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Luther Guitar Jr. Johnson

Spirit and Love

Recently, we in our household of "brothers" and a "sister" watched a movie called "Stand by Me". It was a story about 4 young male friends and their relating and adventuring together. The song was a familiar one, although the story line differed in many of its details from the lives of those we knew, the core message of the intensity and caring of young "brothers" for one another was familiar as well.

As synchronicity would have it, that very week an old friend of one of the "brothers" here at the house called to arrange a get together. For me, a sisterly observer/participant, this example of filial "brotherly" love was one of the greatest gifts of my life. The drive through the thick fog felt timeless. A radio station cooperated by playing songs from the time they once cavorted in, the time of loud rock and awakening glands in the sixties. It was about an hour away by car for each to leave behind their "newer" lands and meet at the pub where another of the friends, "Big Jack", was performing. He'd finally found his niche playing guitar in Luther "Guitar Jr." Johnson's band. As we sailed on past the stage, my "brother" nodded and waved so as to give recognition, but not disturb the performance of his old comrade. We, along with our new found friend, were blessed with the last table in the house, right in front of the amp. Although equipped with the latest model of earplugs, they were unnecessary, for perfect sound engineering was the order of the evening. We were joined shortly by the other brother-friend and another of his old friends. They greeted each-other with hugs that clearly demonstrated a love and passion without words. Then, another newer brother-friend joined us to bear witness to the event.

What had changed in the 18 years that had passed? Not much other than the obvious larger bodies, receding and graying hair, but one thing was clearly different. In their youth, there was a distance created by the glandular search of "who'll be my lover", the societal expectations of "what'll be my work" and "where do I go from here". And so they went their separate ways, spurned by their longings, one for the wife, one for the music and one for Self-Realization and community life.

Tonight, all of the separation was removed. Simply being here, and enjoying one another, with no place else to be, nothing else to do, no one else to be looking for. All there was…a reaffirmation of the caring for one another that had been there all along. There was something eternally blissful about this coming together. The feeling of knowing you are living in a dream, when this moment is crystallized in time, having happened before, and will happen again, although maybe not ever again like this, in this lifetime.

Luther went on singing the blues, awakening all to a greater clarity as he provided the backdrop for this heavenly reunion. The last song was sung. We were among the last to leave, wanting to savor every moment. Laughingly, business cards and humor were exchanged in the parking lot, and it was back to separate cars, one heading north, one heading south, and one heading east to bring another to the airport to head west. Once again the fog was thick. The rock and roll station of the ride of anticipation to the bar was now exchanged for the classical music station for the ride of heartfelt satisfaction on the ride home. It was a perfect backdrop for Luther's version of "Stand By Me", which reverberated through my brain all the way home into the next morning, when I awoke from dream, still humming that song. Luther, you left us with anything but the blues!