Delerium feat. Sarah McLachlan

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)

Let The River Run

Carly Simon

note the New York World Trade Center twin towers in the background

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

Let all the dreamers wake the nation

Come, the New Jerusalem.

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:

… let justice and fairness flow like a river that never runs dry.

Amos 5:24

Credit to BBC Soul Music Series 27, broadcast on 23 January 2019