Saturday, August 24, 2019

The Hoosier Clockmaker

The Hoosier Clockmaker (mp3) (pdf)

Today is my father's 100th birthday. He's no longer around in person but I encounter the things he made every day. Earl Goodin wasn't one for displays of emotion so I'll keep this brief.

My sister, Sherri, and I were unbelievably lucky in the parent lottery. I, of course, didn't always realize that as a child or young man. Dad and I had our share of misunderstandings and disagreements but it's easy to see in hindsight how fortunate I was.

I don't remember Dad ever missing a Little League or a football game. He was there pretty much every day until I went off to college and then he was always available when I'd come home. (This is Dad's birthday but he would want me to point out that our Mom, Rosie, was practically a saint and he would give her all the credit.)

When I turned to music for meaning in life he was supportive but not wildly encouraging. I can only imagine the reaction he had to the many nights we held band practice in our basement or in the garage. I knew not to play the radio or my record player too loud but he must have endured what seemed like endless hours of foreign sounds coming through the walls.

Dad was a builder and a maker of things. During the day, for money, he made automobiles for the Ford Motor Company. He worked 30 years on the line. No one was ever more proud to be a member of the UAW than Earl Goodin.

At home he built things constantly and he had a fine woodshop in the garage (the garage that he built himself). I know that he was disappointed when I didn't follow in those footsteps but he also enjoyed doing that work in solitude. When he was in his prime I believe that he enjoyed nothing more than repairing a watch or building a clock. Most of those watches are no longer ticking but several of those clocks are still keeping time.

My outlet was making music and, eventually, songs and tunes. I know that he was proud of my meager ability and was happy for me to have found such pleasure, and some recognition, in my work. So today's simple little jig is called "The Hoosier Clockmaker" in recognition of the life and memory of Dad.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Port William Sunrise

Port William Sunrise (mp3) (pdf)

Back on the morning of August 5 I was sitting here at my desk doodling on the mandolin. A simple little tune started raising it's hand (pick me! pick me!) and, even though it wasn't exciting or particularly innovative, I was enjoying letting it play out. Then a Voice from across the hall called out: "Did you know that today is Wendell Berry's 85th birthday?"

Wherever tunes come from, whatever they are for (assuming, of course, that there is any meaning in anything; but that's a different conversation) I immediately knew that I now had a tune titled "Port William Sunrise."

If you are a reader of Wendell Berry's poetry, novels and essays I suspect that this connection alone will help you enjoy this very plain and simple bit of music. If you haven't yet encountered this great writer's literary work take some time and get to know him. If you try one poem or story or essay and you think you can put him aside in a safely labeled category you have only scratched the surface. Life and people are complicated and complex. Nature has much to teach us and we ignore her lessons at our peril. Wendell Berry's work and perspective can help us see things, both beautiful and challenging, that can change and enrich our lives.

These last few weeks have been full of wonderful music-making opportunities. I have enjoyed playing with some of my best music friends while, hopefully, playing some good notes that have contributed to a variety of community events. Because I've been busier than usual I have added a "Gig Calendar" to this blog, largely to help me keep better track of what's coming next.

In the last 8 days I had the chance to play with Foot-Notes for a dance at the Highlandville Schoolhouse, with the Minnesota Mandolin Orchestra in Edina, MN, with Erik Sessions for a great group of friends at Toppling Goliath in Decorah and, last night, with Pat, Tim and Ted at Tapestry Folkdance Center in Minneapolis. Now I get a few days off from my "summer tour" and I'll try and catch up on some of my other music projects, like today's post.

As Wendell Berry said in his poem "The Wild Geese",

And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.

So ends today's sermon....

(P.S. The photo is of Lake Superior at Grand Marais in August 2012, not the Kentucky River.)
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