Friday, February 19, 2010

Something in a Sunday...

The most amazing Beth wrote about music as soul food. Music always has a way of reminding me of a moment. Good, bad and in between. Moments.

I don't recall if I had heard the original Johnny Cash version (written by Kris Kristofferson in 1968) prior to the Shawn Mullens cover--most likely not...fairly sheltered musical childhood. But the first time I heard Shawn Mullens sing "Sunday Morning Coming Down" it took me back to the year I was 19.

And there's nothing short of dieing,
half as lonesome as the sound of the sleeping city sidewalk
and Sunday mornin' comin' down...

In the US less than a year. My freshman year at UNC at Charlotte. Plopped down in the middle of a new town, new country, new culture. Lost on a massive, grand, unfathomable scale. I managed to return to Kenya for Christmas and it only served to magnify the aloneness of the Lonely.

Somehow I convinced a restaurant to hire me--bussing tables since I had absolutly zero work experience. None. Sundays were busy and since I had no where to go, no one to be with on Sundays, I worked. I cleared away the remnants of families enjoying the day together. Laughing and spending time with each other. Wiped off the spills from children's cups. Laid out fresh table clothes and reset placements for the next family. And it compounded the Lonely in such an excruciating way.

Years later the lonely was still there. Another new town, new country, new culture. Choices made and consequences lived through. Every now and then I'd make a small attempt to get back on that path I was supposed to be on. But they were always half-hearted and all on my own.

In the park I saw a daddy
With a laughing little girl that he was swinging.
And I stopped beside a Sunday school
And listened to the songs they were singing.
Then I headed down the street,
And somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringing,
And it echoed through the canyon
Like the disappearing dreams of yesterday.

At some point I accepted the fact that I wasn't going to crawl out of the dark all on my own. The knowledge had been there all along--I am, after all, a preacher's daughter. It wasn't easy--it never is. Wounds heal, but there's always something left behind--if for no other reason than to remind us of our history, where we've been, where we don't wish to return.

I think the ones who say they have no regrets are either ignorant of their past or dishonest. I realize that every choice, every step left it's mark and remove one single moment and I change who I am today. I understand that. I accept that. But I regret the hurt I caused along the way. Most times it was unnecessary--simply me being selfish and self destructive. Remove that and I'm still who I am but there are others who may have one or two less scars. I'd be more at peace that way. Then again, maybe not. Those regrets make me sensitive to hurting others--make me stop and think before I speak sometimes, quick to apologize when I don't.

On a Sunday morning sidewalk,
I'm wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
'Cause there's something in a Sunday
That makes a body feel alone.
And there's nothing short a' dying
That's half as lonesome as the sound
Of the sleeping city sidewalk
And Sunday morning coming down.

The song will always remind me of the dark. And why I chose the light. Again.

The greatest songs transcend generations and make themselves relevant in any age...Kris Kristofferson and the Foo Fighters (this one's for you, Sammy)...


MissKris said...

Dori, this was a beautiful post. And so so true! Music defines so much of me as well. Every time I hear "Play Me" by Neil Diamond, it reduces me to tears. Not that it was one of his greatest...but the memories of where I was at when it came out it evokes...oh my. Too personal to reveal. Thank you for sharing this...and I loved reading the lyrics of this song.

Loretta said...

I have to agree with Kris, this is a beautiful post. I have loved this song since Johnny Cash sang it. As the years went by and hubby was gone so much driving truck it began to mean a lot to me. Hearing it on a Sunday morning can bring me to tears. I all ways miss him more on a Sunday.