Sunday Morning Coming Down: Not!

Murphy Henry

I am a big Kris Kristofferson fan and the title of this blog refers to the line in one of his songs that goes, “There’s nothing short of dying, half as lonesome as the sound, of a sleeping city sidewalk, and Sunday morning coming down.”

I can remember feeling that way in college—not the “coming down” part (didn’t do much of that)--but the “lonesome” part, when I was up early and the whole town of Athens, Ga., seemed to be asleep.

This past Sunday, the last day of the square dance convention in Alexandria, Va., was the exact opposite. Not lonesome! I rolled out of bed at 9 a.m. (having gone to sleep at 3 a.m. after some late night picking!) and 30 minutes later I was in a nearby room playing the banjo in my pajamas!

How that happened was like this: Nick and Janet and I had played for the party following the dance on Saturday night. Nick wisely limits our playing there, saying we should leave them wanting more, rather than wear out our welcome. So we did four songs--Foggy Mountain Breakdown, Save Me A Square On The Floor, Lonesome Road Blues, and You Are My Sunshine—and called it quits. But we were in the mood to pick and I hadn’t even had one beer, so we adjourned to Chris and Nick’s suite to continue the party.

We played from about 1:30 a.m. till 2:30, closing out the evening with a bunch of gospel songs since it was, in fact, Sunday morning and Chris (Nick’s wife) said she was concerned about missing church. We called it our “late night church service” and sang Circle, I’ll Fly Away, I Saw the Light, When the Roll is Called Up Yonder, Mansion Over The Hilltop before ending with Amazing Grace. It was so much fun and I left well satisfied, especially after tasting something they called “apple corn.” Really good!

It was 3 a.m. before Becky and Darla (my roomies) stopped talking and turned off the light and it was a little past 9 when I woke up. Becky was heading for the shower and asked if anyone needed to get in there before her. I did and was just coming out when I heard this light “scritch-scratch” on our door. I looked through the peep hole and saw Janet standing there. After saying good morning and “I hope I didn’t wake you” she said, “Chris wants to know when the second Sunday morning church service starts.”

Then I had one of those “moments.” I thought, “Why not?” I’ve square danced before in my pajamas (the same ones I had on) so why not pick in my pajamas? It just seemed like the thing to do! So I told her, “Tell Chris I will put on a foundation garment and be right down.” I grabbed my banjo, my cup of hot tea, and headed down the hall barefooted. In my pajamas. (Long-sleeved red flannel if you need a picture.) And for the next hour Nick and Janet and I played gospel songs to our hearts’ content, entertaining the folks who were packing up and getting ready to leave.

What did we do? In addition to all the gospel songs we did just six hours ago, we did Precious Memories (especially for Chris), Washed in the Blood, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, What A Friend We Have in Jesus, The Old Rugged Cross, and a bunch more that I have forgotten. In the middle of our “service” Rich (the caller for the Martinsburg, W.Va. Panhandlers) passed the offering plate (a paper plate) and we netted 88 cents, 3 Cheerios, a black plastic fork, and a breath strip. I’ve sure played for less! But seldom, if ever, have I had more fun. Nick was playing fantastic lead guitar, mostly on songs he’d never played lead on before (but songs that he knew), and Janet was solid as a rock with her rhythm. I was in my element, calling the songs, doing the singing, and picking the banjo. It was So Much Fun. As Scott left the room, he said what we were all thinking, “Only 361 days till next year’s convention!” Amen to that! I’m already looking forward to more picking and dancing!

One thought on “Sunday Morning Coming Down: Not!

  1. Janet

    I am sorry I haven’t added my two cents before now, but with having my thumb surgery and other silly little things going on, I just didn’t find time to blog. I really had a wonderful time playing music with you and Nick at WASCA this weekend. It made it even sweeter, knowing that I wouldn’t be playing for a few weeks after the surgery on Monday. Thanks for your help with that too, Murphy.

    I know I have never played that much in a three day period before, and it was just great. I wish I could do that all the time. I think the Murphy Method is really the way to learn. I am a guitar student, not banjo, but I am learning more than I ever thought I would in the length of time I have been taking lessons.

    By the way, that was really fun getting you practically out of bed to go play our second church service. There were people there that time that had missed the first service. So it is always good to make all the people happy. Right???

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