On the side of a spacecraft speeding thru the cosmos is a recording of “Dark was the night, cold was the ground” by Blind Willie Johnson.
If it should be encountered by other life forms one of the first things they’ll know about humanity is an instrumental track recorded in 1927 by a blind black gospel bluesman who very few people have heard of. It’s the very definition of achieving legendary status.
Any realtor will tell you that beige sells. If you want to blend and match and be as unobtrusive as possible, go beige. Blind Willie Johnson was black. Black is the color of the outsider.
Outsiders never fit. They never blend and they never bend. They stand alone in a wilderness dressed in sackcloth and covered in ashes eating locusts and wild honey shouting “behold here comes the lamb of God”.
They sail their own ship annoying everyone around them and having the word “Judas” screamed at a skinny Jew with a Telecaster by a coward in a balcony in Manchester in 1966. And in so doing such artists change the world. And folk becomes folk rock and the Beatles and the Bairds are inspired and the entire face of popular culture is transformed.
It’s hard to recognize now in the homogenized world of sold out souls and conformity which sells artists the lie that the only way to succeed is the be like what’s already succeeding. But there was once a time when being the biggest band in the world was synonymous with being the most groundbreaking and original. When Sargent Pepper and Pet Sounds were both original and commercially successful.
Now to be original means to be ignored by the mainstream and marginalized by the industry. To be authentic is to be black in a beige world.
And in this time of rejection and isolation it’s time to sow. To sow your heart, your pain, your process and water it with your tears. The songs written from a place of deep humanity and intense emotion are the songs that change lives and change worlds. They may never be sung by the masses or top any chart. But they are the songs that end up in a far off, not yet dreamed of future world on the side of a spacecraft impacting another universe and perhaps touch heaven itself.
And Blind Willie Johnson had no idea that space travel would be possible let alone that his music would be so influential long after his passing.
Dark was the night, cold was the ground is the title not warm was the hug and snug was the bed.
To the lonely and the lost. To the crazy and the crippled. To the broken and the poor. The kingdom belongs to such as these and they need the anthems of empathy and kindness of compassion.
If we truly want Him to break our hearts with what breaks His we cannot complain when He answers our prayer. For its thru the cracks in our hearts that the light streams in and it’s by the tears on our pages that hearts are healed.
Hurt people hurt people but.
Healed people heal people
Whole people hold people
Real people reach people
And brave people birth breakthrough.
It’s time to be brave.