Beyond: Tell Me There’s a Heaven!
An overturned van on the highway and an endless line of vehicles at a man’s pace. There are no injuries, no blood, no scattered car parts. In one of the automobile that go through the accident, two girls of 8 and 11 years old, affected by the incident, travel with their father. With amazement and surprise, they ask questions and more questions about the reasons for the event, the health (or soul) of the driver and the companions.
The father has no answers. He remains silent. A prayer and the father wonders the same, why does the inexplicable happen?
Incomprehensibly, his thoughts travel to the 6:01 minutes of the bittersweet melody of Tell me there is a heaven (Chris Rea) and its three musical acts that convey sadness, pain, hope and beyond… with piano, guitar, voice, violins and strings, one perhaps a mandolin the other probably a harp. The song asks if there is a heaven, a paradise, where there is a joyous symphony, on the other side of hope.
The father begins to hum the theme while driving looking for peace.
The music begins with a piano struck briskly but without force, low, reverberant. A soft change like a lullaby but with a hoarse, raspy voice. Something like a melancholic blues, slow, disappointing and optimistic at the same time. The lyrics are a litany, a psalm full of questions, concerns and anger. First two stanzas.
Why, why, why? Why the hate? Why the violence? Why death? Why the incomprehensible?
In the third stanza an aged hopeful voice appears that speaks of Heaven. It comes from a not so distant time that lived hot and cold world wars, civil wars, that suffered from global violence, walls, systematic discrimination, terrorism. Despite that tiny glowing ember in grandfather’s words, it is 2 minutes and 38 seconds of a descent into the deep grief of not understanding or knowing or being able to realize. We descend the steps of rationality and judgment to the most inaccessible edge. From there, only the illogical, incongruous, unreasonable remains.
A strong violin appears like a cry. The painful first episode ends without an answer, like the father to the girls after the car accident.
What do I believe in? Do I believe in the hope that waits against everything? Am I saying that there is a place called Paradise? No! Yes! No! Who goes there? Us or them, us and them? Is there a game plan, a painful and enigmatic game plan? Why the suffering, for what? The sixth and seventh stanzas are the core of the song. Now the direction of the camera changes and it no longer looks at the girl who asks the question but at the adult, who is equally stunned and asks himself, ‘Tell me what I cannot say, explain to me what I cannot explain, answer me what I can’t answer. ‘ At 4 minutes and 5 seconds, with violins as more cries and keys as tears, the tenuous hope that there is somewhere on the other side is gone.
After the disappointment, the illusion and after the trust, what inhabits?!
After the confidence, up with the mandolin. The string echoes constantly like a wacky, eccentric, unhinged laugh. Insanity may be crossing the threshold of hope. The soft keyboard and the violins, countless violins, when the hoarse and raspy voice goes like the embraces of angels, like celestial smiles … and the short harp and a wind instrument that, as in the Pied Piper of Hamelin, carries us driven by vision of what is on the other side of the passageway of madness once over the precipice with a leap.
The father has no answers. He remains silent, but smiling.
An indolent violin string pretends to extend beyond time… like the poem Of Falconry (St. John of the Cross)
Tell me there’s a heaven. Tell me that it’s true. Tell me there’s a reason. Why I’m seeing what I do. Tell me there’s a heaven. Where all those people go. Tell me they’re all happy now. Papa tell me that it’s so.
Not without hope did I ascend
Upon an amorous quest to fly
And up I soared so high, so high,
I seized my quarry in the end.
As on this falcon quest I flew
To chase a quarry so divine,
I had to soar so high and fine
That soon I lost myself from view.
With loss of strength my plight was sorry
From straining on so steep a course.
But love sustained me with such force
That in the end I seized my quarry.