cherubim of the lord

Seriously, this never happens.

I wrote a song about a current event. I didn't
mean to write a song about the oil spill. It really is about Deep Horizon--that news makes me angry and sad whenever I think about it. But it uses that horrific disaster as a way of describing any preventable disaster, anything I in my own foolishness could have stopped from happening but chose to ignore until it was too late. In fact it was my doubleplusungood times at my new day job the week before last that got this one started. And not so coincidentally gave me the right mental state for it. Mentally, I took solace in saying to Mandy in a fantasized exit interview, "well, you did help me to realize that 'cherubim of the lord' rhymes with 'omnidirectional sword.' "

After that, though, the single line (on a single note) "cherubim of the lord" was all I had for a couple of weeks. Somewhere in there I got the "we're on the inside of Eden" couplet--yet still the song refused to gel. To crystallize, if you will. I started to worry this would be another one like "teeth of the storm", which is still my record-holder for longest time between the arrival of the central line and the rest of the song, at slightly over two years.

So I was giddily relieved yesterday morning, and indeed spent some time jumping up and down going "whee! ha ha ha!". A little three-note triplet started to sound in my head as I brushed my teeth, and five seconds into it I knew exactly what it was for. A flat, B flat, C, over and over and over. The triplet holds steady but the way the song's rhythm phases around it tranforms with every line. And not just the first four lines but all the final repetitions of "cherubim..." are all sung on G natural, so the triplet itself as well as the thundering chord changes going on behind it are totally necessary to keep it interesting. Sort of a musical representation of something the song only hints at.

Orders of angels are something I have learned about variously and sundrily, so the concept of a cherubim is a pretty robust one in my mind. (Later I will look up my previous post on the subject for more info.) Cherubim are neither chubby happy babies nor angels who appear shouting "Fear not!" Angels shout "fear not" when they want you to stay where you are and listen. When a cherubim arrives it is there to DO something, and even as the fear of the lord is the beginning of wisdom, one of the subsidiary lessons is that when a cherubim shows up, it is wise to haul ass out of its way. The other title of this order of angels is "the strong". Not the sort of strength that comes from bulging muscles or massive metal beams, but the strong nuclear force that binds quarks together into elementary particles, the weight of the moon's mass which tugs the ocean up away from its resting place in the deeps of the earth, the forces of gravity and potential energy that pull a tree crashing over onto the forest floor even when no one is around to hear it.

This is going to be a massively difficult song to sing, play, and--unless I do it
exactly right--even tough on the ear. There are momentum changes almost every line, and most of the rising action happens in a lengthy instrumental bridge between "...fruit of the forbidden tree" and "if we have no home...." I'll need either lots and lots of layered tracks or a really good piano player to make that part work. However, if I DO manage to get it exactly right and it can sound in real life the way it does in my mind, it will be amazing.
(edit 5/20/12: Updated the lyrics slightly to match the version I recorded last week. W00t!)

oil under the water, poison under the words
oil under the water, poison under the words
we beg forgiveness, but never alter
we beg forgiveness and are ignored
she holds and never wavers, falters
holds and never wavers, falters
holds and never wavers, falters
an omnidirectional sword

you drilled down, down to where cold blood bled black
you built a cage for fire and turned your back
it rusted through
because of you
it gushes through
it trusted you
you know you knew
you know you knew
what would you have her do
what would you have her do

this ain't some story you're readin'
it's your breath and your flesh and your sea
we're on the inside of Eden
we're the fruit of the forbidden tree

if we have no home left to return to
it's cause we've been hacking away the foundation
god's messenger comes with no vengeance
she comes with only mass times acceleration

if I brought on the tempest
throw me overboard
to my earned consequences

the cherubim of the lord
the cherubim of the lord
the cherubim of the lord

the cherubim of the lord


Amber E said...

Wow, great poem, horrible tragedy. Really, really horrible tragedy like in writing the history of our times they will probably skip all the wars after WWII (which will be lumped together with WWI just like we do with the 30 years war) and totally ignore all the economic up and downturns and then talk about the worst ecological disaster in history....the imagery of the poem and the sound etc really evoke emotion and thinking and stuff

Michael Mock said...

For the love of God (or humanity), find a way to record this. I will buy it, and I will play it at other people.

Fiat Lex said...

I know! Deep Horizon is horrible enough that I feel like even a really headdeskingly good song (ok, I know that's not a real adverb XD) is such a small thing to do in response. I'm glad you liked it--maybe when you-all come visit Sunday I can play it for you! Having that keyboard you gave me has been a major boon. :D

Thank you. <3 That means a lot, especially since sometimes I wonder if anyone I don't know in real life checks this blog. XD I want you to know I did email my voice teacher, who's helping me lay down some rough tracks, asking her to please get her keyboard fixed cause this puppy will not leave me alone. So perhaps not very soon, but at some point, I will have some kind of thing which can be gotten or sent or uploaded. Even if it's just an mp3 on my MySpace.

The Everlasting Dave said...

Just heard Fiat play this song tonight. Yes, Michael Mock, you should get to has. It's fantastic.

Julie Hedeen said...

do you need a bass player for that song? I play bass now! Aflat Bflat C. Sounds awesome!

Fiat Lex said...

:D I might just.
I'm hoping to get a vocal plus piano recorded of this pretty soon--perhaps this week! I'm'a send it over to Myke in hopes some of his piano and/or guitar playing peeps can add more background. We'll see what happens, as Emperor Gregor would say. XD

Try it out yourself--play a flat (quarter note), b flat (quarter note), c (half note) and sing the first few lines over it on g natural, with the first word starting right where the b flat ends and the c begins. It's all eerie and stuff.

So--unrelatedly--I've put a lot of my thoughts about this song in order. One of the things I learned from "The Rest Is noise" is how some composers thought of specific intervals as symbolic. The fifth - g to c - some thought of as a musical reference to divine order, the "gate" which heralds the entry of God into manifest existence. So the dissonance of what plays on the keys represents the disorder and injustice of the manifest world. The sung g, to which the melody returns over and over, is sort of the message of the angel.

The bridge is the current way-things-are-right-now being violently destroyed. Though, as the lyrics indicate, more as a logical progression from all the factors already involved than from any miraculous intervention.

Then in the final repeated lines, the three notes change. First set of three, same as the rest of the song. Second set of three, g, b flat, c. Third set of three, just c. All the injustice and dissonance stripped away, leaving only agreement between heaven and earth.

XD Yes, yes. I think too much.