The best way I know to pass long hours in a tractor is with the radio. Maybe that’s because it’s the only way; but still, it’s a good way. But what’s a man to do when the songs get repetitive? That’s when I make up my own songs. Sometimes they’re silly. Most of the time they’re embarassingly bad. Usually, I forget them before I get home and then the cycle starts all over again tomorrow. But every-so-often there’s a good one. This is a story about one of those.
Don’t get the impression that this might be a top-ten song. It’s not. But it means something to me and so floats to the surface like a serendipitous message on a Magic 8 Ball. But as I go back and forth, I begin to sing this song like a slow country waltz:
Tractor wheels go ’round and ’round/ as I go back and forth/ and that west wind blows and the sun beats down/ on my back and the corn/ and as the shadows grow from that ol’ hedgerow/ there’s one thing I know/ I won’t be home for supper… tonight.
Now I don’t have a guitar with me in the tractor, but I can tell this is a three-chord song. Three chords, the truth and a melody that sounds like Waylon Jennings’ “Luckenbach, Texas”. But is that really so bad? So anyway, here we are going back and forth and singing this little song. And I’m starting to like it. But every good song needs a chorus, so I start to sing again:
No, I won’t be home for supper tonight/ And I’m thankful for my understanding wife/ And I’ll pray the Lord her soul to keep as she tucks our kids in tight/ But I won’t be home for supper tonight.
Whoa. This is great! Points with the wife and God glorified! All the bases are covered! Sadly, however, this is where most songs die: one verse and one chorus in. Interruptions, “writer’s block”, loss of interest or lack of raw talent conspire to murder inspiration… and usually succeed in doing so. Determined to rescue this little ditty, I turn to the old cowboy-poets for help on verse 2.
I got Waylon, Willie and the boys/ turned way up loud to drown out all the noise/ But these cowboy songs are growin old and I’m longin for my home/ but I won’t be home for supper tonight.
No I won’t be home for supper tonight/ and I’m thankful for my understanding wife/ And I’ll pray the Lord her soul to keep as she tucks our kids in tight/ But I won’t be home for supper tonight
By now you’ve noticed that this blog post is a story about a song that’s a story about me. If you’re like me, you’re hoping that it all comes to a point real quick. Then it dawns on me: songs are born out of a longing heart. It’s one of those heart-pounding, earth-shaking moments when all of creation has to be examined with this new revelation. Songs are born out of a longing heart! Every hymn, each love song and lost-love song, happy and sad songs and even the silliest song you can imagine addresses some longing of the human heart. Pause here to reflect on this theory. See if it rings true.
This song of mine is no different. I just long for home. No, I long for Home. Sure I want to go home to eat and rest, but my longing for money for food, water and shelter will send me back to work tomorrow… and the next day. What I long for is an end to longing. What I need is a bridge.
Someday I’ll go Home to stay/ where longing seems so far away/ and I won’t be hungry anyway/ but for now I’ll just work and pray/ in expectation of that day/ but I won’t be home for supper tonight.
There it is: the ultimate reason for a song; the ultimate end to all longing. This is the reason for singing and, I’m told, it’s the reason we’ll sing for all eternity.
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