Category Archives: Mumford and Sons

Musical Legend: Mavis Staples

Standard

Wishing an early “Happy Birthday to Mavis Staples!” Her birthday will be

July 10, 1939. Wow! In her 75th year of singing a rich and still fresh

combination of blues, soul, folksong anthems, and Gospel music, she

just put out another album in 2013!

Way to go, Mavis Staples!

Mavis’ newest album is titled, “One True Vine.” I learned more about

her personal journey through her life and also, a definite proposal

and romance I had no idea existed! You may not guess which famous

singer asked her “Pop’s” for permission to have her hand in marriage!

Mavis’ “Pop” put together the family singing act called, “The Staple

Singers” long ago, while she was at the tender, young age of 8 years

old! While the Peace Movement and Civil Rights Movement were the

ones who ‘took her there,’ the popular song, “I’ll Take You There,” was

what got the group on the top of music charts!

Listening to the lyrics, knowing it was originally a gospel song that

was intended for the listener to believe in going to a place called

“Heaven,” makes it even more spiritual and inspiring.

During the sixties, being on stage with Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King,

Jr. made her inspired and gave her so much encouragement for the

world. Her life was spent traveling around to big cities, performing and

feeling the wave of love and hope rising amongst African Americans.

On an interview with CBS Saturday Morning, (5/17/14), Mavis said that

being around MLK, Jr. was to feel ‘unbelievable joy.’ To be in his ‘presence’

brought her so much meaning to her life.

During this timely period in the United States, there was another

young ‘mover and shaker’ in the music industry. Mavis spent a lot of

time with that curly haired, good looking Bob Dylan.

There came a time, Mavis recounted that,

“Bobby told my Pops, ‘I want to marry Mavis.'”

Pops responded,

“‘Don’t tell me, tell Mavis!'”

While grinning happily, telling the interviewer this love story,

he asked with some excitement,

“What did you say to Bob?”

She reflected, smiling and said,

Well, remember I was very young, so I told him, ‘Let’s wait awhile.'”

She went on to say (the essence of this moment being the real meaning

in her words, paraphrased here):

She wondered what changes her life would have had, how marrying Bob

Dylan would have impacted her life and then used a phrase that I will

tell you the interviewer had to ask her to repeat and explain.

Mavis wondered what it would have been like to make ‘chrome-crushers’

with Bobby.

The words meant, children or babies with him. She was pondering this

and looking happy, still. She felt that she had been attractive, I

forget if she called herself a ‘fox’ or what, but he was definitely

someone she had love for and a huge crush on, too!

Mavis says that her life was spent ‘coming at it with her heart.’

When Mavis Staples won her first Grammy, she remembered that her

Pops had said not to worry about that but they were (basically)

singing for the Lord and “to reach people.” It was a great piece

of philosophy, not to worry about your awards in life, just what

actions you do and how it effects people.

At the 55th Grammy Award ceremony in February, 2013, Mavis Staples

won the Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award, looking very

stunning and vibrant. If you punch in her name and Grammy 2013, you

will see her the way she still looks. So beautiful inside and out!

She performed, by the way, in a tribute to Levon Helm, with the ‘likes’

of Elton John, Zac Brown Band and Mumford and Sons that fantastic

evening show to remember!

Mavis laughed, saying that she did, “Buy a stand for that Grammy,”

though!

The upbeat tone in her speaking and singing voice wins you over,

despite her vocal range not being as wide as I am sure it was in her

‘heyday!’ She has two songs that were very special to me.

I have sometimes, like many people do, worried about my appearance

and this song, “I Like the Things About Me,” including her comments

in the song disparaging her hair and her lips. She uses this verse,

“I like the things about me, that I once despised…”

“There was a time I wished my hair was fine…”

“There was a time I wished my lips were thin…”

In the end, the message was similar to today’s artist, Lady Gaga’s.

Mavis’ lifetime of having racial hurdles to overcome, make her

simple songs even more powerful. And timeless…

“Love yourself.”

(The essence of the lyrics was she came to the point in her life,

when she could accept ‘the me that I am.’)

The lively and pretty song, “Freedom’s Highway,” still has a world

wide application. As she mentioned the children (girls who were

kidnapped in Nigeria) and ‘everywhere looking at America to see what

we will do.’

“March each and every day,

Made up my mind and won’t turn around,

Made up my mind and won’t turn around.

There is just one thing,

I can’t understand, my friend.

Why some folk think freedom

Was not designed for all men,

Yes, I think I voted for the right man,

Said we would overcome.”

She repeated that ‘the whole world is wondering why America

is not stepping in to help those girls.’

Mavis Staples’ songs to look up on Youtube and listen to are:

“You Are Not Alone,” (2010)

“Eyes on the Prize,” (2007)

“One True Vine” (2013).

