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The Lights of Marfa: One of the World's Great Guitar Player's Amazing Encounters with Godby Doyle Dykes
Doyle Dykes is one of the premier fingerstyle guitarists in the world. When guitar great Chet Atkins was asked a few years ago who he'd pay money to go see, his answer was, "People like Doyle Dykes, who is just an amazing fingerpicker, I think." He has thrilled secular and church audiences all over the world, from the Grand Ole Opry to
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Doyle Dykes is one of the premier fingerstyle guitarists in the world. When guitar great Chet Atkins was asked a few years ago who he'd pay money to go see, his answer was, "People like Doyle Dykes, who is just an amazing fingerpicker, I think." He has thrilled secular and church audiences all over the world, from the Grand Ole Opry to Knebworth House in Hertfordshire, England (home of the some of the most famous rock concerts in history) to Shanghai, China; James' Burton's International Guitar Festival, Saddleback Community Church, and Harvest Christian Fellowship.
But this book isn't just about his life as a guitar player. Infused into stories like how he was invited to be part of the Stamps Quartet (Elvis' backup band), why a white rose is on the headstock of his signature-model guitar, and how his worst night at the Opry turned out to be anything but, are accounts of the remarkable ways God has shown up in Doyle's life. His warm, engaging style will draw you into each chapter--and you'll finish the book having been inspired, feeling like Doyle is a new friend, and never viewing God the same way again. Includes DVD with music & interviews.
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THE Lights of MarfaOne of the World's Great Guitar Player's Amazing Encounters with God
By DOYLE DYKES
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2011 Doyle Dykes
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Lights of Marfa-My Own Personal Experience
Thursay, February 4, 2010. The rain had finally let up in the Big Bend area of West Texas. My daughter Haley and I drove from our good friend Del Way's ranch in Kerrville to find out more about the Marfa lights. We arrived at our hotel in Alpine, Texas, about twenty-five miles away from Marfa and eighteen or nineteen miles from the Marfa lights viewing area. We had dinner and waited until right after sundown, as the lights are seen only at night.
It was cold, in the 20s, but very dry, with wind. The sky looked as if you could reach up and touch the stars. It was a beautiful West Texas night.
We gazed southwest, toward the area where we had been told to look. A radio tower stood in the distance, its beacon flashing. Suddenly we saw lights. They appeared to be car lights, but some were more unusual as one would turn into two and three and then spin in a circular motion. Others at the viewing area saw the spinning lights and thought they couldn't be car lights. Still, we weren't totally convinced. We stayed for well over an hour and then went back to the hotel.
About ten p.m. we went back to the viewing area. More car lights. I decided to investigate and drove into the town of Marfa for the first time. I found it was Highway 67 South that went all the way down to Mexico. We followed the road for about half an hour. We did see lights in the distance, but as we crossed over a hill, they were gone. Strange—but we were still not convinced. Back at the viewing area, I saw what looked to be car lights running downward; and then in a very fast plunge, they were gone. I don't see how any car could've done that. We went back to the hotel and decided to try again before dawn.
Friday morning, February 5, 2010
We went back to the viewing area and stayed over an hour until dawn. No sign of the Marfa lights. Later that day, we did some more investigation. I went to a local music store in Alpine, Texas, as I figured a picker would shoot straight with me. The owner of the store recognized me as he was former owner of the Dallas Guitar Show, which I played at a couple of years back. His name is Mark Pollock and he had moved to Alpine to "retire." He told us he had seen the Marfa lights numerous times. He explained that what he thought we saw the night before were more than likely car lights from Highway 67. He advised us to look straight south of the viewing area or to the east, where there were no roads but just thousands of acres of desert: "If you see any lights out there, those would be the Marfa lights." (Take a look at a road atlas. There's nothing there but the desert floor all the way down to Mexico.)
There was a man in the music store named Indio who grew up in that area. We asked if he'd ever seen the lights and he said, raising his voice a little, "Oh, yes, and I said I'd never go back there again ... and I haven't!" He explained that when was a teenager he and some friends actually went out on the ranch (there was no viewing area then), and the lights appeared, about the size of a basketball or beach ball. Indio said the lights actually herded them up and ran them out of there. "We ran for our lives!"
