Life in Music inspired by Joe Henry

zondag 22 januari 2017

You Scare me to Death

Yesterday I reread Josh Hurst his review from JH’s album Civilians. In his review he spoke about the year 2007. It struck me, that I could change it to 2017, and the review was still valid. “Why do I reread reviews from a decade ago ?” You’re probably thinking. I guess you are right in thinking that.

You see, I think I’ll have to admit to myself that ‘Civilians’ has become one of my all time favorite albums. There is not 1 year that has passed, where I didn’t take the CD from the shelf and played it, or, like now, put it in the car, where it stays for weeks. Yesterday something struck me, which made me wonder how people looked at this album when it was released. And there you go, I’m rereading a review.

Today, I wanted to talk to you about 1 particular song : ‘Scare me to death’.  With everything that is going on in the world today, I listened to it completely in a new manner. It happened when I heard the first line : “I’ve seen the best, and the worst you can be”. I instantly thought about the differences between President Obama and President Trump. In that light, I continued on listening. Going deeper and deeper into the song, I started realizing (for me) it is not merely about 1 person, 1 nation or 1 group of people. Yesterday, Today and probably for now on, I think this song is universal. I’ve been thinking, since yesterday about it. Not what it means to me, but how to explain it. How do I express what I heard? I don’t think I can explain the subject of this song in 1 word. So let me make an effort here in trying to explain it.

The notion of democracy. I don’t mean democracy, that doesn’t scare me. I mean the notion of it. If you take it as it comes, there is nothing to it. It’s just the way things are, but the moment you start thinking about what it implies…. Neither do I mean a political party, I’m talking about living in a free democratic world.
What does it mean having the notion of it ? Does it mean cherishing it in your heart, or does it mean thinking about how it works? Mind or Heart? Thinking or Feeling?... You guessed it. You can’t have one without the other. If you don’t think about it, you’re cherishing something you don’t know what it implies. The other way around, you are learning and setting rules of something you have no feeling for. Like my previous post I make a comparison to art. If you love, for instance, playing music, you have to learn how to play it, and perhaps think about how it can evolve. But at the same time you’re expressing your feelings with it. To express what you feel, you need to learn the tools.

Back to my ‘notion of Democracy’. Today more and more people are very aware. I (and I’m sure many others) are witnessing the worst it can be, but f.e. seeing the global protest of this weekend’s Women Marches. I’ve also seen the best it can be.
Today we are aware of it. But, in history, and I fear also in time, we can loose our notion, and take it for granted. At that moment, some start abusing the system. They mislead the public into choosing things they didn’t want. And then they’ll say, it was chosen democratically. The system has been abused, because at that moment, the democratic choice, is something completely different than what the public wants. 
These days, here in Belgium, our (extreme) right winged sides are jumping on the wave they see currently in US and UK’s leadership. They started up their propaganda in trying to convince the people that’s the way forward for us. We have elections in 2018, and the notion that in our democracy everything is possible, that scares me to death. But at the same time it keeps me aware, and wants me to keep aware.

We have to keep the current flame awake together, because on our own, we quickly slide again in taking things for granted. We must not loose it like a quick stolen breath, because if we do, we open the door for people to abuse it for their own personal benefit.

Where lust takes the toll, of a quick stolen breath

With this I hope you understand what I wanted to express. I wouldn’t call this song a protest song, because it doesn’t protest anything. It is a powerful reminder. Never forget!


I've seen the best
And the worst you can be
And all while you're getting
The better of me

You're fragile but wicked
And fleeting as breath
And you move up behind me
And scare me to death

At war between
All good intentions and greed
My love is the kind
Where want becomes need

Where lust takes the toll
Of a quick stolen breath
You stir within me
And scare me to death

A dose now
Of either heart or of mind
Can be lethal, it seems
If they're not combined

They show but contempt
When considered as two
And pretend that each
Is the other to you

Now you spit in your hands
And haul on the rope
And fill up my cup
With the worst kind of hope

You lift me with words
I haven't found yet
I fall like your shadow
And you scare me to death

You sleep here beside me
And scare me to death

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