I was uplifted by Mavis’ energy and her loving nature shown in the

interview this Saturday morning. I needed only to see her face, to

remember that, not too long ago, Grammy Awards Show.

Where I had really listened to Mavis Staples’ singing and messages.

Adding to everyone’s loving voices raised in tribute to Levon Helm.

(If you were a fan of “The Band,” you were listening to his drumming

and percussion skills.)

Now go out, sing dance and march to the music!

Do The “Right” Thing

Standard

I know a man who is tormented by his conscience. You can

look at his face and see the furrow between his eyebrows. His

troubled countenance holds the clue to what in his lifetime of

mistakes have done to his body and mind.

This man is an acquaintance who is on the peripheral edge of

my life. I have heard a varied multitude of stories concerning

his problems. I would like to hesitate but say, this man has used

the power given to him and blessings bestowed upon him for “bad.”

One of his stories has a crazy in love teenager finding the “hottest”

girl in high school to go after, taking her innocence and marrying

her while pregnant. He hurt the one he chased and chased after he

had two toddlers, sweet little girls, at home, by being unfaithful with

the woman across the street. A neighbor who dropped by when he

had just walked in the door, they were hurrying in the living room

to fulfill and quench their desires. Seconds later, dragging a car seat

with one toddler, holding the hand of the other one in comes his wife!

He unabashedly says to the “guys” he hangs with, joking,

“I can’t believe she didn’t see the woman’s clothes were all unbuttoned

and could not smell the sex.”

Not long after, choosing to go live in another state and hang out with

his sister, he left those two little girls behind. They were but a little

speck in his rear view mirror as he rolled away to Florida.

You have the power to love the ones you are blessed with, or you can use

that power and wield the swift sword of pain into their lives.

Children are not like old toys that need to be tossed out or replaced. But

this man went off and found someone who wanted to have a different

adventure, going to California. There he had three more little girls and

was trying hard to stay in this marriage. Or so he retells someone, a

mutual friend.

Now, looking at the older man (aged 55) and knowing why his face shows

age and his body is a little rickety, I can get a small glimpse of the history.

If he wants to have a future filled with hope and forgiveness, he needs to

retrace his steps. He needs to find out the address and write a letter filled

with contrition. Asking his children in their thirties for forgiveness is going

to take every ounce of courage for him. Asking his grandchildren to go with

him and play, hang out or have a meal out may not be so difficult.

This is a fact, one I know after being around children all my life, either as

a babysitter, mother or teacher:

Children forgive and forget quickly.

They don’t hold grudges.

They love unconditionally.

They are such wonderful embodiments of God!

Which brings me to another area this man needs to work on,

he needs to get “right” with God.

I think he may be still “looking in all the wrong places” for love.

This is another area he needs to choose to straighten out. This

has come to my attention through the gossip mill but he has done

hurtful things by leaving more than his four wives, he has had

more than affairs, he has been misleading women about his status

on a dating site.

Those who continue doing hurtful things are repeating their history

and not learning a darn lesson in life! The face looks guilty and worn,

the smile seems to radiate happiness when there are pretty women

around. He can still attract them like bees to honeycomb. He has a

group of women at work held spellbound with his stories of famous

people in California and his amorous antics. Until he has something

seriously wrong happen to him, he can keep exchanging people like

parts, but we know people have hearts. These hearts can be broken

and children’s hearts can sometimes be more easily broken.

Let’s hope for his health, life and others he comes in contact with,

that he does the “right” thing. Make amends, start new habits, and

by asking for forgiveness the dark cloud across his life may lift. He

may find a beacon of light shining and leading him to a better place.

I heard an excellent song on the radio by Mumford and Sons! Have

you heard, “Roll Away Your Stone?” I will share some passages that

gave me goosebumps! It pertains to this man especially…

 

“Roll Away Your Stone”

Roll away your stone, I’ll roll away mine.

Don’t leave me alone at this time

For I am afraid of what I will discover inside.

“Cause you told me that I would find a hole

within the fragile substance of my soul.

And I have filled this void with things unreal

And all the while my character it steals.

Darkness is a harsh term, don’t you think?

And yet it dominates the things I see.

It seems that all my bridges have been burnt.

But you say that’s how this Grace thing works.

It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart

But the welcome I receive with every start…”

Please check out the rest of the lyrics or better yet, find it on Youtube

and blast it! This has a wild and lively beat so the lyrics need to be

read to really understand the depth and power of these lyrics written

by Edward J. M. Dwane, Marcus O. J. Mumford, Benjamin W. D. Lovett,

and Winston A. A. Marshall. (copyright Universal Music Publishing, Ltd.)