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Russ Kay: "Hearts and Minds"
Bar Harbor
This is the script for the first of several services that dad performed at our UU church over the years. They all focused on music in one way or another, as that was a central part of dad's life and thought. While undated, context suggests it is from 1974 or 5.

Last Monday I saw a motion picture that caused me a good deal of personal upset. The film was "Hearts and Minds," an award-winning documentary dealing with our country's involvement in the View Nam War, a film by the way you're never going to see on television, I can tell you that. It upset me for two reasons primarily. First, it brought back the passion of my feelings over the whole long struggle of the last decade that I'd been aware of it, reminding me how easy it is now that we're not in it to forget and how painful it is to remember. The second reason I was upset was that the film kept bringing to me the overriding question of why: why had we been there and why had our government for twenty years, twenty-five years so completely ignored the feelings of the people, the evidence of their eyes. I went home that evening and I spent a lot of time thinking about the war and thinking about all the other events of the last decade--the things that happened, the issues that concerned me, my feelings and my actions. I also thought about the music that went along with the times--not particularly the popular music but the music that had special meaning for me, then and now. Because you see music is a very special and very important part of my life. I can't sing, on key, in any key. I can't play any musical instrument but nonetheless music is one of the most important and most enjoyable aspects of my daily life. So I decided to try and put together a short sequence of musical pieces to share with you here today, a sequence that might give some structure and some expression to the feelings I had that night. But Marshall McLuhan was right--the medium becomes the message. And in the process of putting it together I got seduced by the process. And the structure that I'd hoped to build quickly became kind of unrecognizable. So in the end, what I have is almost a stream of consciousness presentation. It rambles some and it doesn't really have any central point to make. And while it might tell you a little bit about me, I suspect that the gaps are a lot more significant than what bridges them. But I hope you'll enjoy it anyway. I started out back with that question of why and in an attempt to understand I went back to the beginning.

GOD ON MY SIDE - Miriam Makeba


That's where my original self-imposed program went off course. The first verse of that last song conjured up, inevitably I guess these days, the whole Watergate business. And I just couldn't resist throwing in a personal comment which I think fairly adequately describes my feelings a year ago August when Mr. Nixon resigned as president.


Well, after that I was in a somewhat more positive mood and somehow out of a little depression and I felt a little bit more positive about things in general, including the country. So I turned to a song that I've loved for a long time. Its a song that many people have said should be our national anthem and I think maybe its the best song Woody Guthrie ever wrote.


Everytime I head that I feel a little more refreshed and renewed. It does a lot of good things for me and one of them is that it reminds me how beautiful, how physically beautiful a country we live in. And so from there I'm going to go to a song which was a very popular song a few years ago. Its something that we discovered last year. Its also in our hymn book in a slightly altered form. Its a song that captures for me, captures in its words and music a very special piece of the earth's poetry.


I thought about ending it on that note, no pun intended. But it didn't seem quite right to me. I wanted to bring the focus back to people. And, well, I thought about a piece of music that has always been important to me. Its the last movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, the choral setting of Schiller's Ode to Joy. And just to be sure, I re-read the Schiller poem in translation and yes, it was concerned not just with joy but with the brotherhood of man, the peoplehood of man. Well, its a lovely piece of music but to me it has kind of an inflated quality that somehow takes it above human scale. So I'm not going to play the music that by now you've decided that I'm going to play for you, not quite. What I do have is another version of that same music, an instrumental version that takes that music and brings it down to the level of the people and I hope you'll find, as I have, that without the need of 200 musicians, the music still sings and the message still comes through.

ODE TO JOY - Pete Seeger
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1975, based on "a year ago August".

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