that we have been contemplating for a year or two, and now we have taken the plunge, in a leap of faith from the end of the high board.  We hope that someone thought to put water in the pool for us.  It has not been an easy decision, especially for Rebecca, who obviously has known only this house as her home for virtually her entire life. To say that she loves this house does not even come close. I jokingly tell people that she loves this house WAY more than she loves me, and I am not always sure that it is a joke.  This home is her soul, and for those of you that know her well, you know that is true, and every inch of it reflects her personality and love for every thing in it. Go easy on her until this deal is done!

I try to remain more practical about it, passing myself off as not such a romantic, more of a logical realist, but I have to admit that it is certainly more than a collection of boards, shingles, paint, wallpaper, floors and carpets, and assorted furniture and appliances, and all the other things that make it a home…   the personal furnishings, photographs, portraits of the kids, books, all of that. But it is even more, of course… the memories of 40 years of raising a family, not just our kids, but the other family members that shared this home, her Mother and Dad, brother, sister, aunt, Grandmother, and of course the neighbors and friends that were in and out through the years.   It is hard to just walk away from all that. But we have reached that point where we must move to another phase, and prepare for a smaller, quieter place, to better deal with the onset of old age. I’ll be 72 next month, and while I have had some health problems, I am still able to get around pretty well, and want to begin to prepare for the days when that may no longer be the case.  Rebecca is 3 years behind me, so we need to lose things like the 2nd story and the stairs, a big yard, fat electric and gas bills, etc., etc. You know the story. Did I already mention DOWNSIZE ???

And as Rebecca has already mentioned somewhere,  none of this STUFF will be going with us, to our heavenly home (if we get there).  Once the house is sold, we will decide what we plan to take with us to the new cottage we will build, and then call the 3 kids to come “get what you want”, and hope that a 3-way fist fight doesn’t break out.  After that, let the estate sale begin.

As we have no idea where or when we will find a lot, it is likely that if the house sells before we have a place, we will have to rent a travel trailer, or move in with some VERY lucky friends for a few months, or who knows what ???   We trust in the Lord to lead us in the right path, to accomplish our goal.

Rebecca has a house plan in mind, one that she spotted in the June 2017 issue of Southern Living magazine.  It was featured as an 800 sq. ft. cottage, very southern and stylish, but also a VERY SMALL 800 sq. ft..  I reworked the plans a bit to come up with 1145 sq/ ft., and hopefully it will be just perfect for us, if we can find a place to put it.  Stay tuned…

All of this is going to be hard for us over the next 12 to 18 months, but we are confident that it is the right choice for us, and this point in our lives.  We want to be centrally located in the middle of our three kids’ families, so that we can still see all three sets of grand kids on a regular basis, and also have a place they can come visit us as well, albeit smaller than before.  We will trust in God to guide us, and we want to remain close to our new church, Westminster Presbyterian, where we landed a couple of years ago, and are SO HAPPY there.

There will be difficult times I’m sure, but we will, as William Faulkner once said in Stockholm, we will “not only endure, we will prevail”.

If you are looking for a really good deal on a house, here’s the link to that….

 

https://youtu.be/DzdjaLjRlHI

 

and here’s a picture of the retirement cottage we want to build:

 

New House 01

 

And if you have a lot in Carrollton you want to sell CHEAP, contact me RIGHT NOW !  LOL

I have though about this a good bit in the last several days, since we took the plunge, and listed the house with a realtor, and “made it official”. I know I should feel sad, or melancholy, and I do to a certain extent, but I always try to have a positive outlook. It’s something I have tried to teach my three kids. Sometimes it’s hard to maintain that outlook, when troubles pile up, like losing your mainstream income you had back in the day, when you had a great job with a great company, or starting to feel your age, I mean REALLY feel it, and knowing it’s not likely to get better as time goes by.  But I still try to be an optimist, and look for the good in every situation. Might as well, no sense in courting troubles.

