Sunday, March 29, 2015

That Loving Feeling

It took some time to  select a headstone for Dad's grave in Arkansas which also became the headstone for Mom. We talked about it at his burial as we walked through the New Corinth Cemetery where so many of our kinfolk are buried. After picking the style, we came to consensus on the engraving. In my classes, we have discussed at times what we would like to have written on our tombstones and what it would say about our lives on earth. What follows is the story of a well-known musical hit and its origin in a graveyard. It was first posted on 5-26-07.

Phil Spector is on trial for murder. Spector, a legend in the pop-rock music business, is accused of shooting actress Lana Clarkson at his home in February of 2003. During the 1960's, Spector became identified with the wall of sound, overlaying conventional rock-and-roll with orchestra music, characterizing groups like the Ronettes. Showing amazing versatility, Spector also co-wrote one of the biggest hits ever, You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling, and acted in the movie, Easy Rider. His later years have been marked by his induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame as well as increasingly bizarre behavior. His trial, like those of other celebrities, has become fodder for tabloid journalism. It doesn't look good for one of the true innovators of the American music scene.

Several years ago, I preached the wedding of Becca, one of my former high school basketball players. Making it personal, I weave a story into the ceremony of how the couple came together. This one was easy- Becca and Brian had known each other since they were children. I was able to incorporate a beautiful song from 1958 by a group called The Teddy Bears. The writer of that tune as well as its guitar player, backup singer, arranger, and producer was none other than seventeen year old Phil Spector. The song rocketed to the number one spot in the charts and established Spector as a force to be reckoned with. The title and repeating line was To Know Him Is To Love Him. Spector penned the song for teenager Annette Kleinbard, the lead singer of The Teddy Bears, with the inspiration for the smash record coming from an unlikely source. Spector's father had committed suicide nine years before the song was released. On a visit to the cemetery, Phil noticed the epitaph on Ben Spector's headstone read, "To know him was to love him." Making a slight change from past to present tense, he used the tribute to his dad as a springboard to a classic piece of music history. 

It's easy to play armchair psychologist and wonder if his father's death helped cause Spector's problems; the murder charge is not the first allegation that he used guns to intimidate others. Maybe a more normal childhood would have led to a more normal adult life. I just returned home from our Westbury Christian School graduation. As always, I was overwhelmed with the family connections between our seniors and moms and dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles. The correlation between the spiritual family and love is a welcome Biblical theme. Look at the measurement John chooses:
"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 
(1st John 3:1) 
I like lavished. It would be a sweeter world if all earthly fathers loved that way. Judging from his tombstone, someone thought Phil Spector's father was a pretty remarkable guy. It's a shame Phil only had nine years to find out. It might have made a difference.

Applicable quote of the day:
"I'm dealing in rock'n'roll. I'm, like, I'm not a bona fide human being."
Phil Spector

PS: To view Phil Spector and this beautiful song, click the youtube selection below. 
Phil is the one playing guitar.

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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