Bass Head: The Story of the Little Drummer Boy

I know it’s not Christmas anymore and we’re already supposed to be looking forward to Valentine’s Day (2014!), but this story has been rattling around in my head for two weeks. Might as well let it out, right? We can’t take old baggage into the New Year!


As it is with all three of the holidays that we actually take time out to remember Christ – those being Palm Sunday, Easter and Christmas – I find myself thinking a lot about Mary, mother of the Son of God. This Christmas was no exception. A very dear friend of mine spent Christmas morning expelling the remains of her 12 week-old deceased fetus, and I couldn’t help but be struck by the awesome fragility of life. What was it like to carry a life and give birth in the ancient world, I wondered? It couldn’t have been easy. I thought about Yeshua, his mother, and his earthly father.

And then I thought about all the supporting characters who were part of the miracle of His birth. The Three Wise Men; the North Star that guided them; the shepherds who heralded His coming…and the Little Drummer Boy.

What happened to that dude? How did he become a part of Christmas lore? Why don’t we fete him as much as we did in the 1950’s. Could it be that the Little Drummer boy was actually a figment of some griot’s imagination? Well, let’s go to MOM Mode and find out!



Joseph looked adoringly at his new bride as she lay exhausted in the hay. The infant she had just birthed lay wrapped tightly in his cotton head covering, sucking his lower lip contentedly. Did all newborns glow so brightly, he wondered? That must have been what it was like to have a holy sheen sprayed all over you. He was grateful to be in the presence of such glory.

By now, the three Magi had departed, leaving their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh in mid-sized chests by the small fire. When Mary was rested, Joseph would use the money to rent them somewhere nice to spend the next few months. Nothing was too good for God’s own Son, after all. He might even dab some of the frankincense on the boy at his Bar Mitzvah if he acted right. Girls always liked the scent of ‘cense.

Joseph threw a little more wood on the fire and prepared to make some tea. Fortunately, the Christ-child had been born in the spring and not on a winter’s night as future generations would erroneously suppose. Finding a midwife in the spring was always hard. The whores who had spent the previous summer plying their trade were in bloom on nights like these, and every available midwife was busy calving the bastard children of nameless men with faceless faces. Not his Yeshua, though. His was the face of GOD. He was grateful he didn’t have to leave them to search for more wood to warm the barn. He sighed, thinking he couldn’t wait to get out of there. Donkey poo was not a fragrance he wanted to wake up to more mornings than was absolutely necessary.

Mary stirred, interrupting his thoughts.

“What time is it Jo?”

Joseph glanced at the night sky.

“About 4 am,” he replied. “Did you get any rest?”

“A little,” she admitted. She didn’t want to worry him. The journey to Bethlehem and the strain of trying to find a place to spend the night had been hard on her husband. “I’m just glad the baby is sleeping peacefully.”

“Me too,” Joseph smiled.

Just then, there was a timid knock on the barn door. Joseph rose to answer it.

“Who could it be at this hour?”

A little bedraggled boy, no older than 10, with wild brown eyes and even wilder hair stood at the entrance. His hands were gripping something tightly. A goat skin drum.

“Am I late?” he whispered. “Has the party already ended?”

“Party? What party?”

“Why, the Heavenly Ho’ Down of course!” laughed the boy. “The Messiah…He’s here, right? Come to save mankind? I was told I needed to be here.”

Joseph looked at the child quizzically. How did he know this? If even a street urchin found out about Yeshua’s birth, then Herod might discover them as well…

The Drummer Boy brushed past him and made a beeline for the baby. He beamed with delight.

“Cute,” he said approvingly. “Okay. I’m ready with y’all are.”

“Ready for what?” Mary asked, leaning up on her elbows to get a better view.


Suddenly, an un-heavenly racket filled the room. The animals began to stamp their feet, lowing, braying and clucking in dismay. The once sleeping babe now opened His eyes, just a hair, and looked around. His lip twitched involuntarily. The Little Drummer Boy grinned.

“See? He likes it!”

The boy prepared to strike his instrument again. Mary looked at Joseph, signaling to him frantically.

“Make him stop, Jo! Make him stop! I just got the baby to sleep!”

Joseph grabbed the little boy by the scruff of his neck.

“You’re going to have to stop that, son,” he said sternly. “This is a rough neighborhood, and we don’t want any trouble. You’re going to have to take that noise elsewhere.”

The Drummer Boy’s lip quivered.

“But…He likes it! I saw it myself!”

“Out, boy! Off you go!”

Dejected, the Drummer Boy picked up his wood and leather cylinder and sulked home. Had he heard the news incorrectly? Isn’t this what the angel of the lord told him to do? He was so confused. Why had God’s family sacked him this way?

For the next 30 years, the Drummer Boy wandered around Israel in a fog. And then, quite by chance, he met a Man. A Man with a perpetual glow. Yeshua!

“Remember me?” the Son of God asked playfully. “I never forgot you.”

“And how could I forget you?” the Drummer Boy, now a man, asked in return. “That night in the barn changed the course of my life forever! I stopped playing my drum. I became a hair braider instead. I don’t like it. It’s dusty, thankless work.”

Yeshua leaned in close and whispered intently to him.

“Well, prepare for your life to change again,” he said earnestly. “Tonight, I begin my ministry. I’m going to a wedding. Got this miracle I been working on for a few weeks, and I want YOU to be there to see it.”

“Me? Why me?”

“Because God has something in store for you, Drummer. And you need to be in the right place and in position to receive it!”

Drummer nodded in understanding. Yeshua gave him directions to his cousin’s house at the edge of town. Be there at sundown, He’d said. And he was.

Gosh, what a party! There was music everywhere. People dancing, singing, beating timbrels…but something was missing. There was no thump. No boom…no bass.

Just then, Yeshua showed up with a goblet and grin. He handed the drink to his old friend. Drummer took a sip.

“Good gracious, that’s good!”

“That’s that “miracle” I was telling you about in the Square,” Yeshua replied. “Whipped it up myself. You’ll never taste the likes of it again. Well, until you get to Heaven?”

Drummer looked at Yeshua with resolve. He chose his next words carefully, not wanting to sound too eager.

“What must I do to be saved… to enter Heaven?”

Yeshua smiled, just as He had done that night in the manger. It was a gentle, welcoming gesture.

“You must play your drum, and you must spread your knowledge, passion and spirit far and abroad. You must answer God’s call on your life…and that call begins tonight.”


Yeshua took a sip from their shared chalice.

“Yup. Tonight. Now go play.”

And play he did. The Drummer Boy, now a man, pounded on a discarded timbrel with vim, vigor and vengeance. He was BACK. This is what he was born to do! And for the next 2000+ years, the gospel of the Drummer Boy has been told to the generations, and there were many that believed.


And that is how the brilliance of  ?uestlove was born.

–          The End –