Random adventures through my life... in all their glory and splendor.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

All My Tears Be Washed Away

Mark's this guy who, for whatever reason, loved to hear me play at The Brick. Considering I'm just a dude with a guitar who plays for an hour on the weekends, he made an incredible effort to come out and listen to me on a regular basis. He also continuously tipped generously even after we had established a friendship, which in my experience, is unheard of.
I heard an interview with Bono a long time ago where he said (in so many words) that the problem with Christian music is that Christians don't want to write about or listen to conflict. But in order to write a song or tell a story with a resolution, you need a conflict to resolve from. I still find this true. At least most churches don't mince words about it any more. The category is "Praise and Worship." See? No need to dwell on hardship, or problems, or pain, we'll just jump straight to praise and worship. There are exceptions to the rule, of course. Death, which Christians are supposed to celebrate on one level, is inherently conflicting. I think that's why I am drawn to the genre I oh-so-cleverly call 'Christian Death Songs.' There's a bunch that put happy tunes to fairly morbid topics, like "I'll Fly Away" or "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" that sound like a great time until you listen to the lyrics. And a couple that are appropriately somber. I think "Amazing Grace" nails the right tone with the right words. But there are even fewer that just admit that death sucks for everyone but the dead. The ones I'm familiar with take the viewpoint of the dead trying to reassure the living. I like those. I appreciate the conflict. Mark liked them too. He would joke with me about how I should do a two hour set of death and break-up songs while people would relax, enjoy their coffee, and then slit their wrists.

I found out my friend Mark died of a heart attack this morning. I had seen him a week ago at karaoke and been in contact with him a couple times since then, but nothing connected. About noon today, I got a phone call asking me to sing at the funeral. Of course I said yes before I really thought through the logistics of it all, which honestly, it is probably much better that way. When I told Chris, she asked me what I would sing. Fortunately, I happen to know exactly which Christian Death Songs were his favorites. Choosing a song would be the easy part. Singing it will be the challenge. I called my friend Bruce who I would classify as an 'elder musician' to see if he had any advice on getting through funeral music. "Yes" he said, "Whatever you do, don't try to sing. You'll never make it. I've never made it. Find someone who isn't attached to the deceased to do the singing." We both laughed that nervous laughter you use when you're trying to wrap your mind around bad news, and hung up.
So I will miss my friend Mark. I will miss his encouraging smile. His attentiveness to my music. His randomly timed, yet poignant text messages (He drove a truck and would contact me at weird times from weirder places.) And his boldness to initiate conversations with an unintentionally aloof coffeehouse musician.

Here are the lyrics to "All My Tears," one of Mark's most requested songs:

When I go, don't cry for me
In my Father's arms I'll be
The wounds this world left on my soul
Will all be healed and I'll be whole.
Sun and moon will be replaced
With the light of Jesus' face
And I will not be ashamed
For my Savior knows my name.

It don't matter where you bury me,
I'll be home and I'll be free.
It don't matter where I lay,
All my tears be washed away.

Gold and silver blind the eye
Temporary riches lie
Come and eat from heaven's store,
Come and drink, and thirst no more

It don't matter where you bury me
I'll be home and I'll be free
It don't matter where I lay
All my tears be washed away

So, weep not for me my friends,
When my time below does end
For my life belongs to Him
Who will raise the dead again.

It don't matter where you bury me,
I'll be home and I'll be free.
It don't matter where I lay,
All my tears be washed away.


Tim Gibson said...

One of my favorite songs too. I love Julie Miller's version.

Thanks for the good writing.

133Gardner said...

Holy Moly Tim! Good to hear you're still out there!
Thanks for swinging by.