When the who’s who of Catholics in our corner of Wisconsin gathered at the cathedral in downtown Green Bay yesterday afternoon, they got a little surprise. They found out their new bishop, David Ricken, is a different breed of cat.
As he started the sermon at his installation ceremony, Ricken thought back to the last time he moved to a new place as bishop. As he drove to Cheyenne, Wyoming, from Colorado, he wondered what the folks there listened to. He flipped the radio dial, going from Mozart to this country classic, written and recorded first by Terry Fell in 1954:
“Truck Drivin’ Man,” Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, from “Hot Licks, Cold Steel & Truckers’ Favorites,” 1972. Out of print, even the 1990 CD re-release.
The new bishop did a little more than reminisce. He started singing “Truck Drivin’ Man” at this most formal, traditional and reverent ceremony. It broke the place up.
He wasn’t done, though. He said his move to Green Bay reminded him of another tune.
“Drop Kick Me, Jesus,” Bobby Bare, 1976, originally released on “The Winner and Other Losers” and available on “The Essential Bobby Bare,” a 1997 CD release.
The new bishop sang that, too. It broke the place up again. Appropriate for Green Bay, ya think?
Noting that a song with the lyrics “Drop kick me, Jesus/Through the goal posts of life” carried “a certain profundity,” the new bishop went on to more spiritual matters, of course.
But you’d think those songs — in that setting — will be remembered far longer than anything he had to say after that.