Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Tell Me What You Know. Tell Me What You've Gone And Done Now.

It's no surprise that I love Nickleback and specifically Chad. Lightman cannot stand the screeching sounds and raspy voices of the band but they make me happy.

Their album "Dark Horse" contains a song entitled Just to Get High which I seem not to have interpreted in its literal sense. Oh, I'm aware that in reality this song is about a drug addict but the chorus plays in my ears as strongly as a commandment from God. It fits the mood which we are in, that of the High Holy Days and specifically Rosh Hashana.

But I can still remember what his face looked like
When I found him in an alley in the middle of the night
Tell me what you know! Tell me what you've gone and done now!
Tell me what you know! Tell me what you've gone and done now!
Gonna do the trick, get it over with
You're better off
To take all that you've got and burn it on the spot
Just to get high-igh, igh, igh (high-igh, igh, igh)
Tell me what did, where you got a hit
Show me
What you really want, was it what you got
Circle in the drain, throw it all away
Just to get high-igh, igh, igh (high-igh, igh, igh)
High-igh, igh...oooooh

And to me, what the song really seems to be asking is: what did you do this year that was wrong? What sins do you have? Tell them to me- tell me what you've gone and done now- and tell me- did you get what you really wanted? Was it worth it? Was the pinprick of pleasure that lanced through your lips worth the pain that followed?

"Tell me what you know; tell me what you've gone and done now," entreats God. And think about it. Tell me, Chana, my child, "what you really want, was it what you got?"

And I love the beginning of the song as well:

He was my best friend; I tried to help him
But he traded everything, for suffering
And found himself alone
I watched the lying, turn into hiding
With scars on both his lips; his fingertips
Were melted to the bone

That image is deeply evocative to me. Yes, that can be the drug addict hidden in the alley, having chosen drugs over his health. But is it so different from the one who chooses sin over holiness? Or stagnation over growth?

He was my best friend; I tried to help him/ But he traded everything for suffering

I also admire the fact that the song presents this as a choice. We choose suffering. Not always, but often. If we can choose suffering, it suggests we can also choose life.

And that's what God says in Deuteronomy 30:

יט הַעִדֹתִי בָכֶם הַיּוֹם, אֶת-הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת-הָאָרֶץ--הַחַיִּים וְהַמָּוֶת נָתַתִּי לְפָנֶיךָ, הַבְּרָכָה וְהַקְּלָלָה; וּבָחַרְתָּ, בַּחַיִּים--לְמַעַן תִּחְיֶה, אַתָּה וְזַרְעֶךָ. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed;

כ לְאַהֲבָה אֶת-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, לִשְׁמֹעַ בְּקֹלוֹ וּלְדָבְקָה-בוֹ: כִּי הוּא חַיֶּיךָ, וְאֹרֶךְ יָמֶיךָ--לָשֶׁבֶת עַל-הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע יְהוָה לַאֲבֹתֶיךָ לְאַבְרָהָם לְיִצְחָק וּלְיַעֲקֹב, לָתֵת לָהֶם. {פ} 20 to love the LORD thy God, to hearken to His voice, and to cleave unto Him; for that is thy life, and the length of thy days; that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD swore unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them. {P}

Did I choose suffering this past year? Will I choose it in the future?

And that voice, so commanding, sonorous in my ears: "Tell me what you know! Tell me what you gone and done now."

No comments: