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The Story Behind the Song and Painting: “We Are Strong”

LYRICS:

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

Ooooh…

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

Ooooh…

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 –

https://www.etsy.com/listing/189335397/whale-well-be-strong-11×11-art-print
whale

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The Story of the Song and Painting: “Written in Our Clothes”/ “Go with Me”

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Here’s the Story behind Betony’s painting “Go With Me” and its companion song I wrote called “Written in Our Clothes”:

It was several months ago and Betony had printed out this vintage picture of a bicycle and was using it for the main subject of her painting. As she was working on it I came into the studio with my guitar and began asking her where she was going with the piece.

She told me the main idea was that it was about the journey, not the destination. She felt like that old maxim held a lot of truth, even though it’s overused, especially for us and our life as a family.

This piece would definitely find home in our Almanac series.

I began strumming out an idea on the guitar as we talked and the song had it’s start.


Clothes Patterns

Betony put various textiles into the spaces of the tire spokes, all with striking differences of pattern to represent just how chaotic and unpredictable life and this journey can be. Things don’t often line up and match as you’d hope or expect.

And as I began writing lyrics to my song I titled it “Written in Our Clothes”. Because when our first daughter was born, Lucy,  in one of her one-sies she had hidden this little phrase that said, “this is the beginning of something beautiful”.

That simple phrase has moved me years since and what better thing to reference in a song about journey?


Better Together

As the chorus of the song came together I shared it with Betony. The lines were
“I don’t know where we are going
But I’d like to go with you darling
When we get there I suppose we’ll know it
Let’s go, Let’s go”

Betony loved the lyrics and wrote them into the piece underneath the bike with collaged map images and little icons hidden in representing milestones. She’s noted to me about the map part of the piece that although all the destinations aren’t known in life, it’s always better that we go together… That’s really what being in love is: it’s just better together.

While my song is called “Written in Our Clothes” she titled her painting:

“Go with Me”.

Many thanks to the Van Manen family who purchased Betony’s piece. May you be blessed in the journey!

Hear the song HERE.

“Written in Our Clothes” lyrics
Giants & Pilgrims

This is what you’ve wanted for so long
I will wake you early for the road, right before dawn
You can sleep with feet against the glow
Coming from the sun still sitting low

You may keep those things from me you stole
You know me I cashed out long ago
Without a penny for control
Careful with the highlight reels we post
Half of it’s the truth and half we’ve
Sold the truth we’ve halfway told

I don’t know where we are going
But I’d like to go with you darling
When we get there I suppose we’ll know it
Let’s go

There are matters shattering our hearts
If we can’t outrun them we should go
Let’s depart

We will find new words to aim the throws
We will write them hidden in our clothes
They’ll shape and take control

I don’t know where we are going
But I’d like to go with you darling
When we get there I suppose we’ll know it
Let’s go