This for me, and I’m sure Rebecca as well, is what moving on is about for us now. We have done the best we could in our primary purpose on this Earth, to raise and nurture these three children, from infants to small children to teenagers to young adults, and seen them fall in love and get married, and have children of their own…. our grand children., 9 of them (so far), and in doing so, opening yet another door for us into perhaps the best chapter yet of our lives, grand parents. On the downside of the hill for sure, but still fortunate to be able to enjoy it all, and savor it

The rest of my life can be without a doubt the best part of all, if I will just let it in, and really enjoy it. Rebecca and I have been SO RICHLY BLESSED, no question about that, and I intend to embrace what future we have on this old Earth, and to prepare for the next step beyond, if we are that fortunate. In closing, I want to share something I have thought about a few times in my life, as my kids have been growing up. I think it says something about how we should look at life, and how we can see the good in all things and all people…

James Taylor, one of my very favorite singers and songwriters, once wrote a tune called “NEVER DIE YOUNG”, back in the late 80’s after he had courageously conquered a heroin addiction that nearly killed him, and went on to build a fantastic musical career.  In it, he talked about a young couple, growing up in a small town, who seemed destined to excel and succeed, and rise to far greater heights than could be expected in such a small town environment, and in spite of everyone’s jealousy that they would obviously do so.  This song always reminded me of our three kids as they grew up, and Rebecca and my hopes and dreams for them, that they too would far exceed our expectations (which they did, I should add, much to our delight and satisfaction – I know every parent hopes their children will far surpass what they as parents could ever attain). Anyway, these words comes to mind from that song, and I always think of our 3, both individually and also collectively, when I hear this part, towards the end of the song, when it has become obvious that this couple, who JT refers to as “our golden ones” are destined to move on from their small town beginnings, and on to who knows what heights of greatness, and what lofty places in this world…..

“I guess it had to happen someday soon, wasn’t nothing to hold them down,

They would rise from among us like a big balloon, take the sky, forsake the ground.

Oh yes, other hearts were broken, yeah, other dreams ran dry,

But our golden ones, sail on, sail on, to another land beneath another sky.

(yes, other hearts were broken, yeah, other dreams ran dry

Let our golden ones sail on, sail on, to another land beneath another sky”.

 

Here’s a YouTube link, if you want to listen… it’s a really sweet song about life and living it.

 

 

WISH US LUCK AS WE CONTINUE OUR JOURNEY ONWARD !

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What if God had a Facebook Page ?

God's Cover Image 02

What if God had a Facebook Page…

For some reason known only to God, that thought passed through my brain during church this morning.  You know how those random, completely bizarre and out of the blue thoughts come sailing in, at the strangest moments?  And right in the middle of a really good sermon, too!  I managed to shake it off, and keep listening to the preacher, but I did explore the topic more fully after lunch.

What if He did ?  I mean, I know God probably doesn’t have an i-Phone, or an i-Pad Pro, or even a Power Mac….  why would He need any of that, if He made the Universe, this world and all of us, right?  But suppose just for a moment, that He did actually have a Facebook page, and checked us all out from time to time.   Would it make a difference to us?  It would for me.  I know I would have to go back and look at all the stuff I post, and probably delete about 2/3 of it (if not ALL of it).

I have thought about this before. Not so much whether God has a FB page or not, but if what I post on my FB page would be acceptable to Him.  I suspect that God would take a dim view of Facebook, and the time I waste on there, when I could be trying harder to lay off the sinning, and be a better Christian in general.  Loving other people more…..   ALL of my neighbors and fellow men and women, not just my family and friends.

I know that when I do post something on Facebook, at least lately, I think more carefully about what I am gonna say, and usually have to do a little editing before I hit the POST button.  We could all probably take the advice of the old saying, “Make sure the brain is in gear before releasing the clutch on your mouth”.  My point is, God doesn’t need a Facebook page to keep tabs on any of us.  If He knows every hair on our head, and He knew us before we were formed in the womb, He already knows what we are thinking about posting on Facebook!  Let’s be good, for goodness sake !

  • JOE SEAWRIGHT

 

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WHAT’S UP WITH MY MUSIC ?

Those of you than have known me for any considerable length of time know that music has been a huge part of my life, both in my professional work as the Director of Product Design for Baldwin Piano & Organ Company for almost 30 years, but perhaps even more so through a lifetime of enjoyment from making music, through high school, college, and for many years after, up until I finally retired from my time as an amateur musician and performer.  It was maybe the most fun I have had in my life, spanning an era of some 52 of my 71 years.  I still think of myself as a musician.  My body however, strongly disagrees. I can no longer even come close to hoisting that 150 lb. Ampeg Bass Amp onto the stage. And I am totally deaf in my left ear, from standing to the right of Johnny Freeman’s hideously loud twin guitar amps. And the lyrics to many of the songs I have sung for 52 years, are mysteriously missing in action when I need them.  But I still like to think I could do it once more, with feeling, if someone one would supply a nurse and standby team of paramedics with oxygen.

