ragamuffin: an ill-clad, dirty child
Rich Mullins at True Tunes
September 15, 1990
Rich Mullins: Well do, some of these songs we wont do on an album, because nobody wants to buy an album with these kinds of songs on it. And you know, musicians, as esoteric as we like to think we are, we also like to eat. So we try to sell albums, but thats the work end of it, the fun end of it is just doing music, and its also nice to do music when other people listen, because when you listen to yourself all the time it gets a little stale. So its kind of fun. Now if you could all move up a little more. You dont want to sit too close because I spit when I sing. (laughs) But really squeeze in here because there are still people coming in leave an aisle back there so people can get through to buy those records!
So this first song was kind of inspired by a number of things. But I always hate to say inspired because people always talk about how the scriptures are inspired and how songs are inspired and everyone always wants to play you these songs that the Lord gave them and I always think, "You know what? Youre not that lucky, if I wrote a song that bad Id want to give it away too." (laughs) I dont generally believe that God gives us songs. I dont think music is inspired in the same sense as the scriptures are inspired, the scriptures are the very breath of God and that theyre authoritative, that for all people at all times the scriptures are true. I think that songs are more provoked than inspired. And that whatever you say in a song is hopefully very honest about your own experience of God. But its not authoritative, its not divinely inspired in the sense that the scriptures are. And if I thought it was divinely inspired I would not take it to my publishers, I would take it to the American Bible Society and have them canonize it, and then it would be binding like Jeremiah is binding.
Lots of things go in to provoking a song. Lots of people were upset about The Last Temptation of Christ, which I guess was an upsetting movie. I never saw it really myself but, uh, the thing that concerned me was that people were disgusted that the movie was portraying Christ as being a man. And my understanding is that that is the Good News, is that God really did become a man, that is the essence of what Christianity is all about. If the movie failed, the failing of the movie was that it forgot to portray Christ as also being divine. And, uh, you know we were talking about what it would be like to be God and to be a man and then thinking about what it would be like to be God and be a baby. Did Jesus ever knock a window out with a baseball and have to tell the guy that he did it? Did he ever get kicked out of class for talking out of turn? What would it be like to be Mary and change Gods diaper? Mind boggling things. A lot of times sounds themselves provoke things. And you know how Mozart has a reputation for having real child like kind of music? It sounds very much like a kid wrote it, although it is very hard for kids to play. And one of the things that Mozart uses in his music are major thirds. We really had a fondness for thirds, and thirds tend to be, if youre not familiar with it, its kind of hard to describe. Its a musical interval, its two notes apart. Anyway, so Beaker was learning how to play the lap dulcimer. And if you want to write music a good idea is to get an instrument you know absolutely nothing about, and the first thing youre able to play on the instrument, write a song around that little thing because, itll be different. Because what you can play on a lap dulcimer is way different from, say, what you can play on a saxophone. So he was just playing around and all of a sudden he came up with this little melody that sounded to me to be very childlike. Each sound has its own kind of character. And he started just playing around and all of a sudden he came up with this little melody that sounded to me to be very childlike, only later did I realize that it progresses in thirds, so thats one possible explanation. So then we just started fooling around with it and ended up writing this song. Boy what a long explanation! Its probably a geeky song. So I hope you like the explanation because the song may stink.
<Boy Like Me/Man Like You>
RM: And this is where you will here a fabulous guitar solo that I just cant play. So youll just have to use your imagination unless you buy the record.
<Boy Like Me/Man Like You (cont.)>
<Where You Are>
RM: We wont be doing these till next year but you guys heard it Are you guys familiar with hammer dulicmers?
Fan: Yeah! Well, Ive heard you play them
RM: So youve heard this all, you can go get a drink. (laughs) Same old boring spiel. No, itll be nice because were not going to be doing anymore, tonights the last night of the tour, and uh
Fan: Do two shows!
RM: Two shows? Right. So I get a whole year to think of new things to say about the same old boring subjects. Do you guys know Beaker, speaking of boring subjects? (laughs) A fellow friar in the Kid Bros. Of St. Frank, and his name is Beaker, hes kind of a guitar player, dulcimer player and writes. We did those songs together. Weve been doing a lot of songs together, sometimes its fun to write with other people.
