The Story Behind the Song and Painting: “We Are Strong”
We’ll be strong and carry-on
We’ll be strong, carry-on
I need you to believe in me, like I believe in you
all things aspiring the way young lovers do
I bought you an orchestra with a brand new tune
But the sound was wrong and just wasn’t you
I need to believe in you, like you believe in me with eyes to see you through untiring
You bought me a 3 piece suit and painted every seam But the fit was wrong and unflattering
Believe in me, I’ll believe in you
Believe in me, I know you do
(gifts of the magi story)
There’s a famous story that’s told at Christmas time. I always thought it was bizarre. I was young and I didn’t get it.
It’s called the Gift of the Magi and it tells the story of a young, poor couple. They want to give the other something truly wonderful for Christmas, but they have no money for it.
So the young man sells his family pocket-watch to buy his wife a comb and clips for her hair. Her hair is very beautiful and special to him.
She, unknowingly, sells all the locks of her hair to buy a chain- for his family heirloom, the pocket-watch.
At the end of the story they are holding each other and they’ve given everything they have to each other, and there’s this sense of deep sadness. The story ends with some line like, “and they gave the greatest gifts of all to the other”.
I thought it was a terrible story! They totally missed each other and ended up with nothing!
As I’ve grown older I understand more and more the power of sacrifice, and how that is truly the greatest gift. They didn’t end up with nothing. They ended up with each spouse fully poured out for the other.
Here’s a song I wrote about this story. I was going to title the song, “The Gift of the Magi” but a friend said, “Everyone will think it’s a Christmas song, dude…” So now it’ s called “We’ll Be Strong”.
Here’s the last paragraph of O. Henry’s story:
“The magi, as you know, were wise men–wonderfully wise men–who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.
You can purchase prints of Betony’s art print of this painting here –