And I was lucky enough to have been a part of that period of musical history in America when the really good music was being produced, by thousands and tens of thousands of guys and girls just like me (well, actually a lot better than me) were producing some of the best music styles ever. Music that shaped a nation. From Chuck Berry, to Elvis Presley, to the explosion of Rock n Roll in the mid sixties, the Beatles, Motown, all the great solo stars and groups we all grew up with.

What got me to thinking about this was a brief conversation I had today with a good friend who now lives in LA, who is from Greenwood. In fact he was a sort of road manager for our group, the Curb Service Band back around the early 1980’s, when we were just starting to have some success, and lots of fun, playing all over the Delta.

Jim asked me what was gonna become of the music business in the next 10 to 20 years, as fewer and fewer kids took up the guitar, or drums, or digital keyboards, to PARTICIPATE in making music like we did, but instead opting to be just a spectator, walking around with a phone in their hand, or an X-box at home, or spending hours on mindless video games.

I told him that I was afraid his fears were well founded, as I had seen first hand as my time of employment at Baldwin was drawing to a close at the beginning of the 21st century.  At that time, Baldwin had already seen a significant reduction in demand for our upright, or console acoustic pianos, as more and more families were not encouraging their kids to take piano lessons. Demand for Grand pianos was not nearly as impacted, but we could see the writing on the wall that did not bode well for the music industry in general, as kids were surely losing interest in taking any kind of a participatory role in music.

And I could see a link to the quality and type of music issuing forth in the post 2000 era as well.  It seemed to me that the whole industry was undergoing a massive change, in the way music was sold and marketed, and how it was produced.  It was no longer a situation of who had the most talent, or wrote the best songs, but more of a generational shift to who had the most money behind them to promote them as the stars of a new era.  Examples that come to mind are the Monkees, and some of the “Boy Bands”, that were mostly pretty faces, with little talent. And it was not limited to the guys.  Hanna Montana, started out as a sweet kid who made millions with Disney, but later followed the Jekyll and Hyde path to become Miley Circus, uh, Cyrus.

So, then came the rappers, and people finally started to wonder, are we done with having music to enjoy?  Is that all there is ?  Did it really die, or at least START to die, when the plane went down with Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper?

I can remember back to how much music meant to me, growing up, playing it, participating in it with close friends, and some of the bands I really appreciated.  Some of my favorites were of course, the Beatles, Beach Boys, the Temptations, Four Tops, and later on the Doobie Brothers, and a special favorite, Earth Wind and Fire.  I learned to appreciate the musical skills some of these groups displayed.

I took a special interest in preparing the repertoire of music that the Curb Service Band chose for our performances.  I had pretty much one rule…  for a song to make it into our playlist, it had to be GREAT DANCE TUNE !  That’s what we were known for, DANCE MUSIC. We rarely played clubs or bars, and almost exclusively private parties… weddings, graduations, Country Club parties, etc, and people that followed us knew they would get a workout if the came to hear us.  Sadly, DJ’s have moved into that market, and now you hear a mix of some old Motown favorites and a good bit of rap music.

Anyway, as I was thinking about this post, and what I wanted to say, it dawned on me that music had begun to lose some of its attraction for me.  I was shocked to admit that to myself. It’s certainly not that I no longer love music, but more that I no longer have the opportunity to enjoy it so much.  I RARELY listen to the car radio anymore….  not much to listen to, other than a few bad talk radio stations. What little music you do have is mediocre at best. Then I made the connection I think that Jim was getting at.  There is no worthwhile music being produced anymore, primarily because there is such a short supply of accomplished musicians to populate the bands the record companies used to attract, and most musicians that are still willing to try find nothing but resistance in today’s music market, that most resort to trying to sell their stuff on the internet, with pretty disappointing results for themselves financially.

So, what IS going on with my music?  It seems that the plane crash was just the beginning, of a slow and pitiful death, that is now coming to light as more of a general starvation, than death by sudden impact.  Is there anything we as old school music lovers can do ?

I find that I may have just let myself drift for a few years, thinking that the music was indeed gone, or at least going.  I sort of lost interest in what was out there. I mentioned Earth, Wind & Fire earlier as perhaps my favorite band of all time. especially since they had such world class musical talent in folks such as Maurice White, the leader, and his two brothers, who were the backbone of the group. Their arrangements were unique in all of the music world, and they had a horn section that was the best in the business.  But what made them stand head and shoulders above all the others, in my humble opinion, was when they hit the first note, you wanted to get up out of your seat and dance!  Right?  You’ve heard them !  You could not sit down, and you could not keep from smiling when they played SEPTEMBER, or maybe SING A SONG.    AM I RIGHT ?

