"Once in a lifetime, hope and history rhyme."

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

This is how the Irish national news broadcast ended on Saturday, November 7th, after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 Presidential election. It is a must-watch.

The words come from the great Irish poet Seamus Heaney's The Cure at Troy: A Version of Sophocles' Philoctetes, a verse adaptation of Sophocles' play Philoctetes, first published in 1991.

Human being suffer.
They torture one another
They get hurt, and get hard.
No poem, or play, or song
Can fully write the wrong
Inflicted and endured.

History says, don't hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that a further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracle
And cures and healing wells.

Call miracle self-healing:
The utter, self-revealing
Double-take of feeling.
If there's fire on the mountain
Or lightning and storm
And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing
The outcry and the birth-cry
Of new life at its term.
It means once in a lifetime,
justice can rise up
and hope and history rhyme.


I could think of no more appropriate song to accompany this post than "Drowning Man," one of U2's most beautiful songs, from their 1983 album War. The song, whose lyrics were adapted by Bono from the Bible (Isaiah 40 v28-31), was written about bassist Adam Clayton, who was struggling with serious substance abuse problems while the album was being recorded. Its message of brotherhood, perseverance, and hope, however, are timeless, and universal.

Take my hand
You know I'll be there
If you can
I'll cross the sky for your love
For I have promised
Oh, to be with you tonight
And for the time that will come

Take my hand
You know I'll be there
If you can
I'll cross the sky for your love
And I understand
These winds and tides
This change of times
Won't drag you away

Hold on, and hold on tightly
Hold on, and don't let go of my love
The storms will pass (the storm will pass)
It won't be long now (it won't be long now)
His love will last
His love will last, forever

Take my hand
You know I'll be there
If you can
I'll cross the sky for your love
Give you what I hold dear

Hold on, hold on tightly
Hold on, hold on tightly
Rise up, rise up
With wings like eagles
You run, you run
You run and not grow weary

Hold on, hold on tightly
Hold on, hold on tightly
To this love last forever
To this love last forever
Take my hand
Take my hand

I Still Believe

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

I wanted to share some songs of defiance, inspiration - and, most of all, hope - as one of the most important days in the history of the United States dawns. 

Let's start with Patti Smith, from her 1988 album Dream of Life:

Another from 1988 - Tracy Chapman's "Talkin' About A Revolution":

Next, one of my all-time favorite songs, and one I've posted several times here, by The Kinks:

Another from one of my all-time favorite albums, Big Country's The Crossing (1983). This version will get the blood flowing, guaranteed!

Of course, I have to include one from my very favorite all-time album, Darkness on the Edge of Town - "The Promised Land."

I'll end with a song from a criminally underrated band that I cannot believe I have never featured in a post before. The Call are probably best known for their song "The Walls Came Down," but they put out a number of excellent albums and had a well-deserved reputation as an incendiary live band. I had the good fortune to see them a number of times, and can attest to their power.

Lead singer/songwriter Michael Been (who passed away much too soon in 2010 at the age of 60) in particular was a riveting live performer.  Check out his bass playing on this version of "I Still Believe," from their 1986 album Reconciled (which also features the remarkable "Everywhere I Go"):


I'm out on my own
I'm walking the streets
Look at the faces that I meet
I feel like I'm lost
And I want to go home
What do I feel?
What do I know?

But I still believe
I still believe
Through the shame
Through the grief
Through the heartache
Through the tears
Through the waiting
And through the years

For people like us
In places like this
Who need all the hope
That we can get
I still believe

I still believe too. And later today we can take the first steps on the journey to take back our country. See you there. 

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