"It's so hard to say goodbye"
Poco allegretto

"You've got to take this flight"

It's post number 31 in my cd collection series.

In the summer of 2001 I was twenty-seven years old, and I was a brand new youth minister at Rolling Hills Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  For my first Wednesday night activity I wanted to talk about faith as a journey and decided to play some popular music that helped to convey that theme.  I opened with "Airline to Heaven." 

Two of the greatest albums of my young adulthood were Mermaid Avenue volumes 1 and 2.  Recorded by the British singer Billy Bragg and the American folk rock band Wilco, the songs were unrecorded Woody Guthrie lyrics.  The albums are an incredible artistic collaboration.


Take "Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key" for instance.  For one, that's an incredible song title.  An incredible English clause.  Then listen to what the musicians do with the song. 

 Though these albums remain in regular rotation in my listening, I associate them most closely with the turn of the millennium and the period of my life when I was first working with youth.  I associate them with Tim Youmans, particularly, and our friendship.  I'm pretty sure I had the albums before Tim and I met.  They may have been part of how we related to one another.  

Tim came to Shawnee near the end of the 1990's to be the youth minister at First Baptist Church.  About that time I was getting bored at church and my previous leadership role of directing the college program.  Tim enticed me to do something I never thought I'd do--work with youth.  Part of what intrigued me was a different way of doing youth ministry than what I'd seen growing up.  Tim's approach was thoughtful, edgy, and incorporated great music.  

Guthrie's lyrics speak in the grassroots, populist, evangelical religious language of Oklahoma, while proclaiming how liberal the gospel is.  For example, from the song "Blood of the Lamb:"

Have you learned to love your neighbors? 
Of all colors, creeds and kinds? 
Are you washed in the blood of the lamb? 

I've learned to love my peoples 
Of all colors, creeds, and kinds 
I'm all washed in the blood of the lamb 

I am washed, yes I'm washed 
I am washed in the blood 
I'm all washed in the blood of the lamb 

Or the catchy "Christ for President:" 

 These songs were a great soundtrack as my experience in full-time ministry made me more progressive and liberal.


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