Okay, I know it’s a cliched Disney track (Brother Bear 2003) and didn’t get the reviewers buzzing with excitement. “Allmusic described the song as a “future American Idol standard…devoid of craftsmanship”, adding it “positively radiate[s] Hollywood gloss — it’s simply indicative of pop culture’s voracious appetite for audio fast food”. Wikipedia
However, that doesn’t stop it from being a song that is meaningful to the listener. As a huge Phil Collins fan, who loves vocal harmony and a mean saxophone, it gets a thumbs up from me anyway!
“There’s a better place somewhere out there.
Ooh, just take a look through my eyes…
everything changes, you’ll be amazed what you’ll find if you look through my eyes.
So don’t run, don’t hide. It will be alright, you’ll see.
Trust me I’ll be there watching over you
Over the years I have appreciated the perspectives of friends and family who have been able to see a bigger picture. When my marriage ended I remember my brother telling me that one day I would be able to see things much more clearly; that it wouldn’t always feel like that. But what about an even bigger picture? It led me to read again one of the Psalms which talks about God seeing our thoughts, our actions, our circumstances. Psalm 139 v 3, 11, 12
You notice everything I do and everywhere I go.
Suppose I said, “I’ll hide in the dark until night comes to cover me over.” But you see in the dark because daylight and dark are all the same to you.
When all I want to do is run away and hide; when it feels like the present moment is just too overwhelming; when I just don’t understand what is happening…these are the times to have just a glimpse at how God views some things, because it helps to have someone around who can see the big picture; much deeper than the surface; much further than the horizon; much wider than our limited viewpoints.
This song is one of the all-time electronica/trance greats and so there are several versions and remixes available. One of the best is a live performance by the Dutch DJ Tiësto (here) which captures the excitement and immersion of the collective dance experience.
In the spirit of choosing the road less travelled however, I have used a different version here. This video comprises clips from the Japanese role-playing computer game Final Fantasy VIII, in which heroes battle a great evil, but also have to deal with their own relationships and internal struggles [sounds familiar?]. The song matches the images of tension and yearning so well that it could have been part of the original soundtrack (an epic in its own right), but it was not – the editor has just made a really good montage that is a sympathetic interpretation of the music.
This mix is the original from the 1997 album ‘Karma’ and it opens with Gregorian chant: ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo’ – glory to God in the highest which sets the scene for the singer to tell of her personal religious journey –
Heaven holds a sense of wonder And I wanted to believe That I’d get caught up When the rage in me subsides
In this white wave I am sinking In this silence In this white wave In this silence I believe
There seems to be an ironic contrast between the noise of the dance floor and a search for tranquility, yet for some people this could be a path towards God. The insistent rhythms of the trance style can have a calming effect leading to an inner peace and then, when the clamour has died away – ‘In this silence I believe’. It reminds me of this encounter between the God and the prophet Elijah:
“Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. (I Kings 19:11-12)
When I first heard this song, I was so surprised and puzzled by the strong emotional effect it had on me that I wanted to look into it further.
It was written by Carly Simon for the film ‘Working Girl’, a romantic comedy set in 1980s New York. The plot has a young woman secretary who is unfairly treated find justice and achieve success. Here we see Carly Simon singing interspersed with scenes from the film’s opening where workers are making their commute by ferry across the river to Manhattan. In the background is the Statue of Liberty and ahead of them the ‘silver city’. On the surface then, it is about their aspirations to succeed in the big city – materially and maybe romantically too.
For me though, the song transcends this context and speaks of a yearning that goes beyond hopes for material wealth or security. The words ‘New Jerusalem’ immediately lead us towards religious ideas.
Let The River Run was taken up as a theme by the international Women’s March in January 2017, held the day after the inauguration of President Trump in America to protest against his anti-women and anti-human rights policies. It seems to fit the great flow of humanity, joining together like tributaries into a mighty river surging towards justice.
The Bible has many references to rivers, but here is a famous quote from the prophet Amos:
Credit to BBC Soul Music Series 27, broadcast on 23 January 2019