If You Have Loved Then You Have Cried

John GorkaToday I spent about two hours on an errand.  In a car.  After driving 4,590 miles in August, I’m not looking for more time behind the wheel. Plus, it was an errand that should not have been required. The fact that I had to take the time to do it was affecting my blood pressure.

Then, out of the blue, I found out why I was in that car today.

In driving down into Virginia by myself, I put my trusty playlist on the car system to become immersed in the music.  Soon came a voice that I could listen to sing the phone book. But today his song was much more profound than the yellow pages.

Time is a river with no riverside
Space a sea that has no tide
I can’t get across, no it’s too wide
If you have loved then you have cried

And then the second verse:

We are dust that was made in stars
Now we roll off to work in cars
When we were young we spilled our dreams in bars
Now we clean up the mess

There I was…cleaning up the mess.

John Gorka is a wonderful writer with a beautiful and soulful baritone voice. He’s been on the folk circuit forever, it seems, but his following is still small (when you consider that Lady Gaga gets 79 million views on a video).

His tune Riverside is on the 2003 album Old Futures Gone, and by the time the song ended, my attitude had significantly adjusted.

A little bit of thought can make a lot of sense
And every little day can make a difference
Yes I’m speaking in the present tense
Where my faults and seams wear through

And yes, sometimes it does take a lot to get through to me.

I can be more than, than a little dense
You’re gonna get splinters if you ride that fence
I do like the way the river bends
When it flows back to you

We called it gravy, never called it sauce
Better learn something if love gets lost
How hard the hurt, how high the cost
How all the smooth goes to rough

Time is a river with no riverside
Space a sea that has no tide
I can’t get across, no it’s too wide
If you have loved then you have cried

We all make mistakes.  We all have loved ones who have made mistakes. And while we may think we know what’s best, everyone has to make their personal choices. And yes, some of those will cause us to cry. I appreciate Gorka’s help in pointing that out to me today.

So that you can hear the voice as well as read the lyrics, I’ve embedded a video of Riverside. Enjoy the tune and enjoy the ride.

More to come…


John Gorka Preview

John GorkaI mentioned a week ago that singer/songwriter John Gorka was playing at the historic Avalon Theater in Easton, Maryland on November 20th.

Gorka has a way with words and a melody.  One of my favorite John Gorka songs  is Love is Our Cross to Bear.

It’s from me, it’s to you
For your eyes
It’s a weight, a wonder that is wise
I am here, you are there
Love is our cross to bear

I found this really sweet video of Gorka singing Love is Our Cross to Bear from a recent concert in The Netherlands.

Let me know if you make it to Easton for the concert.  In any event, enjoy.

More to come…


Terrific Roots Music Coming to Washington This Fall

Del McCoury BandWe’re into fall here in the Washington region and that means that the acoustic music scene is busy pointing toward those holiday concerts.  But before December arrives, there are a few highlights for lovers of bluegrass, Americana, and roots music in the District of Columbia.

This Monday, the Blue Moon Cowgirls and flatpicking champion Orrin Star are featured at the Institute of Musical Traditions concert in Rockville.  I’ve heard Star before, and he’s a treat for those who like the old flat top.

Country singer extraordinaire Patty Loveless will be at the Birchmere on November 1st.  She’ll no doubt be featuring tunes from  her new album, Mountain Soul II. The original Mountain Soul was a terrific album, and the follow-up begins with a great version of that old country classic, Busted. (Well the bills are all due and the babies need shoes, we’re busted…) Sure to be a great show.

For those who don’t mind a bit of a drive, folksinger John Gorka is playing on November 20th at the historic Avalon Theatre in beautiful Easton Maryland.  Gorka has one of the most distinctive voices in folk music and I believe I could listen to him sing the phone book.  (There’s also a nice Historic Hotel of America – the Tidewater Inn –  in Easton for those who would like to make a weekend of it.)

The next evening,  Saturday November 21st, the Del McCoury Band – just about the best traditional bluegrass band on the circuit today – will be at the Birchmere.   They also have a new album, entitled Family Circle, out later this month.  Del and the boys never disappoint.

As I wrote earlier, Irish harper Grainne Hambly will be at the National Geographic Society on Friday, December 4th, with the Irish band Teada.  They will be performing as part of their Irish Christmas in America tour.

Finally, Monday, December 7th, will pose a real dilemma, as both IMT and the Birchmere have top-notch Christmas shows.  I’ve attended the IMT Celtic Christmas show featuring guitarist Robin Bullock and husband/wife duo Al Petteway and Amy White for a number of years.  With Bullock and Petteway, you have two terrific guitarists and this show is always a treat.  But the same night, the Birchmere has booked my long-time favorite Jerry Douglas along with Irish singer and song interpreter Maura O’Connell for their own “Very Jerry Christmas.”  Few people can interpret a song the way O’Connell can and her newest CD is a collection of acappella duets entitled Naked With Friends. (Click on the link and read the great review at Fiddlefreak.) The friends include Dolly Parton, Alison Krauss, Mary Black, Kate Rusby and more.  I love hearing O’Connell live, so I expect I’ll be at the Birchmere on the 7th for that show.

To give you a hint of what you might hear on the 7th, I’ve included a video of Maura O’Connell in a duet with Nanci Griffith and with Jerry Douglas on Dobro playing the Griffith tune Trouble in the Field. Simply sublime.

More to come…


Sweet Love

Candice and I were out at a party on Capitol Hill last evening and had a nice time with friends old and new.  However, when I climbed into bed last evening I knew I’d best set our alarm or we’d miss our obligations at church this morning.

My iPod has a playlist I entitled “Quiet Time” which we listen to as we fall asleep and then which is what we hear as our morning alarm.  We may wake to a Gregorian Chant or Anonymous 4, some Miles Davis or Bill Evans jazz, or perhaps a quiet New Age guitar piece from Will Akerman or Al Petteway.

This Sunday morning we slept a little later, due to the party.  But the wake-up music set the tone for an introspective day that worked well with the gray and rainy weather.

The first thing out of my iPod this morning was John Gorka singing this wonderful Kate Wolf tune entitled Sweet Love.

John Gorka has one of the most distinctive voices in folk music.  I can listen to him sing anything.  But several years ago he took part in a compilation of songs by the late California folk singer/songwriter Kate Wolf entitled Treasures Left Behind that gave him material much better than the proverbial phone book.

Sweet love, don’t deny me just a hand to hold;  I may not always be the one who sees.  I find myself blinded from time to time, reaching out for someone who can take the lead.  And in my weariness I’ve tried to cry.  Although my eyes are dry, I’ve cried inside.

Sweet love, let me lay myself beside you and listen to your breathing ’til it slows.  Long enough to dream a vision of my life wrapped up in the gentle wind that blows.  A vision of a life lived long ago – I see it, though the lights are low.

Sweet love, like the leaves that fall; the scenes go drifting by my eyes.  And I remember holding you, telling you that it would be all right.  You know the road looked straight ahead from far away, but it turned into a blind curve and I’ve lost my way today.

That’s one of those songs I recommend for downloading.  And if you haven’t heard John Gorka, here’s a video from a number of years ago where he sings The Gypsy Life with Kathy Mattea.  A youthful Mark O’Connor adds the violin solo.

The original video posted on this page has been dropped from YouTube, but we’re fortunate in that there is a recent posting of the late Kate Wolf singing Sweet Love. So enjoy that instead.

More to come…