"Torn between

two times"

Clay Pigeons

 

In our worst moments, hopelessness can leave us like a parched wanderer in a vast desert, desperately searching for water. 

 

Clay Pigeons is a story from both an apocryphal Gospel and the Quran which presages a coming time of hope returning in a time of hopelessness.  From dead clay, life. From dirt, cleanliness. From thirst, relief. -Matt

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Matt talks about his guitar part
in Clay Pigeons.

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The Human and the Divine

 

Not all stories are from direct personal experience.  Not just our own memories, but the music we hear, the movies we see, and the books we read all interplay into making us who we are and how we tell stories.

 

I had been listening to a lecture series on the apocryphal Gospels (Gospels not counted as part of the Bible) and was sort of intrigued and amused by the Infancy Gospel of Thomas which is a non canonical and kind of goofy narrative of Jesus as a young boy.  It was deemed heretical by the early Church but was popular in the Middle Ages. Boy Jesus is kind of a brat and terrorizes his neighbors; think the kid from Home Alone if he could smite people.  Which come to think of it is exactly the kid from Home Alone.

 

One part of the story that stood out to me was young Jesus clapping his hands and bringing to life birds he had made out of clay, especially after I encountered it again in the Quran Sura 5:110.   

 

I already had a guitar part written that I was looking to write lyrics for so I decided to see if I could write a song using that starting point.  The chorus “Clap your hands, let them fly, from the mud they rise” fit perfectly over the chords and led me to envision the almost gospel like refrain near the end with multiple voices singing “Clap your hands” and “Lift me up”

 

The verses were a bit of a struggle.  I decided to focus on the Christian tradition’s idea of Jesus ushering in a new time to a struggling earth which took me away from my original source material but I thought would be more inspiring than a sullen kid killing his Greek teacher.  (an actual event in infancy gospel).

 

The first verse sets up an Earth barren of hope and crying out for rain and the second focuses on the actual gathering of the dust into birds and breathing life into them which is a direct callback to the story of Adam’s creation story in Genesis 2:7

 

The climax of the song, after the second chorus, implicitly invokes both the rending veil in the temple (Luke 27:51) that breaks the separation of the human and the divine and the life giving water that spills from Jesus’s side at the crucifixion (John 19:34).  In the Christian story this is the act that makes humanity clean again or, as the song says “let the water all stream out and wash the dirt away.”- Matt 

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Lyrics

 

Cracked dirt calls your name

A parched earth cries for rain

Dust swirls around your face

The dry lands stretch far away

Your hands shape lifeless clay

And they say “No, not today”

 

Clap your hands

Let them fly

From the mud they rise

Clap your hands

Lead us far away

 

Carve them out, set them free

Exhale, rouse them from their sleep

Break them loose from earth’s embrace

Breath out and fill their wings

 

Clap your hands

Let them fly

From the mud they rise

Clap your hands

Lead us far away

 

When darkness falls and hope snuffed out

Rend the sky and let the rains pour down

Let the waters all stream out

Wash the dirt away

 

Clap your hands

Lift me up

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