A cricket tour, but more than that.

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I never got this song at first. I only heard the surface story: about a city. I neglected to listen to the deeper story; about being a father.

We went on a cricket tour to Taunton, Ben and I. Or to be more accurate, he went on a cricket tour and I went to watch. I guess he did well with the opportunities he was given. He didn’t take loads of wickets, but he wasn’t slogged, he asked many questions of good batsmen and he was a presence in the field (ok; I am biased). As a teenage legspinner learning your craft, that is more than enough at this stage.

The longer the cricket tour progressed, the more that this song came to mind (I can think of few significant life occasions and the concomitant reflections that are not given greater depth by the addition of a Martyn Joseph song, but that is a story for another day…). We weren’t just on a tour, but we were living life together; sharing questions, enthusiasms and humour.

Deeper than that, I was interpreting life experiences that he was having and listening to his stories. And I was realising that moments like this – ‘this is one day of our lives’ are what you live for; the world becomes a stiller and lovelier place.

Leaving your tribe:2

And so you leave…and the air is cold, yet somehow fresher.

Who am I? What am I to be?

I need a new group to give me identity.

No: you don’t- you are part of church and you are you- you have an identity and you are made in God’s image.

You don’t need anything else.

You don’t need a ‘tribe’; just the courage to engage with people for who they are, whenever they are. You find prayer/support wherever it is. You no longer have a label you cling to- you feel free.

That is enough.

This is one of my favourite Martyn Joseph songs. His songs have sustained me for years. I have hosted him twice in this village. The last time he came, he played this song for me: it nearly finishes whenever I hear it.

Here’s to ‘exile’…

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Friday Music

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Regular readers of this blog will know how the music of this man has often been a guide to me. I have been privileged to host him in concert twice and to see him many more times.

This song has been lifting me up and filling me with hope these last couple of weeks.

Friday New Year Music

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I got this album for Christmas.

Martyn Jospeh has so often been a touchstone for me: able to sing songs that recognise the pain in me (to paraphrase The Verve) when no one else could. I am fortunate enough to have seen him around a dozen times, have met him and have hosted 2 gigs by him.

This song is partly my story but also my hope for this year.

Beautiful….

There’s still a lot of love round here.

That is a line from a Martyn Joseph song. I am too into his music at the moment. It is a track I/we have played a lot in the last few weeks. It speaks of journey/breakdown and change, but with the idea that you are not on your own.

..and that is what I have found this last week or so…so thank you those who:-

..have been gracious

..have said congratulations

…have cried

…have pressed ‘like’

…left comments

…or said nice things.

And if I have broken eye contact or shuffled around like an adolescent it is because I am moved/cannot cope with tears or nice things being said.

Thank you: there is still a lot of love round here. And I am fortunate.

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Friday Music

The gig last week was amazing and Martyn Joseph practically invited himself back to our humble village hall.

For me, the simple adjective ‘amazing’ does not say enough. It was a key time for me anyway: I knew that 2 days later I would be able to say publicly that I was moving into Mental Health Chaplaincy & that the shape of my life was to change dramatically. I have said- ad nauseum- that out of the many, many albums I own, Martyn Joseph’s music has often been the music that has soundtracked those times of transition and questioning.

To be in the presence of so many people amongst a huge audience that have marked my life over the past 30 years or so was lovely: a combination of old friends and new friends- a reminder that I don’t take this step alone.

Then to have Martyn play a song for me- I had to host him (dreams do come true...) so I told him that this was a weekend of transition for me, was incredible. This was the song (Brothers in Exile) which is almost autobiographical for me at the moment:-

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And in case that does not work, here is another song he played which also speaks to me right now:

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Great memories… But yes, as was said from the stage, one reviewer years back said that his songs make Leonard Cohen sound like Julie Andrews….

 

Friday Music

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Canterbury has a population that is comfortably 70 times bigger than the village I live in. It also has tourists, students and a wide catchment area for people who watch cultural events.

Last week Martyn Joseph’s tour was in Canterbury. The number of people who saw him there was about 50% less than will see him in this village tonight. Partly that is a phenomenon of smaller communities; the connections are greater and people are more likely to come and watch something as a friend has recommended it. A large part of that is because he was so good last year: our ticket sales have increased.

I still cannot believe my good fortune: you don’t get to meet your idols- I have, twice this year in this village. A chance dare by a friend 3 years ago came off and I am hosting the largest ever solo gig in this village. Someone who is played on national radio and who sometimes plays in front of 1000s.

The numbers don’t matter so much for me though. Out of the many albums I own, it has often been his songs that have been there for me in times of questioning and transition, giving me just enough grace to keep going. It helps that he is such a good performer.

I am beyond happy and content.

Some tickets still available!

Friday Music

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During the last 12 months I have seen and spoken to two of my musical idols at gigs in this village. I have booked both gigs. I am so chuffed: if I had a bucket list, this would be something that would be on it.

Music has gives me hope: it is never just sound or something to anaesthetise. At its best it helps to heal the pain or let me know I am not alone. Martyn Joseph’s songs, amongst the over 10,000 songs that I own have done that for me for over 25 years. I found his music expressed questions and vocalised doubts at a time when few others were doing that.

This gig is coming at a key time for me when much is changing and will change: his music has often been the soundtrack to my life at those times.

He is arriving in this village a week today & tickets are up compared to last year: it is going to be a pretty full village hall. Tickets from me or http://www.wegottickets.com/event/279138

Brothers (and sisters) in exile

I am having a bit of a Martyn Joseph episode at the moment.

Let me explain: I am not a one artist person: I own over 800 albums & my tastes are beyond catholic. I am always open to a new sound; usually one that strives for honesty and authenticity. However, it always seems that the songs of Martyn Joseph have been the ones that have been there for me at key times of questioning, doubts and transition.

I made a Martyn Joseph selection CD for a friend who lent me a walk book (I take long walks at such times as well) & made a copy for myself. On it I put, if not his best, the songs that move me the most. Often it moved me to tears. At least a couple of songs feel painfully autobiographical.

I have one song on this blog tomorrow, but here is another one. It is called ‘Brothers in exile’. It is a lyrically rich and elusive paean to losing familiar patterns, recognising that you cannot go back to old ways that once nurtured and valuing those souls who are journeying alongside you in ‘exile’.

I have met many like that in the last few years, both within and without the Christian community. It is most often their company that I value the most.

This stanza resonates most with me right now:-

And ok, it’s a cheat as I only tend to put videos here on a Friday, but here you go:-

So where will we go, who will we be?

I can’t say for certain but I think you’ll agree

All the storms we’ve endured on this uncommon sea

Have left us brothers in exile

And ok, it’s a cheat as I only tend to put videos here on a Friday, but here you go:-

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Or the album version:-

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Friday Music

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I need some levity after many of my posts this week.

‘You are always so miserable’: sometimes someone who is trying to be honest can be choked off with a few words like that.

Where better to turn than Martyn Joseph (all time musical hero and live in my village on November 21st- for the 2nd time!)? Actually, there are a lot of happier songs than his; although he has started to cover ‘Happy’….

I tried to search for his cover of the old hymn ‘O love that wilt not let me go’, but I couldn’t find it.  It is a pity as he sings it with feeling and depth. I am holding on to the line: ‘I trace the rainbow through the rain.’

Instead I hit on this: a favourite that always moves me to tears, yet gives me hope. I was in the audience for this.