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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Goin' Home

A Timeless Musical Theme

In my effort to avoid political discussion for as long as possible in this space, I would like to point out that Iowa is known for at least five things besides the Iowa Caucuses.

We lived in Iowa for eighteen years. Julie and I began our family of three girls there, and it is one of the places we call home. But since it is not yet famous for that fact [ha ha], I'll point out five other things for which Iowa is proud. The last one ties directly into our discussion of HOME from these past several months.

"Be it ever so humble," Iowa is the home of President Herbert Hoover, first US president born west of the Mississippi. It is the “college home” of George Washington Carver. It’s the home of John Deere tractors (both manufacturing and use). It’s the home of the “Field of Dreams.” You know... the movie set with the baseball field beside a white farm house where the all the resurrected baseball players come out of the corn field for a shot at redemption—it still stands as the Iowa’s #1 tourist attraction. You think I’m joking, don’t you? I’ve run those bases, sat in the bleachers and stood on the porch in the background. The fifth thing, I’ll bet you didn’t know…

Iowa takes great pride in being the summer home of Antonín Dvořák, the Czech composer who lived in America from 1892 to 1895. Dvořák is best known for his New World Symphony, which he wrote in the spring of 1893. While putting the finishing touches on that work, he left New York by train and went to Spillville, Iowa, where some of his Czech relatives lived. He stayed the entire summer.

The entire New World Symphony is beautiful, but it's most recognizable strains are called "Goin' Home." If you listen to the background music of this clip from “Clear and Present Danger,” you’ll hear that "Largo" so often heard at military and State funerals.

It is commonly held that the melody (and later the gist of the lyrics) comes from an old African-American Spiritual with words similar to those below. It was Dvořák’s common practice to intertwine folk music in his work, and he had been working with Harry Burleigh, an expert of 19th Century spirituals. But the specific published lyrics of this song are credited to a student of Dvořák’s, William Arms Fisher, who said this in the flyleaf of the 1922 sheet music:

"The Largo... is the outpouring of Dvorak's own home-longing, with something of the loneliness of far-off prairie horizons, the faint memory of the red-man's bygone days, and a sense of the tragedy of the black-man as it sings in his "spirituals." Deeper still it is a moving expression of that nostalgia of the soul all human beings feel. That the lyric opening theme of the Largo should spontaneously suggest the words 'Goin' home, goin' home" is natural enough, and that the lines that follow the melody should take the form of a negro spiritual accords with the genesis of the symphony."

Those lyrics of "Goin' Home" use compelling earthly images to describe a home beyond this world. Here is the quintessential rendition by Paul Robeson. He was 60 years old when this was recorded live at New York's Carnegie Hall in 1958. I am moved by the longing in his voice.

Goin' home, goin' home,
I'm jes' goin' home,
Quiet like, some still day,
I'm jes' goin' home.
It ain't far, Jes' close by,
Through an open door,
Work all done, care laid by,
Goin' t' fear no more.
Mother's there, 'spectin' me,
Father's waitin' too,
Lots o' folks gathered there,
All the friends I knew....

Nothin's lost, all is gain,
No more fret nor pain,
No more stumblin' on the way,
No more longin' for the day,
goin' to roam no more...

Mornin' star lights the way,
Restless dream all done,
Shadows gone, break of day,
Real life's jes' begun.
There's no break, there's no end,
Just a livin' on,
Wide awake with a smile,
Goin' on an' on.
Goin' home, goin' home,
I'm jes goin' home.
It's not far, Jes' close by
Through an open door,
I am goin' home.......
I am goin' home...home

About twenty years after that recording was made, a very young and shy James Taylor wrote a different song that speaks to the common need we have for a place to call home. As he introduced it, he said, “This is a song I wrote in Spain….I was homesick at the time—I didn’t have a home—but that doesn’t keep you from being homesick.”

I hope I don't sound like a broken record as I continue writing about this feeling of "home." It's partly because we just enjoyed being home with family; partly because our middle daughter is leaving this week for college in Chicago. She has been commuting to college locally, but will now be further away until May. We're excited for her, but it comes on the heels of our oldest getting married last summer. Thank heavens, our youngest is still home. What a blessing she is. Keeps us feeling young to have a middle schooler.
These feelings are compounded by the fact that I'll be going to Thailand in a week, and I know I will be thinking about "home" in new ways during that absence. I'm excited about the opportunity, which I'll write more about next weekend, but I also know that I'll miss my family while I'm gone and be eager to see them again when I return.
There are countless other 20th Century songs about Goin' Home. Here are some you may know in the in various genre: Folk: "Homeward Bound" by Paul Simon (Here's the whole song 20 years later.) film musical:"I Want to Go Back to Michigan" by Irving Berlin sung by Judy Garland; Pop: "HOME" by
Michael Buble; Rock: "I'm Goin' Home" by Chris Daughtry; 80's Country: "Back Home Again" by John Denver. Can you think of other songs that strum this "Going Home" chord?


Blogger Jody said...

