Monday, January 14, 2008

Poetry Train Monday - 32 - Sympathy For The Devil

As some of you may know, I've just returned from a New Year's trip to Toronto to spend final days with my father-in-law, David Smith. He passed away in the early morning on January 2nd. My mother-in-law, brother-in-law, husband and myself were all at the hospital with him when he moved on.

I'd barely registered the loss of my grandmother on Dec. 1st when Brad and I flew out on Boxing Day. His dad had enjoyed a magnificent Christmas Day, and Brad had talked to him and everyone on the phone. But when my sister-in-law picked us up at the airport, she told us, "Dad's in the hospital. He fell."

Brad and I looked at each other - we both knew that was the end. We spent the following week at the hospital, spending time with his dad and one another. It was tough, really tough for my father-in-law. But his doctor looked at him with admiration on his face. "You're a warrior," he told him. And he was.

The morning he passed away, we climbed into the truck - his pride and joy which I was honored to drive, because he'd shown me its little quirks on my last trip and I knew he was happy to lend it to me. I turned on the ignition and the radio came on. As we headed for home in the stunned silence of our loss, I heard Mick Jagger singing Sympathy For The Devil.

This held great significance for me, since I have a history of gaining insight from songs that play at these highly emotional times. My father-in-law's dad was a hard man. I've never heard a single person from Brad's family say one good thing about him. He treated my father-in-law horribly, not only as a boy growing up but all through his life. In fact, my father-in-law was so relieved when his dad died, he had a personal life-altering moment. After developing a drinking problem, he never touched another drop once his dad was buried.

When I began meeting Brad's family - first as a friend, then later as a girlfriend - Brad's dad had been clean and sober for awhile. But I learned about the struggles he'd had with the granddad, and how it had been for Brad to have a father who drank. I always found my father-in-law to be a shy, sweet giant of a man. He was generous and caring to us, which he displayed despite all he'd been through with his own father. I always admired David and felt very lucky to have him as my second dad. The courage he displayed in his final days will always stay with me.

So it may come as no surprise that I took the song to heart when I turned on the ignition and Mick Jagger's voice filtered through the truck. I felt that a reunion had taken place on the other side. And that David now has the insight to understand what made his own father such a harsh man in life.

Sympathy For The Devil

Please allow me to introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste
I've been around for long, long years
Stole many a man's soul and faith

And I was 'round when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game

I stuck around St. Petersburg
When I saw it was a time for a change
Killed the czar and his ministers
Anastasia screamed in vain

I rode a tank
Held a general's rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name, oh yeah
Ah, what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah
(woo woo, woo woo)

I watched with glee
While your kings and queens
Fought for ten decades
For the gods they made
(woo woo, woo woo)

I shouted out,
"Who killed the Kennedys?"
When after all
It was you and me
(who who, who who)

Let me please introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste
And I laid traps for troubadours
Who get killed before they reached Bombay
(woo woo, who who)

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
(who who)
But what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah, get down, baby
(who who, who who)

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But what's confusing you
Is just the nature of my game
(woo woo, who who)

Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me Lucifer
'Cause I'm in need of some restraint
(who who, who who)

So if you meet me
Have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste
(woo woo)
Use all your well-learned politesse
Or I'll lay your soul to waste, um yeah
(woo woo, woo woo)

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, um yeah
(who who)
But what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, um mean it, get down
(woo woo, woo woo)

Woo, who
Oh yeah, get on down
Oh yeah
Oh yeah!
(woo woo)

Tell me baby, what's my name
Tell me honey, can ya guess my name
Tell me baby, what's my name
I tell you one time, you're to blame

Oh, who, woo, woo
Woo, who, woo, woo
Woo, who, who
Woo, who, who
Oh, yeah

What's my name
Tell me, baby, what's my name
Tell me, sweetie, what's my name

Woo, who, who
Woo, who, who
Woo, who, who
Woo, who, who
Woo, who, who
Woo, who, who
Oh, yeah
Woo woo, woo woo

- Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, 1968

El Angel Caido statue at the Fountain of the Falling Angel by Ricardo Bellver
Parque del Buen Retiro, Madrid, Spain


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I believe music talks to us, too.

