This is my personal blog. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the congregations or presbytery I serve.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Benny Goodman Story.

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation,
and go to the grave with their song still in them.

     There is a scene in the movie, The Benny Goodman Story, where the band is on tour, and it is not going well.  They had been playing in New York, on the radio, the exciting new swing music they loved.  But on tour the club owners, not conscious of radio at all, insisted they play tried-and-true, old-style, conventional dance numbers.  People were coming to hear the new music, and leaving disappointed.
     Finally, out of frustration, Goodman, played by Steve Allen, decides he has nothing to lose.  He decides to offend the club owner and just play what the band loves to play.  At first, the reaction is confusing.  No one is dancing.  Young people are gathering around the stage and just watching.  The club owner is going ballistic and about to stop the show.  Even the band can’t understand what is going on, but they play on.  Finally, the first song ends… and the audience erupts in thunderous cheers and applause!
     The club owner is mollified.  The band is relieved.  The audience is delighted.  And no one asks the band to play the safe oldies anymore.  The tour becomes a triumph.
     Maybe sometimes you have to stop doing what everyone wants you to do. Maybe sometimes you have to ditch the conventional, and the tried-and-true.  Maybe sometimes you have to go with your heart.
     Now, we’re not all Benny Goodman, one of the most creative musicians of the 20th century.  But we all have something we are given to say and do.  The great teacher of mythology, Joseph Campbell, would famously advise his students to “follow their bliss”.  Have the courage to do what you love, what God has seeded in your soul.  Don’t worry about what others think, or what will pay the bills.  That is serving the cowardice of the owners of whatever venue you find yourself in.  That is only keeping them in control.
     Go for broke!  Do the offensive thing!  Let your heart sing!

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