Still in the throes of moving.
Hired the pantechnicon.
Loaded it to the gunnels.
Drove it up and down some scarily narrow lanes.
Filled the Shipping Container storage space to capacity.
Buoyed by thoughts that all this hard work would prove worthwhile once we are settled into our new Home.
Home. Home. Home.
A concept. An ideal. A space in the heart longing to be filled.
A word freighted with so much cultural, social, political, emotional and spiritual weight.
As I pondered the meanings of Home I began to realise that the root of so many great works of art was the cry for Home.
The cry of celebration when Home was found or regained.
The cry of loss and mourning when Home was lost or torn away.
Perhaps all great stories, in the end, are about the loss and finding of Home.
Next year in Jerusalem. No direction Home.
Feel like Going Home. Bring it on Home to Me.
Our House. Our castle and our keep.
Darling be Home soon. Oh, Darling be Home soon.
After some contemplation three songs emerged to illustrate the theme.
So, let’s kick off with one of the greatest singers who ever lived with one of his greatest recorded performances.
Sam Cooke with, ‘Bring It on Home to Me’.
Sam Cooke had it all.
He was handsome.
He was both intellectually and musically smart and he was a savvy music biz operator.
Sam was an electric performer.
When he was with The Soul Stirrers no one could have the audience falling in the aisles and speaking in tongues like Sam!
Sam was also a gifted songwriter and in the early 60s before his untimely death he became determined that his records should be more than brilliant pop confections.
He wanted to find a way to bring the emotional weight and passion of his Gospel roots into his secular recordings.
He also wanted to reflect, as a black man, the torrid times he was living in.
The apotheosis of this quest would be the epochal recording of his own song, ‘A Change is Gonna Come’.
‘Change’ is clearly prefigured in, ‘Bring It On Home To Me’.
At one level the song is the heartfelt plea of a lover left behind in an empty Home.
A lover who, perhaps for the first time, realises how important that Home, that Lovers Nest, is to him.
Sam, with the invaluable assistance of Lou Rawls on harmony and call and response vocals, gives that plea a compelling urgency.
Sam Cooke’s voice had enormous reserves of power and astonishing fluency.
Who would not be won over by a plea from such a voice?
A voice which can only be said to genuinely infused with Grace.
The 1962 recording benefits from an 18 piece ensemble marshalled by Rene Hall and Ernie Freeman.
Beyond the brilliance of Sam and Lou’s vocals I would draw your attention to the stellar drumming of Frank Capp and the swelling power as the verses progress.
The song was born out of creative engagement with Charles Brown’s and Amos Milburn’s, ‘I Want To Go Home’ and also the old 19th Century Gospel standard, ‘Oh Freedom’.
By yoking together the Blues and Gospel in this song Sam creates Soul Music.
A music which can speak of and invoke the passionate Home of Earthly Love and the Home in Glory waiting down the road.
There’s also a political subtext here in the references to Slavery and being buried in the grave.
Redemption, forgiveness, atonement and resolve to live in love anew surely have wider racial and social resonances as well as personal impact.
To pack all these elements into a song that charms and beguiles and stays with you is no mean achievement.
Now we all know the world’s no place when you’re on your own.
Hearts will always be restless unless, according to your belief, they rest with another in Love and/or with the Divine.
It takes a very great artist to be able to write a song which can sound such depths and it takes an extraordinary singer to make such a song shimmer in the air in front of you like an apparition from on high.
Richard Thompson is such a songwriter and Linda Thompson is such a singer.
In this live performance Richard’s perfect plangent guitar and Linda’s ardent, devotional dedication pierce the veil.
A Heart Needs A Home. Oh, Oh, A Heart Needs A Home.
I came to you when no one could hear me.
How many of us have walked the empty streets or knelt in prayer wondering when someone, that someone you trust must be out there somewhere, will appear and at last, at last, you will be heard and more, understood.
Richard Thompson understands that worldly wisdom is often the deepest folly.
To live the life you were born to live; to find the Home that’s waiting for you, calling for you, you must not run away bedazzled by paper ships and painted faces.
No. You must in faith and humility stand without pretence as the person you are.
Only then can a heart find the Home it so desperately needs.
Charlie Rich could sing the Blues. He could play piano straight from the Church.
Charlie could play white lightning Rockabilly and Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Charlie could sing a Country ballad and make you cry your eyes out.
No one who ever heard Charlie sing could doubt he was a Soul Singer.
Charlie Rich lived a life often blighted by cloudy skies.
He knew all about the ups and downs of life and knew what it was to feel, looking wearily in the mirror in the bleary dawn, that everything he had done was wrong and that to try again would be try and fail again.
Yet, always there was the piano and the music inside him.
And, playing a song like, ‘I Feel Like Going Home’ he could make that Home, a place of Peace and reconciliation, real to himself and to us.
In times of trial when no friend is around and Home seems far, far away, you will find a fellow flawed pilgrim in Charlie Rich.
Charlie’s race is run now.
He fears no more the heat o’ the sun.
Nor the furious winter’s rages.
His worldly task done he has gone Home.
At the end of this miraculous solo demo performance Charlie exhales and says, ‘And That’s It’.
Amen Charlie. Amen.
In dreams I have walked the halls of all the homes I have ever lived in.
Decades after I moved out and away I climb the stairs of my first childhood home and hear the rain on the roof and the early morning street cries.
Once again I walk down the tree lined road of my teenage years and turn the key in the lock and ascend to the bedroom I shared with my brother.
I gaze, as I did for so many nights, at the distant moon.
Distantly, I hear my Mother’s and Father’s voices and the heart stirring snuffling of my baby Sister.
Again, the Moonlight streams through the window of my College room illuminating the poster of Van Morrison and the series ranks of history texts.
Once more I take a turn around the garden of my first marital home listening to a night freight train shuffling by and smile as my wife, son and daughter sleep on.
I carry all these homes within me.
I always will.
And, now a new Home.
With new dreams to dream.