Category Archives: Songs


As summer transitions to fall and then an ultimate winter, the days shorten, and as a result my early morning runs now begin in darkness. It is a bit harder to get out the door, but to be candid, the stress of leading through this pandemic confounds my sleep so that it really isn’t that hard to get up and moving anymore.

Recently, I stretched and took off, aging joints creaking as they now do, and jogged down the one-way exit road of our condominium complex toward the freedom of the unlit neighborhood streets. As I did, in that strange sensation when you are arguably awake and seem to be the only one, I had an oddball thought: What if a vehicle turned down this one-way road my direction in the early morning darkness?

Two seconds later, a small pickup truck turned down the one-way road my direction in the early morning darkness.

Hand to heart, stack of bibles, and all that.

I moved over easily, so it wasn’t the danger of the moment, but for the duration of the three-mile run in the shadowy stillness I kept thinking: Did that just happen? Am I awake? And the craziest thought: Did my mind just create that pickup truck?

I concluded that just might be my luck, that maybe we all get one moment in life when our thoughts create something out of thin air, and I wasted mine on a cheap pickup truck turning down a one-way road in the dark.

My favorite musician, John Fogerty, recorded a live album the year my youngest daughter was born that he titled, Premonition. In the title track he sang:

I got a feelin’ way down inside
I can’t shake it, no matter how I try
You can’t touch it, you just know
The earth is gonna shake and the wind is gonna blow
Well that’s all right
This premonition is killin’ me
But that’s all right
I must be crazy, I must be seein’ things

I don’t know if anyone saw this year coming, but every part of it has left us all a little jumpy about what will come next. All I have to say is that as we run ahead in such darkness, watch out for pickup trucks.

Mother’s Smile

I live one mile from the office, so it almost isn’t worth the trouble to drive. But in August it is always worth the trouble. Turning on the radio, however, does seem a little silly. I only have time for one song at the most.

On an early morning several days ago I went to the trouble of turning on Sirius XM satellite radio for some reason and chose a station called “The Coffee House.” The station seemed right for an early morning just for the name itself, but I like it any time of day for its soothing, acoustic music.

The song that played immediately was unfamiliar, and in about two seconds it had me. The title was “Mother’s Smile” by an artist named Keelan Donovan. It was only a mile to the office, but my goodness I had gone on a journey by the time I got there.

A couple of mornings later I chose The Coffee House again, and somehow that exact song came on once more , and the combination of the coincidence and the content took my breath away.

My mother died eight years ago today. I’m not sure how satellites work and what all goes on up in the space we call the heavens, but somehow leading up to this special day I was greeted twice on early mornings with these opening lyrics—and I smiled, too.

My mother’s smile
Looks the same as it did when I was a child
It’ll stay right here with me for a while
My mother’s smile
Oh, oh, how I miss you

Father and Daughters


A lifetime ago now, when my youngest daughter was in kindergarten, I took her to the theater to see The Wild Thornberrys Movie. I don’t remember much about the movie, which is too bad since I now realize that the movie was set in Kenya, a place on the other side of the planet that that daughter and I would later visit together. But I know that we were at the movie because it featured an original song by Paul Simon that stole my heart. That song was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe, and it should have won all the awards if you ask me.

Simon wrote the song, Father and Daughter, for his daughter, Lulu, who was seven at the time. There’s a decent chance he doesn’t know that he wrote it for me, too.

Seventeen years later we just completed our first family Thanksgiving in Nashville, and both of my sweet daughters, adults now, flew in to spend several precious days with us. I am beyond proud of them, and my love and admiration for those two young women knows no bounds.

As a dad you wish you could find a few words to express your heart to your sweet daughters—what you wish for them, what you believe about them, what you would do for them, and your very best advice. But there aren’t really words for those achings of your heart.

Mr. Simon gave it a really nice shot, though, and I am grateful.