I was fortunate enough to hear them live one night in Frankfurt, Germany, in a creepy old, ornate wrought iron metal Gothic church that had been bombed out during WW2, and later restored and rebuilt as a modern concert hall. EWF literally blew the house down, in a three hour non-stop show that left the German crowd of equally creepy young Visigoths utterly exhausted from dancing for the entire night.

So, I mentioned all this for one reason, and as a precursor to my appeal to not give up hope.  I did kind of let my attention lapse in the five years since I gave up performing in the Curb Service Band, and a few names I should have noticed kind of slipped up on me while I was drifting in my semi-depression from musical withdrawal.  One of these bands was a group named Bruno Mars. I think Bruno is perhaps a Cuban fellow, and likewise for probably most of his band. You know… probably a bit hot blooded… “Anejo and knives a slashing”, as Mr. Buffet once said.  Much like one of his famous predecessors, a young man named Ricky Ricardo. He’s the fellow that had the red headed wife, back in the 40’s and 50’s, when TV was getting started. Yeah, that guy!  It’s likely you remember them.  And while Ricky had an exceptional orchestra, they lacked one key ingredient that Bruno Mars guys have…..   Ricky’s band probably ran on a lot of Cuban rum, and a good supply of those left handed Lucky Strikes. Bruno Mars’bunch runs on rocket fuel mixed with dynamite and pure plutonium !

I never in my entire musical life thought I would see a band that could match Earth, Wind and Fire, in pure talent, excitement, and raw energy.  Bruno Mars not only matches them, they snatch the crown off their heads, and run off into the sunset at about Mach 2.

You probably were exposed to Bruno Mars about the same time as me, 2 or 3 years ago at they halftime of the Superbowl, where they almost burned the stadium down from the friction from peoples’ shoes dancing on the concrete seats of the venue.

I am not going to continue to gush about how good these guys are. I will simply post one link below, to the title track to their new album. “24K MAGIC”. I ask that you listen, preferably with a good set of headphones, and the volume turned up to the EXTREME DANGER level !

And take note of the performance of the bass player. He is actually not a Cuban, but an alien from one of the outer planets.  His brain and his fingers operate on a plane so much higher that you or I that it is difficult for mere humans to truly appreciate.  I think you will agree that Bruno Mars gives us hope for the future of music, if parents will please stop giving their kids i-Phones for their 11th birthday or Christmas, or X-boxes, and at least buy them a digital keyboard or a trumpet, or drums, or even a piccolo (well maybe not a piccolo, it’s too nerdy), whether they want one or not.  Maybe they will grow up to play the bass like this guy…  Everyone knows that the bass player is the FOUNDATON of the band… and yes, I was a bass player

And so, I present, the reason I have hope that music is not yet dead, just maybe clinging by its fingernails, on life support…….   Bruno Mars.  Listen to the exceptionalism, the soaring musicianship, the perfection of the harmonies that erupt from the vocals, the horn arrangements, the power of the percussion, and the mastery of the sound engineering, even on a lowly FB audio setup. I wish you could hear it as Jennings and I heard it through our 5,000 watt sound system at the Debutante Party we did last night at the Country Club !

After you have listened, go get your wife, or husband or daughter, or your cranky old neighbor. and make them dance with you the second and third times you listen… And stop that grinning !  And help me search for more like this alien bass player.  He has the FORCE, heck he IS the FORCE !!!

PS – The album is exceptional, all cuts, and if you like it, download one from i-Tunes for only $ 9.99, and then you can drive around town in your car, singing at the top of your lungs, and playing steering wheel drums, and thinking no one can really hear or see you.  !

 

—  JOE SEAWRIGHT

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ANOTHER 911…… EVERY DAY !

I saw recently that the final “OFFICIAL” death toll for 911 was 2,996. That includes those killed in the WTC, the Pentagon, and the 4 airliners. That’s pretty awful. But what if we suffered the equivalent of 911 EVERY SINGLE DAY ? That would be almost unthinkable, right ?

Well, that’s what’s happening, every day in America. A little more than 3000 innocent unborn CHILDREN, are MURDERED by Planned Parenthood and the other abortion providers. EVERY DAY. A 911 every day. And it’s not gonna stop until we ALL find our voices and speak to our friends and neighbors and politicians, to defend these innocents.

