the thirty-fifth question

this post is one of many for a creative nonfiction project i began several years ago. i call it the griffin inquisition. i’ve asked my friends and family to pose questions, things they want to know about me that would require more than a yes or no for an answer. the most recent addition comes from my friend, erin.

i know you are a big fan of music. pick a song that is a favorite lyrically, and tell me why and how the lyrics speak to you so strongly.


the prince of darkness
the indigo girls

my place is of the sun, and this place is of the dark
and i do not feel the romance; i do not catch the spark
i don’t know when i noticed life was life at my expense
the words of my heart lined up like prisoners on a fence
the dreams came in like needy children tugging at my sleeve
i said i have no way of feeding you, so leave
but there was a time i asked my father for a dollar
and he gave it a ten dollar raise
and when i needed my mother and i called her
she stayed with me for days
now someone’s on the telephone, desperate in his pain
someone’s on the bathroom floor doing her cocaine
someone’s got his finger on the button in some room
no one can convince me we aren’t gluttons for our doom
but i tried to make this place my place
i asked for providence to smile upon me with his sweet face
but i’ll tell you my place is of the sun, and this place is of the dark
and i do not feel the romance; i do not catch the spark
my place is of the sun, and this place is of the dark
(by grace, my sight grows stronger) 
and i do not feel the romance; i will not be
(and i will not be a pawn for the prince of darkness any longer)
maybe there’s no haven in this world for tender age
my heart beat like the wings of wild birds in a cage
my greatest hope my greatest cause to grieve
and my heart flew from its cage and it bled upon my sleeve
the cries of passion were like wounds that needed healing
i couldn’t hear them for the thunder
i was half the naked distance between hell and heaven’s ceiling
and he almost pulled me under
now someones on the telephone, desperate in his pain
someone’s on the bathroom floor doing her cocaine
someone’s got his finger on the button in some room
no one can convince me we aren’t gluttons for our doom
but i tried to make this place my place
i asked for providence to smile upon me with his sweet face
but i’ll tell you my place is of the sun, and this place is of the dark
and i do not feel the romance; i do not catch the spark
my place is of the sun, and this place is of the dark
(by grace, my sight grows stronger)
and i do not feel the romance; i do not catch the spark
(grows stronger)
by grace
(my place is of the sun and)
my sight
(and this place is of the dark and)
is growing stronger
(i do not feel the romance)
i will not be a pawn
(i will not be)
for the prince of darkness any longer

the song is the fourth track on the indigo girls’ self-titled album. i was sixteen, i think, when that album was released. i’d been battling depression for eight years. i was terrified i would lose the war. every night i cried myself to sleep. every night i prayed i wouldn’t wake up. every morning i woke. every day i was certain i was in hell.
there were songs that i favored, like bette midler’s the rose, for example, and this one that i would sing to myself. and if i couldn’t sing them, i’d be writing the lyrics down. over and over again. 
it didn’t occur to me that the songs were prayers. not until i was in college, and my aesthetics professor was telling the class that singing was the highest form of praise, of prayer. and maybe i survived then, maybe i survive now because i sing. maybe it’s because of songs like this.
the lyrics with which i most identify are these: 
the words of my heart lined up like prisoners on a fence
the dreams came in like needy children tugging at my sleeve
i said i have no way of feeding you, so leave…

my greatest hope my greatest cause to grieve
and my heart flew from its cage and it bled upon my sleeve
the cries of passion were like wounds that needed healing
i couldn’t hear them for the thunder…

it’s so easy to get lost. it’s so easy to give in. to feel as though there is no good within you, that no good can come from you. that all your dreams are wasted. i struggle, even now, especially now. the thunder is so raucous, so ominous. and hope can be so vicious. 


but there was a time i asked my father for a dollar
and he gave it a ten dollar raise
and when i needed my mother and i called her
she stayed with me for days

and i know that’s the other reason i’ve survived… because of them. because when i woke, my mom had my clothes clean (and sometimes pressed), and my breakfast made and my lunch packed and a smile on her face. and when i came home she was there with a snack and kind word and all that jazz. and even though i didn’t see my father much in my youth, i knew he was always there, giving… and that his extraordinary generosity wasn’t limited to the cash in his pocket. they give and give and give. i do my best to be as generous as they.
it’s hard for me to sing this, now. it doesn’t work quite so well as it did in my younger days. but i have loved this song for decades. the lyrics… the melody… they can be soothing. also, i like the reminder that everyone struggles with something, and maybe my struggles are much smaller than they seem. maybe i am much stronger.

what tune(s) do you most love and why?

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