Music from Remnants – a Father / Daughter Story

 

 

By: Jana Greene

This evening, before my husband came home from work, I was making a casserole and listening to Jesus music. Let me be perfectly clear here – my musical tastes span nearly EVERY genre.

I don’t ONLY listen to Christian music.

I love Eminem.

Jack White is boss.

I also like some of the Jesus-y music, too.

I like to think that deep, deep down, under the smile lines and cellulite and freckles, I have an inner groupie who is wild and free and would love to follow The Grateful Dead all over Creation or something. But then, reality.

Always reality, right? Such a joy suck.

I love music…all kinds. I see God everywhere and in everyone. In the arts. In the science.  I don’t like using the terms ‘secular’ and ‘religious.’ Honestly, both of those words stick in my throat. Ick! Who the heck do we think we are to deem each person, place, or thing either ‘secular’ or ‘religious.’

The God of the Universe need is not subject to our licensing laws. O.M.G.

Anyway…the chicken. Yes. As I’m putting the casserole into the oven, Chris Tomlin’s “Good, Good Father” comes on Pandora and I stop dead in my tracks. I don’t know what it is about this song – it’s catchy and repetitive, as are many, many contemporary Christian tunes. But Good, Good Father?  It is the Official Anthem for Those Afflicted with Daddy Issues.

The lyrics, oh…the lyrics slay me! Tears spring up every time, every single time – and instantly. I am silly in my oven mitts, dancing circles around my kitchen by myself, but I don’t care. The song has so much depth to me.

Growing up, I didn’t know my dad. As a matter of fact, I’d met him only a smattering of times, even though we lived in the same town. He was a musician – a guitar player. I think my surprise birth threw him a curve ball. He was in the band that became ZZ Top, you see. He could have been a contender, as they say. He was a 19 year old kid when he became a father.

His first love was always music. He was obsessed with it. All my life, I’ve never allowed myself to consider that I got my adoration and encyclopedic knowledge of bands and music from my daddy. Couldn’t be. He was simply not around to influence me. But ah – in the nature vs. nurture debate,, nature is stronger than you’d think. Mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

But just two years ago – nearly 40 years from the last time I’d seen him – I reconnected with my biological father. We enjoyed Mexican food with my half-sister when I visited Houston.

It should have been awkward, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t awkward at all.

These people, my people!  OMG, I HAVE PEOPLE!

I fell in love with my sister anew, too. At the table, I marveled that she, my father and I all  have the same hands! It tickled me to no end to compare them. Puzzle pieces snapping into place neatly and flush with every other piece. Why did I ever doubt God would allow such a reunion in my lifetime?

Ah, I remember. Because I was afraid to be disappointed. That old chestnut.

Fear is a terrible bully, squashing hope to a pulp. Pulpy hope is worse than no hope at all.

Somehow, all through the years,  God had caulked all of my cracks with grace, and I got to hold my earthly father’s hand, so similar to my own.  I think there was a Mariachi band there, but that may just be fantasy on my part. It was a super festive evening.

One dad, two daughters. Just for that night. No pie-in-the-sky expectations of making up for lost time, but instead a tender rekindling of hope for the future.

I had the honor of telling my father that I loved him, and I MEANT it. I also had the honor of telling him that I forgive him, because my Jesus extends so much grace and forgiveness and love my way. I got to call my father “Dad” for the first time in my entire life. I had always called him by his first name “Bob” even as an infant. And you know what? My Daddy says he loves me, too.

And we’re cool, my dad and I.

I’m typing this through literal tears right now. Not because everything wrapped up in a nice, tidy package and VOILA! INSTANT RELATIONSHIP! That’s not what happened at all.

I’m crying because my good, good Heavenly Daddy saw fit to bring some family remnants together. And because my Abba was with me all along, delighting in me, his daughter so wild and free.

Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like

But I’ve heard the tender whispers of love in the dead of night
And you tell me that you’re pleased
And that I’m never alone

You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Oh, and I’ve seen many searching for answers far and wide
But I know we’re all searching
For answers only you provide
‘Cause you know just what we need
Before we say a word.

My love of music? I got it from my dad.

Reality, RIGHT?

Sometimes it’s so sweet.

Here’s the audio for Chris Tomlin’s “Good, Good Father” Enjoy!

CLICK HERE

Save

Save

What David Bowie Taught Me about Living Authentically

What David Bowie Taught Me about Living Authentically

david_bowie_07

I purposefully took my time to write this piece, as I wanted desperately to do the memory of David Bowie justice. Thanks for the memories, O Great One. You will be missed.

