Our little band - Three Marys or First Fruit or Two Skirts and a Kilt or something yet to be decided (maybe "Between the Banks") - played tonight in our Sanctuary for our second Third Thursday in Downtown Pittsfield. It was a lot of fun and we sounded pretty fine doing our Cowboy Junkies versions of Collective Soul, U2, Joan Osborne and others. We threw some Cat Power, Over the Rhine, the Beatles and country gospel into the mix for a lovely evening. I think about 50 different people unrelated to the church wandered in for some music and refreshment. Two church photographers displayed their works, too, which made the Sanctuary even more engaging.
It is really refreshing to live in a community where people respond to civic pride; hundreds of people were out tonight walking up and down the main drag to visit, eat, listen to music and check out the art downtown. They come out for the Halloween and Fourth of July parades, too. Very refreshing indeed and I am grateful to live in this place. I know there have been hard times here - especially in the 80s when economic collapse really kicked the town in the teeth - but people are working in creative ways to rebuild and I can celebrate their careful optimism. Tomorrow, for example, we are going to a dinner/dance to support the musical ambassadors of our town as they get ready to visit our sister city in Ireland. I've hit it off with the lead musician who is a delightful man and great guitar player - and he's asked me to bring my guitar (and cowboy hat) and sit in. Too much fun.
There were four songs tonight that really touched me: hearing my wife, Dianne, sing Paul McCartney's ode to the US Civil Rights movement, "Blackbird" brought tears to my eyes as did our singing partner, Jenna's solo version of the gospel "Eyes on the Sparrow." Then the teamed up for a duet on Leonard Cohen's "Anthem" that was so damned good I asked them to do it again later - and they did! And we closed with my little tribute to Tim Russert by reprising the song Springseen sang at his memorial service: "Thunder Road." After it was all over a young woman said to me wistfully, "I've never heard Springsteen in church... it works though and belongs." I agree - same with Cohen's "Anthem" which quietly rails against fundamentalism and political religion only to remind us, "there is a crack, a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in!" Amen, Leonard, you wildass French Canadian Zen Buddhist Jew with an attitude and a soft spot for Christianity's mystics. This version by Perla Batalla and Julie Christensen is too hot. I love it. Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dIv2MXU7_4