But Haley and I went back to the viewing area. Highway 67 seemed like a long distance away as it was built up on the foothills. It was hard to believe the lights at night we saw came from there. However, the climate is so dry, and with no light pollution you could also understand how one could see for miles. We had asked a few local folks around town about the lights. There were some who had seen them and described them in the same way we had read about and seen on the documentary films. Everyone pretty much described the lights in the same way. They would appear oftentimes as one and then split into two and three, and then they'd even change colors from white to blue and red and so on. They would go into a spinning motion, then dance around randomly and sometimes shoot straight up into the sky.
Others said they'd never even been out to the viewing area. One person said it was just too cold to go out there and then probably not even see anything.
This is just the way some people are about God. They've heard yet they don't really believe or have an interest in seeing for themselves or even take the time to see Him for who HE REALLY IS! In 1 John 1:5 (KJV): "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." A couple of verses down: "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
So now I had just one more person to ask. His name was Roy Cragg, and he was the pastor of the local "Cowboy Church." He said he'd be glad to meet us at the church, which was on the way back to the viewing area at the edge of town. We got his name from another pastor we met in San Angelo just a few days before. He told us that he had visited with Pastor Roy many times—and he also said he'd seen the lights every time he'd visited there.
When we arrived at the church we had expected a rustic-looking metal-type structure that is typical for cowboy churches, and that's just fine. However, this was a beautiful adobe style building with other annex buildings on site, in the style of a little Western town. Pastor Roy was a very nice man, and you could tell that he was a man of integrity. His answer to me about the lights was that he'd been seeing them as long as he could remember. He said even before there was a Highway 67 people had been seeing the Marfa lights. In fact he told us the Native Americans and the early settlers had spoken about the Marfa lights since the 1800s. He also explained that they seemed to come at random times and under random conditions. "They just seem to show up when they want to," he said.
I gave him some of our recordings and thanked him for his Texas hospitality. Before we left, I said, "Pastor, I'm not out here doing this for my own curiosity" (of course I was curious), "but I'm writing this book that includes stories that just can't be calculated or figured out in the natural." I told him we saw a documentary on the Marfa lights and how a famous Japanese scientist came over to investigate and try to come up with an explanation on the lights. He carried a Buddhist priest with him to "conjure" up the spirits of the lights. I said, "Pastor, if he could do that, then why can't we just agree in the name of Jesus that we'll see the lights tonight? This is our last time to try while we're around here, and I have no idea when we could come back."
In a calm yet convincing sort of way he just said, "I believe you're gonna see 'em tonight!" I knew in my heart he was right.
We got back to the viewing area just as the sun was going down. We looked over to the southwest and sure enough we saw the lights from Highway 67 again. So we concentrated on looking straight south and east of the viewing area platform. Suddenly, Haley spotted the first little dim light. It looked like a twinkling star, very low to the ground and a long distance away. Then the light got brighter and brighter and began to move to the right and then to the left. It changed from a bluish twinkle to more of a yellowish color, sort of like a headlight from an old Model T Ford. Right before our eyes it split off into two, and then to three. Haley once again said, "Dad, over to the left! There are four or five in a row-and now they're changing colors—they're flashing and spinning!" They were clearly visible and it was evident that they were not too far away.
There were possibly a dozen people at the viewing area by then. A family from Fort Stockton, Texas, came up with a pair of binoculars and asked if we wanted to borrow them. It was an amazing sight, to say the least! I could see the lights so clearly, yet nothing or no one was around them! They looked like a huge display of Christmas lights; but suddenly they began to move to the left, then to the right, and then up into the air. The first ones we saw looked as though they were getting closer. It looked to me as though you could see the desert floor lit around the area where they were. Other lights appeared to the southwest—and this time they were clearly not from Highway 67. And more lights appeared in the southeast, but this time much higher than the others. These lights also changed colors and split into two and three and then, suddenly back to one as it would very abruptly move to the right and then down like a meteor and then randomly stop and stay in one spot before completely moving again in the other direction. It was awesome!
