Saturday, May 14, 2011

How Rich Mullins Left a Legacy in My Life

So the film that is being worked on is asking people how RM has left a Legacy in their lives. So I wrote this for them a month or two ago...

How Rich Mullins Left a Legacy in My Life
Where do I begin? Those are the words I hear from so many who have come in contact with the music, life, and legacy of Rich Mullins. I echo those same words. I am now only nineteen years old, but I have listened to his music since age three. I grew up in Arizona; he grew up in Indiana. Quite the distance, but I always feel so close. I vaguely remember seeing him in concert, bare feet and jeans; I was only four years old then. I remember the Sunday after he died, we read it in the paper like many did. I was saddened, but didn’t fully comprehend it since I was seven.

There are two major events in my life that Rich’s legacy help shaped. The first was motivating me to take more seriously the music I played. When I was 16, my mom received a hammered dulcimer; she didn’t have time to learn it, but I did. I already played a couple of instruments, so one more couldn’t hurt, especially if it was a dulcimer. I quickly learned, playing it multiple times a day. I wanted to play “Creed” and the Celtic “78 Eatonwood Green.” But I didn’t know anybody else who even played a dulcimer. Well, I eventually learned the songs through trial and error, by ear, some songbooks, and a helpful You-Tube instructional video. Now the easiest songs that I play are his; I so enjoy playing them. I also like to write songs, although I am still an amateur at it. I commonly use hammered dulcimer in them, using rhythmic patterns that Rich made famous. I call it the “Ragamuffin Style.” Eventually, I bought my own dulcimer off EBay with money I had saved for years. I got a Dusty Strings D25 dulcimer, the exact same model that Rich played from 1992-97. Also everyone knows that Rich is my favorite musician. I kind of rubbed off on the kids at my church. Whenever we were together, we always played Rich’s songs, or, should I say, tried too, since his talent was way better than all of our talent put together. But we had fun anyway. We commonly played them for the congregation.

There was one family at my church that also listened to Rich’s music for years, but I didn’t know that until one time [when?] I was visiting them. This was before I learned the dulcimer, and before everyone knew I liked Rich so much. We were jamming away at some hymns, when their oldest daughter pulled out this songbook, simply titled “The Greatest Songs of Rich Mullins.” I was shocked! I never knew there was a songbook for his music! Her dad led music in our church, and frequently sang “Step by Step,” but I didn’t know she knew who Rich was. Well, this is the second event Rich helped shap]. That songbook helped bring two Mullins fans together. I am now courting her, and hope to marry her, Lord willing, here down the road soon. I always knew Rich was a musician, songwriter, poet, and theologian, but a matchmaker? We now play his songs together on the handful of instruments we play. We also write songs, sometimes reminiscent of his style. I plan on having my future children listen to his songs, and carry the legacy on.

Our family has taken multiple road trips through the Midwest, and every time we do, we listen to songs like “Calling out Your Name” while driving through the prairie. Last time we were in the Badlands, I wrote a song about Rich:

In the endless hills
Of prairie grass,
I can still hear your voice.
It’s a singing, singing,
Loud and clear;
Forever in my heart.
In heaven, heaven;
You’re a singing, singing,
Making music once again.
We miss you, Rich,
Forever more;
But I’ll carry on.

And the song goes on after that. I think I will always hear his voice, his music, his insights, and his example of being a ragamuffin. My life has a permanent indention that was made by him, and that will always be there. So, if Rich were here I would have to tell him “thank you” for all he’s done, but I guess I’ll have to wait until heaven.