Posted by: Mark Nielsen | March 16, 2011

Bonds Broken & Wars Ended: More Breakup Songs

Humans (Bruce Cockburn album)

Image via Wikipedia


Some of what happens naturally at the end of a long relationship is that one starts asking serious questions about what happened and why. Questions about oneself, and the other person, and a whole lot of second-guessing about what each or both could have done differently. Questions like “When did the problems start?” Or “How could I not have seen that?”

It grates on one’s conscience, because up till now perhaps you thought you were above all the pettiness and lack of spiritual commitment that you attributed to the rise in the divorce rate. Humiliation, in the old-fashioned Christian sense of the word that a monk would use, is a built-in part of a divorce. We might even say humiliation is one of divorce’s hard-to-accept gifts, for it produces growth and humility. It forces one to change one’s perspective and priorities, by beating the old perspective –and one’s former puffed-up self-image– to a pulp.

Ego-death often cannot be chosen or pursued — it just has to be accepted. Father Richard Rohr says that the only thing that transforms the soul as much as great love is great suffering. So here’s proof. I would not have chosen this, but I can make it work for me instead of letting it tear me down (except for what’s rickety and useless inside, and therefore needing to be torn down).

Today’s two songs and artists share a lot of similarities. Both Bruce Cockburn and Bill Mallonee are literate Christian songwriters who followed their muse and perfected their voice outside the marketing juggernaut that the Christian Contemporary music scene became in the 1980s and 90s. And both endured painful divorces and wrote honestly about them, in the songs below as well as in several others. Cockburn is one of my all-time heroes, who walks the talk everyday and works for the poor, for human rights, and hasn’t sold out one bit in his 30+ year career.

Knowing such well-intentioned, faithful and intelligent people have stumbled in this same way, and come out the other side stronger for the experience, is one of the bigger reasons to have hope in a difficult time.

— —

What About the Bond? – Bruce Cockburn
disharmony gives way
to mute helplessness
not enough communication
too much not expressed

it’s all too easy
to let go of hope
to think there’s nothing worth saving
and let it all go up in smoke

what about the the bond
what about the mystical unity
what about the bond
sealed in the loving presence of the Father

of the institutions
that should give a frame to work in
got to find our own solutions

pressure from all sides
got to head right down the centre
in the love that will abide

what about the bond
(repeat chorus)

man and woman
made to be one flesh
no one said it would be easy
but can we let go now and fail the test?

now you could say
life is full of moving on
but do you want the pain that’s
already been spent
to all be wasted — c’mon

what about the bond
(repeat chorus)

(Ottawa, March 28th, 1980)

— —

Friendly Fire (No More Fight In Me) – Bill Mallonee, 2005

coming in for a few days my friend
yeah more than likely I’ll be alone
yeah I asked if she’d like to go
you know how she loves Chicago but she just said no

whatever she wants
whatever she might need
I’ve got no more fight in me

I must confess my own helplessness
things got pretty weird inside right after the war
I got kinda quiet for a long long long spell
they say war is hell but it ain’t nothing nothing like this

she just slams the door when I try to hold her
like I held on three nights at sea
I’ve got no more fight in me

mad dog bombardier hell I was mad dog all the time
I could drop that payload on a Roosevelt dime
but where we are there is no more north star
and it’s all dark and uncharted in our skies

kid the flak was so thick you could get out and walk on it
and that’s what I did right back to that little bride-to-be
but I’ve got no more fight in me

she says I’ve changed (funny thing)
don’t people change all the time?
it’s been twenty years or more, Stan,
since I had a good cry

— — —

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