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Gary Moore – Legendary Guitarist

I was saddened to hear on Sunday evening of the death of former Thin Lizzy guitarist Gary Moore. Moore was a maestro on the guitar, bridging a vast array of musical genres. He played, not just superbly, but with what is rare in many rock guitarists—emotion. He could make the guitar weep, and you with it. His playing, particularly of his epic guitar solos, seemed to reach deep inside you and connect. There was something cathartic about it. Like David playing the harp for Saul (see 1 Samuel 16) his music had the power to smooth the troubled heart.

His instrumental piece The Loner, is a masterpiece, superseded I think only by ‘The Messiah Will Come Again’. If you haven’t heard either, go and look them up on YouTube. As you would expect, when I first saw the title ‘The Messiah will come again’ I was intrigued and poked around on the web. Roy Buchanan, one of the unrecognised guitar greats, originally wrote the piece. Buchanan struggled with an alcohol problem and the lyrics he speaks before launching into the guitar solo reflect something of his inner turmoil:

Just a smile, just a glance
The Prince of Darkness
He just walked past
There's been a lot of people
And they've had a lot to say
But this time I'm gonna tell it my way:

There was a town
A strange little town, they called 'The World'
A lonely, lonely little town
'Till one day a stranger appeared
And their hearts rejoiced, and the sad little town was happy again
But there were some that doubted; they disbelieved, so they mocked him
And the stranger, he went away
Now the sad little town that was sad yesterday
It’s a lot sadder today.

I walked in a lot of places I never should have been
But I know that the Messiah, he will come again…

I don’t know what engulfing bleakness Buchanan experienced that caused him to write this, but, intentionally or unintentionally, it hits the nail on the head. The cathartic cleansing and hope that he, and later on Moore, pump into the subsequent guitar solo is found not simply in music, which can provide only a temporary and superficial relief, but is found completely in the Messiah that the closing line speaks of. When we know we’ve walked in a lot of places we never should have been, cleansing and forgiveness are found in the Messiah. Jesus. When the blackness engulfs us, or when the broken sadness of this world hits us, hope is found in trusting the Messiah who will come again to put all things to right.

We need not simply to let music soothe the trouble within, but to look to the God who gave us Moore and Buchanan for fuller and more lasting comfort. So I thank God for Gary Moore, but I thank him all the more for the Messiah who will come again.