“Let the Wind Carry You Home”

19 06 2008

Music critics. If you’re like me, you probably don’t care much about their opinions. I’m one of those guys who either likes a song or doesn’t, regardless of the genre, the “hipness” of the performer, or the time period in which it was recorded. There are songs that have survived the test of time to stay popular in the very small sample size that is me. Elton John’s Philadelphia Freedom still entertains me. There are tunes that have “worn out” their welcome, such as REO Speedwagon’s Can’t Fight This Feeling. There are sexually charged songs that perfectly fit the bill when love and romance have gotten the best of me (think Ain’t That Lovin’ You? performed by Lou Rawls). Some songs simply quench my continuing need to rock, like Breath by Breaking Benjamin. There are songs that I would rather be poked in the eyes by the ends of broken golf clubs than have to ever hear again (Bootylicious).

I don’t pretend the world is just waiting for me to write about music. However, I decided, against my better judgment, to post about a relatively new song that has touched me in a powerful way.

Blackbird, the title track from the most recent Alter Bridge album is that song. It is their masterpiece…their Stairway to Heaven or Free Bird. (Ironically, I’m not that big of a fan of those latter two songs, even though I think Blackbird is reminiscent, especially in the fact that it is basically an 8-minute song.)

Here are the lyrics:

Blackbird (Alter Bridge)

The willow it weeps today
A breeze from the distance is calling your name
Unfurl your black wings and wait
Across the horizon it’s coming to sweep you away
It’s coming to sweep you away

[Chorus:]
Let the wind carry you home
Blackbird fly away
May you never be broken again

The fragile cannot endure
The wrecked and the jaded a place so impure
The static of this cruel world
Cause some birds to fly long before they’ve seen their day
Long before they’ve seen their day

[Chorus:]
Let the wind carry you home
Blackbird fly away
May you never be broken again

Beyond the suffering you’ve known
I hope you find your way
May you never be broken again

Ascend may you find no resistance
Know that you made such a difference
All you leave behind will live to the end
The cycle of suffering goes on
But memories of you stay strong
Someday I too will fly and find you again

[Chorus:]
Let the wind carry you home
Blackbird fly away
May you never be broken again

Beyond the suffering you’ve known
I hope you find your way
May you never be broken again
May you never be broken again

This song has the ability to both bring me to tears and put a smile on my face as it relays the pain of losing someone close but also the hope and faith of the better life they have gone to enjoy. Blackbird never fails to bring vivid visions of my late parents to mind. They suffered from diseases that crippled their bodies, but not their spirits during the final years of their lives. I can’t help but sigh an emotional sense of immense relief when I hear, May the wind carry you home, blackbird fly away, may you never be broken again and picture them both, healthy again and bursting with youthful vigor, living on in eternal happiness with no pains, no medication schedules, no worries about the price of gas on earth.

They were children of the Great Depression: frugal, careful, appreciative of what they had earned, fierce providers for their family. I miss my mom’s French toast, her sensible nature and her ability to kick everyone’s butt at ANY game of Boggle or crossword puzzle contest. She provided the type of home atmosphere that you could not help but feel comfortable in. The outside world could be in complete turmoil (as it often is), but you’d never know it inside the walls of that family home. I miss my Dad’s extreme good sense in money management, his strict moral rules for the family and the fact that he got up every night to let my beloved childhood cat out…the cat who jumped up on the piano keyboard and walked across the keys at 3 a.m. to belt out his desire to go outside…while I slept peacefully oblivious upstairs. They wanted nothing but good things for their kids. My mom, especially, would have gladly taken every bit of the suffering she endured rather than have any of her kids suffer from even a mild cold. When things were not going my way, I always knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that my mom felt every bit of my pain.

At the end of their lives on this planet, my mother could no longer breathe on her own; my father could barely walk. Like most of the good people out there, they lived through an unfair amount of burdens and were struck down by the same problems we all secretly know wait for us some day and try not to think too much about. I want to stand and cheer as they now fly as free as any blackbird that ever graced a pure blue sky, and Alter Bridge’s song is the perfect conduit for those emotions to come pouring out. The guitar work is amazing, the singing packed full of meaning, and the song’s musical environment has the ability to leave one in a trance. Their lyrics on this song, poetic in the flow and meaning, yet hurtfully aware of the human condition we all share, will endure.

If you haven’t heard it (and can at least stand rock music), give it a listen. If you happen to ever pull up next to me at a stoplight and see a grown man alone in a Camry drying his eyes, you can pretty much guess that I’m listening to this song loudly and thinking of a man and a woman who did their best in an imperfect world to give their kids all they could.

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