'Soul In Exile' Lyric/Blog: SOUL IN EXILE (the song)
Updated: Dec 16, 2020
A lot of songs have been written about breaking up, but in my estimation, very few have been written about that point in the breakup process in which you know that it's over and there's no going back, but somehow you still love her. The "withdrawal pains," as I referred to that phase when introducing this song live. If the preceding track in the album, "Love Runs Aground," is a picture of a marriage running on the rocks, then this song is about what happens afterwards—those withdrawal pains in the wake of an unwanted divorce and the seemingly futile attempts to pick up the pieces.
In the first verse, the singer is still stunned by the impact of it all but is somehow trying to get over it, yet the pain is still raw. In the second verse, he reminisces about how good it used to be; he even calls out his now-departed wife for the way she had agreed that this marriage was to be forever and she didn't want to get divorced yet again. But to no avail. He puts on a recording of their wedding song and finds himself unable to cry over the loss.
Then the song shifts gears from a slow blues to a quicker ska, and the singer tells his ex how much better life seems to be without her. But then, after all is said and done, the tempo switches back to the blues and the singer admits that even though there is no going back, and the future may hold something better, for the moment he is still lost without her. The song's catharsis comes in the outro, in which the singer releases all the excess mourning energy without needing lyrics.
I wrote the music in early 1990 in Boston, as my life and marriage there were falling apart. I had been quite under the influence of Van Morrison's His Band and Street Choir for much of the preceding year, and the closing track of Side One, "I'll Be Your Lover Too," was very much on my mind. But then divorce happened and I moved from Boston to the Jersey Shore, taking the music with me to Interlaken on the outskirts of Asbury Park, where I wrote the words.
I recorded the first version of the song in my basement studio in Ocean Grove and released it on my debut album in 2000. That version had a different bridge, more of a blues-based lament, but later (in the aftermath of my second divorce—go figure) I rewrote the bridge with its more upbeat rhythm, giving a hint of optimism at being able to shake off the blues brought on by the whole thing. With the newly refurbished bridge and full-band arrangement, the song was recorded at Retromedia Studios in Red Bank, NJ, and released on Soul In Exile 3: Love Runs Aground in March 2017.
Well our love ran aground when the passion engine locked
The sudden jolt caused me to bolt and finally take stock
Our house was made of glass and you flung that rock
And I was shattered by the crash
I moved the token of our love from my finger to my pocket
I’d love to take it to the lake and shoot it off like a rocket
Or maybe I’ll just take it downtown and hock it
After all, I could use the cash
I tried walking all over the shards of what we used to be
But in my blindness and oblivion I stepped on them in my bare feet
My soul in exile, trailing my blood in the street
Oh those glass memories cut so deep
Remember what must be like ancient history
How we’d spin up to the cities in search of music and poetry
The little lost sheep poet’s son-in-law would turn his own key
From an old tradition into a song
From the bottom line to the middle east to the castle by the sea
From the funky clubs down the aisle on the way to the canopy
This time it was to be for real, it was to forever be
And you marched on right along
I Love You I Love You I Love You Seven Times Round My Soul went the refrain
And for snail’s pace time I couldn’t put it on for fear of withdrawal pain
My soul in exile, tried crying but no tears came
This time nothing remains
Well our love running aground
It must have been a spectacular sight to see
Considering how it blew up like Independence Day fireworks
In front of the whole community
And speaking of independence
I’m taking my time cherishing my newfound liberty
Time and money are mine to spend
Any which way now that I’m free
I’m doing all the things I couldn’t do with you
And I’m doing them with such glee
You thought I wouldn’t have the guts
But that just shows how well you really knew me
You think I’ll just sit here and rhapsodize
Till I question my sanity
But that won’t happen this time, you see
I’m through with the dirge and elegy.
Well there would have been a time
I’d have loaded up my car with all my past mistakes
And like a stunt in a movie
I’d stick the accelerator to the floor and disconnect the brakes
I’d take her up Edgemont
And with a figure-eight spin I’d ditch her in the lake
As if somehow all that would
Eliminate all the pain and dull all the ache
Well this time I think
I’ll leave all the garbage by the curbside
I’ll set all the flotsam at the waterline
Let it get taken by the high tide
Then I’ll point my car whichever way she’ll go
And hit the road for that long, long ride
But without you as the rider by my side
I have only my faith as a guide
My ship runs adrift when cast off from you
With nowhere to land, no direction, little hope of rescue
My soul is in exile as long as it’s not one with you ...
©2017 The Hesh Inc.
Check out the "Soul In Exile" maxi-single ...
And after that, the expanded "Love Runs Aground/Soul In Exile" maxi-single ...