Cloister Commentary, Day 226: Pressure That Burns a Building Down

Yesterday was a fairly quiet day: bringing in and storing Halloween decorations, watching CBS Sunday Morning and reading the New York Times, setting back the clocks–I do love receiving an extra hour (I know it’s an illusion, really), because I know what to do with one–Zooming with family and friends, searching for and listening to some new music, enjoying some fresh chick pea masala, seeing if SNL could deliver. But all the while, Nicole and I both–I didn’t ask her, but I’m sure–felt a creeping, rising force. You know what I’m talking about.

If not, well, this might help. I have a rule of thumb regarding commenting on music that I follow 98% of the time: I do not want to waste my time denigrating something–life’s too short, and it’s better spent exalting powerful works. I violated that rule yesterday on Facebook when, after listening to it twice and being unmoved, I labeled the new Karen O / Willie Nelson cover of Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” as having a “lay-down-and-die” energy level, which I still believe, though a) it was a great idea, and b) I am a very, very enthusiastic Wille Nelson fan of many years’ duration. A few folks I respect greatly chimed in to the effect that I might be a bit off in my assessment, which is OK with me, though considering that we all come to art with different experiences and values that cause our responses to vary, it’s a bit futile to say about a song, “No, I’m right and you’re wrong.” Which, unsurprisingly, is the main reason I imposed upon myself the above rule in the first place! BUT…one of those friends (jokingly, I’m sure, at least partially) suggested that no one ever listened to the lyrics of the original in the first place, whereas (I am assuming) the less strangulated (?) and bombastic singing applied to the cover version draws those lyrics to the fore. Perhaps; Rodney, it’s a very good point. BUT…I did listen to those lyrics as a 19-year-old in 1981, and I distinctly remembering they absolutely sold the song for me. Bowie, Queen, and the arrangement were all terrific, but I felt those words. I did have to listen to it multiple times (that was no problem, as I lifeguarded that year and had no choice) to, um, untangle and extract a few syllables), but throughout that process it hit me harder and harder. In case you need a refresher, and to loop back to my original intent in hunting and pecking this out, here those lyrics are:

“Pressure, pushing down on me,
Pressing down on you, no man asks for.
Under pressure that burns a building down,
Splits a family in two, puts people on streets.
It’s the terror of knowing what this world is about.
Watching some good friends screaming, “let me out”.
Tomorrow gets me higher.

Pressure on people, people on streets.
Chippin’ around, kick my brains around the floor.
These are the days, it never rains but it pours.
People on streets.
People on streets.

It’s the terror of knowing what this world is about.
Watching some good friends screaming, ‘Let me out!’
Tomorrow takes me higher, higher, high!
Pressure on people, people on streets.

Turned away from it all like a blind man.
Sat on a fence, but it don’t work.
Keep comin’ up with love, but it’s so slashed and torn.
Why, why, why?
Love (love, love, love, love).

Insanity laughs, under pressure we’re cracking.
Can’t we give ourselves one more chance?
Why can’t we give love that one more chance?
Why can’t we give love, give love, give love, give love,
Give love, give love, give love, give love, give love.
‘Cause love’s such an old fashioned word,
And love dares you to care for the people on the
Edge of the night, and love dares you to
Change our way of caring about ourselves.
This is our last dance.
This is ourselves. This is ourselves.

Under pressure.
Under pressure.
Pressure.”

I don’t think it’s our last dance, but neither do you or I need to be so damned literal in applying these foolish things. Have a careful next couple of days.

Streaming for Strivers:

Put on a happy face. The clown’s scared, too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s