Saturday, February 03, 2007

Gospel According to Grandma's Hands

(Just a heads-up: Blogger SUMMARILY MOVED ME to the New Blogger. SO I have no idea whether I face repercussions from that or whether this will work. Anyway.)

It was about 15 or 20 below here with the wind chill last night, and so of course it made perfect sense to go out. I ventured on over to The Kent Stage to catch the Livingston Taylor show.

What an unexpected perfect treat, and well worth braving the blistering cold wind.

It's not every day you get to hear someone as self-effacing and smart as Livingston Taylor, and I got to hang out from the second row. (There were a few songs where I do believe he INTENTIONALLY made me cry. But that's ok.) He's got a slew of stories to his songs, and some that have not been released yet will just have you rolling on your floor. Check them out at

Taylor ended the show with a powerful a capella rendition of this tune called Grandma's Hands. I think often we face our days wishing we had that old grandma wisdom that many of us have lost. Lord knows I absolutely have needed it (Crone wisdom!). The only grandma I knew died when I was about four years old, but I do believe my mother carried on quite well in her absence, and my kids, especially my son, have some pretty powerful memories of her.

I do recall on Sunday mornings, or sometimes Saturday evenings, I would join my mother for church beginning at around age 5 or 6. Sometimes we would pick up one of her friends, the wife of a prominent funeral director, whose grandsons I later went to school with for a time. It was Charlie Sr.'s hearse that carted away my father one morning. Little did I know then how those church visits and that last ride of my dad's might be connected somehow, but that's not a topic for this blog.

I remember very little about my grandma's hands, but I do remember my mother's hands, which had become a little misshapen with swelling and arthritis by the time she died. We never did much handclapping in church, but when a tune got her going, she sure did clap and stomp and whatever else she could. She loved all kinds of music, and bluesy soul and gospel was no exception.

Livingston grew up in North Carolina and now lives in Boston, where with the exception of the folks over at Rounder Records there ain't a whole lot of real gospel, just lots of those stoic pilgrim hymns (some of which have been gospelfied, if you'll recall.) This capper to his show was a real gift, and a nice way to honor this Gospelgrass Sunday. The version below at Rhapsody features Bill Withers. May you take a moment today to think on the things your Grandma taught you, along with the candy, or in my case, Adam's Clove Gum, she slipped you now and then.

Grandma's Hands

Grandma's hands clapped in church on Sunday morning
Grandma's hands played a tambourine so well
Grandma's hands used to issue out a warning
She'd say, "Liv don't you run so fastMight fall on a piece of glass
Might be snakes there in that grass"
Grandma's hands

Grandma's hands soothed an unwed mother
Grandma's hands used to ache sometimes and swell
Grandma's hands used to lift her face and tell her
She'd say, "Baby, Grandma understands
That you really loved that man
Put your faith in Jesus's hands"
Grandma's hands

Grandma's hands used to hand me piece of candy
Grandma's hands picked me up each time I fell
Grandma's hands well, they really came in handy

She'd say, "Hattie, don't you hit that boy
What you wanna spank him for?
He didn't drop no apple core"
But I don't have Grandma anymore

When I get to Heaven I'll look for
Grandma's hands
Grandma's hands
Grandma's hands


At February 04, 2007 9:50 PM, Blogger Darkneuro said...

I'm really glad you braved the cold and had a great show :)

At February 04, 2007 10:25 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hey you! Thanks for stopping by! How odd, I tried to leave a comment on your blog today and New Better Blogger threw it out...anyway sounds like things are groovy and the stuff that's not so much will just be a passing memory someday. Eventually. Right now, yes, just don't think about it much.

Stay groovy.



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