If you leap awake in the mirror of a bad dream
And for a fraction of a second, you can’t remember where you are
Just open your window and follow your memory upstream
To the meadow in the mountain where we counted every falling star

I believe the light that shines on you will shine on you forever
And though I can’t guarantee there’s nothing scary hiding under your bed
I’m gonna stand guard like a postcard of a golden retriever
And never leave ‘til I leave you with a sweet dream in your head

I’m gonna watch you shine
Gonna watch you grow
Gonna paint a sign
So you’ll always know
As long as one and one is two
There could never be a father
Who loved his daughter more than I love you

Trust your intuition
It’s just like goin’ fishin’
You cast your line and hope you get a bite
But you don’t need to waste your time
Worryin’ about the marketplace
Try to help the human race
Struggling to survive its harshest night

I’m gonna watch you shine
Gonna watch you grow
Gonna paint a sign
So you’ll always know
As long as one and one is two
There could never be a father
Who loved his daughter more than I love you


Chama Chama


Our eight-person team from the University Church of Christ in Malibu recently spent two weeks in Kenya on a mission trip and experienced the full spectrum of emotions, which most definitely included gut-busting laughter. One of the chief causes of hilarity was a popular Swahili song titled, Chama Chama (translated, Party, Party). It is unbelievably long (fourteen minutes) and the cheesiest kind of romantic, which is even funnier when the sultry voice transitions from Swahili to broken English, e.g., “I can’t get off my eyes from your photos.”

One day we were touring Mathare Valley, a famed slum in Nairobi, and were crammed into a tiny shanty when surprisingly Chama Chama blasted across a neighbor’s radio. Our host was confused by our initial reaction and then burst into laughter when we burst into song.

I took pictures and video clips from our trip and assembled a video to chronicle our trip—the sessions with the graduates, the home and work visits, the safari, and the friendships, both old and new. Of course the video is fourteen minutes long, and of course Chama Chama is the soundtrack. I doubt anyone beyond the eight of us who were there really want to watch, but it might be worth it just to join the Chama Chama phenomenon that is now sweeping Southern California.

Everyday People

I have often wondered what it would have been like to be an adult in the 1960s, what with the crazy headlines of war, protests, riots, assassinations, and struggles for civil rights.  Half a century later, my imagination doesn’t have to work very hard.

In 1968, Sly and the Family Stone released the song “Everyday People” as a call for peace.  Recently, the great organization, Playing for Change, released a timely rendition of the classic song featuring celebrities and school children.

Today, I share it with hope, and for hope.  Hope that I somehow correctly embedded the video so that it shows up on the blog and in the automatic emails, but more importantly, hope that we might learn to live together.  “And so on and so on and scooby dooby doo.”


Your Time Will Come

A friend introduced me to the music of Johnny Clegg several years ago, and I am eternally grateful.  Clegg’s official website describes him as a “dancer, anthropologist, singer, songwriter, academic, activist and French knight” and that he “campaigned against the injustice of apartheid South Africa and been instrumental in putting the new South Africa on the map as a cultural ambassador.”  Pretty cool, right?

Clegg performed at Pepperdine last weekend, and one of my favorite moments in the concert came when Clegg referred to Nelson Mandela’s world-changing endurance to introduce the song “Your Time Will Come.”  Clegg said Mandela taught us that to live with such patience you must believe that everything will be alright in the end, and if it isn’t, then it isn’t the end.

The lyrics to “Your Time Will Come” are mostly in Zulu with an English ending.  Since my Zulu is a little rusty, here are the lyrics fully translated into English:

You were lying, do not tell lies.
You told lies, trying to mislead me,
so that I would give up my faith and hope.
That is what you said — you said that our future is hopeless,
our tomorrow is bleak, you were lying,
trying to mislead us.
No can do! We will never relinquish our faith.

Everything will be all right —
It’s just when this will be, we cannot know.
Everything will come right, I tell you friend.
Do not throw away your hope.
Me holding on one side, you holding on the other side
together we will pull through,
you and me, you and me.

My spirits are down,
I say to you child of my aunt, you have caused me great fear.
You told lies, trying to mislead me,
so that I would give up my faith and hope.
That is what you said — you said that our future is hopeless,
our tomorrow is bleak, you were lying,
trying to mislead us.
No can do! We will never relinquish our faith.


Everything will be all right —
It’s just when this will be, we cannot know.
Everything will come right, I tell you friend.

It will be all right my friend, I’m telling you.
Come true courage, for it is you who gives
life and takes it away,
me on this side, you on the other,
we will hold it together.
Don’t listen to the lies of my compatriot.
We will be victorious in the end, just you and me,
just you and me.

I saw the Berlin Wall fall
I saw Mandela walk free
I saw a dream whose time has come
Change my history — so keep on dreaming.

Dream on dreamer, dreamer.