It’s up to you, and me. And I am not gonna stop talking about this, because Jesus Christ EXPECTS me to do this, just as He expects all of you, as Christians, to do so. If this bothers you, or you don’t want to hear my occasional messages on this topic, go ahead and unfriend me now, because you are part of the problem. But if you want to be part of the solution, join me in spreading the message of hope that we can defeat the abortionists, and pray that they will turn from their wickedness, and ask Jesus for his forgiveness.

There will be another 911 tomorrow…. and the day after…. and so on….. Until we make a difference.

Thanks for listening.

— JOE SEAWRIGHT

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Lost Dog, Mean Cat & Two Crooks

We have a local Google Group here in Greenwood, MS, which was established a few months back, to serve as sort of a “neighborhood watch”, wherein folks who were interested in neighborhood safety could join and view posts that members could share with the group concerning suspicious activity such as young thugs cruising down the streets and alleys, snooping around for potential fodder for the local pawn shops, One had even been so bold as to walk into a young couples house in the morning, broad daylight to check out the selection of electronics. Fortunately the young husband happened to be at home, and standing within arms reach of his deer rifle, when the ne’er-do-well walked in. The crook escaped without being shot, and thus the genesis of the Google Group.  During the first couple of months, the group was well used as originally intended, with many reports posted of suspicious cars, with descriptions, where they were seen, even some tag numbers reported.  Many locals had joined the group and it was fairly busy.

However, soon the participants began to use the group to post stories of missing or lost dogs, either of unknown whereabouts, or having shown up at a neighbors house. And the occasional cat as well, although cats are much more independent, and don’t really need anyone’s meddling help, thank you very much.  Soon the lost dog posts far outweighed the snooping thugs reports.  Therefore I took it upon myself to post a simple question asking if perhaps there was another Group that focused solely on neighborhood watch activity of the home break-in/burglary type. I was quickly informed to pretty much mind my own business, that the current Group liked to see all the animal reports.  So…….   leaning to the lighter side in an effort to make my point, in the least offensive way possible, I penned this post below to report both an incident of neighborhood surveillance by a suspected criminal element, as well as a simultaneous missing dog, AND a cat, and even a couple of  pet raccoons, hoping to pique the interest of ALL the Group members, while offending none.  Submitted below ……….

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I happened to look out my back door window a little while ago and I noticed a small silver car driving down the alley, really slow, with two suspicious young dudes, slowly checking out all the back yards and garages, like they were maybe looking for stuff to come back and steal later on.  I couldn’t see the tag number. This was in the alley between E Harding and E Cleveland, about 10:15 AM this morning (Thursday, May 12).  When they got to the end of the alley, they turned around, and came back down the same alley. They would stop at almost every driveway and look for a couple of minutes.

Before they got all the way back to Poplar Street I saw this dog come wandering down Poplar Street like it was lost.  It was too far away to tell what kind it was, maybe a Heinz 57 mix, but I think it had some Pit bull mixed in. He looked like he was kinda starving, I could see lots of ribs and his hipbones sticking up.  I couldn’t be sure if he had a collar or not, but I don’t think he did. Either way, he was just out on the street, no one was walking him on a leash. Isn’t there a leash law still in effect in Greenwood?  Anyway this dog decided he would plop down right in Poplar street where the alley comes out, that the two suspected young hood rats were about to come out, to attend to some licking that needed attending to (the dog, not the suspected young hood rats). I guess its a good thing that they were going slow, so they didn’t run over the dog lying in their way.  While they were all sitting there, almost in front of Johnny Freeman’s house, waiting to see which one was gonna blink first, this big old yellow tomcat comes waltzing down the alley, kinda right up behind the little silver car with no tag number containing the two young suspected burglars (actually the tomcat was more like strolling along, (well, make that sauntering, sorta like a really slow motion pimp walk), so he really couldn’t see the dog who was now fully engaged in his licking regimen.

Just about the time the cat drew even with the front tire of the silver car, the driver decided it was time to get out of the alley, so he tooted his horn at the dog, unaware of the cat. This spurred the cat to scoot out quickly a few steps in front of the car, until he spied the dog, at the same time the dog looked up towards the source of the horn, and the presence of the cat, who now found himself on the “horns” of a dilemma (sorry). That’s when the fireworks started. The dog jumped up from what he had been doing and lunged for what he thought would be his next meal, at the same time the cat leaped straight up in the air about 3 feet. You know how those cats do on YouTube when their owners sneak up and put a big cucumber behind them while they are eating from their bowl? I guess they think it’s a snake or something, but it’s just like a firecracker going off under them. Anyway the tomcat (which was a pretty good size cat, maybe 20 pounds) soon came under the influence of the law of gravity and having reached his apogee (or is it perigee?  whatever), he began his descent into the general vicinity of the dog’s mouth. However this was not the cat’s first rodeo, and he managed to plant his  two front paws full of claws into the dogs nose, and he wasn’t inclined to let go anytime soon.  The dog realized his mistake, and quickly beat a hasty retreat back towards Johnny Freeman’s front yard, trailing the still firmly attached cat, who had now managed to get his hind claws into play as well, and was now ready to ride this bull.  The combatants narrowly missed being squished flat by a City of Greenwood pickup, bearing one of those City of Greenwood logos that looks like they stole it from Obama’s first election campaign, but were too cheap to do it in full color…. you’ve seen those, right?  Probably David Jordan’s idea.