I couldn't see how any motorized hobby plane or even a helicopter or airplane or a person or group of people or any other type of vehicle could have done this, and everyone at the viewing stand agreed. We also agreed on the question of why were there only a dozen of us out there and not hundreds or thousands!
So, by now you either think I'm crazy and want your money back, or perhaps you'll read on and see that God is still "pulling the strings." Just as He did when baby Moses's mother put him in the little "ark" or basket by the river and how Pharaoh's daughter found him and, of all things, Pharaoh, the king who had commanded that every Hebrew son be killed, took in the very child that God raised up to destroy Pharaoh's own army, yet Pharaoh raised him as his own grandchild.
I'm convinced that God has a plan for each of our lives. It's up to us if we want to see it come to pass or not. We can surrender to Him and believe His will is the best thing for us, or we can sit around and never even go out to the "viewing area"! Besides, we probably would never see God's will in our lives anyhow, right?
I realize that God's peace and joy, and His love and the miracle of His Grace, are much more miraculous than any mysterious lights in the desert! Although I can't see it or quite understand it, there is no explanation or reasoning for the Grace of God, and yet He has extended this unmerited, unearned favor to us even though we didn't deserve it.
I'm just glad I went out to God's viewing area (the throne of His Grace), purchased by the sacrifice of His Son Jesus and experienced it for myself! He isn't just there randomly, but His light forever shines to all mankind and is available at the mere mention of His name, Jesus!
That cold night on February 5, 2010, I saw the lights of confirmation and direction for this book. 1 saw The Lights of Marfa.
Chapter TwoWhy the Guitar, Doyle?
I've been asked this question nanny times, often on live television and radio shows around the world (secular and Christian). Whether I'm on the Mark & Brian Show with Mark Thompson and Brian Phelps at KLOS in Los Angeles (one of the most popular shows in the country), the Mitch Albom Show on WJR in Detroit, the Steve & Johnnie Show on WGN in Chicago, or a radio station in Shanghai, my answer is always the same. So this is my story.
As a boy I was raised in a Christian environment in my hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. Church was the center of our lives, aside from music. We had church morning and evening on Sunday, prayer meeting on Wednesday nights, and then youth service on Friday nights. The youth service was called Y.P.E. or Young People's Endeavor (how hip!!!!), and everyone young and "otherwise" attended. Also, we had "Revival Meetings" at least once or twice a year that went on every night and sometimes lasted for weeks. Except for the music, which was my favorite part, as far as I was concerned going to church mainly meant missing Lassie and Disney on Sunday nights. My grandfather was the choir director at our church for over thirty-three years. I really loved him and would go and help him clean the church on Saturdays as he was also the janitor. They didn't have associate pastors and worship leaders in those days, so that's how he got paid.
Sometimes they'd do really cool things like a passion play at Easter or other drama programs around Christmas and such. I remember my uncle Ronnie Dykes coming over to produce such a play for Easter service. There would be this guy (Brother Udell Jump) propped up on a cross inside the baptistery, and when it came time for the thunder and lightning, Uncle Ronnie would run over and bang on the bass notes of the grand piano with the sustain pedal pushed down, and someone else would sneak up close to Brother Udell with an Instamatic camera and try to get as many flash cubes to go off as they could for the lightning effect. You could hear a lot of clicks from the camera because those flash cubes didn't always work. We'd sit and giggle and then after church we'd all go up to the piano and try to make thunderous sound effects like Uncle Ronnie did. That was pretty cool.
Soon after that my brother, Aubrey, and I would play "Jesus on the cross" at home. It was one of our favorite games for a while. Mom's clotheslines were held up by two T-shaped poles in the backyard and we'd wrap our arms around the top poles. I remember one day telling Aubrey it was his turn to be Jesus and to shut his eyes and pretend he was dead. Then, we normally would take a stick or a broom handle and act like it was a spear and pretend to thrust it in his side, only one time I picked up two handfuls of rotten plums lying on the ground and threw them at him. He proceeded to chase me with a rope when I fell over our homemade go-cart and hit my head on the driveway, giving myself a concussion ... and that's when I started playing the guitar! HA! Well, not exactly.
