Thursday, July 29, 2010

MAKING MOVIES to GET LUCKY: Notes on 30 Years

for Mark Knopfler

You present me with a problem I never had before: I don't have the words. Is it because you don't speak for yourself, because your life and political opinions -- "ego" perhaps? -- are hidden from me? But I have to try.

The tenderness in your voice moves me doubly, because you telegraph no emotion. Your growl excites me beyond all proportion, because you headline no "passion."
Your music is poetry and gaelic romance such as I can hardly bear. And yet you unfurl it, fling it into the sky as anonymous - and as glorious - as aurora borealis.

I have seen the Northern Lights, myself ... in its sheath of crackling green; it took over the sky, took over the callow city ... like whiskey in a wineglass. Like a choir, stilling a tavern. Like a carpenter cleared a temple.

Such is your guitar in my heart. It pulses and glows throughout my exile's life, a gregorian prayer in a language I don't speak. Yet God responds. Your words bring me to history (sometimes my own), your music brings God to me.

Understand, this is no small thing. I am one called to God's work, I strive to be true to the task. I hunger for the words, I join the rock and roll chorus in the tent of revival, get drunk with prayers, obsess with the numberless names for the sacred. Still in the end ... I cannot preach like Peter, I'm not meant to preach like Paul.
Yet, as the old song says, there is a balm for my despair. My Gilead is your guitar.

Yours is not to pronounce the holy invocations, never has been. But all this time, instead, you've been the whisper in my ear, you play the holy response! You sing, from deep in the the hum of Home I once felt through my feet, landing across the globe on the quiet Irish earth. No words, just contact. No persuasion, only Reunion. You are that sound humming through me, through my body into my heart, the song of my solid ground.
Forgive me, companion of so many years. While I was lost you were right beside me, walking me home.

I learn from you the song of the world, the whole hungering, sorrowing, comforting, carousing world -- in you so big and ancient -- so cyclical and human. Be not afraid, says your guitar; this too has passed and will pass again. We too have cried, and shall cry again. Be not afraid, says your guitar: There is always a lullabye, such as this. There is always a love, such as mine.