Why Go South?

... was my fellow singer’s question. His years in Sacred Harp contrasted sharply with my short chronos. Fragments of thoughts spun through my mind as I sought the words that would pursuade. I felt like the sighted man trying to describe the glories of blues or reds, greens and yellows to the blind. Or the meaning of life to the dead. My words are not up to the task. To sit on plank benches in a plain little church in the middle of a pine woods. A room whose walls laugh back any sound silly enough to venture an escape, filled with people you love. Hooting sounds composed in heaven with a thunder greater than any chorus of angels. Sharing round the pain of dying by singing it right down in the face. Living and singing with the people who were (and are) too stubborn to trade in the beautiful for the acceptable. To be part of a remnant in time, attached to the roots of a great old tree and given the chance to partake in its nurture. For this there are no words-only hints. To understand go. GO!

Keith Willard
Minneapolis, Minnesota
first published in Prairie Harmony, Volume 2, #2, May 1991