Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hail To The Chief

I have never taken an interest in politics. I claim no political affiliation (much to the disappointment of my father, a long standing Democrat). And yet, this past presidential campaign had captured my interest as never before. I found myself watching with growing interest some of the more high profile candidates. I wasn't very informed on the politics of the candidates, but still I listened and I watched and I waited.

The first time I ever heard Barack Obama speak was in 2005. He was receiving an award from the NAACP. I didn't know much about him other than he was senator of Illinois and I don't recall much what he said. I do remember thinking how eloquent he was, how passionate he seemed to be, and how he could possibly run for president one day and have a really good shot at it.

In a speech given at a dinner fundraiser back in 2005, Mr. Obama stated, "The battle lines may have shifted and the barriers to equality may be new, but what's not new is the need for everyday heroes to stand up and speak out for what they believe is right." He may already have been grooming himself for the White House.

Fast forward three years and presidential candidate Barack Obama is spiraling up the polls and generating a historical ripple that would change the face of this nation. He campaigned in Utah when I was still living there. The news reports showed a huge following in a predominantly Republican state. The press coverage showed a mass amount of people showing up to support him. That was impressive.

At the California Democratic Convention, he said "if we don’t meet those challenges, we could end up leaving our children a world that’s a little poorer and a little meaner than we found it." He sounded sincere, concerned, hopeful, truthful...he sounded like he really wanted to make a difference. And I believed him.

When he says, "Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who's willing to work. That's the promise of America, the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation, the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper." I believe him.

And when he rallied the country under one banner and reached out to those across the globe, he spoke to the world saying "This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can." So says, President Barack Obama. And I believe him.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

There is a book store down the road from where I live; I've passed it every day for the past 2 months. I look for the sign, even though I already know what it says, and as I come up on it, I read it and it makes me smile. Yes, that's odd, weird even, but it, there! Two months is a long time to deny myself the opportunity of perusing the endless possibilities of literature. I was hesitant to go inside because, well don't laugh, but I didn't want to be disappointed. I didn't want to find that it was a crappy store full of crappy books. That would have been so disheartening and....crappy.

Paperbacks Unlimited, which is the name of the store, is a literary treasure trove. They have a large selection of genres to choose from, which I can attest to because I walked the length and width of the store in the course of 3 hours. It didn't take 3 hours to walk through the store, it took me 3 hours of perusal within the store. I shop in bookstores like some people shop for clothes or shoes. We are all addicts of one thing or another. I publicly acknowledge that I love British literature best, but I would never presume to limit myself to any particular genre, because . . . well, I love books.

So, imagine my surprise when I found a book entitled "Danny Boy, The Lengend of the Beloved Irish Ballad." I've always had a fascination with the song "Danny Boy." I'm sure it has a lot to do with the fact that my brother's name is Danny, but ever since I was about 7 or 8 years old, and I heard Doris Day sing "Danny Boy" I was hooked. And now I have a book about the song.

3 interesting facts about the song "Danny Boy."
1.) The words were written by a British lawyer (Frederick Edward Weatherly) who wrote it on a train on his way to work in 1910.
2.) The tune for the song "Danny Boy" is based on an old Irish melody called Londonderry Air that is over 300 years old.
3.) The lyrics for "Danny Boy" had been filed away for 2 years until Weatherly was sent a melody and was asked to write lyrics to compliment the music. He dug the lyrics of "Danny Boy" out of his old files, and with only a few alterations, a new song was born.

The author, Malachy McCort, wrote that the song "has a profound effect on people from all corners of the world, a trait it shares with the truest of any work of art." As much as I love the song, "Danny Boy," I never once thought of it as a work of art. But, McCort is correct in stating that the song has the capability of reaching people everywhere, and after having read the book, I can see the artistic value of the song.

A melody was performed by a blind Irish fiddler and his tune is carried across the sea and mingled with the words of an English lawyer who creates "a song capable of describing, at least in part, the contents of the human heart." Any rendition of the song will cause a lump in my throat and bring tears to my eyes. The words are full of longing and sorrow, faith and hope, loss and reunions. It's all of those adjectives and more.

Aren't books wonderful?