In the best of times and in the worst of times
gotta keep looking at the skyline
not at a hole in the road
Your time will come, sister, your time will come
nobody’s gonna rush history, we have to ease it along
— just ease it along.

Indomitable Freedom

post1Christmas added several items to my sports movie collection, and the first new flick into the DVD player was The Hurricane, a 1999 movie featuring Denzel Washington as Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a boxer and convict whose triple murder conviction was set aside after decades in prison due to the love and dedication of others. It was Rocky meets Shawshank Redemption meets To Kill a Mockingbird, which is quite the inspirational combination.

The most memorable scene occurs just prior to Carter’s exoneration when he and his young friend, Lesra, have a brief conversation through prison bars. Carter utters the most famous line in the movie: “Hate put me in prison; love’s gonna bust me out.” His young friend brazenly-yet-facetiously responds, “Just in case love doesn’t; I’m gonna bust you out of here.” Carter erupts in laughter, and then, tenderly, reaches through the prison bars to wipe tears from his young friend’s face, and says, softly, “You already have.”


This entire blog is predicated on the idea that humanity can be liberated from any circumstance that aims to imprison us—that in our hearts, we can rise above anything. I believe that in the depths of my soul. Argue with me all you want.

But even those who buy the premise may want to argue with me on how we rise above our circumstances, but as we square off, know that my contention is that it is love that busts us out.

Hate imprisons. Love liberates.


• Click HERE to see Bob Dylan in 1975 singing his protest song, “The Hurricane,” while Carter sat in prison (and remained there for another decade).

Be the Best You Can

blog pic

Stephanie Brown is the type of person who gives you a gift for her graduation. She did some great cyber-sleuthing and discovered a blog that I had for many years titled, “Minutes to Memories,” from one of my all-time favorite songs and gave me the beautiful artwork pictured above with the lyrics from the chorus.  This is now the first thing people see when they enter our home.

Minutes to Memories was not one of John Mellencamp’s greatest hits, so I considered it a long shot this week when I attended my first Mellencamp concert. But the universe smiled my direction, and the third song in the set was Minutes to Memories, the song that for nearly three decades has pulled me out of many a pity party.

Mellencamp is a terrific artist and storyteller, and this song in particular draws me into a world where I can imagine having a talk with my dad. Having missed that opportunity for over two decades now, I love the song even more.

Here are the lyrics. I hope you enjoy it, too.

Minutes to Memories (John Mellencamp)

On a Greyhound thirty miles beyond Jamestown
He saw the sun set on the Tennessee line
Looked at the young man who was riding beside him
He said I’m old, kind of worn out inside

I worked my whole life in the steel mills near Gary
My father before me, I helped build this land
Now I’m seventy-seven and with God as my witness
I earned every dollar that passed through my hands

My family and friends are the best things I’ve known
Through the eye of the needle I’ll carry them home

Rain hit the old dog in the twilight’s last gleaming
He said, “Son it sounds like rattling old bones”
This highway is long but I know some that are longer
By sun up tomorrow I guess I’ll be home

Through the hills of Kentucky across the Ohio River
The old man kept talking ’bout his life and his times
He fell asleep with his head against the window
He said an honest man’s pillow is his peace of mind

This world offers riches and riches grow wings
I don’t take stock in those unsettled things

Days turn to minutes and minutes to memories
Life sweeps away the dreams we have planned
You are young and you are the future
So suck it up and tough it out, and be the best you can

The old man had a vision, it was hard for me to follow
I do things my way, and I pay a high price
When I think back now on the old man and the bus ride
Now that I’m older I can see he was right

Another hot one out on highway eleven
This is my life, it’s what I chose to do
There’s no free rides. No one said it’d be easy
The old man told me this my son I’m telling it to you

Days turn to minutes and minutes to memories
Life sweeps away the dreams we have planned
You are young and you are the future
So suck it up and tough it out, and be the best you can.

Still Looking Up to Dad

Me and DadMe & Dad (June 1972)

It has been over twenty years since I had a father to call on Father’s Day weekend. Some of you can relate; others cannot. Sadly, some don’t have much of a father to call in the first place; others do (or did).

A few years ago I ran across this song by country music legend, Chet Atkins. On some level I think everyone can appreciate it. I especially do this weekend.

[Click HERE if the video doesn’t come through for email subscribers.]