Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dolly at the Bowl and News of Oslo: Little Sparrow

Dolly saved my soul tonight.

"I'm gonna preach," she said in that eastern Tennessee lilt I love, and after railing on those people who predict the end times, she started to sing about how we're "so consumed with fear of dying we miss the joy of living..."

I kept reminding myself to stay in the moment, to soak up every bit of her Dolly-isms and the fact that, sitting in the third to last row, in section W,  there were just 17,000 people separating me from this legend. As she told stories of growing up in the hills of Tennessee, I wanted to be enveloped in her history, her family, and her enormous bosom.  She's just so unabashedly — DOLLY. 

Dolly played a harmonica, an auto-harp, a recorder for song about the Smokey Mountains, a saxophone for a bluesy tune, and a bedazzled piano.  She sang an a cappella rendition of "Little Sparrow" which was so haunting, the entire, sold-out Bowl was still.  She quickly followed with the  sing-a-long crowd-pleasers "Islands in the Sea" and "9 to 5."  It was HEAVENLY.

Somewhat literally for me.  I find, when I'm outside of church, in what to me is church, outdoors, under trees and a star (or three, which is fantastic for being right off the 101 in Hollywood), surrounded by people who are being kind to each other and pouring cups of water and wine, I already feel more connected. And then, there's Dolly. Her plastic surgery, her unabashed flirting and acknowledgment that she "wants to go to heaven. But it sure is hell trying to get there." Talking about Jesus in her songs and how we should just enjoy life and love one another.  While singing one of her new gospel songs from a new movie with Queen Latifah, I was moved to tears.  Feeling wounded by the church and the right-wing politics that have taken over Christianity, I push away and bury deeply so much of what I love about the faith.  That God is love.  That the God of Love is in everything.

And yet, just now, as I type this in a euphoric high of post-Dolly in Hollywood, I read my LA Times news breaker that the man suspected of the bombing and mass-murders in Oslo Norway is being described as a "right-wing Christian," and the death toll is up to 91.

Fuck. I have no other word and want one that hasn't been so overly-used to lose its power. Anger and sorrow mixed. Fuck. I want to believe that the God of Love is in everything, but what do I do with this news?  I've lost my Dolly-buzz and am back into reality, and trying, trying to be still in the midst of chaos and pray for a more loving world.  For those in Norway, I hope that love shows itself in the midst of this senseless tragedy.  Suddenly the sad song of "Little Sparrow" seems like a good way to close.

(Photo: Hollywood Bowl)

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