I got distracted with the post date of this entry...2009. Whew! I'm hardly ready for it to be 2008 and I log in to see '09!
I hope you have a wonderful trip. I too have been thinking of your Mom and praying that she is feeling as good as she can at this time. As for your middle daughter, my girls miss her at Sunday School already. She has such a tender heart and sweet spirit. She will no doubt have an amazing life journey ahead of her. I wish her the best and know that you have been blessed to have raised such an amazing family.
Take care!

6/1/08 11:29 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Wow. I slipped when I changed that post date. (Confession: I had not used the new video links and tested this post by sending it back to November 07 until I got the "lay-out" right. Then I had to retype the date. =) Good catch.

Yes, we're going to miss Kim. It hasn't hit me yet. There is so much going on in our lives right now. Pray for her when you think of her this semester. Thanks, too, for praying for my mom. She'd love to meet you at the end of the month. You have much in common. (Robin W. will be staying with her a couple afternoons while Julie is at work.)

6/1/08 11:54 PM  
Anonymous WSL said...

The "empty nest" has many facets to it. If one has had children who have given them some "issues"...it can 'seem' like a welcome time. BUT it is also the dawn of a new era...and I don't think our society quite prepares us for it as it can seem like it came with rocket speeds once you're in the throes of it. As a mom, looking back, I can say that ALL those times when stressing over a clean house, and many other things that young mom's stress over...my counsel would be "stop...relish this time"!!!

BUT too, the empty nest also has some very sweet areas as well. To "be" with your partner, the person you promised your life too...now is the time to really devote yourselves back to one another. It's a special time!!

You say a college in Chicago...would it be that certain Bible based school not far from Cabrini Green and Michigan Ave?? Just wondering! I wish your daughter well...and you and your wife too!! :-)

7/1/08 8:39 AM  
Anonymous WSL said...

Again I should stop and re-read before I hit the "publish" tab. I meant that young moms (parents actually) should try to appreciate the hectic times while they're in the throes of it. Because too soon...the rooms will be quiet AND the rooms clean AND the pace "will" slow down.

Life is full of passages! That was even a book that was popular in the '70's but from a more liberal point of view (Passages, I mean). But it's so true!

7/1/08 8:42 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

"I'm going to Carolina in my mind..." do you think of your Carolina blogger when you posted James Taylor's song?

What a great post- I echo many of WSL thoughts. Do enjoy every minute with your youngest daughter because as you already know... they grow up so FAST! My nest has been empty for 7 years but I have treasured every stage of their growing up- including now. They continue to bring so much joy to my life (Ben is 5 hours away and Katherine is 2 hours away) and it will be that way for you too. Plus, you will have more precious time with your beautiful wife... that has been an unexpected, loving bonus in our empty nest (almost like newlyweds- hehe)! Thanks for sharing.

7/1/08 11:31 AM  
Blogger Dr.John said...

Well written as usual. So many things about home. You can feel your love for your home and your family in this blog entry.

7/1/08 7:41 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

It will be an adjustment for sure. As I write, my daughter is "packing" in her room a few feet away. A college friend is who will be in the same dorm is here helping. The two girls are laughing, etc. We'll miss that sound, but since they're just a quick train ride away, I'm sure we'll hear it a few times before May. They are always in a good MOOD, which is good for the downtown Chicago college where they are enrolled. =) (You understand the value of being vague (and anonymous) on the web. =) We're not an "empty nest" yet and we're not quite ready for that, but we do enjoy having more time to "date" again. =)

Though I know James Taylor and I are worlds apart "politically" speaking. I am among the millions who find his lyrics and style better with time. That's always been one of Julie and my favorites--that and "You've Got a Friend."

Julie and I have taught some "parenting classes" through the years, and one of the things we stress is that children do not need a "child centered" world where everything revolves around them. They actually thrive in a secure home where they see their place in the "big picture" of the family. So we encourage parents to keep their relationship and "date time" a high priority. We are a couple first and parents second. That sounds out of step with current "child centered" trends, but loving inclusion into that family unit is the best kind of "attention" kids can get. When kids see that the spousal relationship is valued and "in tact" they are happier and more secure about their place in the picture. Sadly that kind of security and “in tact” home is becoming the exception rather than the norm.
You don't need to hear this. You could teach the class, too, but I do think it makes the thought of an empty nest a little less frightening when family life has been inclusive of children but not centered on them.
My mom would tell you that having the four of us so "bunched up" meant that we all left for college in four years time. Then weddings happened almost as quickly after that. We were her job, and though Jim was still at home, she almost felt "unemployed" after having a steady job for 20 years. It took a while for Dad to realize that the "parents hat" had been worn more than the "couple hat." He was working on that and getting better at it.

Sorry about saying all that. I should just write a post about it someday. =)

Kim is a very entertaining young lady, and we will miss that very much and look forward to having her back in May. She is getting her degree in "Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) and will be very good at it.

Dr. John,
I look forward to your visits and thoughtful support.

7/1/08 10:43 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...