What a story you've told there -- and how it echoes in the song.

Condolences and huge hugs for your recent losses, darling. I wish I could deliver the hugs in person. So does Trevor, but for different reasons. *g*

Jill said...

I've been a bad blogger lately, I didn't even knew about your lost!!
This has been an harsh month for you!! I hope everything is gonna get all better...
It is weird how all those song really matter at those moments for you! I wonder if it is your special thing, or that you are just way more receptive than the majority of us?

Annie Mac said...

Julia, I'm so sorry for your loss.

And thanks for sharing a little about your father-in-law. I bet he was happy to have such a loving daughter-in-law.

Missy said...

I'm sorry for your loss; my family has dealt with the loss of a loved one recently.

Sympathy for the Devil is one of my favorite Rolling Stones songs.

Anonymous said...

Hugs and condolences to you, Julia. And thank you for sharing your father-in-law with us -- he sounds like a special fellow, and I'm sure he felt blessed to have you as a daughter-in-law.

Way cool about the synchronicity of "Sympathy for the Devil" playing on the radio -- I love that song.

Ann said...

I'm sorry to hear about your father-in-law. Hugs. He sounds like he was a good man, and an awesome father-in-law.

gautami tripathy said...

I really liked what you wrote about your Father in Law. He sounds like an amazing person. I send you my heartfelt condolences.

I believe that certain songs do speak out to us.

Dara Edmondson said...

So sorry about yours and Brad's losses.

Anonymous said...

My deepest sympathies for your loss. You're in my thoughts.

Music comes into your life when you need it, the same way people do.

Karina said...

What a beautiful tribute post this was! I'm always amazed at the "connection" music has for you with these trying times, but I think it is beautiful that you see it and recognize it for what it is.

Again, I'm so sorry for your loss.

Red Garnier said...

What a beautiful tribute, Julia. Huge condolences and hugs to you, this is beautiful.

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

Big hug honey. You certainly have had a go of it. May you have a peaceful day. :)

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hi Julia,
I am sorry to hear about your and your family's loss. Hopefully, nonetheless, I trust that the music will provide a nice reminder of the better days and thus bring some warmth to your heart on the colder days.
Pox vobiscum,

Camille Alexa said...

Condolences, Julia. Your continual expression of love and warmth for your extended family is a beautiful thing.

Akelamalu said...

You got another message Julia didn't you. You have some wonderful memories of your father in law. How fortunate that you were able to spend some time with him at the end, I'm sure it meant as much to him as it did to you. My condolences. x

Amy Ruttan said...

Music does speak to us. I love that song. Again sorry for your losses.

Big hugs to you and Brad.

Shelley Munro said...

Julia, I'm sorry for your loss. I have to agree with both you and many of the commenters. Music is a personal thing and it definitely speaks to us.

Kelly Boyce said...

You have a wonderful way of paying tribute to people, Julia. I think David would be honored with such a eulogy.

Sniz said...

This is really interesting. It made me think about family dynamics and how the choices we make affect our families so much. When you said, "...he was so relieved when his dad died..." that really struck me. I guess I'd always thought that children love their parents no matter how rotten they are, no matter how abusive or morally bankrupt and it's nice to hear someone just come out and say that it's not always that way. I've always struggled with thinking that...I think how could a rational human love his abuser, no matter how awful he is treated, and a part of me is so relieved to hear that some people don't feel that way. I like your honesty, the bald way you say that and I found the fact that he never touched alcohol afterwards interesting. I also like the lyrics of this song. Thanks for making me think.

Dorothy said...

You have my condonlences for the loss to your family. I appreciated your sharing of something so personal and precious.

I also like your Birthday Meme thing and will try to post that on my site in a day or so. I worked at getting a cats story up for last night and made it.

Anonymous said...

Ha, Dorothy and I had our minds running on the same track -- I did the Birthday Month meme, and just now got it posted! :)

Sans Pantaloons said...

My thoughts and prayers are with Brad and yourself Julia.

Joy Renee said...

i'm so sorry for yours and Brad's loss. having lost my own Dad just two years ago, i know what a roller coaster of emotion you both must be riding. i will keep you both in my prayers.

this was a lovely tribute.