The Common Good

The Nights Were Flamed With Fire

dancing to DJ Rev. Vince

When I heard Damion Suomi & The Minor Prophets for the first time, they were performing on the main stage at Wild Goose Festival 2012, opening up for established artists Jennifer Knapp and Phil Madeira. I had heard good things about them from my friend Todd Fadel, the music director for the festival, and I was not disappointed.

It was an experience I can only liken to hearing Bill Mallonee for the first time, performing with the Vigilantes of Love at Cornerstone Festival in 1992 (how can it be 20 years ago?!). Or hearing Steven Delopoulos for the first time, performing with Burlap to Cashmere. (In fact, Suomi's voice and The Minor Prophets folk-rock will no doubt get compared to Burlap, but don't be fooled, this is entirely new/different story!)

In both of those experiences, I immediately went out and purchased the CD (remember those?). Hearing Suomi and band was exactly the same. Product procured immediately following their set, I listened to their fantastic plastic musical disc Go, And Sell All Your Things all the way back home after the festival.

And then I heard it (again): one of the many songs that blew me away live in concert (these guys are a blast to watch play live!), and the one song that absolutely captured the heart and soul and experience (for me, anyway) of Wild Goose Festival this year.

That song is called "The Dog From Hell (and his good advice)," and it goes like this:

Welcome to Hell, now buy me a drink.
You better get comfortable, it's going to be a few days.
1st Jonah got swallowed, then Jonah got spit.
'Cause Jonah had an ego, until Jonah took a dip.
But if you're gonna try go all the way.
This could mean losing, again and again,
wives and girlfriends, and sleeping on a park bench.
Ridicule and mockery, isolation is a gift.
All the others are a test of your endurance,
and despite rejections and the worst of odds,
it will be better than anything else you can imagine.

And the nights will flame with fire.
Alone with the Gods there's no feeling like it.
Riding life straight to perfect laughter,
it's still the only good fight there is. Do it! Do it! Do it!
If you're gonna try go all the way.


I suppose like others I've come through fire and sword.
Head on crashes, drunk at sea, and love gone wrong.
Some people never go crazy, what horrible lives they must lead.
Boring damn people all over the earth.
Oh what a circus, we're all gonna die,
that alone should make us love each other, but it don't.

And the nights will flame with fire.
Alone with the Gods there's no feeling like it.
Riding life straight to perfect laughter,
it's still the only good fight there is. Do it! Do it! Do it!
If you're gonna try go all the way.


We're here to unlearn the teachings of the church and state.
We're here to drink beer, we're here to kill war.
We're here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well
that death will tremble to take us, oh tremble take us.

Things get bad for all of us almost constantly,
but what we do with that constant stress reveals who we are.
Too often I hear people complain,
they've done nothing with their lives.
And wait for someone to tell them it isn't so.
To fight for each minute is to fight for what's possible.
So your life and your death will not be like theirs. Do it! Do it!

And the nights will flame with fire.
Alone with the Gods there's no feeling like it.
Riding life straight to perfect laughter.
It's still the only good fight there is. Do it! Do it! Do it!
And the nights will flame with fire.
Alone with the God's there's no feeling like it.
Riding life straight to perfect laughter.
It's still the only good fight there is. Do it! Do it! Do it!
It's still the only good fight there is. Do it! Do it! Do it!
If you're gonna try go all the way.

For four days last week at a place called Shakori Hills, the nights were flamed with fire — the fire of war met by the Gospel of Rutba, the fire of Anthony Smith's talk on speaking in tongues, the fire of the Psalters performing and then 100 souls dancing to Rev. Vince DJing until 2am in the morning, and the fire of setting off South Carolina fireworks in the dusty parking lot with my California friends.

To quote the George Wallace poem that Gareth Higgins read from the main stage during the opening ceremony of this year's festival: "I acted badly. I got away with it. I was not afraid to be alive."

The Wild Goose Festival again was a magical experience for me, but in a different way this time. And I suspect it will be different and magical each and every time. May there be many, many more times.

It takes all of us to create this magical space and community. It starts with me — and it starts with you. If you're gonna try, go all the way. Do it! Do it! Do it!

See you next year in North Carolina (and, G-d willing, I'll be there in September when the Wild Goose flies on the West Coast too).

Steve Knight is Minister for Missional Initiatives with Hope Partnership for Missional Transformation and Community Architect for TransFORM Network. He blogs about the missional church at his Missional Shift blog.

Sojourners relies on the support of readers like you to sustain our message and ministry.

Related Stories

Resources

Like what you're reading? Get Sojourners E-Mail updates!

Sojourners Comment Community Covenant

I will express myself with civility, courtesy, and respect for every member of the Sojourners online community, especially toward those with whom I disagree, even if I feel disrespected by them. (Romans 12:17-21)

I will express my disagreements with other community members' ideas without insulting, mocking, or slandering them personally. (Matthew 5:22)

I will not exaggerate others' beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt. (Ephesians 4:29)

I will hold others accountable by clicking "report" on comments that violate these principles, based not on what ideas are expressed but on how they're expressed. (2 Thessalonians 3:13-15)

I understand that comments reported as abusive are reviewed by Sojourners staff and are subject to removal. Repeat offenders will be blocked from making further comments. (Proverbs 18:7)