Well, anyway, while all this commotion was going on, I thought, ” Surely the suspected crooks are too distracted by the fight going on in front of them, maybe I have time to run in the next room and get my Browning Hi-Power 9 mm and come back and send a few rounds downrange, maybe cause them to rethink their life of crime. But then I realized they weren’t actually ON my property, and I might really get in trouble with the po-po, so I just stayed there, hoping they would pull out and give me a glimpse of their tag number. Unfortunately, I suppose they had a few more alleys and garages to check out in the neighborhood, and they turned north on Poplar, not south towards  the safety of the Westside. By the time they had disappeared, the dog and cat show had reached a standoff, with the dog holding a safe distance from the cat, and trying to decide if he was really that hungry, and the cat thinking, “Do ya feel lucky?  Well, DO YA, PUNK?”  The dog selected discretion as the better part of valor, and retired to live to fight another day, with frequent glances over his back to make sure he wasn’t being followed.  I hope someone will be on the lookout for this poor mutt, he really needs a meal, and some foster care, maybe even some stitches on his nose and some band-aids, until his owner can be found.

Oh, and one more thing.  I want to give fair coverage to ALL animals, not just the dogs and cats. We have been plagued with a raccoon getting on our back porch and eating the cat’s food (not the same cat as above). I finally borrowed one of those metal traps (now please don’t start in on me about being cruel to the poor coon, it was one of those HUMANE type boxes with the trap door that springs shut when the coon starts in on the bait. Hot dogs slathered with peanut butter seem to work well).  I should mention here, you are aware that coons are pretty clever, correct?  It took me almost a week to catch the pesky critter, and lo and behold when I went out to inspect the interloper, it was twins!  Not babies, but not grown either. “Teenage” coons, or the equivalent thereof.  So now the final question:  Who wants ’em?  Surely there are a number of you SPCA or PETA types out there who would love a pair of pet coons.  I wouldn’t dream of killing them, but I do need to turn them loose if no one wants the adorable little things. You’ll have to do your own housebreaking, and the conversion from wild-to-pet part as well .

Thanks for reading, I will keep my eyes peeled for both criminal miscreants as well as wayward animals of all specie, since the majority of you seem to want to keep the lost dog component of this group intact. I know when a compromise is in order !

 ☺

 

— JOE SEAWRIGHT

 

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FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD…

 

For God so loved the world…….

 

As I get older, I find myself more and more troubled about the abortion situation in this country (and the world for that matter). I was born in 1945, and I suppose I never heard the word abortion until I was well into high school.  Never gave it much thought at all, until one or two girls mysteriously disappeared for a few days from school, and then showed back up, like maybe they had been sick or something, with the flu, or a cold.  Then the rumors would start circulating. “So and so went off and had an abortion”.  Still didn’t really register by the time I graduated from high school back in 1963.  So they went off, and got un-pregnant.  Big deal.  I never really stopped to consider exactly what that encompassed.  Never in a million years did I think that a child had been murdered.  But that’s exactly what had happened. Not a mass of tissue, or a clump of cells. A living, moving, feeling child…..   with a beating heart, a brain  experiencing stimuli, a real human being, only 3 inches long.

Then only 10 years later, in 1973, the 9 men sitting on the Supreme Court of the United States, ruled in “Roe vs. Wade” that abortion would henceforth be legal.  The decision, although stirring great controversy, was hailed by the “feminist” movement as a victory for women everywhere.  They had argued that they had every right to make decisions (along with their doctors) concerning their own health & bodies.  I don’t think anyone really brought up the words “baby murder” at the time.  The country just seemed to shrug it off and go about their business.  Sure, some Church leaders spoke out about it, but within a few years, and after a few unsuccessful tries to overturn it in the Supreme Court, it mostly faded away.

