They got married early, never had no money
Then when he got laid off they really hit the skids
He started up his drinking, then they started fighting
He took it pretty badly, she took both the kids
She said: “I’m not standing by, to watch you slowly die
So watch me walking, out the door”
She said, “Shove it, Jack, I’m walking out the fucking door”
She went to her brother’s, got a little bar work
He went to the Buttery, stayed about a year
Then he wrote a letter, said I want to see you
She thought he sounded better, she sent him up the fare
He was riding through the cane in the pouring rain
On Olympic to her door
He came in on a Sunday, every muscle aching
Walking in slow motion like he’d just been hit
Did they have a future? Would he know his children?
Could he make a picture and get them all to fit?
He was shaking in his seat riding through the streets
In a silvertop to her door
“I’m sort of aware where certain songs are written a few years apart from each other – ‘To Her Door,’ then ‘Love Never Runs on Time’ and ‘How To Make Gravy’ – I’ve got a feeling it’s the same guy. He keeps coming back.”
Maybe he’ll be in a happier place next time? “Yeah, he’s a bit of a fuck-up, that guy,” – Paul Kelly
There’s some songs that seem to grab the imagination and allow us to join in on the action, some stories that capture the heart of those who hear it and some characters that remind us of something within ourselves.
To Her Door (released in 1987) is a song that will most likely forever be etched in the minds and hearts of (most) Australians, it’s a tune that drags you into another place, another story, another person’s life, just the sound of the first four chord changes opens the floodgates and lets the memories loose.
Whether this song is a Psalm or a Parable… or something quite different though is up for grabs (at least in my mind). Perhaps tonight I’ll write of the psalm and tomorrow I’ll write of the parable?
As a psalm it inspires in us an optimism that is rare for many of us, a sense of hope that embraces and overcomes us and memories of times where love stories were hopeful and had content.
No, this isn’t your typical Whitney Housten love song, not a song that you’ll find being sung to the crowd by Lady Gaga, it’s not a song that you’ll regularly hear being pumped out by the pop ballad or love song institutions that promote a sense of relationships being something that comes and goes, love that is powerful but always leaves, a sense that love is about a “feeling” that is as temperamental and vague as “sung” by Ashlee Simpson or Katy Perry
This Psalm is more than that, it’s full of crap, of pain and of real life, it recognises that life sometimes sucks, that love sometimes means saying “you need to go” that sometimes we do stuff up and hurt those around us, that family life is sometimes full of struggle and, (as Paul Turley wrote) “ruin.” Yes, sometimes love is about hope and ruin, hope and ruin, but not in the way that hope always comes before ruin, but in many cases for us hope follows ruin, that even in the darkest of times, the loneliness of times hope still has power to not only speak to us but also to urge us on.
As Paul Kelly will sing many years later: “Love can suffer hardship, Love is tough and kind, Love is never envious or puffed up with pride…”
This Psalmist knows what love is, he’s tasted it, experienced it, looked upon it and this soon reminds us that, even though we’re surrounded by some lollypop candy vision of love there’s always going to be something deeper than that.
But the Psalmist’s role is not just to sing, it’s to write Psalms that others can sing together, to author lyrics and paint images that haunt us, to invite us on a journey together that will never really be complete until we all join in together. Yes, the Psalmist’s role is to inspire us all to stand and sing together.
To sing of love, of hope, of ruin and then again of love ruin and hope, it’s impossible to sing of the ruin without the hope and love or hope without the ruin and love, and of course real love will always be a part of the chorus. Not so we can sing this song alone, but as a community, as anyone who has heard this song pop up at karaoke or a live performance will know, this song is best sung together as we each remember our own stories of brokenness and of times where we found it difficult or next to impossible to get right.
Together this Psalm inspires in us a sense of hope that in today’s world seems alien sometimes, we’re used to love stories fucking up, we see this all to often, our televisions, our cinemas, our theatres and our ipods all preach to us a message, a false-story that love always comes and goes, that it’s never forever, that the ideal is never going to be forever.
Or is it that the other false-psalmists are trying to inspire us into a space where love is never broken, love is never hard, love is never going to give you headaches or fart in your bed?
So… Here we are, the final stanza of the psalm beginning to ring in our ears and together we all raise our voices in hope, we’ve experienced the ruin, we’ve felt the pain, we know all to real that love is hard, that sometimes life just completely rips us apart and leaves us kicked to the curb but that can’t be the end of the story, no, love has to have the last work….
Surely love will have the last word?
Here we are…
Every muscle aching…
Standing behind this stranger, this family that knows of the ruin and together we sing with hope, together we chant, together we cheer, together we stand up and say “this can’t be the end of the story and we will sing for you, we will hope again, we will believe in you!”
Perhaps it’s a good thing that we’re never really told the ending of the story (although, as the quote at the beginning of this post suggests to us perhaps we know this man a little better than we all may think, perhaps we are invited into his continuing story over time) because this psalm reminds us of oh so much, inspires in us a hope that drowns out our cynical and sarcastic default positions and reminds us that hope is still here, that love can survive the struggle, that sometimes all we need to do is have the courage to either send someone the fair or to jump in a taxi cab.
Or… that sometimes we need to be singing in other people’s ears the hope that we’re reminded of in this song and acknowledging the ruin for what it is… real and tangible, for this story wouldn’t be a psalm without either of them.
I think I need to go back and listen to this song, and be reminded of all of this again.