Beaker: But then again
RM: But then again sometimes the only other people around is Beaker! Uh, this is the way "One Thing" sounded before it was in the studios, so this is the real version I guess. Things arent quite in tune here but (shrugs) this is True Tunes, so what do you expect.
RM: Those "ones" are hard to hit!
<One Thing (cont.)>
RM: (stops playing) You know the rest.
<One Thing (finishes)>
RM: Well play just a couple hammer dulcimer songs that were not gonna put on an album, just cause if theyre not gonna be on an album youll never get to hear them unless we play them today, right? I have these nieces, and everyone always talks about how having kids changes your point of view about things. Im not planning on having kids or anything so I have to settle for having nephews and nieces. Nephews arent nearly as inspiring as nieces, just because you figure you turned out okay they probably can too. But girls, you know, you have to worry about girls a lot (laughs) because youre a boy. And, uh, anyway, I was thinking about, you know someday theyd probably be old enough to date, and uh, just thinking about how boring it is to be a teenager and people. When youre young youll do anything for excitement and I just think that as life progresses, as history progresses, people just keep finding duller and duller ways to excite themselves. And then I was thinking about the Sound of Music, have you all seen the movie the Sound of Music? Okay so when Maria the nun and Captain Von Trapp fell in love what was the very first thing they did when they knew it was bigger than both of them?
RM: (makes buzzer noise) Thank you for playing! (laughs) What was the very first thing they did?
RM: They danced! And so you know, were not Baptists or anything so were allowed to do that. (laughs)
Fans: Not at Wheaton College! (laughs)
RM: (smiles) But, uh, I was thinking that the more kids danced the less they would, park and stuff. So, do people park in Chicago? Is that what you do? Out in the country where I lived, if you got really bored on a date, youd just drive your car out to the most secluded place you could find and, you know talk and stuff. So what I was thinking was wouldnt it be good if there was some alternative to that because I think a lot people just dont know that theres other things you can do. So I was thinking, yeah well maybe they could dance or something. Then I was thinking about dances a lot of people do and I was thinking theyd be better off to be parking, because you know, at least the parking is discreet and a lot of the dances are very similar to (laughs). Only its a little more brazen and at least be embarrassed about it if nothing else. So then I was thinking that specifically waltzing is a very nice way to dance, its very respectful and its really very beautiful, and as long as youre messing up a lot, its a lot of fun, and uh, because you can laugh at each other. And so I decided to write a little waltz for my nieces so that if they ever got a boyfriend or something, and their boyfriend was like, "Boy, I really love you and were really bored," they could say, "Yeah, lets dance." You know so maybe it would romantic or something, get a little romance.
<Untitled Waltz on the Dulcimer>
My parents, my dad grew up back and forth between Kentucky and Virginia because my grandpa was a coal miner and when my dad was 14 my grandpa came home and told my grandma to load up the truck cause they were gonna move. So my grandma loaded up the truck to move and when they took off they were going the wrong way, and she just assumed they were going back to Virginia and they were headed somewhere else. So my grandma said, "John, well where in the world are we going?" And my grandpa said, "Well Rose, were going to Detroit." And she said, "Why in the world are we going to Detroit." And he said, "Because I dont want my boys to grow up to be coal miners." And so they got as far as Indiana and ran out of gas and thats how I got here. In fact I think most of Indiana is populated with Hillbillies that were on their way to Detroit. (laughs) Which means the only difference between Indiana people and Detroit people is that were Hillbillies that ran out of gas and theyre Hillbillies that still have gas. But being Hillbilly is kind of a nice thing, I think, because a lot of people who live down there were Irish. Which I think is kind of a nice thing to be, because God really had meant for the Irish to be His chosen people, but Abraham tricked Him out of it. And so, this is just a kind of a Hillbilly song that I wrote.
