For the Glory

This is my ninth story for the 12 stories in 12 months challenge. This month’s prompt was “For the glory,” and the word count was 1,250. As usual, I came in slightly below the word count, so I had to add some padding. Otherwise this month went pretty smoothly. Let me know what you think.

Aaron let himself into the studio. He hung his coat on the rack. There was one other coat there. He walked down the hall to the control room. When he opened the door, he saw a woman sitting at the mixing board facing the studio proper. “Desiree?”

She turned, “Oh, hey Aaron. How you doin’?”

“Fine,” he answered. “You?”

“Oh, you know. I’m always good.”

“I was hoping to find you here.”

“I’m always here,” she replied. “You know that cuz you always here, too. Chuck should charge us rent.”

“Are you by yourself?”

“Yeah. Chuck says he’ll be back in a couple a hours. What’d ya want to see me for?”

Aaron closed the door and sat in the chair next to Desiree. He looked nervous, a little sweaty even though it wasn’t warm. He took a folded-up piece of paper out of his back pocket. “I’ve got a song for you?”

“Since when I need songs from you? I write my own stuff.”

“I know. It’s just something I wrote. I don’t think I can do it, but I was hearing your voice as I wrote it.”

“Why can’t you do it?”

Aaron shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “I’ve been listening to a ton of Rosetta Tharpe and sacred steel music lately. When I sat down to write, a gospel song came out.”

“So? You ain’t black enough ta sing it or somethin’?”

Aaron gave a nervous laugh. He scrunched up his face and said, “Kind of. But really it’s that I’m too Jewish.”

“Aww, that’s nonsense. If Neil Diamond can do a Christmas album, you can sing a gospel song.”

“It’s not that simple. What little success I’ve had has been because of my Jewishness. I’m popular with the bubbes and the zeydes in the congregations. If I do something that seems too Christian, I might as well throw a pig roast at Passover.”

Desiree took the paper from Aaron’s hand and unfolded it. She took a few seconds to scan it and said, “You trippin’. It’s all Old Testament stuff.”

“You mean the Bible?” Aaron asked.

“You know what I mean. You don’t even mention Jesus. This ain’t gospel.” She handed it back to him.

“It’s not klezmer.”

“Besides, I ain’t no gospel singer anyhow.”

“I know,” he said. “But there’s gospel in Americana. And I really think it would sound great with your voice.”

Desiree thought for a moment. “You s’posed to be a singer-songwriter. Don’t ya have ta sing what you write?”

Aaron laughed, “Someone gonna call the police on me?” Desiree laughed too. Aaron continued, “Come on. Just try it. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to do it.”

“You right about that. I don’t need to do nothin’ I don’t want.”

Aaron chuckled, “Preach, sister. No pressure. We know each other pretty well and I just think you’ll like it. It’s call and response. You sing lead and I’ll sing the response, for now at least.”

“I guess so, for now. If it’ll get you ta shut up for a while.”

Aaron grinned. “Cool.” He stood up and moved to the door on his left. Desiree followed him from the control room into the booth. It wasn’t a big room, but a five piece band could squeeze in there. Aaron sat down at the old Hammond organ. He smoothed the paper onto the stand and switched the organ on. Desiree stood behind him.

He pointed at the paper. “Basically, this part is yours and that part is mine.”

She nodded. Aaron started an upbeat walking bass line with his left hand. He then played a short melody with his right. “That’s your part on the first and last sections, when you ask the question. And this. . .” he played a slightly different, slightly longer melody, “is all the sections in the middle.”

He stopped playing and Desiree tried humming the two parts. Aaron said, “Perfect.”

Aaron started his left hand again and this time put syncopated chords on top with his right hand. After eight bars, he nodded at Desiree. She sang tentatively, “Why do I sing this?” and Aaron answered, “For the glory. . .” Desiree repeated her line and Aaron followed with his. She sang one more, “Why do I sing this?” and he answered with, “For the glory of God.”

Aaron stopped playing. “Not bad,” he said.

“Nah, that was pretty weak,” Desiree responded.

“It was your first try. It was fine. Just project more. There’s nothing subtle about this song.” She nodded. He continued, “And don’t worry about the melody being exact. Variation is our friend.”

Aaron started playing again. In the second bar, Desiree started clapping. She continued for a few bars then stopped. Aaron stopped too.

Desiree said, “It needs somethin’. Hold on.” She went back into the control room and returned with a tambourine. “Ok, let’s try this again.”

The now familiar bass line started, followed by the chords. Desiree started waving the tambourine on the eighth notes and slapping it on the two and four. They both started bobbing their heads, clearly enjoying the groove.

When the progression came back to the top, Aaron nodded and Desiree sang out, much more confidently this time. Every line followed by Aaron’s response:

Why do I sing this?

                For the glory. . .

Why do I sing this?

                For the glory. . .

Why do I sing this?

                For the glory of God.

“Nice,” Aaron called. “Keep it going.” He waited for the chords and nodded again:

I sing about the creation

                For the glory. . .

I sing about the creation

                For the glory. . .

I sing about the creation

                For the glory of God.

Desiree’s tambourine got a bit more complicated. She started throwing in pauses and triplets. Aaron smiled, then nodded again:

I sing about the burning bush

                For the glory. . .

I sing about the burning bush

                For the glory. . .

I sing about the burning bush

                For the glory of God.

After singing his last line, Aaron started soloing. He stayed close to the melody, playing with the rhythms for eight bars. When he finished, he moved back to the chords and nodded:

I sing about the commandments

                For the glory. . .

I sing about the commandments

                For the glory. . .

I sing about the commandments

                For the glory of God.

This time, Desiree hummed a solo. Aaron let it go sixteen bars before nodding again:

I sing about Jerusalem

                For the glory. . .

I sing about Jerusalem

                For the glory. . .

I sing about Jerusalem

                For the glory of God.

“Bring it home,” Aaron shouted.

Why do I sing this?

                For the glory. . .

Why do I sing this?

                For the glory. . .

Why do I sing this?

Aaron slowed down. It took her two extra beats, but Desiree followed, and Aaron sang:

For the glory of God.

They both stopped playing. Aaron looked up questioningly at Desiree. She smiled and said, “That’s not half bad. I actually enjoyed myself.”

“So, you’ll do it?” he asked.

“Sure. I could be persuaded,” she answered.

Aaron asked, “You see what I mean, right? It just wouldn’t sound right with me singing.”

“I get it. I get it. I guess it is gospel.”

Aaron smiled, “As close as this white boy could get, anyway.”

Desiree laughed, “You funny. You could be a modern day Leiber and Stoller.”

“I’ll take that,” he answered.

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  1. on December 5, 2019 at 9:53 pm