I've had a challenging few days emotionally. I thought I would share two songs that have been on Repeat on my iPod the past few days, and some thoughts they inspired while I was writing this post (which, as so often happens, is completely different than its original, intended form). Follow along after the jump.
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: "Backstreets"
First is an utterly devestating performance of his greatest (to me) song.
I've l listened to "Backstreets" hundreds of times over the years. I often wondered about Terry, and whether she even cared about the narrator, or his heartache over her betrayal (because that's what "Backstreets" is about: betrayal).
Now that I'm older I know the answer:
Springsteen knows it too; just listen to his palpable anguish, beginning at 9:45. Absolutely shattering; he is audibly crying as the song ends.
As am I. Every. Single. Time.
But the story isn't just about the betrayal.
It's about carrying on, even after your heart is torn apart.
It's about facing the darkness, and confronting it head on.
It's about looking into the abyss, alone.
It's about willing yourself to move forward.
On your own.
Not retreating to false, temporary solace.
Be it in a bottle.
By choosing, to quote a Bruce Cockburn song I so often turn to for inspiration, "to kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight."
One minute at a time.
One hour at a time.
One day at a time.
By expressing yourself, in whatever way you choose - a song; a poem; a story; even, perhaps, a blog post. Because unlike people, it never betrays your trust. And it's always there when you need it most.
Every. Single. Time.
And in doing so, you gradually come to realize that all along someone has been there.
The one person whom you learn to trust.
To know loves you unconditionally.
Every. Single. Time.
Every. Single. Day.
Chris Smither, a great New Orleans songwriter now based in Boston, says it best, in his song "No Love Today." It's sung from two perspectives: first a heartbroken protagonist (presumably Chris when he was younger), then a wise vegetable cart salesman from his youth.
He first lists all of the things he can offer young Chris - and then what he cannot:
I got banana, watermelon
Peaches by the pound
Sweet corn, mirleton
Mo' better than in town
I got okra
Enough to choke ya
And beans of every kind
If hungry is what's eatin' you
I'll sell you peace of mind
Oh, but this ain't what you came to hear me say
And I hate to disappoint you
But I got no love today
I got no love today
I got no love today
No love today
Then he imparts some hard-won wisdom:
No love today, none tomorrow
Not now, not forever
You can't see what comes for free
I think you much too clever
For your own good I will tell you
What's right before your eyes
Intelligence is no defense
Against what this implies
In the end no one can sell you what you need
You can't buy it off the shelf
You got to grow it from the seed
The answer Terry, and so many others, seek has always been there.
And always will be there.
But knowing that is one thing.
Choosing to take that longer, harder path, though, and to eschew the easier path, be it sex, liquor, and so on, is another.
Whether they choose to or not is up to them.
You can try to help them. But you can't do it for them.
That is the lesson I've learned the hard way this year:
Well, in this case... no. :D But watch this space for some shortly. I can state with authority that while there is, in the words of the King, Good Rockin' Tonight, there will be other news as well. :-p
You can't ever go wrong picking an Elvis song, especially Sun-era Elvis: While we're at it, here's my very favorite Elvis song: "Suspicious Minds." It was recorded early in the sessions for what become his classic From Elvis in Memphis album at American Sound Studio in Memphis, and was released as a single in early 1969:
And I would be remiss if I didn't include Dwight Yoakam's stellar cover version:
He certainly channels more than a little of that Elvis swagger, does he not? :c)