<78 Eatonwood Green>
Well, I live in Kansas now, so, you know, I think that you can live just about anywhere, except the South, and learn to like it, if you really apply yourself. And Kansas is not a place that youd ordinarily think of as being a vacation land or something like that. Most people dont nobody dreads going through Colorado on their way to Kansas. Its kind of a plains kind of thing, I think the first time I experienced it I was hitchhiking on the high plains and theres no traffic out there cause no one lives there, so I dont know why there are roads. So Im standing out there next to the highway, and I looked around and felt so conspicuous because I thought, the only bump on this landscape is me. And I just felt like I wanted to dig a little hole and crawl inside it and hide for awhile. Because you just felt like there was no place to hide and the other sensation I had simultaneously was just, you could see so far, you could see for miles and miles. Its not like here because there arent any trees out there, and just grasses just growing all around you. I felt so tiny and thought, man the world is so big and if I did dig a hole and disappear it wouldnt make any difference because, uh, were awfully awfully small and we live for a very short time. And the world got along very well without us for an awful long time. When were gone it wont make no difference that we were ever here. At first this was a little alarming to me and then after a while it began to feel kind of good because I thought, you know what? If thats how insignificant we are then its not so bad when we make mistakes, and we all make a lot of them. So thank God that its a big world and you aint very big. Kind of relieves you of a little of the pressure of always having to look perfect, because theres a lot for people to look at besides you, and most of them are not looking at you or anything else, theyre looking at themselves. Theyre worried about their own complexions. So the plains are kind of a very humbling place to be, I think. So I wrote a song about it. Beaker and I have written a song about it. And I am working on another song that I want to put on the album, but I want it to sound like a hymn, like a congregation singing, just because the Flint Hills. If you ever go to Kansas go to the Flint Hills because theyre very beautiful. Youll find them in between Kansas City and Wichita, and the spring there is this really amazing color of green. And I was just one time thinking about how beautiful the color of green was and how much it must look like Ireland. I really think that all thats gonna happen at the end of the world is the whole world is gonna blow up except for Ireland saved people will go there. But, uh, I was just thinking about green and, uh, lets see, I really dont even have that lyric finished. But I was thinking something along the lines of: "Look down on this winter wheat and be glad that you have made blue for the sky and the color green that fills these fields with praise." So think about that if you hear it on the album, youll know that I finished it. If you dont hear it youll know that my publishers didnt like it.
<Calling Out Your Name>
RM: Is it really hot in here?
RM: Oh good I thought I was hallucinating. (looks at his watch) Okay well, this song we just finished and we may not even remember how it goes, but well try it out on you.
RM: Well this is probably my favorite song that weve written lately and its just a song about a, sort of about the prodigal son. And its sort of one of those things where, you know, you read the Bible and you read the stories in there, and all of a sudden you feel like youre not reading about somebody else. You feel like youre reading a little bit about yourself, and you kind of identify suddenly with what those people went through. And I think one of the hardest things in the Christian life is (and especially for people who have grown up in America) is I think were very arrogant people. And I think its very hard to allow God to break us. I think its very hard to be broken. And I think that who the Lord loves He chastens, and that if well never be broken well never be saved. And that God doesnt break us because He hates us or because Hes angry at us but we have to be broken, just like you have to break a horse. And, uh, so Gods mercy, in this song I know a lot of people have said well, "Why do you say the reckless raging fury that they call the love of God." And all I can answer is, if youve ever known the love of God, you know its nothing but reckless and its nothing but raging. Sometimes it hurts to be loved, and if it doesnt hurt its probably not love, may be infatuation. I think a lot of American people are infatuated with God, but we dont really love Him, and they dont really let Him love them. Being loved by God is one of the most painful things in the world, its also the only thing that can bring us salvation and its like everything else that is really wonderful, theres a little bit of pain in it, little bit of hurt. So thats kind of what this is about. Well do this and then well just kind of hang out because its too hot to play anymore. We keep getting slower and slower just cause were starting to warp. I thought things werent going to warp after they got on CDs, but the players still warp. (starts to play Growing Young, stops) How does this one start? Oh yeah!