I turn my cheek to unkind remarks
There was two of everything
But one of me
And when the rains came tumbling down
I held my breath and I stood my ground
And I watched that ship go sailing
Out to sea.
Take it back
Take it back
Oh no, you can’t say that
All of my friends
Are now dead or in jail*
Through rock and through stone
The black wind still moans
I caught an aisle seat on a plane
And drove an english teacher half insane
Making up jokes about bicycle spokes
And red balloons
So I called up my local deejay
And he didn’t have a lot to say
But the radio
Has learned all of my favorite tunes.
The white meat is on the run
And the dark meat is far too done
And the milkman left me a note yesterday
Get out of this town by noon
You’re coming on way too soon
And besides that
We never liked you any way.
* lyric is in question. Could be "not".
This part is true: There was a red-haired girl in college with alabaster skin, so white against the red that she was nicknamed, "Death." Seriously. Half the dorm knew her as Death. My friend Monster took her back to his room one night. We called it, "The Monster faces Death." This was enormously hilarious to us at the time. Her virtue remained intact. She was a pretty girl. I believe her name was Marianne. Now the question is: Was I telling this to people for real or in a dream? People were laughing, and it could've happened, but there's a dreamy feel to the memory.
Non-sequitur. The lyric bolded above is as I remember it. The official version says "not," which ruins the song. Because the best line is the angry alienation of singing, "My friends are now dead or in jail." Many of us used to sign it that way. That is, back when I was into alienation. Sartre. Camus. The whole intellectual pretense thing. Now as intellectually attractive as I found alienation, what I really liked was the license. Hedonism 'r' us. But then came the consequences of bad behavior and what followed was crappy so I cleaned up my act. Not so into alienation anymore, and none of my friends are in jail. Dead? Hmm...there was a person who was a good friend of a good friend. He was a cop and got shot in a raid in a crack house. What's sad is it was 17 years ago and we've all grown up. And of course Billy P. but he was also a good friend of a good friend. Two guys from college, Mike C. and John V., both died tragically before they were 22. Mike had a cocaine-induced heart attack. And John was hanging off a train and got hit by a train coming the other way. I had a strange meeting with both of them.
John used to scream in the middle of the night. "Aaaagh!" He'd climb out the fourth floor window and climb down to the ground. He had that I don't give a fuck attitude. He was a good guy, don't get me wrong. But he sincerely did not give a fuck. I was part of a crowd that always went out, and he never went out. He drank in the dorm. I was depressed at the time, badly. One night he just calls me in the hall from his room. I got in and he's got his dresser in the floor, and a couple of whiskey shots. He offers me some. I waited for him to say something, but he didn't. He just looked ... distant. Gone. He knew I was pretty far gone down the alcoholism and self-destructiveness trail, but he was further along. And worse, he was serious. I was upset; he was beyond upset. He was willing, you see.
Mike C. was the same way. He had this sense you couldn't reach him, like he was cut off. He was popular, but he wasn't there. One day as pledgemaster I ordered him to come out and I did the push-ups, I tried to show him that the fraternity wasn't about abuse, it was about friendship, and that I was willing to do anything I'd asked him. He looked at me as if I wrecked a joke, and in wrecking the joke he was unnerved. But beyond that he was willing, too. Some people will take things to the level of pain, others to the level of injury, others to blood or broken bones. He and John were willing to take it all the way to death.
Kathy S. on the other hand was willing to live. She was a "pretty girl in a hurry" and she died at age 18 of an aneurysm on Route 9 while driving home from her boyfriend's. She had two ex-boyfriends at her funeral, but neither was her boyfriend at the time. Kathy worked with we lifeguards on the bayside. She dated a bay lifeguard. After a couple of weeks, she was moved oceanside. She traded up to an ocean lifeguard. But hey, she was a nice person and stayed friends all around.
Supposedly at death we go down a tunnel to a bright light and then if you're not protected the bright light burns and if you're protected it comforts. Think of Jesus as a kind of sunblock for your sins. The light is the love of God, and if you're prepared and protected by Christ the love of God will so overwhelm you it'll be like a burning flame. The flames of hell and the love of God are the same ... it's our perception of them that differs, and that perception differs according to our acceptance of Christ. So get right with God.
I'll say a prayer for Mike C. and John V., Keith, Billy and Kathy. And be thankful the rest of my friends are alive and running loose.