Posts Tagged 'death'

Flies And Blue Skies P.S You Rock My World.


Today started strangely.  I took the car to work as I was chairing a meeting first thing.  As I was about to turn into the street our office is on I discovered a policeman stood in the middle of the road directing the traffic not to turn from the main arterial route.  After a dodgy U-turn and an alternative route, I got parked and walked the short distance to the office only to discover half of our street cordoned off.  There was police incident tape, a heavy police presence and various people in plain clothes conversing intently as a forensic officer in white boiler suit, face mask, gloves and shoe covers sealed off the area in front of a building diagonally opposite our office.  It provoked a strange sense of knowing something was seriously wrong combined with intrigue in wanting to know what had happened.

As the day drew on, various people in our office would make periodic trips to the windows to see if they could decipher what was unfolding below us.  Emotions ranged from people adopting dodgy Scottish accents and impersonating Taggart by saying, “there’s been a  murrrrrder” to a general nosiness or a desire to gossip about what the latest word on the street quite literally was.

As I type these words before going to bed, all I know is that the press have disclosed that a man’s body was discovered face down outside the basement level of the building diagonally opposite our office.  Not  a man – but just “a man’s body”.  Death changes everything.

My mind has been caught up in it all at various points throughout the day, but I came to think that I don’t need to know the details.  Ultimately my only connection is proximity to the place where the body was found.  He could have been in an accident, he could have been attacked, he could have simply collapsed, he could have been sleeping rough…all of the detail will emerge in the coming hours I suspect.  More than any of that I got to thinking that whoever he was, he must have been somebody’s someone – a son, a friend.  There was probably a time he played in the park, laughed at a joke, shared a drink with somebody special.  It removed a degree of that blanket of invincibility we tend to wear.

As I get ready to sleep, there are a couple of songs playing in the jukebox of my mind.  Lines which are simple, yet, profound…

“There is life.

There is death.

And the difference between either one

is one single breath”.

From “Flies And Blue Skies” by King’s X.


“Laying in bed tonight I was thinking
and listening to all the dogs
and the sirens and the shots
and how the careful man tries to dodge the bullets
while a happy man takes a walk
and maybe it is time to live”

From “P.S. You Rock My World” by Eels.




On my previous post I asked what single song you would sing if you were lying out in the gutter dying and you had time to sing one song…One song that would let God know how you felt about your time here on earth.  One song that would sum you up…

Whilst I often love clever lyrics, at the end of the day some things just need to be said as they are.  Whatever our life experience or standing in society, we all fall short and hide behind masks and ultimately there comes a time when we simply stop pretending…

Is there time when old hymnals come back to mind and we recite phrases like “amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me”?  How seldom many of us see ourselves in that light.  And yet for untold numbers of others, they see themselves simply in that light with no hope of restoration.

I’ve been thinking it over for a couple of days and have concluded that I’d choose the same song as Scott.  So, when it all boils down to it the song I’d choose is as follows:

“Well I have wandered away from the narrow path

Have I gone so far that you won’t have me back?

You see my reaction to the world’s distractions.

If the apple is sweet, then I am bound to eat…

Lord, have mercy

Lord, have mercy

Lord, have mercy on me.

Well I came to you from that lonely place

At the end of the season from the sea and the sun

If you’re really there and you really care

Surely you will understand the depths of my despair 

Lord, have mercy

Lord, have mercy

Lord, have mercy on me.

Will you listen to me in my moment of weakness?

I’m your prodigal son and I’m looking for rest


Lord, have mercy

Lord, have mercy

Lord, have mercy on me”.

From “Mercy” by Gena Rowlands Band.

The above comes from the “Flesh and Spirits” album which I consider my best find of 2007.  I now regard it as one of the most important albums I own.  Whilst, the language may not always be the way in which I would articulate things, this record has helped me view life, love, attraction, temptation, sex, death, God and the human condition in a way like precious little other music has done for a long time.  If that has got you intrigued, then you can listen to some of the tracks at their myspace page here or order the album here.

One of my friends saw Gena Rowlands Band play a gig in Brooklyn last year.  They finished the set with this song.  Bob Massey sung the song whilst the rest of the band packed up their gear around him and those gathered in the venue began to sing along the refrain, “Lord, have mercy on us”.  I love that picture –  a small bar full of people, many of whom, I expect, would never consider entering a church and yet singing words together that they can understand and own.  It makes me think about how little time Jesus spent in religious places compared with how much time he spent with ordinary people in their everyday lives.

As Scott also recently commented in an email to me – church is more like a hospital for sinners than a museum for saints.  There’s a lot of truth in that and yet I wonder how many churches that actually rings true for?

I Was There When It Happened


There’s a scene in the film “Walk The Line” where John R. Cash is trying to support his young wife and family by holding down a job as a door to door salesman. Whilst doing this he is distracted by the sounds he hears from a band recording at, the now legendary, Sun Studios. Eventually he manages to secure some time there and makes a plea to company owner Sam Philips to get a chance to audition for a record contract.  When asked to play something, Cash and the Tennessee Two play “I Was There When It Happened” which has the following lyrics,

“Yes, I know when Jesus saved me (yes, He saved my soul),
The very moment He forgave me (yes, He made me whole);
He took away my heavy burden (yes, He took my sin and),
And He gave me peace within (gave me peace within).
Satan can’t make me doubt it (he can’t make me doubt it),
It’s real and I’m gonna shout it (I’m gonna shout it);
‘Cause I was there when it happened (oh, my Lord),
and I guess I ought to know (yes, I ought to know)”.

Sam Philips cuts them off short and claims that he can’t sell gospel music and that everyone else has been trying that.  Johnny Cash gets really defensive, as if his own faith or right to grace is being dismissed. 

After a few heated moments, Sam Phillips looks Cash in the eye and says, “If you was hit by a truck and you were lying out in that gutter dying and you had time to sing one song, huh, one song before people would remember you’re dirt.  One song that would let God know how you felt about your time here on earth.  One song that would sum you up, you’re telling me that’s the song?  That same old Jimmy Davis tune we hear all day on the radio about your peace within, about how it’s real and you’re gonna shout it?  Or would you sing something different?  Something real?  Something you felt?  ‘Cause I’m tellin’ you right now, that’s the sort of song that people wanna hear.  That’s the sort of song that truly saves people.”

In the film Johnny Cash’s response was not some trite ditty about Jesus, love or happiness.

If there was only one song you could sing in that situation what would it be?  Feel free to click on the comments icon to leave some thoughts…

Casimir Pulaski Day

On my most recent post, I quoted extensively from an engaging interview with Sam Beam of Iron & Wine which appeared in Paste magazine.  You can link to that post here.  He commented that the three main topics which he believes will really affect someone as a human being are: love; God; and death. 

Are those the topics that really seperate “great” art (in whatever media i.e painting, sculpture, photography, literature, film, music, whatever) from “good” art?  For me, I think that notion certainly rings very true.  Faced with any one of those issues in isolation and, in our most quiet and honest moments, I reckon that we stop pretending.

I asked what these things would look or sound like?

For me, I think it might be something very much like the attached you tube clip.  This is a song that speaks more truth to me about these subjects than many others.  The video is something that has not been prepared by some high budget commission by the musician involved, but is simply someone having lovingly story-boarded the sentiment and imagery and story of the song.  The result gets me every time I watch and listen to it.  I know there can be a tendency to skip people’s video links on blogs, but I would encourage you to click the arrow below and watch this.

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"The priest in the booth had a photographic memory for all he had heard. He took all of my sins and he wrote a pocket novel called "The State That I'm In"". From "The State I Am In" by Belle and Sebastian
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