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  • Writer's pictureJeffrey Wilsor

Treasures that Money Can't Buy

Here we are, moving into the tail end of the summer season. As we look forward to the beginning of a new school year and a change in the light and the weather, let's let music accompany our transition.

Got a song you just love? Email to tell Jeff about it!


Bear with me; I have a lot to say today. This’ll be more of a journal entry than usual, but I promise it’ll be as worth reading for you as it was worth writing for me. Bold words, but I think you’ll understand why.

When I got up this morning, I began my routine as I always do: * head outside * pick an album * listen from beginning to end * “is there a song for the meditation here?” * yes/no* …et cetera…

I couldn’t find in my library what my heart was looking for today. Whenever this happens, I tend to go searching for a “category” of artist that I think I maybe haven’t featured in the meditation in a while, or some underserved genre or social identity for an artist. It’s one of the ways I learn and discover. Today, my impulse said to look into some historic LGBTQ+ artists, and whoo boy, did I learn and discover! You’ll surely hear some work from more than one artist that I found out about for the first time today, but I’ve chosen one that’s close to home in several ways.

No doubt some of you are aware of, if not familiar with, a local Seattle act called Lavender Country. I honestly can’t believe I’ve never heard of them myself, given the fact that they are a 70s country group that was explicitly queer. These are both things I regularly seek out. How have I missed Lavender Country??

In 1973, this ragtag band released their only album (or so it was thought…) full of quite explicit lyrics and stories regaling the gay experience of the time and place quite vividly. It’s a record about being an outsider, about sex and love and loneliness, about fitting in and not fitting in. It’s also perhaps the roots-iest, most authentic folk sound I’ve heard in a 70s record. Absolutely no punches are pulled by some producer or label — it’s a few acoustic instruments accompanying a few voices who don’t care if they’re pleasant, singing songs because they need to be sung: because someone needs to hear them. It is by all accounts the first explicitly gay-themed country or folk album in existence. (Take this as your “warning” if you choose to look it up for yourself — it’s explicit, but in no way pornographic. Language might trigger, particularly on one of their most infamous songs. Proceed knowing your own boundaries, and knowing that, in my opinion, nothing is as salacious as it is profound, given time and social growth.)

After only a few years together, the band became a disband, and that seemed to be that. Lead singer and songwriter Patrick Haggerty went on to be an activist and local political figure in the 80s, perhaps even instrumental in Seattle’s growing liberalization, even if he was never elected to office. But then, in the late 2000s, something brought the band back together. They began performing their historic album in full again in various venues around the city. In 2018, they released their second album, although it seems to be awfully hard to get hands on (after only a couple hours research - keep digging I shall!). Just this past January, they released a brand new single, which is the song I’m sharing today, “Treasures That Money Can’t Buy.”

In the distinctly un-grand tradition of Guthries and Carters and the like, Lavender Country taps into the historic simplicity of folk songwriting with a wisdom and authenticity that frankly staggers me — as a younger person, though one well aware of the speedy approach of middle age, I’m truly floored by the blunt candor of this song, even disregarding the LGBTQ+ history that cradles it. I’m deeply moved by this song. The same voice that was singing lead nearly 50 years ago ushers us into a space where we get to learn from what he’s learned, appreciate what he’s learned to appreciate, value what this outcast, underestimated Queer values. What a blessing! I am so glad to have learned this part of music history — the history of my ancestors — and I hope that your experience with this song is even halfway as satisfying as mine.

It’s a money-hungry world, we cannot deny

Keeping up with the Joneses leaves the heart parched and dry

When the Almighty Dollar cannot satisfy

Let’s look for the treasures that money can’t buy

Let’s look for the treasures that money can’t buy

Like the husband who’ll hold us when we need to cry

Or a busy child calls us just to say, “hi”

Or a room full of high fives for a jolly good guy

These are the treasures that money can’t buy

These are the treasures that money can’t buy

Or a love who says, “maybe,” with a wink and a sigh

Or the glint of surprise in a toddler’s eyes

Or a new father crooning a soft lullaby

These are the treasures that money can’t buy

These are the treasures that money can’t buy

When we’re old and broke-down and ready to die,

How will we measure that last goodbye?

That we sought our pleasures being greedy and sly?

Or, “Here lies a treasure that money can’t buy?”

“Here lies a treasure that money can’t buy”



God of Queer Love and Wisdom,

Thank you for people who remind us of You.

We also pray for these, shared in worship this week:

  • For all those who are threatened by the impending end of the moratorium on eviction

  • For Simone Biles, with great respect for her decision, that her spirit be bolstered, and that that spirit be widely spread among all who need it

  • Margi - for the celebration of a very high-numbered birthday of a loved one!

Even in our separation, God, help us to feel the deep delight of your love for all. Amen.

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