By: Jana Greene

In the summer of my 13th year, I fell in love. And the man I fell in love with passed away last week.

I fell HARD, much like the object of my desire who fell to Earth, when I first came to love his music, and again when I found out he passed away.

As a young girl, I’d  heard Space Oddity play on the radio and was completely transfixed. What did I just HEAR? I’d always loved music, but this…this? This was another thing altogether.

From then forward, I was obsessed. Everything Bowie wrote or sang, every cameo he made in a film, every poster featuring his amazing face from obscure and punk-ish Houston area shops, every book written about him – I couldn’t get enough. My bedroom walls were plastered with his beautiful visage.

I was David Bowie two Halloweens in a row. First, Ziggy – and then as Bowie from his Serious Moonlight tour. In retrospect, it seems a little creepy but I promise you, my intentions were purely meant to be the sincerest form of flattery. (There is photo evidence of the latter picture. I think I was 16 years old.)

bowie

By the time Bowie enjoyed another wave of popularity even among my peers with “Let’s Dance” in 1984, I resented that other people were just now appreciating him.

SO mainstream, ya’ll. Have you even HEARD of Ziggy Stardust?

Still, I played the new album into the ground in my Sony Walkman cassette tape player – always with ear phones in so that I could enjoy it as loud as I pleased and as privately as I desired. Rewind, and play again. And again.

When I went to see Bowie in concert on his Serious Moonlight Tour, I’d spent hours fantasizing about meeting him, and – possibly one day, you know, marrying him and enjoying a lifetime soaking of his supreme and inconceivable amazingness. Pretty standard teenage girl stuff, but it didn’t feel contrived.

It felt possible, silly as it seems now.

Bowie made me believe anything was possible.

I would try to get my friends to listen (especially to the old stuff) and they would be like, “Yeah, he’s okay.” And I was like, “ARE YOU NOT HEARING WHAT I AM HEARING!?”

So, when I was growing up, everyone was all Madonna and Duran Duran and Rick Springfield and Pat Benetar, and I’m not dissing any of those artists.

But Bowie? He belonged to ME.

Maybe he belonged to you, too.

So I hope that you understand that –  as I write this post – I am considering the David Bowie who belonged to my heart. He will always be THAT Bowie to me. When I was going through a very tumultuous family life, he was a constant and his music was my therapy.

He taught me so much in those tender years, and I wouldn’t have grown up the same person without those lessons:

He made it okay to feel misunderstood.

The world is not going to understand you. You are entirely too unique to be fully understood, and thank God for that. Bowie did music like nobody had ever done before. NOBODY. He didn’t really care about topping charts or being popular. It was all about the music, man.

Unconventional beauty is FAR superior to conventional beauty.

Pale and pasty? The Thin White Duke fit the bill. His teeth weren’t great. His nose was crooked. But no matter how many ch-ch-ch-changes his persona underwent, I sincerely thought he was the most beautiful man on the planet. You go on ahead and wear makeup and spike your hair and shave off your eyebrows, and dress in an unforgiving leotard, you cool, confident cat, you.

Hunky is B-O-R-I-N-G. Keep your Tiger Beat Magazine hearthrobs. YAWN.

(Oh, and his eyes were two different colors, too. Did I mention that?  BRB…SWOONING.)

Reinventing yourself is perfectly acceptable.

Do it unapologetically, or not at all.

Treat everyone like a rock star.

One of the things that stuck out to me is that he treated reporters interviewing him with the same respect as he might the biggest names in the music industry. He was by almost all accounts, just a really kind person.

A gentleman’s gentleman. Equally at ease performing “Dancing in the Streets” with the venerable Mick Jagger as singing a duet of “Little Drummer Boy” with Bing Crosby.

Be refreshingly positive whenever possible:

“Don’t let me hear you say, life’s taking you nowhere.”  (Golden Years)

Whether I like it or not,  Bowie planted a seed of compassion in my spirit for the androgynous, the sexually confused, the gender benders.

I still don’t really understand transsexualism, etc. I’m just being honest, it’s just not my struggle. But Bowie showed me that it’s essential to love people different than ourselves. His sexuality, which seemed to morph as often as his persona, just simply was NOT THE MAIN THING about Bowie. He was so much more. I still carry that seed of compassion, and I’m grateful that he taught me how to germinate it.
You can love, admire and respect people who you don’t understand AT ALL. It’s just that simple.

Don’t let anyone put you in a box.

Bowie Culture is that it’s okay to reinvent yourself 1,000 times. You don’t owe anyone an explanation either. Switch it up and let that freak flag fly.

Be the best WHATEVER you authentically ARE.

