Lyric of the Week: BLESSING OF HOPE
They came to ride the horses, to give them one last spin They came with their cameras to take the last views in They paid their last respects Last-ditch games cashed in, then left Like ex-lovers taking what they had and drifting apart Those who came for fun, they came a bit too late They were met by the ghosts of what was and what could’ve been, undecided by fate The remains of yesterday’s rides Are only rubble to untrained eyes But it’s holy wreckage to the knowing heart
A couple of days wandering might be mighty fine In the shadow of the abandoned rollercoaster all covered with vines But if it’s thrills they’re wanting They’re never gonna find it haunting These plowed-over fields that once held the amusement parks They made us big promises, they exploited our dreams All they left us was a skeleton of cracked cement and rusted beams The master plan turned out to be a dud Making progress like a wheel spinning in the mud And there’s no light at the end of the tunnel ‘cause we’re being kept in the dark But there’s four arms straddling fully functional five-star hotel Gleaming and sparkling amidst all the ashes, rising where all fell The tower keeps watch over the wild proceedings like a silent sentinel Waiting for the day that will see the rebuilt carousel With a blessing of hope Well the storm of the century came and beat up on our scene It rose up in a biblical fury and smashed all to smithereens Whatever little remained Was blown by the wind and washed by the rain Say goodbye to this East Coast Eden maybe once and for all And now every year things get progressively worse Like a poem getting more depressing with each successive verse Don’t think what I did isn’t sitting on my mind It’s killing me that I left you behind And sometimes I can’t help but feel that I dropped the ball Baby I know things are gonna get better for us I know things can’t stay this way forever for us There’s gotta be a way to get it all together for us I know there’s gotta be a change in the weather for us ‘Cause the snow’s been falling, the lake’s been frozen way too long And it’s been taking me an eternity just to write you this song But after the long winter the sun’s gonna shine real strong ‘Cause as long as you are, baby, I know not everything was wrong You’re my blessing of hope You’re my blessing of hope.
©2017 The Hesh Inc.
The last song on the new album, Soul In Exile 3: Love Runs Aground, was written not long after I arrived at the Jersey Shore after leaving Boston and my life as I had lived it up to that point. Here I had wanted nothing more than to become a local at the Shore for so long, and I finally got it. Shortly after my arrival, the historic Casino building in Asbury Park closed; immediately before closing there was one last day when people came from all around to play its arcade games and go on the funhouse rides, including the legendary carousel. I attended and did the same, taking a series of photographs in the process; it was impossible to avoid the pervasive sense of melancholy enveloping the place. The city itself was on the way down during that era, and the Casino's closing was a major nail in the coffin of the old Asbury. In the wake of all too many of the local businesses closing, the boarding-up of store windows, the misguided and ultimately failed redevelopment attempts, the municipal corruption, and the never-ending stream of bad news, I was desperately looking for glimmers of hope—some glowing embers within the ashes.
In his review of the album in his Shoreworld column in The Aquarian Weekly, John Pfeiffer writes:
The last song on this too-compact disc is called "Blessing Of Hope." Returning to his perspective of the past, Hesh tells the tale of the "Holy Wreckage" from the past. Amusement parks decaying into the ground combine with impotent master plans of the future as he longs for the rebuilding of the carousel from the good old days. The termination of the East Coast destruction is the theme here, and it means a lot to me. Drums, bass, and pianos lay an amazing background over this song of regret of the present and the forlorn missed days of the past. This is a strong statement of what was good and what sucks today, and it's a solid piece. [Guitarist PK] Lavengood's lead break is both beautiful and sad, laying framework like handcrafted wainscoting on a decaying mansion doorway. Pianos tumble into the ending along with Lavengood's skilled six-string work as the band heads for the barn. Beautiful work by all on this song and record. The brass work (courtesy of Danny Flam) shines brightly here as well.
Ahh, but that is only the surface, the simple explanation of the lyrics (the "pshat," in the parlance of Torah study). There is a deeper interpretation ("drash"). Please excuse me if it gets a little too intimate or revealing; I am only a human being with feelings, frailties, and foibles, like anyone else.
I had come down from Boston in the wake of my divorce. I had been married to my first wife for just about two years. My ex made plans to move back to Denver, where she had grown up, and she challenged me to "put my money where my mouth is" and move to the Jersey Shore, where I had made no secret of wanting to be since well before we got engaged, let alone married. I decided that yes, this is the time. There was no further reason to stay in Boston.
However, we had a daughter who was not quite one year old at the time we split. My baby girl, who I loved more than anything and who adored me. How could I go away from her? But what was I to do, if my ex and I couldn't find a way to stay together? Move to Denver? May as well stay married, if so.
So here I had gotten what I always wanted—to live at the Jersey Shore and become part of its music scene. But at what price? Was it really a blessing, or had I forfeited my blessing by getting divorced and leaving the place we had lived as a family?
In this scenario, the closing of the Casino and the gradual shutting down of the city became emblematic of my old life crumbling. The hotel mentioned in the fifth verse injects a note of hope, an emblem that things may look up where everything else is looking down.
But then the big storm comes and washes everything away (a reference to the nor'easter of 1992 when I wrote it; since then, it has come to refer to Hurricane Sandy in 2012). The landscape is obliterated and everything looks bleak. The orchestration falls away and I am left addressing my daughter directly, without metaphor, in the penultimate verse.
My daughter, my older daughter, whose name is Bracha Tikva—the Hebrew words for "blessing" and "hope."
Now, all these years later, she is all grown up, happily married, and living in Boulder, Colorado. I have since remarried, and I live in New Jersey once again after having traveled all over the United States and abroad. And after all we have been through, my daughter has decided that our relationship over the years was too tenuous and haphazard to maintain.
And as I sing in the last verse—I hope and I pray that the ice melts and things between us get better. I will always be here for her, should she decide to include me in her life again—as long as I am still among the living. Because no matter what happens and who else comes in to or goes out of her life, and no matter by what name she may assume, she is and will always be my beloved daughter, my Bracha Tikva, my Blessing of Hope.
Listen to the song here: