Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Family Legacy

Rachel, Luke, and I were out in the "sticks" this past weekend, wisiting my parents. I fill in as a preacher sometimes at several small, country congregations in that area and had been asked to deliver the message Sunday. So, we decided to go down and make a weekend of it. While we were there, my family had what we call a "Music Making".

I've mentioned them on here before, but this was a really good one. We had 13 musicians and over 50 people there, total. There were fiddles, a banjo, guitars, my good old bass, a harmonica player, and plenty of singers. Before the music making began, my Dad, Uncle Tommy, Uncle Bob, and I were all cleaning out my Dad's woodshop. Dad's a carpenter by trade and has his shop in what we call "The Old House".

The Old House also happens to be where he and his siblings were born. While we were sweeping up the sawdust and moving the tools to the back room, my Uncle Bob and I got to talking about writing and music. Uncle Bob has written several family biographies based on stories and recordings of my granparents and other family members. He also lived in Nashville for several years, trying to break nto song writing. He has written hundreds of songs for several instruments including dobro, banjo, guitar, and of course voice.

Over the last decade and a half, though, Uncle Bob has suffered from major depression brought on by the deaths of his father and oldest brother, the birth of his little boy who has a debilitating disease, an ugly divorce, and his failure to make it in his life-long love of music. He's just now starting to rise back out of the depths and it's wonderful to see.

"Come here, Josh. I want to show you something," he said during a break in our conversation.

I followed Uncle Bob to my Dad's finishing room, expecting him to show me something Dad had built. When he opened the door to the finishing room, I saw a beautiful, cypress box, well-finished and smooth.

"I built this box to fill with all of my books, written music, and CDs of my songs. If you don't mind, I'd like to give it to you so you can pass it down to Doctor Luke (he calls my son Doctor Luke)."

All I could say was, "I'd be honored."

Uncle Bob went on to say that he knew I liked to write and make music and that he figured I was the person to pass down the treasures of our family. I plan to give the chest a special home in our house.

Years from now, when my children ask me about what the box means, I'll show them the gifts of writing and music in my life.

We all have these opportunities. Don't let them pass you by.


Jamison said...

I think it is a shame that, in our society, ones success as a musician or songwriter is almost measured by what has gotten on the radio...

There are probably thousands of men like Uncle Bob who are a genius song writer and musician, yet dont need the lights and glamour of Hollywood or Nashville.

Passing thoughts and ideas from one family member to the other was probably like winning a Grammy to him.

bigsip said...

I can't even begin to explain how much of an honor it is to me.

My post is completely inadequate in explaining how much it means.

This is his Opus. This body of work means more to him and our family than almost anything.

It's better than a Grammy. I agree with you, Jamison. I'm glad he'll at least get some sort of recognition.

mullinz8 said...

Dude you have to go one better. You MUST buy a tape recorder or something and have him record as many of those songs as possible.

I know you said he’s got some CD’s and things and that’s wonderful. You need to document the rest of the material. You really should record the music making too. Luke will find them fascinating someday.

My uncle LB on Dad’s side was a bit of a musician and played locally for years. He cut a few 45’s and I’ve got one go along with the memories of seeing him play at some local dives. Loving music like I do I wish I had an opportunity to hear more of his stories and experience more of his music before he “retired.”

I know that Jules adopted father has a notebook of the songs his father wrote while “working for the state” and wishes he could remember how they are all supposed to sound.

VERY cool now matter what.

Just imagine how your dad feels knowing you’re the holder of such a family tradition. What a proud pappa.

bigsip said...

We've been recording family musicc makings since there were things you could record on.

My dad transferred some music makings from reel-to-reels not long ago onto CDs and we have already transferred past cassettes in the same way.

ALL of my uncle Bob's recordings will be in that box. That is EVERY song he wrote, all on CD.

We taped the music making the other night and plan to put it and everyother one on CD, too.

Chronicling this type of stuff is all a part of our heritage.

The records are cool, mullins! You should xfer that to CD, too!

I'm way excited about the legacy box, man. It'll be another of those priceless artifacts of family history.

Brewster said...

This is very cool sip.

bigsip said...

Thanks, Brew.

I know it's something really special to me and it probably doesn't stir emotions in most other folks as much as it does in me.

But, I think it's important to have a heritage and to celebrate it. Everyone can do that.