Great Iowa post. Thanks for not talking about the caucus. I have a soft place in my heart for Iowa. It's not very big but it is very soft. Kind of like a throw pillow. Iowa is a throw pillow on the couch that is my heart.
We were reminiscing a few years back about how, out of all the places we've been, the people we met in Iowa were the ones with which we created the special bonds. You supposed that it was because it's like being veterans of the same war. Very well put I thought.

7/1/08 11:32 PM  
Blogger heiresschild said...

hi Tom, i sometimes wish i had had more children. my two are grown and married now with families of their own, but i just know that there would always be that one or two who would still be home with me. i know they're ours on loan, so to speak, and we are to help get them prepared to fulfill their own goals, etc., but i still miss having someone here sometimes, especially since i'm not married.

i still have to finish reading your last chapter. i'm reading it a little at a time.

8/1/08 5:28 AM  
Anonymous WSL said...

Just thought of a really good book which can also be a small group study that we did some years ago! This is especially good for people in the "throes" of child-rearing but also any who are on the cusp of the empty nest as well. It's called "The Second Half"...by I think, David and Claudia Arp. Not really sure of the authors but think that's who they were. It's for people to think about the 2nd half of life. Did you know if given a long life and other varibles..that you and your spouse will live half your lives "without" kids?? When we married, I don't think we thought of that possibility. We were young and "old" seemed really far away! :-) Anyway, just wanted to interject this here for anyone's interest. Not quite being "empty-nester's"...you might find it a good encouragement at least.

I "do" see the wisdom of some anonymity here (thus my pseudonym) and I'm quite familiar with the "mood" as well! All good!
:-) Won't proceed further....with that.

Your philosophy of children is very much compatible with mine! Don't apologize for the comments made as there is MUCH validity to what you have to say there. Would love to read some more of that in your blog!!!

I so can relate to your mom and the fact that she felt she was "without a job" as that's exactly how I once felt as well. It was almost like a captain without a ship and it took some time to navigate through that period.

8/1/08 3:24 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

"I have a soft place in my heart for Iowa. It's not very big but it is very soft....Iowa is a throw pillow on the couch that is my heart." What a funny and comforting metaphor. I can see thay you are going to be an interesting writer (and blogger) to read. You must have had an excellent high school English teacher. Ha Ha.
We, too, still have many dear friends back there in Iowa.

I think you can relate even more to these issues as a single mom. I am amazed at the moms I know in our school, church, community, etc. who face that challenge with more dependence on the heavenly father. You're right. They're "on loan" and what we do with that loan is very much like the parable of the talents.

I'll look into that book. If you are right about the author's name...ARP...that would be a good name for a book about the retirement age. =)

You've described my Mom's thoughts very well. Just last week when we were looking at those photos in her living room, she told me how it felt to suddenly have "her job" far away in homes of their own. She was and is a great Mom, but like you said, those are rough waters to navigate until you get your bearings back.

8/1/08 6:36 PM  
Blogger MommyKnows said...

I love JT! Great post.

10/1/08 12:33 AM  
Blogger Josie said...

Hi, Tom, I haven't had time to visit many blogs lately. You always have something interesting to post about. Isn't Paul Robeson's voice glorious? And what a fabulously interesting, talented and well-educated man he was as well. I recently met someone from Iowa, and it seems to be a very interesting state.

Have a good trip to Thailand, and be sure to tell us all about it.

12/1/08 12:33 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

He is one of my wife's and my favorites, too. Such an easy and authentic voice.

A few hours ago, we arrived back from dropping off our middle daughter in Chicago. She's all settled in her dorm room and off to a great start.

I will have limited internet access some evenings in Thailand. I'm not taking my laptop and don't know whether the internet cafes there (in the far north) will be fast enough to run blogger. A few years ago, they couldn't, but I've heard that they may now be "up to speed."

12/1/08 10:46 PM  
Blogger the walking man said...

Tom, no I have never been to Izzies but saw it for the first time the other day when Joann and I were headed somewhere, yes you were only about 5 miles if that from my house at 7 and Kelly.

I have been reading this post for awhile and combined with the Duncan Phyfe tale and having had the life I have had so far, I really don't know where my home is. Detroit is close but it really is not where i want to be, it's like habit holds me here more than affection.



13/1/08 6:23 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

You put that very well. I know what you mean.

I will be wrapping up those thoughts before I go to Thailand, because I have a feeling that when I come back, I'll feel guilty for having such affection for my thoughts of home.

You have got to try Izzies. If nothing else just go in there and look at the cakes and treat Joann to the slice of her choice. The slices are huge. You can easily share it. The owner's father's name is John--they call him Grandpa--tell him I sent you. (They used to have a shop in New Baltimore, but it burned down.)

14/1/08 2:17 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

16/5/08 8:07 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Can you live on a throw pillow?

I just got a job at John Deere in Waterloo and we are moving back. I never thought I would and even swore I wouldn't. Waterloo has changed and for the better. So, let me know when you come back too.

16/5/08 8:48 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Glad to hear you're moving back to as you put it above... "the throw pillow of the couch of life."

Iowa: land of silos and sunsets and the stewartship of soil! John Deere, a great place to work and maker of colors that brighten any barn (or the corner of a garage as the case may be).

16/5/08 11:52 PM  

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