Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Try Me, Lord

During twenty-plus years of writing, the question of “Why?” comes up pretty often. Folks understand the business books I wrote in the beginning, but friends don’t understand why a guy who spent most of his career dealing in numbers would decide to try his hand at novels. 

Most of the time, I ask that question of myself. I have tried ad nauseam to explain to myself why I write. As Clayton Delaney told his young protégé Tom T. Hall about a career in music, “Ain’t no money in it. It’ll lead you to an early grave.”  

I have written quite a bit about my admiration for songwriters. They can tell a story in a single page that often takes a novelist a whole book to tell. One of my favorite songwriters is Kris Kristofferson. He can’t sing too well and is a mediocre actor, but he is one heck of a songwriter. 

Who doesn’t hum when someone mentions Help Me Make It Through the Night, or Sunday Mornin’ Coming Down, For the Good Times, or Me and Bobby McGee? What most don’t know is that his best- selling song was Why Me, commonly known as Why Me, Lord?. 

I could sing along with most of the lyrics to the song, but I never really paid much attention to the meaning of the words until about a year ago. I don’t remember why or exactly when I began to concentrate on the lyrics and their meaning. All I know is that usually means I was just meant to do that. 
I focused on these:
Try me, Lord, if you think there's a way
I can try to repay all I've taken from you
Maybe Lord, I can show someone else
What I've been through myself, on my way back to you

If that isn’t a good description for why I write, well, I don’t know what is. I focused on those words as I wrote the Believing in a Grand Thing section in A River of Stories. I have used the lyrics in a few presentations to writers and readers.

One recent Sunday morning (coming down?) wife Jan brought out her smart phone to the deck and showed me a video of the story behind the song. Someone had posted it on her Facebook page. It brought tears to my eyes as I heard Kris tell the story. Made me wonder why I did not look it up before. It’s short, so you can watch it here

Then, a week or so later, we attended a Festival at the Caney Creek Cowboy Church near Grand Saline. Old friend Don Edwards was performing.  Those of you who read A River of Stories may remember the tale of The Bard and the Balladeer. Don, of course, is the Balladeer. 

Guess what his second song was at Caney Creek? I had never heard him sing Why Me, Lord before. Sorry Kris, but his rendition is better than yours. After Don’s performance, I told him that he needed to outlive me, so he could sing that song at my funeral.

I love it when God winks.

1 comment:

Rosebud said...

This was wonderful!! I have always loved this song.