But then, as time went by, a few Christian groups began to speak out again.  Some organizations were tracking the numbers of abortion statistics, as they began to grow.  Some pro-life groups began publishing more truthful information about the procedures being used by the abortion clinics, about how the fetuses were actually “terminated”.  The pro-choice groups fought back hard with the usual liberal ploy of calling the pro-lifers “liars”, and disguising the true statistics about what was going on.

Although Planned Parenthood was founded in 1916 by the infamous Margaret Sanger (look her up on Google, and read about the pure evil nature of the woman, and what she REALLY wanted to accomplish), they only began doing abortions a couple of years after Roe v. Wade became the law of the land, allowing abortion on demand.  But they have grown over 40 years to become a true empire of child murder, and not only child murder, but murder for taxpayer money, and as most recently revealed by the series of 12  undercover videos by David Daleiden of The Center for Medical Progress, murder to supply the illegal sale of fetal tissue and body parts to research facilities.  These videos are shocking, quite disturbing and frankly gruesome at times, but they need to be seen to advance the cause of stopping this madness of killing unborn children. Here is a YouTube link to see summaries of these revelations of a company (PP) clearly out of control:

https://www.youtube.com/user/centerformedprogress

I know many of you won’t want to watch these, but if you want to help end abortion, you MUST watch them, to educate yourself as to what’s going on in these places. These are lengthy, but I suggest you watch at least the last 5 or 6 videos to get the true picture of evil that Planned Parenthood represents, as led by their CEO, and Queen of Pre-meditated Child Murder, Cecile Richards.

So, are you beginning to see just why I am so troubled in my golden years, as this National Sin continues rampant across our country and its people?  How did I go so long without finally realizing that this is without question the most disgraceful thing that has ever occurred in America? That we have not only lost our way, but we are on an express elevator to Hell?

Let me try to explain.  I was born into the Episcopal Church, in Greenwood, MS.  I was baptized by old Bishop Duncan Gray in 1946.  In 1957 I was confirmed by his son, Bishop Duncan Gray Jr., I went to Sunday School all during grammar school and Jr. High. I served as an acolyte during high school (carried the cross during the choir processional…. sometimes wearing sunglasses). I was not particularly devout, but I considered myself a Christian.  After the Navy and college at Ole Miss, and marriage, my wife and I came back to this same church.  Attended for maybe 30 more years. Our three kids were christened and confirmed there as well. Then one day I looked around my life, and I noticed the Episcopal Church had walked off and left me. I felt abandoned.  Mostly by the National Church, not the local congregation. So we drifted away, feeling empty.

Read what a recent Episcopal priest wrote about one reason for his departure from the church:  “Its stand as an advocate of abortion on demand. Perhaps no single issue reveals the hearts and beliefs of men and women today than their stand on partial birth abortion. I have difficulty differentiating from the Presiding Bishop’s endorsement of partial birth abortion and the picture of a priest standing before an altar driving a dagger into a newborn baby, sacrificing it to the goddess of radical feminism. That we–including myself–weren’t much more outraged by this, shows to me that we have become so accustomed to tolerating abominations in our church that we are all in spiritual danger”.  I couldn’t have stated it as well as he, but I understand his feelings.  I should add that the Episcopal Church is clearly not alone in its adventure into liberalism, and its seeming abandonment of the Word of God.  The priest I cited above had a laundry list of 8 or 10 reasons he was bailing out, I just listed the bullet point on abortion.

Fast forward to about 3 years ago, we discovered the Westminster Presbyterian Church, a PCA church……     full of wonderful people, and a wonderful young pastor, and the Word of God. Now, let me say here, that I experienced the Word of God at the Episcopal Church. Every Sunday, when they read the Collect, the Epistle and the Gospel, I got a little taste. And when we read the general confession, we asked for forgiveness “for the things we have done, and the things we have NOT done”.  Other than that, that pretty much sums up the Word of God in my former Church education. But the General Confession must have made an impression on me, because this whole time I have been at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, I have felt something growing inside me. Something powerful, and awesome.

I think it is mostly the Love of God, and a Love FOR God. It has certainly set me to thinking about many things, especially abortion.  I know that it is dreadfully wrong, of course, but I am wondering why more churches and preachers are not more vocal about the evil it represents.  I think maybe because there are many victims of abortion, and not just the innocent children, God has them in His arms. I mean the mothers, and the doctors, and the other clinic workers, and even Cecile Richards, and the politicians and judges who do nothing.  Don’t they know that Jesus is coming back one day, most likely carrying that “terrible swift sword”, and I have a feeling He’s not going to be happy.

