Tag Archives: Music

How Eddie Money Helped Me Pray

Let me say this right away. I am NOT an Eddie Money fan– never have been, never will be. Whenever I think of Eddie Money or hear his music, the words total cheese about sum it all up for me. Nothing more to be said.

Eddie Money March 21, 1949 – September 13, 2019

Nevertheless, when I heard today that Eddie Money died, I immediately thought of a blog post that never got written because… yeah… I thought it would be cheesier than my summation of Mr. Money or his music. And by the way, for you highly offended Eddie Money fans, I’m about to share something that just might make you smile. It’s my story of how Eddie Money helped me to pray one day. (At the very least, you’ll be smiling at my cheesiness.)

So it all began this summer on my family’s vacation down to the Outer Banks. Blairlee and I like to listen to a variety of music on long car trips, and while our tastes in music diverge at times, there’s one Sirius station we both enjoy: the 80’s station! 80’s on 8. We love it. It’s one song right after the other of every hit 80’s song you can think of, including those you’d totally forgotten and would rather remain forgotten.

Well, lo and behold, somewhere in the rotation, what should play? It was one of my absolute least favorite 80’s songs ever: Eddie Money’s “Take Me Home Tonight.” That song for me is the epitome of 80’s cheeseball music– stupid lyrics about a guy who wants to get it on with a girl he’s got the hots for, a soulless female vocal part who pretty much says, “yeah, baby, bring it on”, electronic drums with way too much reverb, a sleazy sax solo that comes out of nowhere, some weird Asian-sounding keyboard part that doesn’t fit the song at all, and I could go on and on.

After I suffered through that song– wouldn’t you know it??– that loathsome tune became an ear worm that would not go away! Every time I had a moment of quiet, “Take me home tonight, I don’t want to let you go ’till you see the light!” would start playing in my head. It was pure torture.

Every morning at the beach, I got up early before the rest of the family to have some quiet time reading and praying out on the porch. It was such a special time. The sun was coming up. I could hear the waves, the birds, smell the salt water, and have some precious moments of quiet solitude with God. Me, a cup of coffee, the beach, spiritual reading, prayer, and God. Life could not get any better.

That was until… I went to pray.

My favorite form of prayer is contemplative prayer, which is basically praying without words. I sit in silence, clear my thoughts, and focus on my breathing. Slowly but surely, my spirit comes to rest and I can feel myself sinking down into God, and into myself, almost like sitting in God’s lap, being nourished, cherished, and divinely loved. Praying like that doesn’t need any words. Stillness, waiting, and breathing are much more powerful than any words I could utter.

After reading, I went to pray, clearing my head, enjoying the silence, but then, like a ballgame beer vender at a fine dining restaurant, I began to hear, blaring in my head, “Take me home tonight, I don’t want to let you go ’till you see the light!”

I tried over and over again to push that wretched song away, which would only crank the volume even louder in my head. It was frustrating and humiliating all at the same time.

But then the Holy Spirit nudged me a bit, and I thought, clearly this song is not going away. It will not be ignored or pushed out of my head. For some reason, it’s demanding my attention. What if this song could become part of a prayer? What that make it happy???

Reluctantly, I took the chorus of “Take Me Home Tonight” and edited it just slightly to become a prayer. (I once had a friend who insisted that love songs are half-siblings of prayers. This song is more of a lust song than a love song, but could it still baptized into a prayer?)

Take me home. Don’t let me go until I see the light. That became my prayer to God. And I prayed it very slowly like this:

Take me home. Don’t let me go until I see the light.

Take me home. Don’t let me go until I see.

Take me home. Don’t let me go until.

Take me home. Don’t let me go.

Take me home. Don’t let me.

Take me home. Don’t let.

Take me home.

Take me.

By the time I got to take me, I was close to tears. A song I had scorned as pestilence became a gift from God. I clearly needed that. Then the ear worm vanished, and it never came back.

So, thank you Eddie Money and Holy Spirit for helping me to pray in a way I most definitely needed. Rest in peace, Mr. Money. May God in his infinite mercy take you home tonight.

