Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Only God Can Save Us Now: Wheelchairs and Wonder

The first time I heard this song, I knew exactly what the imagery portrayed. Anyone who enjoys poetic lyrics knows that occasionally a song comes along to which you can't quite find the key. There's  something being described that you understand, if only you know the password.

But after my time spent serving in a nursing home, I grasped these lyrics immediately with a jolt of surprise - after all, how often does one hear a song about, well, long-term care? A beautifully executed song, at that?

Beauty, melancholy, faint absurdity - these echo through this tune like the ringing call bell buzzing down the hallway.

Another way of saying "only God can save us now"? 
"Lord, have mercy; Christ, have mercy; Lord, have mercy on me." 

Sometimes grief wears funny, lopsided, feathered hats.

Only God Can Save Us Now
Over the Rhine

Margie struck Geneva with her baby doll
Barb knocked off the med cart comin' down the hall
Bob leads the congregation when he sings
How Now Brown Cow
Only God can save us now

Jean says Fuzzy wuzzy fuzzy wuzzy was a bear
Miss Cleve sings Hallelujah from the choir in her chair
Behind his busy apron Raymond's naked standing proud
Only God can save us now

Who will save me
From myself
In the night?

When my time has come and it may be comin' soon
Don't mind me if you come to find me howlin' at the moon
I'll need a busy apron and a half-sedated crowd
Only God can save us now

A baby doll some chocolates and flowers made of silk
A clean room with a window and some Prozac in warm milk
And sneak us in some whiskey 'cause it's prob'ly not allowed
Only God can save us now 

Wanna take a listen? The songwriter first explains that her mother, a nurse for many years, had a stroke at a relatively young age and now require full-time care. In the course of visiting her at the nursing home, Karin met some other colorful characters - the ones described above.

Wanna hear just the song without the explanatory intro? Here it is (video quality better on this one):


Anonymous said...

The song captures perfectly the fact that sometimes (especially when dealing with a parent with dementia, etc.) a person must choose whether to laugh or cry. It is a strange (strange to me) fact that sometimes those are the only two choices - weep buckets of tears or laugh at the absurdities of the situation.

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