Sunday, May 11, 2008

When the Quiet Comes

Spurred by the mysterious and breathtaking song, The Quiet, penned and sung by a woman I consider a lyrical master, Betty Elders, I thought about "quiet" today as I heard more news on Myanmar, the continuing illegal Iraq invasion, and the senseless and brutal slaughter of more domestic animals in China to prepare for the Olympics. Quiet of the soul. Quiet of God. The quiet of death.

The first time I heard this song I was sitting in a small club in Austin, Texas, perhaps 1995 or so. Before me, in a small, dark comfortable room, was Betty Elders, a small figure radiating with a combination of chaos and power. There was a lightning storm brewing, and several times she had to stop her performance until the storm passed. Sometimes storms never pass.

13 years later, I am still pondering
this incredible song
and where its mystery leads me.


When the quiet came it caught her by surprise
A shudder in the stillness and the comet cut the sky
And she searched for the evidence of all that did remain
But her eyes found nothing when the quiet came

When the quiet came it caught him by surprise
A question with a comma or a dot above a lie
And he raged and he ranted and it's said he went insane
But he only went for coffee when the quiet came

When the quiet came it caught us by surprise
No one moved 'til we heard the others cry
"Won't you shed a little mercy on those gathered in Your name?"
Our hearts were heavy when the quiet came

When the quiet came men were running in the street
They were searching for the one man who could lead them from defeat
And they never noticed when the beggar turned away
That the water turned to crimson when the quiet came

When the quiet came I was standing all alone
With my face against a window of a place I call my home
And I thought about my children and the ones I'd never know
They were both the same when the quiet came

Words and music copyright ©1993 Betty Elders/ Whistling Pig Music (ASCAP) administered by BUG Music