Sunday, August 05, 2007

Battle Hymn – another strange entry

Let me begin by saying, “I hate jazz,” though hate is perhaps a bit strong. “Anything but” is more accurate.

However, H. Johnson's "Jazz Classics" radio show, heard every Saturday night from 9:00 to 2 a.m. on Atlanta’s PBS station, has become something of a routine and companion – the only one there on some pretty lonely nights.
And the best part of the show is the introduction, Father TomVaughn's version of Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Born Thomas Wade Vaughn, in Kentucky, he began music around the age of eight, attended Yale University, and in 1965 entered the Episcopal priesthood. That same year he sat in with Gene Krupa's quartet in Detroit. As a Jazz pianist Ftaher Tom recorded several albums the total quantity of which is unknown, because most (if not all) of these records have been out of print for many years. After his final album, "Joyful Jazz" (which includes the Battle Hymn), Father Tom remained under the radar despite a handful of great recordings. … of which I think the Battle Hymn of the Republic is a most powerful expample.

So, I thought I’d buy a copy and went on line.
I discovered the above facts – this musician was really a priest. (H. Johnson is such your consummate “cool cat” I thought when he said “Father” Tom Vaughn he meant it like “brother” or something I wasn’t quite following.) But the man really was a priest.

And I discovered that you can’t buy or download his music.
But, I did find the Battle Hymn on YouTube.
And that’s where this whole story turned so strange, or allegorical (?).

To me, Battle Hymn is about the noble and the holy part of this nation’s psyche.
I had No Idea that it’s got this connection (apparently, if I interpret the YouTube entries correctly) to the University of Georgia’s football team.

There is a clip of a lone bugler, high above a packed Stanford Stadium peeling out the opening notes. And everyone falls hushed. So, one confusion to me is why, why is an old Dixie school so enamored by a song about the “Republic” – didn’t Georgia want to secede?
(Or am I just bitter, being educated and liberal in a state whose flagship educational institution proudly boast, “Hunker down hairy dog, hunker down.”)

But, this is not what really got me.

What really did it was Father Tom Vaughn’s Battle Hymn used as the cover music for some UGA football clips. A pass from the end zone and a spectacular 92-yard run by Lindsay that wins the game 26-21, and the crowd goes wild.
Mixed in over video and Father Tom is the sports commentator. This guy apparently breaks his chair during the play and then proceeds to rave joyously about how all over Georgia tonight "property will be destroyed" as it’s all part of “the worlds greatest cocktail party.”

It’s strange.
It’s all confused.
I can’t really untangle it or think it through.
But somehow, in all this, I think there lies one way we subconsciously indoctrinate our young. We convince them of the glory in going off to war. We reassure parents that nobel sacrifice is a sufficent compensation. And it's all a lie.

Yes. There are things worth dying for. Cheerleaders wiggling their butts and drunks smashing furniture are not on the list.
Or are they?

See what you think.
But better, enjoy the music. Ignore the ignorance.
(OH, look! – ignorance and ignore are the same root…interesting.)

... how I do this: I write some entry and then go to Flickr and find a nice photo. Please click on this one and read it's entry. As Paul Harvey would say it's "the rest of the story." This teaching young people to go to war, goes very deeply into our fibers. And it's twisted!


Hyperion said...

Amen, baby!

S Vaughn said...

Take it for one who knows... Father Tom began his piano playing at the age of 4 and yes, Episcopalian Priest he is... The most amazing, falling asleep to his relentless practicing typically 8 to 10 hours daily... He is named Leonard Feathers "top 200 most influencial Jazz Musicians in the 21st Century" Los Angeles Times entertainment critic. How do I know... I am his daughter! Dad is live and well.

Pat Bralley said...

I wish you could have heard the "Ohhh!" that came out of me when I read "I am his daughter"... or felt the tears that filled my eyes.
Thank you so much for writing - what a blessing to have such a father... and a lot of love!

Jim said...

Just seeking Fr. Tom Vaughn around the internet and came upon your blog.
I would love to be able contact him by email (or any other way).
I worked for an RCA distributer back in the 60's and acquired the first two albums by Fr. Tom Vaughn with which I was thrilled.
Although I still worked there when Motor City Soul came out, I somehow never bought that one and regretted it for a long time. Then I was happy to find "Joyful Jazz" years later.

Just recently I was lucky to find someone with a brand new wrapped copy of Motor City Soul. So I am the proud owner of the entire four albums all in mint condition. Just like to say to Father Tom, "God Bless You" and Thanks for the many hours of pleasure.

Pat Bralley said...

I love the internet for this very reason... we can begin to find each other... and give thanks where it's due.
Appreciate your message! Thanks.