My wife and I were headed toward Lubbock, Texas. Since I live only seventy miles away from Lubbock, a trip to Lubbock is not unusual. But we were heading into Lubbock from the southeast, which is unusual. Been singing in Abilene and enjoying old friends and family there.
I also remember the day’s color—a really nasty brown. Were it not for the wind in this area, I think our climate would be just about perfect. Come to think of it, even some wind by itself isn’t all that objectionable. But we don’t have it by itself. We have it with dirt in it. Highly objectionable. And I don’t remember a worse dust storm than the one gripping and gritting us that Sunday.
The closer we got to Lubbock, the more faith it took to imagine a city on the horizon. We could barely see the brake lights right in front of us—brake lights getting closer. slowing, moving off to the side of the road, even stopping.
I was NOT stopping. I had no desire to lure an eighteen-wheeler up our mini-van’s tailpipe. So we eked, oozed, lurched, crawled on. Finally, we made it through the worst of the airborne dirt and into a dreary dirt-assaulted Lubbock.
We drove to my brother’s house so I could put on a white shirt (instantly turning the collar brown) and a black suit. I needed to look a little more like a singer from the 50s or 60s, which shouldn’t have been hard for a 1957 model guy.
We headed over to a Lubbock treasure, the Cactus Theater, so I could practice crooning a couple of tunes—one Nat King Cole and one Tony Bennett, believe it or not—with the band.
Those guys are amazing. Nat and Tony, yes, but I mean the band. No doubt in my mind that if anybody messed up, it would be the crooner. Don Caldwell, owner of the Cactus, put a bow on things with a great sax solo during “The Way You Look Tonight.”
The sandblasted but courageous crowd was a bit short, but I felt button-bustin’ proud to be “working” (if you can call that work) with folks who would put on the same great show for a handful or a packed-house-full.
And I got to sign the wall. Yep! Backstage. In black marker. Note to self: If you ever get to sign another backstage wall, write a little bigger.
For me it was a fun and memorable April evening—brown or not. And I’m reminded yet again simply to be thankful to the One who is the Source of the real music of our lives as he leads us on our journeys down lots of roads we never expected to travel to places we never expected to get to see.
I wonder if in heaven you get to sign your name backstage? We’re certainly told about a very important Book, and you definitely want your name there. But our Lord’s the One doing the writing.
Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at