Music

I dunno about you but I think music is a great medium that unites people. I used to play in bands on nearly every RN ship I served in and whenever the band played on board, at a flight deck function or ashore in a local bar or hotel, the ships company always supported us (if only to extract the michael) but we were THEIR band and that is what was important, we were part of the community which was the ships company (much the same as non-rugby fans would go and watch the ships rugby team play).

Early on in my world wide touring schedule (which the RN kindly facilitated by frequent overseas deployments) I was the either the rhythm guitarist or the roadie! No real pressure, just help get the kit on and off the ship to the hotel or bar along with the other guys. Then get it all back on my own as the rest of the band went on the lash. You can’t beat trying to lower a PA, keyboard and drum kit over the side of a Type 22 frigate into a boat to get ashore whilst at anchor. And even better getting it back on board on your own with a boat load of ‘high spirited’ sailors at midnight … character building.

Anyway during the mid 1990s I was lucky enough to be on one of the last of the ‘old school’ deployments to the West Indies before they became all about chasing drug smugglers etc … we visited about 15 idyllic islands in 6 months and endured a two week stand off in Barbados in the middle. During this period one of our guys arranged for the ships band (called ‘The Bollards’ … what else … ) to play at a large nightclub venue on the Island. The place was packed out with ships company, tourists and locals. We were just an average ships band. With a limited set list. There was a local guy running the PA desk (I think he just turned the bass up and that was it!) and our mate who normally did the sound for us was stood by him. All was going OK, good reaction from the crowd. Now, as it was a West Indies tour we had obviously included a Bob Marley song (No woman no cry) this had gone down well on board, so we kept it to the end of the set. As our singer, a Brummy Leading hand, introduced it, the guy running the PA desk leant across to our mate and said ‘If they ‘muck’ this up, I will kill them’. Now obviously we did not know about this rather looming tragedy as we played and managed to pull it off .. but here’s the thing, we were not aware of the threat hanging over us … if we didn’t get it right there would be a consequence … and he was a big bloke!

As a Christian I believe that there is a consequence for going our own way and disregarding God – ie making a mess of this life that he has given us by doing our own thing. Much like the PA engineer, if we had disregarded the essence of the original song and turned it into a heavy metal song, rather than a reggae classic, there would have been a consequence! We all disregard God .. it’s in our nature … BUT the difference is that God has made the consequence clear to us rather than whisper it to someone once we have started making a mess of it all … Jesus is our example of the way God wants us to live, and that is recorded in the Bible. Jesus is not only our example but also our way back to God, so we can avoid the consequence of going our own way.

Room for one more little story from that night in Barbados … we played ‘Don’t look back in anger’ by Oasis. As I ended the solo, I had developed the routine of jumping up in the air … a bit ‘Pete Townshend-y’. So up I jumped, but I landed on one of my effects pedals, fell backwards, knocked my amplifier over and fell off the back of the stage … the rest of the band couldn’t play for laughing ..

Oh yeah .. sorry … nearly forgot to mention what the consequence is. The Barbadian guy actually had that right .. the consequence for us in disregarding God, is the same as messing up a Bob Marley song in his eyes .. … death ….. can’t really put it any other way .. death and eternal separation from God … but if we get it right and play the song correctly as it was meant to be played, then God will see us through into eternal life have a chat with a vicar / minister / pastor etc or your local friendly God squad member (you will recognise them from the sandals and socks we all wear).

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Image Credit: John Raptis