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Black History Month: Remembering Dr. Mack Statham

In honor of Black History Month, I want to remember an accomplished African-American who not only shaped our world for the better, but also shaped my life, too. I think we need to take the time to remember these everyday heroes– those who truly blessed the world even if their names are not emblazoned in the history books.

Dr. Mack Statham 9/24/1934-9/2/2013

Dr. Mack Statham
9/24/1934-9/2/2013

Today, I am remembering and honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Mack Statham (September 24, 1934-September 2, 2013). Dr. Statham, or “Dr. Mack” as he was fondly called, was at heart a church musician. I met and befriended him while I served at First United Methodist Church of Laurel. He was a quiet, gentle, and warmly personable man, and yet he possessed an almost unstoppable energy to play prolific music every Sunday, even while his health was failing. He took the time to help anyone further their own musical expressions, especially in worship. He was an accomplished classical pianist and organist, but far from being a diva, he was an accessible, down-to-earth musician who could work with anyone under any circumstance. His approach to music and people, given his tremendous gifts, was marked by an uncanny, Christ-like love and patience. In my eyes, he was a humble giant of a man.

Dr. Mack was born and raised in Baltimore as one of seven children. The Stathams are a musical family, and so quite naturally, Dr. Mack began taking piano lessons as a child. He excelled in music and later graduated from Hampton University with a degree in music education. (He was later honored with an honorary doctorate degree from his alma mater.) He taught music in several school systems, was a veteran of the Korean War, and was a successful businessman, too.

He also spent his adult life as a church musician and music director with several churches in the Baltimore-Washington area: Metropolitan UMC in Baltimore, Asbury UMC in Washington, D.C., and First UMC in Laurel. Dr. Mack never did truly retire. In fact, he played the organ at First UMC on a Sunday morning and died that night. He truly lived out all of his days doing exactly what God had created and called him to do.

But I believe Dr. Mack’s greatest vocational accomplishment was his ability to unite whole communities of people around the gift of music.

Dr. Mack was not only a world-class musician, but he was also a prolific composer. His hallmark composition was “Trilogy of Dreams” in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He wrote it for a mass choir, two pianos, an organ, and a small orchestra. Here’s the beauty of this music: it united so much of the Laurel, MD community, black, white, different denominations, Christians, Jews, politicians, and anyone else who attended what became a yearly event called “Sing for King” on the Sunday of MLK weekend. During the six years I participated in “Sing for King” as a member of the choir, I was awed by the power of one man and his music to gather a wide diversity of the Laurel community. For one day, there was no separation of white and black, Jew and Christian, religious and non-religious, and even church and state. We were one people. The bonds these yearly events created were long-lasting.

Dr. Mack demonstrated that things as simple as music and love can unite people and form new relationships of trust and cooperation. All it took was one person with a vision, good friends, a lot of persistence, and grace to make it happen. In that way, not only did Dr. Mack advocate for peace, equality, and justice, he made it happen by offering the best of himself.

That’s an example we all could carry on.

As for me, Dr. Mack instilled many valuable lessons that shaped my life in the 6 years I knew him while serving as pastor of First UMC in Laurel. Here are a few of those lessons:

  • Whatever you commit to do, give it your all. Avoid half measures.
  • Whatever you commit to do, do it with excellence, striving for perfection. Avoid any notion of “good enough”.
  • Make the time to invest in someone else’s growth. Every person is worth our time because they, too are a gift.
  • Do what you love, and don’t stop, no matter the struggle.
  • Slower with excellence is far better than faster and sloppy.
  • Practice, practice, practice… It’s the only way to get better.
  • Trust God above all things and believe in yourself. No, that’s not a contradiction. (Dr. Mack showed how that is possible.)
  • Use your gifts wherever they are needed, no matter how small or seemingly trivial. It makes a difference.

As I write this, I miss my good friend very much. Mack, as I called him, was a rare gift, one of those few people I’ve met who profoundly impacted me for the better. For all the reasons he has touched my life and the lives of thousands of others, Dr. Mack Statham is worthy to be remembered and honored during this Black History Month. May we all live his kind of legacy to the glory of God and the blessing of others.

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Filed under Music, Race and Culture