I’m not a religious person and wasn’t raised with any religion in my life. Growing up, Easter was just another excuse to gorge myself on candy and boiled eggs.
But the idea of resurrection that this day represents is a potent theme, one that resonates deeply with me. I am not talking about actual resurrection, the rising from the grave type of thing. But the idea of rebirth, of washing away the past and beginning anew has always struck a chord within me.
Maybe that’s why I am a morning person. Each day is a personal resurrection of sorts. There is a new start each day the sun comes up, a new chance to redeem yourself in some way. So, in a way, Easter is just part of a continuum of constant rebirth, one that transcends personal religion.
For this Sunday morning music I am choosing a song that concerns itself with a more literal form of resurrection. It is Ain’t No Grave (Gonna Hold This Body Down) which was written in 1934 by Claude Ely. He was twelve years old at the time and was stricken with tuberculosis. His family is said to have prayed for his health to return and in response, he spontaneously performed this song.
I can’t attest to that part of the story but it is a pretty well known gospel standard now. This version is from the great Odetta.
The newer painting above is a small 8″ by 8″ panel that I call Resurrection. It feels very Easter-y to me.
Have a good Sunday.
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It’s Easter Sunday. As I’ve pointed out here in the past, I had no religion of any sort in my upbringing so Easter was a holiday marked by coloring eggs and eating big chunks of chocolate rabbits and multi-colored jelly beans for somewhat vague reasons. Most things came down to the food involved for me in my youth.
Of course, I picked up on the tales behind the religious holidays I had eaten my way through as a kid. And it’s hard to not be moved by the tale of the Resurrection, even from a decidedly non-religious perspective. Whether you are a believer or non-believer, the tale of rebirth creates a template of hope for all people so that they may endure the many hardships of this life and rebuild new lives from failed pasts.
And it takes on even more significance when that new life is devoted to some purpose that is greater than our own needs.
The painting at the top is The Resurrection, painted by the great Giovanni Bellini, my favorite Renaissance painter, around 1479. Just a beautiful piece, as most of his work is.
It being Sunday, it’s time for a little music. I thought I would continue the theme of Resurrection into the music today. Of course, after seeing this video, some of you might put me down as some sort of heretic. It’s a song called The Resurrection Shuffle which was a minor Trans-Atlantic hit in the early 70’s for a British band called Ashton, Gardner & Dyke. It wasn’t a big hit, maybe just into the top 40, but I remembered the chorus. Looking it up this morning I came across this version from Cher‘s self-titled television show in 1976 that features her in a duet with Tom Jones, who performed the song in his act for many years. Maybe it is heresy but it made me laugh if only for the visual impact. Maybe it will make you smile as well.
Have a great Sunday.
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Georges Rouault- Crucifixion 1939
I can’t say that I am a religious person, religion never being much of a part of my upbringing. I never attended a single Easter service and pretty much thought of the day in terms of chocolate Easter bunnies and colored eggs in my youth. But I respected the traditions and stories of the Bible and of the other religions as I picked them up through the years and understood the solemnity and importance of faith, even if my own was sometimes lacking. That being said, I thought I might play a little music this morning that had to do with the fact that it is Easter Sunday.
I have always been drawn to and moved by the passion and conviction of the great gospel songs especially when performed by those with the talent and conviction to match the material, such as Mahalia Jackson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and all so many others. Sam Cooke, one of the greatest pop and R & B stars of the 50’s and early 60’s, was also a great gospel singer. I loved his voice and could listen to him sing the phone book but when he sang the gospel, it was often magic. Here’s his version of Were You There ( When They Crucified My Lord), which is an old plantation spiritual that fits in with the day and, performed by Sam Cooke is as I said, magic .
Hope you have a great Sunday.
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