Call Me

Blondie

“Blondie’s Back” Live Concert at The Town Hall 1999, New York City

In the 1970s Blondie had a string of hits and although the publicity made them look like a manufactured pop product, they were in fact a ‘proper’ rock band as you can see here.

This song was a big hit in the 1980s, having been written as the main theme for the film ‘American Gigolo’ in which Richard Gere plays a male prostitute who is framed for murder. ‘Call me’ is being sung from the point of view of his character, clearly an advertisement and invitation to make use of his personal services. I’d like to re-purpose the refrain of the song as a message from God to us all:

Call me on the line
Call me, call me anytime
Call me, oh my love
When you’re ready we can share the wine

These corona virus days are troubled times and this is an invitation to pray. Pray for those suffering the disease and its after-effects, pray for grieving families and friends, pray for stressed and lonely people, poor and frightened people. Pray for God to guide our leaders, pray for the medical staff and all the key workers. Pray that some good will come from this for our society, our economy and our environment. And if you’re reading this in the future when this particular crisis is over, I’m sure there will be something else to pray about – just read the news.

God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to him.

I Peter 5.7

Don’t Give Up

Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush

We all need hugs!

March 2020 – Covid-19 lockdown – the world is uncertain, jobs are lost or fragile. Many people are literally “home alone”. A friend of mine who lives alone, previously articulate and outspoken on Facebook, suddenly removed their account preceded by one message to me:

I'm tired... Nobody cares, they all think I'm a heretic. There's only so much a bloke can take

Self-isolation and social distancing takes many different forms, not just physical.

I listened again to this beautifully moving song from Peter Gabriel, written in the 1980s when coal mines were being closed and unemployment was high. Wikipedia links it to Gabriel’s response to photos taken in the American Depression era. “He composed lyrics within a situation about a man whose unemployment causes stress in his domestic relationship. The verses, sung by Gabriel, describe the man’s feelings of isolation, loneliness and despair; the choruses, sung by Bush, offer words of hope and encouragement.”

And when I read that paragraph something resonated – isolation, loneliness and despair – all words we are using to describe the situation we currently face.

The video is simply a very long hug between Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush as he pours out his despair and she pours in her encouragement and hope. She assures him that he belongs, that he is not alone in this crisis: 

“Don’t give up, ‘Cause you have friends
Don’t give up, You’re not the only one
Don’t give up, No reason to be ashamed
Don’t give up, You still have us

The need to belong somewhere, to someone, to a community, resonates with us all across the world right now. In South Africa the word used is “ubuntu” and the phrase “umntu, ngumntu ngabantu” helps to understand that “A person is a person through other people”….or “I am because I belong”. 

9 “Don’t get tired of helping others. You will be rewarded when the time is right, if you don’t give up. 10 We should help people whenever we can…” )
Galatians 6.9-10

Don’t give up helping others … I wonder who I can “sing” this song to today? And maybe these are words that God also “sings” to us?

Don’t give up now, We’re proud of who you are
Don’t give up, You know it’s never been easy
Don’t give up, ‘Cause I believe there’s a place
There’s a place where we belong

©Judith Twani

Links
Wikipedia – Don’t Give Up
Hotlipsmusic – Hold On Tight To Your Dream

99 Red Balloons

Nena

there’s something here from somewhere else …

Here is a stand-out song from 1984, remarkable because of its unusual style that manages to treat some serious subject matter in a pop genre. This was five years before the fall of the Berlin wall and the cold war was still a reality, with soviet and western nuclear arsenals opposing each other on a posture of mutually assured destruction.

The song was originally sung in Nena’s native German language (Neunundneunzig Luftballons), and re-recorded in English. That accounts for the pronunciation and my mishearing the lyrics for years … Just to clarify:

Back at base, bugs in the software

Flash the message, something’s out there

There are lots of themes to explore – fear of the unknown, fear of the ‘other’, aggressive posturing, poor communications, unintended consequences, over-reliance on technology with a belief that ‘there is no other way’. It’s a bit of a downer – the song ends with destruction and a lone survivor looking for hope in happy memories.

The Bible story that comes to my mind is the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11.1-9. It’s a myth, of course, about how the world got many languages because God intervened upon seeing that humankind could soon ‘do anything they want’. The tower did not fall down, but the work was abandoned. We are still building towers to the sky, metaphorically and literally, as the human race is still trying to prove that we can do anything we want. What would have to happen to us to make it stop? Fire and flood? – they might be coming. All over the world, despite our modern technology, we are still scattered and confused.

There seems to be some assertive copyright enforcement on videos of this song.  I originally included the band's appearance on Top Of The Pops, but it got withdrawn; so I replaced it with a collector's item - the official promo video - which has likewise been withdrawn.  The official Sony BMG 'video' above just shows the sleeve cover image, but I kept it in because it is the best English-language audio version.  So here to compensate is a live version in German.  How long before they take this down too?