Charlie Peacock, No Man’s Land (2012)

Grit, Gumption & Faith
My office window looks out over the front yard of Toad Hall. I can see the thistle feeder where the goldfinches gather, and I can see the arrival of the UPS truck. Having offices at home means we are visited regularly by drivers delivering things we’ve ordered, and I always feel slightly disappointed when the truck passes by without stopping. One thing they deliver are CDs, and I almost always stop what I am doing to load whatever arrived into iTunes so I can listen to the new music.

One CD that arrived recently is Charlie Peacock’s No Man’s Land (2012). “These songs,” Charlie writes in the liner notes, “are inspired by the grit, gumption, and faith of my grandparents.” His ancestors, who settled in Louisiana in the early 1800s, were, if these songs are any measure, the sort of people who left a strong legacy of music, family, and hard work.

Over the past few months I have felt a weight in my soul over events that represent loss I am not prepared to experience but over which I have no control. When I first heard “Only You Can,” it seemed I had found a kindred spirit, someone who could assure me I am not alone.

I’ve been lost, I’ve been found,
now it feels like I’m falling off the grid
Is there no great God in heaven
watching the drama go down?
I used to trust there was
now I wonder where he is
I can work on the mind
but what about the feelings?

Like all the songs on No Man’s Land, there is deep wisdom embedded in the lyrics, wisdom born of Charlie’s living within the story of Scripture over many years. This is not a religious album, in the narrow sense of the term, but it is music that quietly radiates something of God’s glory in a musical expression of the disappointments, hopes, and surprises of ordinary life. The instrumentalists and vocalists backing Charlie up are first rate, and lend a sound to the album that is both creative and reassuring that home might be possible, even in a broken world.

The loss I bear involves someone, a dear friend, who is dying though he is far too young to die. Cancer has ravaged his body, though no one knew of its insidious existence until six months ago. Now the doctors say he does not have that much time left to live. Yet, with good humor, generosity of spirit, and quiet faith my friend hopes for better things.

Well I’ve had my hand in
everything and nothing at all
I’m runnin’ like a whirlwind
while waiting for the call
I’m trippin’ in the darkness
lit up like the sun
I’m falling for a vision
till my body comes undone

This is what I see in my friend. It is what I wish for myself. It seems to me to be a sufficient summary of a life lived well.

Charlie is a friend of mine, but I would have written this even if I didn’t know him. His background in jazz, lovely voice, and richly simple arrangements make this CD the sort of music I keep going back to, and will for some time to come.


CD recommended: No Man’s Land by Charlie Peacock (Twenty Ten Music; 2012)