I am settling into this Americana era drone. This is a good song to have on for sitting still. The intro has an edge to it, but the song invites you to sit for a spell and prop your feet up by the time we get to the palm muted guitars in the verse. The bass seems to be mixed at a higher volume proportional to all the rest of this sound (I mean, really, how many guitar tracks where recorded here?). By the time you get to the first chorus, you are pulled into this soupy mix. The chorus is thick like a casserole made by an old church lady. It sticks to you.
Things continue on like this through another run of the verse and chorus. Then we have a bridge which is the intro/chorus riff but turned up to 11. Then we have the best moment in the song – the reprieve. The reprieve is something characteristic of this era of sf59. Think back to Silver; it was all sound, all the time. There was more experimentation with variations in intensity in Gold. With each album, the use of variation improves. Somewhere along the journey, JM learned that sometimes we all need to take a step back. We all need a reprieve.
Elijah the Prophet (the man, not the song) needed a reprieve once too. It is surprising as Elijah comes off as bad ass in most of the stories about him. Elijah goes after King Ahab, railing against the hypocrisy of Judah. He was the first to resurrect the dead. He called fire down from the sky on his enemies. Death did not take him; his mortal body rode a chariot of fire into the heavens.
But even the most rooting tooting prophet ever needed a reprieve once. It happened after he challenged the priests of Baal to a “praying for rain” death match. The priests of Baal make their alter, give their sacrifices, set the alter alight and pray for rain. But nothing happens. Elijah takes the time to trash talk the priests before building his own alter. He orders that the alter be drenched with water, soaking the wood that would be the fuel for his prayers. Elijah stands before the Lord and prays that his sacrifice be accepted. A pillar of fire descends through the air, consuming the sacrifice and destroying the alter. Even the earth and the pool of water surrounding the alter are obliterated. Then Elijah orders the death of the priests of Baal and the rain finally falls.
I wish you’d leave me alone
Some day I’ll be coming home
Jezebel intends for Elijah to meet the same punishment that he ordered for her priests of Baal. But instead of accepting the punishment or calling down holy flames to smite his enemies, Elijah runs.
Get me far
You’ll never know
For 40 days and 40 nights, he runs to Mount Horeb, where Moses received the Ten Commandments. Elijah hides in the darkness of a cave. But the cave cannot shield him from God’s awareness. The Lord asks him what he is doing hiding in the cave. Rather than answer God’s question, Elijah goes on a pity party rant about how his mission has been a failure and no one in the world is worthy of redemption.
God stops the pity party and tells Elijah to go outside and stand before Him. God gives a vision of a mountain to Elijah. A fierce wind blows, a great earthquake shakes the mountain and then a fire passes. Again, God asks Elijah what he is doing in the cave. Elijah gives the same answer he gave before, indicating that he could not understand the vision.
Elijah, the greatest of the prophets. Elijah, bringer of fire. Even Elijah, who stood next to Jesus in the Transfiguration had his moment where he hid in a cave and pouted like a toddler who didn’t get his way. We all need a reprieve.
I’m missing you these days
Find some other way
I feel like we are all in a metaphorical cave right now, stuck in quarantine and we do not know how long we will be here. It has been interesting for me to watch how people are responding to a handful of days at home. I’ve been at this game for a lot longer and you newbies are cute.
I had to retreat into my cave months ago. A sudden, unexpected medical issue came up (you’ll probably hear more details about this in the future). It weakened me and forced me to learn to stay home and be quiet. The irony is that this has turned out to be one of the most productive periods of my life (I just haven’t really been productive here very much).
I was forced into all this productivity by pain and tedium. I had to focus on something just to make it through. I started learning how to play songs on the guitar that I’ve wanted to learn since I was a teenager. I’ve even learned a whole new way of playing. Learning the music I listened to as a teenager reminded me what it was like to feel that young and to have the passion to chase after something new. I started writing new things. When my old way of writing could not say what I wanted to say, I found new ways to write. I have filled notebook after notebook of stories, ideas and chord progressions. A pillar of fire descended into my living room; divine inspiration hit my chest and warmed everything around me.
Get me far
You’ll never know… You’ll never know
We all need a reprieve.
I can’t help but think that the quick rise of COVID-19 cases and the forced quarantine isn’t just the universe telling us all that we need to slow down. We need a break in our routines. We need to remember what it was like to feel young or to want to create something new. Maybe we’ve all been sent to our caves to remember what it is to care for our neighbors. And maybe some of us will emerge from our caves only to spout the same pouty shit we were saying before, just like Elijah did. And that’s okay too; it will all work toward a purpose in the end.
Going to your cave, so far away from your daily routines, is a chance to break away from the old and tired and to start something new. Challenge yourself to learn something that you never thought you could. You might be surprised to find (like I was) that you can do what you thought was impossible for you. The energy and the satisfaction you get from that will jump start you and then you are on your way. Who knows when you will stop again?