Recently, I discovered that ex-Talking Head and now-music legend, David Byrne, has a blog, and a very interesting one it is too. I am a fan, and the band for which I used to play guitar and sax and write songs, Pure Television, did several Talking Heads covers - Psycho Killer, Heaven, and Take me to the River, which, though an Al Green song, we tried to play in the TH way.
In a recent entry, he is in Savannah, Georgia, and he writes:
I went into the convenience store by the gas station to get a beer to nurse in the room. The door to the chiller wouldn’t open and the sullen-faced young black man behind the counter said, “No beer on Sunday”. OK. As we walked across the street to the hotel Malu asked me why no beer on Sunday and I explained that it was a religious law. That the church didn’t want people drinking on Sundays and the church still meddles in the affairs of the country in general sufficiently that they can cause such laws to be passed. We get used to it. She looked at me in shock, incredulous that some mysterious entity we have nothing to do with could be dictating aspects of our lives. I told her in NY liquor stores only recently began to be open on Sundays. Business beats God in NYC.
Isn’t it true that business, in this respect, might also make us just as “incredulous that some mysterious entity we have nothing to do with could be dictating aspects of our lives”? After all, opening shops and selling alcohol seven days a week is just as much an ideological act as closing down for a day, a deliberate (and, in many cases, recent) change in tradition.
I’m not arguing for the reintroduction of a Sabbath Day. I wish DB had been able to get his beer and I might well have felt like one myself on a hot day in Savannah, Georgia. But it's true that people now organise part of their lives around Sunday shopping in my home city. It must be one of the busiest days of the week in Tescos. Business or God? We always seem to place ourselves at the mercy of something.