CRAVEN: A song of forgiveness
Free Press Music Columnist
Sometimes, when you talk about pop music, you just have to get personal. Today, I wanted to discuss a couple songs about a subject that doesn’t get a lot of play in music these days: Forgiveness.
It’s a topic you hear a lot about in religious circles, and so it probably comes as no surprise that there are some gospel and Christian pop songs on the subject. But amongst secular songs, you could no doubt count on your fingers the number of paeans to pardon.
And yet … it’s the rare bird who can live his or her whole life through without learning first-hand something about forgiveness. And usually, the lesson is a painful one. Most of us, at some point, reach a juncture where we learn we must forgive. Whether we come to this realization as a result of our religious beliefs, or because we eventually understand that the person who can’t forgive is the person who can’t move on, learning to forgive seems like a necessary landmark on the journey to complete and healthy personhood.
Craven got to thinking about this as a result of a strange coincidence recently. While I was driving on the parkway, Australian singer-songwriter Paul Kelly’s “I’ll Forgive But I Won’t Forget” came up in a random playlist, and it reminded me what an amazing songwriter Kelly is, finding universal truths in the specifics of a particular friendship in which an old buddy slept with the singer’s girlfriend. It also reminded me of the many friends, lovers and acquaintances who have let me down over the years — as well as the many times I let them down as well.
As I drove down the parkway, I was flooded by memories of how I found peace by letting go of pain, and how I found warmth in the grace of others.
But then something happened to remind me that forgiveness does not always come so easy. As a youngster, on too many occasions, I watched, wide-eyed and terrified, as my biological father beat my mother senseless. His attacks were as frequent as they were violent. Once, I saw him tear our front door to splinters.
Another time, I skittered in a small boy’s panic when he came crashing out of a closet where he had lain in ambush for hours. I recall vividly the day he kidnapped my brother and me and was finally taken into custody by a half-dozen cops who surrounded him with their guns drawn and fixed upon his chest.
My mother, thankfully, divorced him, and we spent the next few decades healing in a life which became stable and placid. But of course, as any of the many souls who emerge from similar circumstances know, the psychological scars remain long after the physical have disappeared. When, years later, my father returned to my life, and sought to regain a relationship with his sons, I — as an imperfect man who found his own redemption not once, but several times — was willing to give him a chance. But in order to forgive my father, I needed one thing from him: Contriteness.
When my father, all these years later, continued to blame the violence with which he had stained my family’s history on my mother’s behavior as a young wife, I told him the father-son relationship he sought remained impossible. And this week, two years after my father died, as I drove on the parkway with Paul Kelly’s song of forgiveness having just finished, another song came up in the mix. It was the Dixie Chicks’ “Not Ready to Make Nice.” As Natalie Maines sang, “They say time heals everything, but I’m still waiting,” I knew exactly what she meant.
Craven Lovelace is the producer of the Notes Blog & Podcast at http://cravenlovelace.com/notesblog and also writes about popular culture at the Cravenomena blog at http://cravenlovelace.com/cravenblog/. You can also find him on Facebook.
Notes is made possible by Tina Harbin of Real Estate West, the premier resource for all real estate information and services on the Western Slope.
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