Friday, November 16, 2007

You Can't Fail Me Now

My virtual friend, e-mail pal, and songwriter extraordinaire Joe Henry doesn't think he writes prayers, but he does.

I know that fan is moving air
I can see it in your hair
But I can’t bear to breathe it in somehow
I’ll rise and fall with you ‘cause you can’t fail me now
I’ll rise and fall with you ‘cause you can’t fail me now

Salt is sweet upon my mouth
And dark throws sparks against my house
The state of love is a smudge on my brow
But you see through me and you can’t fail me now
When you see right through me you can’t fail me now

I’ve bit off more than I can chew
It’s something that I tend to do
When fewer words are what we need and how
Well, you bite my tongue and you can’t fail me now
I rant and rail but you can’t fail me now

I’ve lost the thread among the vines
And hung myself in story lines
That tell the tales I never would allow
God knows the name of every bird
That fills my mind like angry words
But you all know my secret heart avows

We’re taught to love the worst of us
And mercy more than life
But trust that mercy’s just a warning shot across the bow
I live for yours and you can’t fail me now
I live for your mercy and you can’t fail me now
-- Joe Henry, “You Can’t Me Now”

6 comments:

Jeffrey Overstreet said...

Best song I've heard all year.

I can't think of the song that's wrung more tears out of me than this one.

That line. You know the one. That line is as strong as the mystery it's describing.

Mr. Henry has written the best book of poetry published this year. It's just disguised as an album.

Jeffrey Overstreet said...

It's the most beautiful song I've heard all year. I can't think of a song that's wrung more tears from my eyes than this one.

That line. You know the one. That line is as powerful as the mystery it's describing.

With "Civilians," Mr. Henry has published the best book of poetry released this year. It's just disguised as an album.

What's going on with that guy? Three of my top ten albums this year were produced by him!

Jeff Kolb said...

Thanks for highlighting that song, Andy. For all the weird fun and wonder packed into Loudon's (and Joe's) album, those lyrics stood out from the first listen as something _big_...or maybe just more real than anything else I'd bumped into in awhile.

I remember the little catch of breath, that emotional hiccup, when I heard 'that line' for the first time. Your heart somehow knows, or hopes, that you just heard something that matters.

Ah, Joe...

Anonymous said...

Personally I think Joe's new album is quite a sacred and almost hymnal affair. The only record I might argue is on equal footing this year is Peter Case's new one. Both refuse to leave the Ipod rotation. I wonder if there is way to get these guys together to do a tour....

Please also know there are continued prayers being offered everyday. My daughter Anna asks about you since I brought you up at prayer time the other night....Feel better my friend...I miss hearing your musical ruminations, but more importantly I wish you to feel a tons better...

Gar

Andy Whitman said...

Gar, thank you so much. And thank your daughter Anna as well. It's truly amazing (and humbling) to know that there are people out there I've never met who are praying for me. I appreciate it more than I can express, and I hope that we can redress that "never met" part of the earlier sentence some time in the future.

Anonymous said...

arrived at this blog after hearing Joe's song - it's got into my head and heart and I've searched to find it's meaning, knowing that it was, as you say, about something that matters. But what? So sad sounding, at first I thought it was about loss. Then I thought, simply a love song. But you are right, it's really a prayer and make most sense as that.
I know I'll be lstening again and again, there's plenty of mystery left.