In June of 1965 our pastor, Rev. F. L. Braddock, announced that we were having a Summer Revival. This was the time that a little lady named "Minnie" Irene Baxter came to our church to conduct the revival in place of her late husband. She had a presence and persona that communicated well with people, especially the young people. Over fifty young people gave their hearts to Jesus in her two-week revival. I was one of those people as well as my brother, Aubrey. "Sister" Baxter spoke in such a way that a child could understand. I was eleven years old but I knew in my heart that something was different that summer night in 1965. I remember raising my hands to God and saying, "Lord, if You'll give me a job to do, I'll always tell people about You!"
From that night on I had a desire to play the guitar! So for me, my relationship with Christ and my music go hand in hand. In Proverbs 13:12, "When the desire comes, it is a tree of life." The thing so unusual about this was the fact that I never cared about playing the guitar before that happened. Let me explain ...
My dad "Bubba" was a singer and a guitar player, and my mother was a singer for "special music" at church (don't know why they called it special ... it was all pretty special). They would stand my brother and me up in chairs and gather around us and we'd sing four-part harmony around one of those old Shure "Elvis" microphones. (I managed to buy a couple of those old microphones from our church and gave one to my brother, Aubrey, and kept one for my collection.)
I was only four or five when we started singing in front of an audience. Dad would play his 1952 Gibson Les Paul gold top. I sang bass two octaves high, and my brother sang the lead, and when he was about seven he started taking piano lessons. By the time I started taking lessons two years later, Aubrey was already playing really well. By the time he was ten years old, he was playing in "big church," which was a big deal because we had hundreds of people in our congregation. My dad played the guitar and switched over to electric bass when needed. Our family was known all over as being musicians.
In our house, hardly a day went by that we didn't hear the music of Chet Atkins, Merle Travis, and Les Paul and Mary Ford on the stereo. Dad also loved gospel quartet music so we were always going to singing conventions and gospel concerts. I enjoyed these groups like the Blackwood Brothers, the Statesmen Quartet, and the Stamps Quartet. I had no idea that someday I'd be so involved in that world.
Excerpted from THE Lights of Marfa by DOYLE DYKES Copyright © 2011 by Doyle Dykes. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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What People are saying about this
"Doyle Dykes has reached the outer limits of guitar theory and performance. In “he Lights of Marfa he reveals an even more superior attainment. Through his inspiring life experiences he has learned the true meaning of things that really matter. Things like family, prayer, the Bible and serving the King of Kings. This is a worth reading book. I know, because I’ve read it." R. Lamar Vest, President & CEO, American Bible Society
"Master of His Craft" - "Christian Gentleman" - "Loyal Friend" These are just a few of the attributes I have witnessed in my friend "Doyle Dykes." I have been priviledged to share in an extended portion of Doyles life and consider it an honor to be able to call him "My Friend." You will be both enlightened and encouraged by the accounts contained in the volume you now hold in your hand. Enjoy it! --Dr. Donnie Sumner
Meet the Author
DOYLE DYKES is one of the world's great guitar players. Professional musicians and audiences all over the world have thrilled to his incredible musicianship. Indeed, the late, great Chet Atkins once said he was the kind of artist he would pay money to go see because, "He's just an amazing fingerpicker, I think." He has been a regular guest on the Grand Ole Opry since 1996; has performed with artists such as Vince Gill, Chet Atkins, James Burton and Duane Eddy; and will soon debut his own nation-wide cable television show with some of the world's greatest guitarists. He and his wife, Rita, have been married 37 years and have four children--and a growing list of grandchildren! To learn more about Doyle, visit his website at www.doyledykes.com.
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I have really enjoyed the interactive format, to be able to listen to his music and then to read his thoughts and beliefs. Recomend highly on simply entertaining and for those looking for how a christian man handles himself in the highly competitive entertainment business a need to read book.