Song of the Week – The National “Afraid of Everyone” and a response “Whisper to the Ground”

This week’s song once again comes from The National, as I work my way backwards through their albums in anticipation of a release of a new album later this year. One can hope. This song feels very poignant to me, a song about media, alienation, and fear. Increasingly, feelings that grow inside my own soul, soul, soul, soul…. As the song reaches its passionate climax and Matt falls into a trance singing soul over and over again, it reaches inside me. See you next week.

I Whisper to the Ground

My son on my shoulders, I walk
Through the crowd at the carnival
I lift him wishing he could lift me
So we could ascend under Mary’s umbrella
When the winds shift from left to right
Together jump into a chalk paint dream
I will defend my family from the venom
I will defend my family from the hurt
I will defend my family from the drugs
Needed to sort through this red and blue
Mess. We will purple them together,
A much happier color for the new shoes
I walk in with my son on shoulders.

I whisper to the ground:

I, too, am afraid of everyone.

I, too, feel them swallowing my soul.

by Berninger, A. Dessner
[Verse 1]
Venom radio and
Venom television
I’m afraid of everyone
I’m afraid of everyone
Lay the young blue bodies
With the old red bodies
I’m afraid of everyone
I’m afraid of everyone

[Hook]
With my kid on my shoulders I try
Not to hurt anybody I like
But I don’t have the drugs to sort
I don’t have the drugs to sort it out
Sort it out

[Verse 2]
I defend my family
With my orange umbrella
I’m afraid of everyone
I’m afraid of everyone
With my shining new star
Spangled tennis shoes on
I’m afraid of everyone
I’m afraid of everyone

[Hook]
With my kid on my shoulders I try
Not to hurt anybody I like
But I don’t have the drugs to sort
I don’t have the drugs to sort it out
Sort it out
I don’t have the drugs to sort
I don’t have the drugs to sort it out
Sort it out

[Outro]
Your voice is swallowing my soul, soul, soul
Your voice is swallowing my soul, soul, soul
Your voice is swallowing my soul, soul, soul
Your voice is swallowing my soul, soul, soul
Your voice is swallowing my soul, soul, soul
Your voice is swallowing my soul, soul, soul
Your voice is swallowing my soul, soul, soul, soul, soul, soul, soul, soul, soul, soul, soul, soul, soul, soul

Your voice is swallowing my soul, soul, soul, soul
Your voice is swallowing my soul, soul, soul, soul
Your voice is swallowing my soul, soul, soul, soul, soul, soul, soul, soul, soul, soul, soul

To the Swan Who Pointed Home

I didn’t know him, but I wanted him.
All the words that fell through, spoke in a voice
He would not listen to long enough to believe.
A game he played, at war with himself.

One day, the swan rose up from the lake,
Her body like an arrow pointing home.
His heart painted black like doors unopened
As he walked the street, people turning away.

So he sank his boat
Into the puddle he dripped.

I did know him, the man I wanted to be.
All the words that fell through spoke
To the swan who sung along pointing home
As if to say, “Go, enough is enough.”

The war over erased the black exposing
The tender red door only courage could open.
I fell into eyes that knew me as if beginning
Still time to turn away and walk this street.

I raised his boat,
Pointed it home and followed the swan.

My voice:

This week, a poem that explains the new title of this poetry blog written in response to Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova’s beautiful “Falling Slowly” from the Soundtrack to the movie, Once. (and with a nod to the Stones’ classic, Paint it Black).

The song:

The lyrics:

Falling Slowly
Songwriters: Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

I don’t know you
But I want you
All the more for that
Words fall through me
And always fool me
And I can’t react
And games that never amount
To more than they’re meant
Will play themselves out

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We’ve still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice
You’ll make it now

Falling slowly, eyes that know me
And I can’t go back
Moods that take me and erase me
And I’m painted black
You have suffered enough
And warred with yourself
It’s time that you won

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We’ve still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice
You’ll make it now
Falling slowly sing your melody
I’ll sing along

Falling Slowly lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc