Monday, August 22, 2011

Soul Breakfast & misunderstandings

An extract from “Doing the right thing at the right time and other random thoughts” by Kay Debenham:

Soul Breakfast

Today's attempt at a Soul Breakfast consisted of a lonely white coffee, a bottle of Tropicana orange juice with bits and a cherry Elevenses bar by McVities. To my mind this isn't a soul breakfast, this is an unsatisfactory, disappointing, makeshift, solitary, at your desk at work kind of breakfast conspicuously lacking a soul of any kind. The term “soul breakfast” needs to be defined and described in more accurate and creative terms. Firstly I generally don’t do breakfast, when I wake up I'm not really hungry normally, I'm happy to shower and go, start the day on the hoof and catch up later, maybe at eleven or so and generally speaking ignore the soul and breakfast thing altogether – but something tells me that they are both equally important and need to be catered for.

Of course the problem is that therm soul has been hijacked by charlatans, religions, quarks and other unscrupulous groups becoming a debased airy-fairy way to describe the indescribable ghost that allegedly lurks in the centre of our skulls and eventually passes on either to heaven or hell or moves on in reincarnation or some other altered state. It also describes an intense musical culture and performances filled with heart and emotion that cross over at times into a clearly religious territory of some sort. Then there is actual soul food: Cajun cooking, catfish, red beans and rice, chicken, corn bread, garlic, eggs, bacon and various herbs and spices. Good as this food is it's not what I want from a soul breakfast, I want something else. Something that will nourish me and those I share it with, in a complete, holistic if you will, way. No religion or belief systems, prayer, meditation, Tamala Motown or fried chicken then please.

So what should a soul breakfast have?

  1. Sunshine – that's important, hard to come by round here but a basic part of the set up. At a pinch daylight might have to do.

  2. Company – you can't soul breakfast alone, loved ones, guests, friends are necessary.

  3. Set up table – comfortable, pleasant but uncluttered.

  4. Oven – on and whirring in the background, keeping the food warm so time can stretch.

  5. Conversation – easy, tough, doesn't really matter, it should ebb and flow and rise and fall.

  6. Smile – if you can, better to start the day that way. Laughter good if possible.

  7. Dress code – isn't one.

  8. Music – again keep it light, let it gather in the background.

  9. Chef – somebody has to take this on, it can be shared which may be better, lend a hand if you can.

  10. Food – whatever you like, whatever is available, simple as that. It's good to eat but it's better to get together.

Misunderstood lyrics: I heard an earnest sounding Christian lady on a religious radio programme pick Bob Marley's Redemption Song as a favourite. I don't think she could get beyond the title, that's always a problem with songs, taking the first available message and misunderstanding it without bothering to check. Of course Redemption Song isn't about any Christian redemption or “payback”. It's about singing songs of freedom instead of singing the old missionary redemption songs. Redemption Songs was in fact the title of the deep red songbook passed out by Christian missionaries containing the old hymns and standards that formed the basis of the strict European worship passed to and imposed on confused children and “converts” across the Great British Empire for over a hundred years. Some publisher must have made millions from it as it was handed out as a foundation and anchor for church services across the globe. I guess Bob Marley and his generation must have come to hate it and see it as a piece of the relentless propaganda trotted out by generations of oppressors, teachers and overlords to indoctrinate the masses and keep them occupied on a Sunday.

“Wont you help me sing, these songs of freedom? 'Cause all I ever have: Redemption Songs, Redemption Songs, Redemption Songs.”

The bigger hope clouded by the years of frustration, despair and disappointment is clear in the lyric and in the delivery, this isn't about Christian redemption but about the opposite albeit Bob M get's the Almighty in there for a quick mention, but on his own terms. It's his defiance that still resonates, even after all these years and as we all know defiance, regardless of the cause, always strikes a chord. People sing, hum along and buy into all sorts of things set in lyrics sometimes quite unwittingly. You've all heard the church choir having a poke at Lennon's “Imagine'. I suppose that once it gets out there, you have to let it go.

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