A STRONGER VOICE by Mud Toe Sasquatch
Easter Sunday, one year ago, I stood next to my mother. She likes me
to accompany her to Easter services, so my eternal soul does not fall
into damnation. For my part, I enjoy the Eucharist service, sharing
the body and blood of Jesus Christ. It takes me back to my roots, and
makes me feel part of something larger. Mostly, though, I enjoy the
music, and Easter music is the best of the church year. Many people
prefer Christmas music – with its lilting beauty, it is much more
accessible. Easter music, on the other hand, smashes and crashes.
Jesus is back, and he’s kicking ass and taking names. The music is
big and loud, but also requires precision. You have to be a good
singer to do Easter music well.
I was a good singer, when I was young. I’d toast the Easter music,
and people in nearby pews would look over at me in wonder and
jealousy. It was one of the few things that got me attention, and I
played it for all it was worth. But that was many years ago, and at
Easter Sunday, one year ago, I struggled. Couldn’t hit the high
notes, wavered on the medium notes, kept running out of breath. I
got so frustrated, I didn’t even attempt the final hymn, “Now All the
Vault of Heaven Resounds,” because I knew I couldn’t do it justice. I
was pissed off all day – time and change and robbed me of yet another
thing I loved.
It might have ended there, but as it happened, there was a music store
next to the office where I was working, and one morning a sign
appeared, advertising music lessons, First Lesson Free! It took me a
few weeks to work up the nerve, but I showed up one day, and a tall,
youngish guy named Neil put me through my musical paces. I told him I
wanted to be able to hit the high notes at church, and he said he
could help me with that. $99 for 4 weekly lessons, and we went to
We sang scales, church music, Elvis, and The Beatles. I could feel my
voice getting stronger right away, and the stronger it got, the more I
wanted to work. At the end of every month, there was a “jam session,”
where all the music students were encouraged to show what they could
do. I skipped the first few months, but when I finally went, I found
the guitarists and bassists and drummers to be very talented and
supportive. It was amazing how quickly they picked up music – I threw
out “I Saw Her Standing There,” they started speaking in their guitar
code —, D, C, D, 6 beats, key change — and we were performing the
song in five minutes.
As I left that night, feeling better about myself than I had in
months, the bass player handed me a card. “There’s a jam session on
Wednesday nights at the Blue Pickle Bar,” he informed me. “Why don’t
you come out and sing with us sometime?”
And so I did. Often, the guitarist, the bass player, and I were the
only ones there, and I got to sing for two hours solid. Other times,
other musicians would show up, and we would share the wealth. It’s
become the high point of my week. Often, I think of how I might bring
that energy into the rest of my life. I wonder if it isn’t about
positive reinforcement, having others recognize what I do, but isn’t
it also true that I never would have found that feedback if I’d never
gone to that music lesson and put myself out there in the first place?
But even with the jam sessions, I hadn’t met my goal, which was to
reconquer Easter. This year, I went back, with my mother at my side
as always. Most of the hymns were rather pedestrian, but the closer
was “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.” I freakin’ nailed it.
Mud Toe’s voice is risen. It is risen indeed.
*** Copyright 2016 by Mud Toe Sasquatch —- all rights reserved