Don’t know about you, but this just makes me want to grow my hair long again and get some flares. There are a few versions of the Eagles playing this song on YouTube, but I picked this one because it is a live performance and seemed to capture the spirit of the times as well as the sentiment in the song. What a contrast with Britain, as The Sex Pistols were singing Anarchy In The UK in the same year.
As usual, we can’t be too analytical about the lyrics, but the message of the chorus seems to speak to me on two levels. One is simply about relaxing, living in the moment, enjoying life while we can and taking opportunities that come along.
Of course this is not a comprehensive treatise on how to live a good life! But on a second level as a Christian, I find definite pointers towards the encouragement in the words of Jesus: “If you are tired, come to me and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11.28-30).
Boys don’t cry? Sung ironically, of course, because, yes boys DO cry. This one does, anyway. So here is a song with an almost timeless message of lost romance and yearning “I would do ‘most anything to get you back by my side”- followed by the stoic response that has traditionally been expected of men , at least in the England of 1979: “I try to laugh about it, hiding the tears in my eyes.”
Slight aside – it’s worth mentioning the award-winning 1999 film ‘Boys Don’t Cry’, which makes use of this song. It dramatises the real-life story of a trans-man in America who was looking for love but was brutally raped and murdered.
There are only a few primary human emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, anger and surprise. Four out of six are ‘negative’ – too bad – your fault for being a human! Some lists add other emotions such as shame and pride. Part of being human and being alive is feeling and expressing emotions. We write love letters, sing songs, tweet in anger, shout in the streets. Our faces usually show our emotions and sometimes our bodies just give the game away for us, and then we cry.
So crying in the Bible? Actually there’s plenty of it, all over. But there is an account of Jesus crying – not because of some cosmic disaster or over the plight of humankind. He cried because his friend had died. So you can cry too, if you want to.
In the YouTube discussions on this song someone has said “If God had a ringtone, it would be this”.
Sung here by Dave Gilmour, the lyrics were written mainly by Roger Waters and made famous originally by Pink Floyd with their album of the same name. This performance is from the Meltdown Festival at the Royal Festival Hall, London in 2001.
I heard this song recently at a pub open mic night and it reminded me of how powerful and emotionally relevant it is for so many people. And it shows how a strong song can be performed successfully with minimal accompaniment, which is why I chose an ‘unplugged’ version to share.
The main theme is lament – an expression of grief for a lost person, a lost relationship or maybe a lost future, if only life had taken a different turn.
I find the words “did you exchange a walk-on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?” a personal challenge, as I try to live a worthwhile life, and think about whether I take enough risks – or in religious language, whether I have enough faith.
In the Bible there is a song written by David (of David and Goliath fame) after he hears that his very close friend Jonathan has been killed in battle. 2 Samuel 1:17-27. Wish you were here.