One Kind Favor
You know it's one kind favor, I ask to youIt's a simple enough blues. It was initially sung, I think, by the legendary Blind Lemon Jefferson in 1927 under a pseudonym. It was so popular that he re-recorded and re-released in 1928.
You know it's one kind favor, I ask to you
See that my grave is kept clean.
It's been recorded by BB King, Lightnin' Hopkins, Canned Heat, The Grateful Dead, Mike Bloomfield, Keiji Haino, Diamanda Galás, Meindert Talma & the Negroes, Lou Reed, Furry Lewis, Chrome Cranks, the Dream Syndicate, Thelonious Monster. And, of course, by numerous, numerous others.
It's been in my head for two days. I heard BB King's latest version of the song yesterday on NPR while I was driving home. I can't seem to turn it off. "One kind favor I ask of you/one kind favor I ask of you..."
For me there's something extraordinarily important about this lyric. And haunting. What does it mean, "See that my grave is kept clean?" I wonder about this. It's about respect. It's about preserving the memory of someone who's gone on, it's about the spiritual legacy of the departed. It's not about the estate, the wealth, the works, the physical accomplishments of the departed; it's about spiritual legacy.
Spiritual legacy. What is that? And what, I wonder, if I were to be struck by lightning as I sit here right now, would my spiritual legacy be? If I ran out of time right now and my brain or heart exploded, what would it be? How would I be remembered?
I'm healthy and well, but I find myself this evening in a world of imponderables, incomprehensibility. Have I said what I needed to say? Have I listened to what I needed to hear? Have I loved deeply and well enough? Have I done my personal work? Have I learned enough? Have I inspired enough? Have I fought hard enough? Have I made peace enough? Have I done my work? Have I stood for something important? Have I taught my children well? Have I showed up enough? Have I given enough? Have I prayed enough? Have I had enough gratitude? Have I served well enough? Have I been an adequate steward of things given to me? These and other questions arise. As many questions as there are stars in the Milky Way.
All I can do is invite you, dear reader, to join me in this with your own inquiry. And, if you survive me, to see that my grave is kept clean. Music for your inquiry follows:
Blind Lemon Jefferson:
Be well, be safe, be happy, be alive.