The Song Journal

Miscellaneous news and writing by Bob Franke, mostly about songs as a portable art form, and the process of creating them and enabling them to do their work in the world.

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Location: Peabody, Massachusetts, United States

from Bob Franke began his career as a singer-songwriter in 1965 while a student at the University of Michigan. Upon graduation in 1969 with an A.B. in English Literature, he moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has since made New England his home. Bob has appeared in concert at coffeehouses, colleges, festivals, bars, streets, homes and churches in 33 states, four Canadian provinces and England.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Promised Land

We completed the third and final performance this year of my Meditations on the Passion last night. Last Sunday, cast, choir and band were guests of St. Bartholomew's church in New York City, where we performed the cantata at St. Bart's regular evening service, with Jack Hardy taking the role that Larry Young took last night, and Chuck Hall taking the role that Geoff Bartley sang last night. The Good Friday cast is listed in the program, available in .pdf form by clicking on the title of this article. The program also contains the full libretto. The cantata has been performed nearly every year since 1980 at St. Andrew's Church in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

As I am every year, I am overwhelmed and drained this morning. As people familiar with my work already know, there are times when, as hesitant as I am to pretend that my beliefs are identical with those of my audience, religious language seems to me to be the most accurate and in fact the only appropriate language to describe my experience. This week has been full of undeserved grace. In the midst of one of the most stressful periods of my life, I have been showered with love in a tangible way available, I imagine, to few people in this life. Or maybe it's available to many of us, and the grace comes in being opened to it.

I am reminded of what my friend, the multi-talented Martin Grosswendt (brilliant last night, as usual) said at the end of Summer Acoustic Music Week last summer. It went something like this: this place is where I am who I'm supposed to be, doing what I'm supposed to be doing, and recognized and valued for it.

That's how I felt last night. It's the Promised Land, the Commonwealth of Heaven. We are allowed glimpses of this country so seldom in this world. But I saw it last night. I know it exists. And I hope that every human being can catch enough glimpses of it that someday we can all dwell there, each developed to their full potential, and each valued and beloved.

Having become a full-time singer-songwriter, I've actually risked a lot in my life. Here's a hint: when I'm not a full-time singer-songwriter, I'm unemployed without benefits. The world today is a far cry from the world I hoped for when I started doing this, or even from the hopeful, battered postwar world in which I was raised. But once again this year, three entire communities (St. Bart's, St. Andrew's, and my beloved musical colleagues) came together and laid themselves (and in some cases, their money) on the line so that I could be where I'm supposed to be, doing what I'm supposed to be doing, at my full potential, valued and beloved. In the midst of a fair amount of anxiety and even despair, I was given a home in the Promised Land, and have been reminded that the risks have been worth taking.


Anonymous Bert White said...

This is the fourth year that I have driven almost 3 hours to catch a glimpse of the waters rolling away ... hoping to walk on dry land to the other side.

The Good Friday Meditations means a lot to me. Each year I seem to see into another window and get a scary peak into Jesus' passion.

What I wonder is can anyone help me taste -- that is comprehend the Nectar of Life? Sally Roger left me lost and in love again this year. A bastard, a saint of the church ... the nectar of life never left.

So, what's up with A Vision Unblinded by Tears? Maybe like Jesus' disciples frustration with the parables, but what going on here? Her research was in shadow? She taught me light? She never condemned me? She could handle a camera? A vision unblinded by tears? If this photographer were still alive how could I get a sitting, a portrait done ... who is this photographer anyway?
And The Blind Veteran? Canadian quarters?
I would sure like to listen in to a conversation about all these pieces of portable art.
Thanks Bob for hanging on your cross ... just hanging out.


8:53 AM  

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