Monday, July 15, 2024
Photo: RWN
On the Road with Mike Murchison

The wind, the lamb, and the…missiles

We all have that one song. That one song that will stop us in our tracks. The first few notes hit the ear drums and regardless of what I’m doing, I stop. I take a deep breath and I can feel the muscles in my face contorting my lips into a smile.

If you were to look at me as the song was playing, you might see a blank stare. A far off look in my eyes and you would think to yourself “the lights are on but he ain’t home…”

What song could it be? you may wonder.  An Elvis Presley song? Maybe a Gordon Lightfoot number. Might it be a Stevie Ray Vaughn rocker?

All great artists with their great catalogues of tunes that have left their mark.

No. The song that stops me in my tracks is a song that’s only played during the Christmas season. “Huh?” you say!

Back in 1962 I was one year old doing what one-year-olds do at home in Sydney, Nova Scotia. I knew nothing much about music at that age. I knew much about nothing at that age.

But further south on the same Atlantic coastline in a town called Brookline, Massachusetts a young lady of Jewish heritage did.  She was a songwriter and collaborated with her husband Noel Regney. Her name was Gloria Shayne Baker.

She grew up next to a very prominent family. Her neighbours were Joseph and Rose Kennedy. Yup! Those Kennedys. Who as you probably know had some sons and daughters. One of whom, in 1962, had the most difficult job on the planet. John F. Kennedy, Gloria’s former neighbour lived in the Whitehouse and held the position of President of the United States of America

History shows that in 1962 an event known as “The Cuban Missile Crisis” was world-wide news, day-in and day-out. Many speculated that the world was on the edge of nuclear annihilation.

Russia had been moving into Cuba missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Why Cuba?

Well, it’s 90 miles from Miami. Fidel Castro wasn’t fond of Kennedy nor the capitalist way of life and for him, the big leader of a small island, he was liking the promises and protection offered by Russia.

So, for many tense months, verbal volleys, threats and wait-and-see strategies were tossed around. It was one of the greatest poker matches in political history.

Gloria’s husband Noel was working on an instrumental arrangement and at some point, he asked Gloria to write some lyrics that had a message to them.

Now I’m sure growing up as a neighbor of the Kennedy’s no doubt Gloria thought about the President often. Considering he was front page news every day.

No doubt she had some concern for the President considering the immense responsibility that rested on his shoulders to protect the free world from the spread of Communism and nuclear war.

What lyric could she possibly pen for a Christmas song? The holly, the jingle bells, snowman and dashing through the snow stuff wouldn’t cut it. Gloria wanted words that had a “real” message.

God uses people to make the world a better place. Make people better people. Sometimes God will use someone to whom He gave a gift to help accomplish those things. In Gloria’s case it was words. So…..

One day a Jewish songwriter put pen to paper and wrote the lyrics to one of the best known (and my utmost favourite) Christmas song.

A song that tells the listener to just STOP! Stop, listen and look:

“Do you hear what I hear?”

Said the night wind to the little lamb

“Do you hear what I hear?”

A song, a song high above the tree with a voice as big as the sea

With a voice as big as the sea

With a voice as big as the sea.

Said the little lamb to the Shepard boy

“Do you see what I see?

Way up in the sky Shepard boy.

A star, a star dancing in the night

With a tail as big as a kite

With a tail as big as a kite…”

Thank you, Gloria.