So what do we do about this abortion dilemma?  We have started a dialogue, and that’s good. Many good people are talking about it, working to change hearts, but we have SO MUCH MORE TO DO.

Consider these facts about the abortion problem….  As of today, the “abortion stats” clock shows that since Roe v. Wade in 1973, 58.9 million living human babies have been MURDERED by abortionists (just in the United States – that’s MORE than 20% of the current US population). By the end of next year, 2017, that number will exceed the total of ALL people killed, soldiers AND civilians, worldwide in World War 2 (estimated to be 60 million). Think about that for a moment. Pray about it. We ALL bear some responsibility and ownership in this tragedy, for our silence. It is time to speak out loudly, and stop this INSANITY !

http://www.numberofabortions.com/

htp://www.nrlc.org/uploads/factsheets/FS01AbortionintheUS.pdf

I really think that the vast majority of Americans have truly no idea of the breadth and scope of abortion in this country. Most probably know it exists, and it kills a lot of unborn babies, and that’s pretty much the extent of their understanding. And that they don’t think about it very much at all.  We HAVE to change that. We have to find our voices, and speak for those who cannot speak. We must ask Jesus for OUR forgiveness, for those sins of omission, for the times we have thought but failed to speak. (Remember the General Confession I mentioned earlier)? And having done that, then we must pray for those who have had abortions, and those who helped perform them. And then when we do speak out, we must inform those who will listen about the true size and gravity of the problem. And the KEY to it, I think, is to envelope that dialogue with LOVE. It’s easy for the two sides to call each other stupid idiots, liars, misinformed. We’ve been doing that for the past 20 or 30 years, and look where its gotten us….   nowhere.

The old saying, “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” really works. Yep.  Let’s talk a little softer, with more compassion. Listen as much as we shout.  Try to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  Represent HIM, as we do His work.  And REACH OUT to those who are carrying a LOAD of GUILT, and let them know that there is forgiveness through Christ. That no matter how great the guilt or sin, Jesus has already forgiven us on the Cross.  All one has to do is confess his or her sin, and repent, to receive His grace.

There have been many successes in this battle, and there can be many more if we work with kindness and love.  I hope I have enough years left to see Roe v. Wade, not only struck down, but at the request of a vast majority of us. Opinion is shifting, but still against those who believe in life:

As the 43rd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision passes, the public remains opposed to completely overturning the historic ruling on abortion. More than six-in-ten (63%) say they would NOT like to see the court completely overturn the Roe v. Wade decision, which established a woman’s constitutional right to abortion at least in the first three months of pregnancy. Only about three-in-ten (29%) would like to see the ruling overturned. These opinions are little changed from surveys conducted 10 and 20 years ago.

The rest is up to us.  We can do this, but only through the Love of Christ. Please join me, and help spread the news. Please send the link for this post to your friends… even if they are pro choice. Hearts can be changed, but we will need millions more voices.  PLEASE !

One last thing before I close.  Here is a picture of a “model” of a 12 week fetus. (I have one of an actual 12 week old fetus, but it is too heartbreaking to include here.  The model is anatomically correct in every way in representing a 12 week  (1st trimester) fetus in the womb. This is the age where the usual surgical abortion procedure uses forceps to grasp the limbs of the baby and pull them apart from the torso, then, crush the torso, and finally the head. WHILE THE CHILD IS ALIVE.  The child feels excruciating pain during this procedure, until it dies from the cumulative trauma. Think about this. This is what is going on in the clinics of Planned Parenthood, and others across America.  And at Planned Parenthood the parts collected are sold illegally to various research organizations. This is real, This is abortion today. Over 3000 every single day….   1.06 million every year.  And God is watching every one of them, and every one of us.  I know that I don’t want to have to answer the question,  “What were you thinking?  Why didn’t you speak out”?

12 wk model fetus

 

I URGE you to read the story of Abby Johnson, a young student at Texas A & M, who had two abortions, then married and was recruited to work at Planned Parenthood. She worked her way up to Director of the Clinic, until one day she was asked to assist the doctor with an abortion, and her whole life was changed.  She went from the “dark side” into the light.  Her book is “unPLANNED”, and it is truly a story of hope for the future lives of these innocent children.

Oh, and if you were wondering about my title way up at the top of this piece?  That’s our ONLY solution to this problem (and a few hundred others).  But let’s start with this one.  I think it would please Him the most, if we can just get enough folks working on it, in His name!

 

Thanks for reading

— JOE SEAWRIGHT

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