The first three songs on the list are
1. O Little Town Of Bethlehem,
2. The Ash Grove, and
3. David's OCD Song
The discussion of those is here.
4. Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound. Tom Paxton’s song comes in for me around 1968, singing at coffee houses and bein’ a folkie. While the antiwar and clever cynicism songs were my staples then, this one turned out to be a truer expression of what happened later. Funny thing about those antiwar songs. It turns out that people besides hippies were aware that people die in them and they are often tragic for individuals. Go figure. I thought we discovered that.
In the folk music battle for the soul of the AVI, Phil Ochs lost. Pete Seeger lost. Country Joe lost. Can’t Help But Wonder fits the genre of Hobo’s Lullaby, All My Trials, and Man Of Constant Sorrow, which are probably prettier songs. But I never was a hobo, never was weary unto death, and never had constant sorrow, so it would be more than a little artificial for me to aspire to that much melancholy.
5. Darlin’ Be Home Soon I studiously avoided using too many songs from the late 60’s and early 70’s when I was a singer. I needn’t have bothered; now there are very few on the list. “Performer” was much of my self-definition then, including a moderate dishonesty in all my interactions, trying to look more impressive than I was. It is a common failing, I suppose, and I shouldn’t feel guilty about it these many years later.
For years, my wife would ask me to play guitar and sing at home, and often asked for this song ins specific. She has regarded it as an important song to us. I wish I agreed. I sang lots of Sebastian’s songs, and sang this one soulfully. I can make it sound like it really is deeply moving. But aside from a year of our engagement, Tracy and I have been almost constant companions for over thirty years, and this “be home soon” part never fit much of our actual lives. Because we both worked and didn’t want to take any more time away from the children, we seldom went out, except to church meetings. And we brought the kids to a lot of those, too. Until I first went to Romania in 1998, I don’t think we were ever apart for more than a weekend.
Plus, it’s not a very good song. So why did I choose it? To honor my wife’s part in this list, perhaps. And to point out that some of the things that attach to your life arrive for all the wrong reasons, but still turn out to be the right thing.
6. Since By Man Came Death This is part of Handel’s Easter Oratorio, which I sang with church choir senior year of highschool. I learned a great deal about the moods of music, and the power of musics that weren’t on the radio or considered especially cool. Handel shook me out of a lot of my prejudices. And taught me a lot of scripture to boot. The theology of this piece, stressing the importance of the Fall and the Incarnation, is simple yet profound.