- A Story In Song (Part 1—Tom Waits)
- A Story In Song (Part 2—Kings of Leon)
- A Story In Song (Part 3—Ben Harper)
- A Story In Song (Part 4—Amos Lee)
- A Story In Song (Part 5—Blind Pilot)
- A Story In Song (Part 6—Right Away, Great Captain!)
- A Story In Song (Part 7—Amos Lee)
- A Story In Song (Part 8—Ray LaMontagne)
- A Story In Song (Part 9—Janis Joplin)
- A Story In Song (Part 10—Peter Bradley Adams)
- A Story In Song (The End)
I have a story in my book Pieces Like Pottery—”The Gravesite: The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery”—in which I experimented with a number of different literary devices. More and more readers have begun to notice one of the devices more regularly.
In addition to breaking the story up into ten sections, each of which follows one of the themes from the fifth sorrowful mystery, each section in the story also has a song that is paired with it. Yes, you read that right. I paired a song with each section. Like a fine wine paired with a good meal, the song’s lyrics are intended not only to add another layer of meaning to the words, but can also be listened along with that section of the story.
While more and more readers have been picking up on this, it’s certainly not an easy task for the casual reader, especially not one reading the print version of the book. I’ve promised to do this for quite awhile, so here you go. In ten parts, here is “The Gravesite: The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery” paired with each song. Enjoy!
(For those of you that might be interested in how this section ties into the fifth sorrowful mystery, the fifth sorrowful mystery is The Crucifixion and the “spiritual fruit” is the Pardoning of Injuries. Part 9 reflects Jesus’ prayer, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”)
The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery
Lisa squeezed Mike’s hand as he bent over to light the candle sitting at the base of the grave. The wind momentarily died down as if to assist.
“We raised a good son,” Lisa whispered.
“You were a good mother,” he replied. “You cared for him like a saint. You gave him everything.”
Lisa smiled as if to acknowledge her appreciation of the kind words. Her thoughts wandered, and her eyes drifted across the graves that stretched out before her. A family gathered in the distance. The family was quite large, maybe eight adults and another ten children or so. One of the adults was an elderly man. They each carried flowers and trinkets, one by one placing them on the ground. A visit to their grandmother on the anniversary of her death, Lisa thought.
“I’m sorry I had to leave,” Lisa lamented.
“I know,” Mike replied. “Me too.”
They both stood peacefully holding the silence.
After what felt like years after Chris’ death, but in actuality was less than five months, Lisa moved out. She could not take the reminders. Every room in the house, the cars they drove, the food they ate, and Mike, poor Mike, they all reminded her of Chris. She couldn’t take it. The sorrow came in waves with each reminder. So with little fanfare, Lisa told Mike she would be moving out at the end of the week.
Mike half-heartedly protested. He didn’t want her to leave. In fact, he longed for her to stay. He hoped they would be able to rebuild a life together, some fraction of the marriage they once had. He knew that this was no longer in the cards, though. Lisa had moved out of the house mentally months ago. While her physical absence would certainly add to the agony, he had been staring down the barrel of this reality for quite some time.
When Lisa left later that week, she kissed Mike goodbye on the cheek. Both of them fought back tears as they found themselves at a loss for words. What was there to say?
Lisa reached into her purse and handed him a folded sheet of paper. Mike instantly knew it was a new post from their son. Lisa liked to print out each entry.
“I love you,” she said as Mike accepted the blog from her.
“I love you too,” Mike replied.
Lisa collected her suitcase and turned to go out the front door. Mike sat in disbelief on the couch at the front of the house. He was numb from the agony of it all. He unfolded the paper in his hands. A blog from Chris hadn’t appeared in quite a while.
“Please don’t you leave me, I feel so useless down here with no one to love though I’ve looked everywhere.”
Everyone wants to love and be loved. We often look for the love of others to save us. This is not a new concept. I don’t purport to be providing deep insight into the world. It has been written about since the time of the ancient thinkers. Sophocles knew that love is the only freedom from the weight and pain of life.
While it may not be a new concept, it is quite an astounding one, both in its simplicity and in its difficulty to grasp in our every day lives. Each of us yearns to love and be loved, yet we constantly push that love away when it approaches. We’re afraid to be vulnerable. We are our own persecutors. We are crushed only by the mountains we create. Our need for love is our collective search as humans, it is common to us all. Our constant failure to accept love is because of our own arrogance, addictions, pride, and fear; this failure is the fastening of our hands and feet to the fate of our misery. Maybe Sophocles was right thousands of years ago, we are the sole cause of our adversities.
Mike felt the cynicism building up inside of him. His immediate thought was that his son, his dead son, was naïve. He couldn’t fight the immediate reproach he felt. It washed over him like dirty dishwater. His wife whom he loved dearly had just walked out of his life because the son he missed and loved deeply was no longer with them; because he knew deep down that she thought he didn’t love his son enough because of the way Mike mourned his death. Now he felt as if his son were judging him from beyond the grave. Mike understood the absurdity of the feelings that were rushing over him, but that’s the irony of feelings. They tend to control much of what a man does, but they are rooted in emotional reaction, not logic.
Yet Mike’s feelings, which were once sadness and loneliness before his wife walked out their front door, were now anger. After that day, Mike began covering his feelings of loneliness with anger. It didn’t take long at that point for Mike to cover his feelings of anger with alcohol. He would go to the cupboard for the whiskey and drink until he couldn’t feel a thing. Love, sadness, loneliness, anger, they were gone, awash in a sea of whiskey.
Check out Part 10 of “The Gravesite.”
Work Me Lord (Lyrics)
Work me Lord, work me Lord.
Please don’t you leave me,
I feel so useless down here
With no one to love
Though I’ve looked everywhere
And I can’t find me anybody to love,
To feel my care.
So ah work me Lord, whoa use me Lord,
Don’t you know how hard it is
Trying to live all alone.
Every day I keep trying to move forward,
But something is driving me, oh, back,
Honey, something’s trying to hold on to me,
To my way of life.
So don’t you forget me down here, Lord,
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no,
Ah, ah, don’t you forget me, Lord.
Well I don’t think I’m any very special
Kind of person down here, I know better,
But I don’t think you’re gonna find anybody,
Not anybody who could say that they tried like I tried,
The worst you can say all about me
Is that I’m never satisfied. Whoa.
Whoa, oh, oh, work me Lord, hmm, use me Lord,
Please, honey, don’t you leave me,
I feel so useless down here.
I can’t find me anybody to love me
And I’ve looked around,
I’ve looked everywhere, everywhere
And I can’t find me anyone to love,
To feel my care.
So honey don’t you go and leave me, Lord,
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no,
Honey, don’t you go off and leave me, Lord.
Can’t I show you how hard it is
Trying to live when you’re all alone.
Everyday I keep pushing,
Keep trying to move forward
But something is driving me, oh, back,
And something’s trying to hold on to me,
To my way of life, why.
Oh please, please, oh don’t you go and
Forget me down here, don’t forget me, Lord.
I think that maybe you can ease me,
Maybe I can help you, said uh whoa,
Oh please, please, don’t you go and leave me Lord,
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, whoa, whoa please,
Hmm please, don’t you leave me, Lord.
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