Store front church, N.E. Oklahoma County, Spring, 2015

The title comes from something that guy Milton wrote in Paradise Lost. I think this is oddly alluring statement if you think about it and I have. To me it seems like Milton is talking about living by ones’ own rules rather than accepting societies’ rule without question. Maybe not, but that’s how I’m interpreting it and it is also the way I try to live.

The world demands conformity and I am far more conformist than I think a lot of people give me credit for but neither conformity or what people think of me matters very much.

I just don’t care too much about too many people’s opinions about how my behavior measures up to very many people’s expectations. I am what I am and that’s all I can be. That’s a problem in a world that demands conformity. Everybody has their own cross to bear and perhaps this is mine.

What’s that have to do with this music? Here’s how:

Ed Cotton and I recorded these songs April 2013 in preparation for the Southern Gospel act we devised for the Jax Beach Blues Festival. We had less than two hours of actual rehearsal for the show since he’s in Jacksonville and I’m in Oklahoma City. We overcame this limitation with sheer reckless disregard for our dignity and a few doses of brown liquor to keep our feet held down to the stage.

I like how it worked out. It wasn’t slick but we rocked it natural, walked on water, fed the multitudes, and achieved total transcendental consciousness. I think the audience went along with us and if they didn’t, I’m the only one in the audience I really care about pleasing and I came away spirit filled and sanctified.

What I’m trying to say is I had a really good time

I grew up going to a medium sized Southern Baptist church and loved the gospel quartets that the church hosted during revivals and other events.The music has a mark on me that’s as deep and permanent as the six scars I carry on my face from childhood. Regardless, I love Southern Gospel, Spirituals, and the traditional blues and folk music that came from the same cultural and ethnic traditions.

This sort of music speaks to my soul in the deepest way possible and that is as close to God as I’ll likely ever feel. Considering that my use of the word “God” in this context is amorphous and mercurial causes me to land on people’s prayer lists more often that they’d ever be willing to admit. If I were a diciple, I’d be Thomas because nothing seems fixed in this world. When I was a child, I saw things as a child and now that I’m a man-child, I see things differently. However, religion seeks certitude and that’s a quality in mighty short supply to me most of the time. If folks need to see me as a blasphemer or heretic, that’s perfectly OK with me. I see myself as a person who loves what is more than what could be, should be, or might be a pie in the sky when you die.

If folks find my true love for Southern and Folk Gospel ironic or somehow not entirely sincere,  I don’t know how to counter that perception. I’ve included gospel and spirituals in shows for a long time because when the spirit calls, I answer. The spirit might call for AC/DC or it might call for Mahalia Jackson. Its the same to me. Gospel and Folk is a dominant sound in my head no matter what I’m playing.

What I most definitely am not is an evangelist. I can’t explain anything further than to say “nothing sits like this rock sits” and,  “I am as God made me” like a wiser man than me once said.

Even though other people’s opinions aren’t on my list of priorities in many situations, I have to admit that I take it personally if I am cast as Satan in anybody’s conversion testimony. For the record, I am Satan in one quasi-evangelist’s testimony and I didn’t take it personally. However, I researve the right to take offense in the future if I decide to.

If I’m a bad influence, it’s mostly only to myself and I’m not so bad most of the time.