A Search for "Unitarian Blues" Unexpectedly Took Me Where I Wanted To Be

I often say that I’m not much on religion, and that’s true, but I’m not without belief.  I have a deep abiding faith in good.  I believe that good is everywhere.  Unfortunately, it is not the good things that people do, but the bad that gets all of the headlines. 

‘The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interrèd with their bones.”  Anthony at the funeral of Julius Caeser

Somehow, that overshadowing makes it hard to explain a faith in goodness.

It becomes especially hard to explain a belief in good when you belong to a church that is without dogma; that believes that doing good is just the right thing to do.

I play guitar music for our Unitarian Universalist fellowship.  I look hard for inspirational music that doesn’t depend on a deity for inspiration. I play out of chord structures by ear.  Playing classical music, which requires sight reading, is no longer available to me because of my poor vision.

Some of the very best inspirational music is gospel music.  Gospel music, black or white makes you want to get up and say, “Holy, yes!”

My deepest love is of Jazz, but I can't play that, and I love playing the Blues. 

“The Blues are secular Spirituals, or as T-Bone Walker put it, ‘The Blues are just Gospel turned inside out.’ “

Riverwalk Jazz, Stanford University

In the past blues music has often been characterized by Christian ministers as “the Devil’s music.”  It touched the same place in the heart as gospel, but existed outside of church.

I believe that I heard B.B. King talk about how he came to play the blues.  He was a gospel musician and everyone told him that he could make a living playing gospel.  So, he took his guitar, went to town, took out his guitar and began playing with his open guitar case out for tips. 


Lots of people came by and told him that his playing was beautiful.  However, they were putting tips in the case of the blues musician across the street.  So, according to B.B. he said, “Lord, you’re just going to have to forgive me.”


So, I went on-line looking for Unitarian Blues.  I found a U.U. Blues video.  It was a little rough, but the guitarist/singer and piano player were in sync and obviously enjoying the moment.  I couldn’t understand any of the lyrics. 

While I was thinking about where to go next – maybe go look for the lyrics – the following video came up.  YouTube does that now.  It just starts playing another video that may be what you are looking for. Usually, it is just an irritation, but not this time.

The next video didn’t have to do with the Blues, but it talked a lot about where good comes from.  This pastor’s experience and message said perfectly what I struggle to say when others ask me about my faith.

I hope you enjoy the video, and if you know any “church blues” let me know!

Views: 157

Comment by koshersalaami on February 1, 2018 at 5:13pm

The video is really cool. 

I can relate to some of it, like having evangelicals look at me like I landed from Mars. Also, some of this shows up in Judaism also: no original sin, doing more important than believing, Hell nonexistent (or, in some ultra-Orthodox circles, a minor sort of version exists with no details, named after a valley in Jerusalem where they used to throw garbage). And regarding the Matthew (?) quote: one of our most important sages, Rabbi Akiva, said that Love your neighbor as yourself was the most important command in Torah, and the And thou shalt love thy God is one of the most important prayers in Judaism, to the point where it is written in 18” tall brass letters in Hebrew around the walls of the santuary of my Temple in Greensboro. 

Comment by Rodney Roe on February 1, 2018 at 7:19pm

Thanks for watching and commenting, kosh.  I know that most of the central messages attributed to Jesus were stated earlier by rabbis like Hallel who, I think, said about not doing anything to another that you would find hateful something like, "this is the whole Torah, the rest is commentary."

I thought it was interesting that the minister went to a Jesuit Seminary. 

Comment by koshersalaami on February 1, 2018 at 7:27pm

Yes, Hillel is earlier, though Akiva is later. The Hillel story is in response to a guy mocking him, saying “Teach me Torah while I stand on one foot.” Hillel replied: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to another. This is the whole Torah, the rest is commentary. Now go study.” 

Hillel also said:

If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, who am I?

Comment by koshersalaami on February 1, 2018 at 7:38pm

By the way, I like a lot of what Jesus said. “Let ye who is without sin cast the first stone” is brilliant. And, by the way, this is the only comment I know from Jesus about sexual morality, though my knowledge is limited. 

He said something else that is extremely germane to today’s America and is way too widely ignored. He watched the wealthy strolling blithely by the poverty-stricken and starving without giving them a second glance, so he threw up his hands in disgust and muttered

It’d be easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than to get one of these guys into Heaven

Very interesting that the minister went to a Jesuit seminary. That’s one place to get a real education, because the Jesuits are serious analysts. Those guys don’t shy away from much. 

Comment by alsoknownas on February 1, 2018 at 8:00pm

Comment by Rodney Roe on February 1, 2018 at 8:42pm

AKA, thanks. Rolling sea and rolling Rs. I guess that is an example of Piedmont Biues style? It’s cool.

Comment by Dicky Neely on February 2, 2018 at 8:52am

I am a blues lover too and I have a pretty large music collection but I  am always discovering more! I played blues harp for over thirty years in bands. I love many different kinds of music but the blues "talks" to me! I was also fortunate to see many blues greats in my day and also got to play with a few of them. Those were the days!


Comment by Rosigami on February 2, 2018 at 10:55am

Too bad there is only a "like" button for this post, vids and comments. I would have given it a "love". 

Comment by alsoknownas on February 2, 2018 at 11:16am

He's Bahamian Doc. Piedmont to me is a much more rigid style.

Here's my friend, considered to be tops in the field: ( BTW , she is playing a www.fraulini.com guitar, made in Wisconsin. I think I was the first around here to have one, a 12 string, and then she and a couple others had to get one. $$$$ and wait a year.)


Comment by Rodney Roe on February 2, 2018 at 1:32pm

AKA, there is a couple of guys from around here who play acoustic electric guitars together.  They are superb.  I finally caught them at a break and asked about their guitars.  Both are one-off multi-thousand dollar guitars.  One of the guys is a cabinet maker and he swapped all new cabinetry in the guitar makers' kitchen for his guitar.  He figured he had about 24,000 in it. 

BTW, I finally did put a pick-up in an acoustic, but not my Martin.  I put a Guild DeArmond Tone Boss in a Harmony guitar.  I like it.  I tried finding one of the original DeArmond pick-ups, but gave up.  I'm happy with what I have.  I figure that I have $300.00 in the guitar with pick-up and installation.


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