lenten journal: old friend


Today’s words grew out of those suggested when I was crowdsourcing ideas for my Lenten writings. The suggestion was best friends. After hearing from some lifelong friends over the past several days in different ways, I made a slight adjustment.  Thinking about the words set me to thinking of songs, and so I offer another musical journey this evening, starting with a song by Rich Mullins (and guitar by Billy Crockett): “Hello, Old Friends.”

hello old friends
there’s really nothing new to say
but the old, old story bears repeating
and the plain old truth grows dearer every day
when you find something worth believing
well, that’s a joy that nothin’ could take away

Old Friends is the title of one of my favorite Guy Clark songs, here sung with James McMurtry and Nanci Griffith.

old friends, they shine like diamonds
old friends, you can always call
old friends Lord, you can’t buy ’em
you know it’s old friends after all

Simon and Garfunkel had a song called “Old Friends/Bookends” that came out a few years before Clark wrote his. I love this video of the two of them singing close to the age of the men they imagined in their twenties.

old friends
winter companions, the old men
lost in their overcoats, waiting for the sunset
the sounds of the city sifting through trees
settle like dust
on the shoulders of the old friends

One of my favorite friend songs that doesn’t have the word in the title is John Denver’s “Poems, Prayers, and Promises,” in particular because it reminds me of my old friend, David Gentiles. I love this version of him singing with the Muppets (with a slight lyric change) from a television special I remember without the help of Youtube.

and talk of poems and prayers and promises and things that we believe in.
how sweet it is to love someone, how right it is to care.
how long it’s been since yesterday, what about tomorrow
and what about our dreams and all the memories we share?

Patty Griffin sings a song of informed and weathered friendship in “Little Fire.”

my friend, you know me and my family
you’ve seen us wandering through these times
you’ve seen us in weakness and in power
you’ve seen us forgetful and unkind
all that I want is one who knows me
a kind hand on my face when I weep
and I’d give back these things I know are meaningless
for a little fire beside me when I sleep

Though Carole King wrote the song, I first remember hearing “You’ve Got a Friend” on James Taylor’s record. I found out she wrote the song in response to “Fire and Rain,” where Taylor sang, “I’ve see lonely times when I could not find a friend,” and King responded:

you just call out my name
and you know wherever I am
I’ll come running, oh yeah baby, to see you again
winter, spring, summer or fall
all you’ve got to do is call
and I’ll be there, ye, ye, ye
you’ve got a friend

We weren’t too far into our songwriting together when Billy Crockett and I wrote “Best of Friends,” which was for the University Baptist Church youth group, where I was youth minister. Sorry. No video on this one, but I have a whole movie library of memories that play when I hear this song.

these days of sunshine these days of rain
we pull together in days of pain
we share beginnings we share the ends
it’s worth it all in these days to be best of friends

Yes. It is worth it all.

Peace, old friends,


  1. great collection…still, these words hit home with me the most… “it’s worth it all in these days to be best of friends.” love ya

  2. Loved each and every song. John Denver with the Muppets was a refreshing break from the madness of our current culture. Delightful. Thank you.

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