Sunday, August 19, 2007

Reach Down And Pick The Crowd Up

Here's something to contemplate on a Sunday, cuz today is, you know, the Christian Sabbath. The band is Pearl Jam fronted by singer Chris Cornell.

Sorry about the quality of the video, but I think it is good enough, and the performance is pretty decent. (I'm not recommending listening to the whole song, unless you really want to. The point is just for you to hear what it sounds like. It is a long jam. The point of this is to get to the story behind the song, and what the lyrics are about.)

Now, here's the story behind this song. It is about a man named Andrew Wood, who used to front a band called Mother Love Bone. (An interesting aside: Think about it, the band Pearl Jam was birthed out of Mother Love Bone. Yes, get it? Pretty bad joke there, huh?)

Anyway, the reason Pearl Jam came out of Mother Love Bone, and the reason they are the supporting band on this song (after all, Chris Cornell was singing for a band called Soundgarden at the time), is because Andrew Wood killed himself. I guess many say he "overdosed on heroin," but from the tenor of the things people have said about him, it has always sounded to me like the overdose was purposeful.

But, what do I know?

Anyway, after Andrew died, Mother Love Bone wanted to do a tribute album to Andrew and since Chris Cornell was also a friend of the man, they asked him to help out.

What resulted is one of the most extraordinary albums in rock history, if you ask me.

Chris Cornell's lyrics on this albums are a profound meditation on life's ultimate questions. It seems that Cornell was attempting to think through what must have been going on in his friend's mind in those final days of his life.

And on this song, Reach Down, I believe Chris Cornell figured it out, and figured out the answer to life, and what would have been the door out for Andrew.

But alas, Andrew never found the door, and instead, closed the shades, and shot himself up with a lethal dose of smack.

Here are the lyrics to the song:

I had a dream the other night
You were in a bar in the corner on a chair
Wearing a long white leather coat
Purple glasses and glitter in your hair
And you said hey this is where Im gonna sit
And buy you a drink someday
You were going to the dog shows
But you kinda lost your way
You say now I got all this room
And no money to decorate it, so some
Local customer put me in touch with the man
Upstairs, he said little man you got no
Business gettin frustrated, you gotta rest
You gotta rest

You gotta reach down
And pick the crowd up
Carry them in your hands
To the promised land

Yes, I think this is the truth. The answer to life's ultimate questions is to help. When I feel troubled, I try to think about how I can help. What can I contribute? What can I give?

It is true, that we're all "little men" and we have no business getting all frustrated. Instead, we need to learn to follow Christ's example, and simply, help those in need.

Of course, it takes His strength alive in us. We can't do it by ourselves.