Music by Johann Sebastian Bach
Arranged by james madison thomas
Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring
Obviously, this is not one of my original songs, but I did create what I consider to be a unique arrangement. Studying that piece revealed some surprises; as we all know, Bach is genius. He said, “The aim and final end of all music should
be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of
Another more contemporary musician, George Crumb, wrote in his music theory textbook, "Music might be defined
as a system of proportions in the service of a spiritual impulse.”
The mandolin I’m playing is a Takoma, made in Washington state, I think. It featured all natural woods. The unique bracing inside this instrument prevented installing a pickup in it. So,
I bought one just like it with a factory-installed pickup. But finding one was not that simple. Takoma was not a common brand (they are no longer made) and finding one at a local music store was almost impossible. When I inquired, the
clerk told me, rather arrogantly, “We’re not going to order
one of those just so you can try it out.”
One day I went to that same guitar store in Tampa,
(I forget the name of it) to see if I could sell some of my
prints of musical instruments to hang in the store. I had a
big stack of 16x20’s in my car that I carried around for months. They ended up on display at The Bluegrass Shop in St. Pete. But I digress. The owner happened to be there that day in Tampa, and while I was talking to him, the UPS guy came in with a few deliveries. One of the items he brought in was the very Takoma I was looking for, with a pickup, the one I was
told they would never stock. The owner sold it to me at cost, since it was ordered by mistake. He didn’t buy any of my
prints, but what a deal.
After I got this one, I gave my old one to my son. When
I had to sell some of my instruments later in the mid-2000’s, this is the one the young man from Calvary Chapel pleaded for. I don’t know what possessed me to agree to sell it, but I did. I think I was just in shock from having to part with some of my favorite instruments, acquired over half a lifetime: Guild F50R, Godin jazz electric, Brian Moore MIDI electric guitar,
1981 Ovation Classical, Takoma Papoose, Taylor 514 & 914 guitars, Carter pedal steel,and a Dobro dobro. A vintage Fender Jazz Bass, a Korg Karma keyboard, a custom-made Rick Ramsdell P.A. system, microphones, all kinds of stuff.
The Ovation Classical I found on the wall two years later in
a Guitar Center and I bought it back. Another “coincidence”?
I hardly think so.
So I was without a mandolin for some time. When I decided to make this video, I borrowed back the old Takoma from my son, and that’s what I’m playing here.
The story doesn’t end there though. My photography teacher’s wife saw this video, somehow found out that I no longer had a mandolin of my own, and brought over one she had owned for a while, but hadn’t used much. Just gave it to me out of the blue. And a nice little instrument it is. Fender is not known for their mandolins, but this one has a built-in
pickup and the action on it is beautiful. I think she had it set
up when she bought it. I play it at Tuesday morning Bible
study through a tiny Blackstar amp, and it sounds as good
as a mic, probably better.