“And these children that you spit on, as they try to change their world, they’re immune to your consultations. They’re quite aware of what they’re going through.” (Changes)

A better set of lyrics about the angst of youth I’ve never seen, and likely never will.

It’s okay to be a little weird:

Did you ever feel like the weirdest kid on the block growing up? Me too. Bowie taught me that we’re all weird in our own ways. And that it’s pretty wonderful, actually.

Addiction is overcome-able.

This lesson would come later in my life and in his. Like a good friend that you keep up through the grapevine, I’d heard that he’d conquered an addiction to cocaine in the ’80s. While not surprising that a great talent did battle with a drug (creative people often do) he inspired to to believe I may conqueror my own alcoholism one day. And I did. I’ll always appreciate his candor in owning his disease and strength in overcoming it.

And lastly, being a spiritual Seeker is an admirable pursuit.

Although Bowie experimented with all kinds of spirituality, it seems he camped out in Christianity, which gives me so much happiness, being of the faith myself. I can’t wait to see him in The Kingdom, maybe share a cup o’ Joe with him, and tell him what a difference he made in the life of one little girl.

CLICK HERE FOR STORY ABOUT BOWIE’S SPIRITUALITY

Rest in Peace, David Bowie.
May we remember that we can be heroes, just for one day.
Why can’t we give love
Cause love’s such an old fashioned word
and love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure
Under pressure
Pressure”
–  “Under Pressure” (compilation with the great Freddy Mercury)

 

Sinner’s Creed – Review of a Rock-and-Roll Frontman’s Redemption Tale

Sometimes happiness comes wrapped in an Amazon box!

Hello, dear readers.

I hope that you will follow this link to read my blog in Wilmington FAVS to check out my book review of Scott Stapp’s “Sinner’s Creed”, which came out October 2nd. The book combines three of my favorite things – faith, music and recovery – and if you are interested in any of those elements, I highly recommend it! God bless you and yours 🙂

http://wilmingtonfavs.com/blogs/jana-greene/sinners-creed-scott-stapps-rock-roll-and-redemption

To Carry a Tune (or: There’s a hole in my bucket)

Beach Buckets (photo by Jana Greene)

By: Jana Greene

The speakers on stage – as big as house doors – pump the baseline so hard that I can feel my ribs vibrate with each beat.  Always a sucker for percussion, I am bouncing slightly with each perfect, deliberate fall of the sticks upon snare. Melodies, streaming from the lead guitar, make me move against my will in the way that only a middle-aged white woman can manage; with certain awkwardness, but I don’t care. Move anyway, my spirit tells me, and I obey because sometimes my spirit knows what to do.

And then she sings.

Her voice, raised in worship, is flawless. It rises and falls in perfect synchronization with the music and it doesn’t struggle with highs or lows but surfs on the notes, catching the perfect wave every time.  She is worshiping God with all she has and I know that He is pleased.  He created her ability to sing with seeming ease and share it with the world, and she has mesmerized us all with her gifts.  With her obedience.

My voice has the potential to traumatize…not mesmerize.

When I get to heaven, I want to be able to sing like she does. Or like Queen Latifa.  Or maybe Joss Stone.  But who knows? Perhaps  by that time I’ll be at enough peace with my own gifts to keep from envying those of others. I’m not proud that I sometimes covet the talents of others, but hat covetness burrows into my mind  before I have the chance to rebuke it at times.

Music is one of my very favorite ways in which God spoils us all. It was created by Him to give us another tool of praise  (and sometimes just to get jiggy with it) and I wish I was as good at making it as I am to listening to it. I know God doesn’t mind that I sing off-key, but I do.

Sharing our talents can be a daunting task. We don’t get to choose the gifts we are given, but we do have the choice to use what we have – or to keep it to ourselves.  I know he truth: that the Singer at my church works on her music often, that her synchronization is perfected not only by gifting, but by practice. Effortlessness is not what she strives for; worship is.  Each of the musicians in our church’s worship band has mind-blowing talent, which they each use every week to bless others.  After Sunday services,  I have to fight the urge to corner each of them and say, “Do you have any IDEA how AMAZING you are?”  (I don’t want to be creepy about it.  Just appreciative.)

We all have different gifting, different processes. God is pleased when we use our talents to bring other hurting people to Him, no matter what that talent may be.  And those “what if’s”?

What if I use my talents and fail, and make a fool of myself?

What if it’s just too hard?

Move anyway, my spirit tells me.  You’ve been a fool for much lesser things. And I listen.

Because even though I cannot carry a tune in a bucket, sometimes my spirit really does know what to do.