Tucked in the driver’s door of my van is a small CD case. Most of the CD’s in it are commercially made, but a few were made by friends. Last week I removed one from the back of the case that had written on it “Good ones” in the precise black ink penmanship of Connor, a deceased brother-in-law who had complied many CD’s for me before he died. After his funeral, I gave the ones I had to his granddaughter, but this one had somehow remained with me, tucked away.
The note on it is correct: The jazz, soul, rock, and blues songs are by various artists and all are good. It is a soulful and restful gathering of vocals and instrumentals, but none of the songs or the musicians are identified. Yet, I put it in the slot and listened as I drove around on errands. The ninth song on the CD grabbed me: A rendition of Bob Dylan’s song from the 60’s, I Will Be Released. Driving about town I would push the repeat button each time the song finished, listening to the voice that I could not identify but liking the way the unknown woman had arranged the song of injustice. After about a week of driving and listening, I came into the modern world and typed the song title into the search engine of my computer. Mercy! This old dog finally found Nina Simone singing the version that Connor copied for the CD.
When you have 4:21 to spare, go to: https://youtu.be/w-du8MDE8nk and treat yourself. You will hear Simone’s great voice and the fabulous musicians give life to Dylan’s song. But as much as I like the rendition, it is the first fifteen seconds that cause me to remember Connor.
Listening carefully, you will hear the musicians beginning, but something goes wrong and Simone says to them, “Y’all pushin’, you’re pushin’ it, you’re pushin’ it! Just relax, relax. You’re pushing it. It’ll go up by itself! Don’t put nothin’ in it unless ya feel it! Let’s do it again, please.”
Relax she says and it will go up by itself. While Simone is speaking about the cutting of the song, her words carry way over into living. I like to think that she knew that, and I know that Connor did. He lived that. He never pushed because he knew that it would go up by itself. He was not indifferent or lazy. In fact, he was quite successful. But he enjoyed living. He loved people. Being around him was relaxing and fun and it required nothing but feeling life: The good living he modeled by feeling it.
What a chance for me on removing the gold CD from the back of the case. While Connor comes to me through the music on the CD, he especially does through cut number 9 and Simone’s charge not to push it, but to relax and feel it. It will go up by itself.