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157 James Carter, with his tarnished baritone, began blowing “Nature Boy.” He chanted the melody and soloed for a couple choruses, but soon, as became evident throughout the day, no one in this place, on this day had to carry the burden alone. Don Mayberry, on bass, began with a tolllike , single note throbbing, as Carter eased into his journey from the bottom of the horn, meditating, and somewhere some way we were into “Amazing Grace,” coming, at that moment from two directions at once, “ . . . how sweet the sound . . .” Carter gathering himself, his wits, and wisdom: a whisper growing through a growl, to a honk. And we in the congregation smiled, nodded our heads, discreetly waved our hands, looked up, looked down, as he continued, playing his horn, climbing in register and intensity and emotion, combining blues and gospel, and mother wit, telling the church, “My mama done tole me, when I was in knee pants . . .” And we talk back to him. “You go’n’ wake Beans up!” somebody warned. “There was a boy, a very strange, enchanting boy.” The man in the first pew put his arm around Harold, and Bean’s oldest son laid his head on the man’s shoulder and took his hand, as Carter maneuvered back down to the horn’s bottom again, like approaching thunder rolling across the high places and the low, the hills and the valleys, or across the centuries, For Beans Written on the Occasion of the Funeral Service for Dr. Thomas “Beans” Bowles Sr., February 5, 2000, at Central United Methodist Church Bill Harris 158 moTown like the thundering hoof beats of fiery-eyed steeds swinging down the sweet chariot, and stirring the night creatures, causing heads to rise, eyes to widen, ears to perk, and notes from before language to echo in their throats; making owls hoot, canines howl, felines scratch the door, and grown men turn on the light, as Carter, with circular breathing, sustained the swirling, whirling tension, and Mayberry Boomed, Boomed, Boomed, Boomed like the breaking hearts of each and all of us Beans blessed with the cleansing ablution of his music, and his manner, and his love, and we leapt to our feet, applauding the seeming nearing end of the tune. But young Carter, knowing, in that way a healer, age old, or new ordained, knows, knew we weren’t quite ready to release, or be released, not with the weight of the burden Beans and we had to bare and bear, so, Carter, proving to us, we could stand more than we thought— a lesson learned a thousand times a day in this America, but too easily forgotten. Carter continued to blow as he began to bow and straighten, back and forth, calling, as he bowed and straightened, saying farewell, and he bowed and straightened preaching, honking, trilling, testifying to and for us, putting us in even closer connection with ourselves and Beans and all the music makers we have smiled with, and nodded to, and waved at, and egged on in other communal moments and settings sacred and secular, and back and forth, Carter bowed and straightened, blowing 159 Bıll Harrıs “. . . and then one day he passed our way . . .” back and forth, bowing and straightening, “. . . how sweet the tune that saved a wretch like me . . .” holding us, uniting us in the moment, in that moment of accord and correspondence and harmony, bowed and straightened, a human metronome.Time made flesh. To and fro, and his horn moans and wails, Catalonian, Pentecostal, its sound, and its intention breaking with the relentless timelessness of tides in the patient tenacity, breaking against us as if at the seawall of our resistance and subsides to gather and rush and wane.To and fro. Wave upon wave. “Amazing grace, how sweet . . .” till the wall was worn away to a wash of sand, and we were one, and were ready one and all, to be released, one and all, and to release, one and all, and in our unity acknowledge and grant and consent and concede and profess and allow that Beans had been a privilege and a blessing, and a reward and an opportunity and a bonus and a bounty, and we, one and all acknowledged as we in our unity had to, acknowledged that it was time, time to bow and straighten and witness that another good brother was going home. ...


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