Saturday, December 24, 2016

Wilbo Writes a Friend as He Reflects Upon the Lyrics of "Mary, Did You Know"?

Since it is almost New Years Eve and time to make resolutions, time for a return to writing. I just listened to Pentatonics singing their version of "Mary, Did You Know". I have loved the lyrics since I heard Ruth Bloomquist sing them at the Howmet Theater for Christmas. It was at least four years ago. These are the kind of lyrics I like to look up, just to see how the words made that leap from text to song. The following summer, I dropped into a free concert at Maranatha, the Christian retreat south of the Mona Lake Channel. I knew something was up when I heard how the pianist knew how to play the keys of that concert grand with that something extra. He played piano for Vince Gill and the Time-Jumpers, so he was a Nashville level pianist. The man on banjo and guitar was Buddy Green, and he had a special relationship with "Mary Did You Know". The lyrics showed up in a note from his friend, freshly written, and Buddy Green set them to music. Some writers love those moments when the source of great language is present, and I am one of those writers. I go out of my way to hear poets and writers read their work. Not only to be inspired and see how the magic happens, but also to show respect and render support. For example, Mary Carr, author of the Liars Club, is coming to town this winter and I am making plans to hear her. That's why I went to see Dennis Lehane when he read in October. I chickened out on the meet and greet at Hennessey's after the show. I like to give talent some space.
The early writers are always the most interesting. Maybe you will write a lyric as likely to endure as 'Mary, Did You Know'? And when we talk endurance, it's not the endurance of marble, which must in time wear down. Anyone who has seen old tombstones knows that even marble wears down. This is endurance that renews itself each time a new voice sings the lyric, each time a composer arranges a composition for the lyric.
My friend, do you know this could be the fate of your writing?

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