The Broken Things

25 Jul

Soul surrender
Now I see
Just how broken things
Can set you free

Broken stuff gets a bad rap.

I remember my dad’s car broke down once, on a mountain pass in Colorado.

Instead of getting it fixed, he used it as an excuse to buy a new car!

Enter the “Mercury Brougham” epoch of Livingston family history.

You could literally walk around inside that car, it was so huge — and brown. Very brown.

I should mention the backstory on the car breakdown.

We were on a family trip across country, moving back to California from Maryland. Our vehicle was one of those old Brady Bunch station wagons with the fake-wood siding. My sister Angela and I enjoyed free play in the back of the wagon at 75 mph. So it was a rude awakening when we heard a huge “KERCHUNK” and felt a thud hit the bottom of the car. Dad had driven over a falling rock from a Rocky Mountain escarpment.

It punctured the gas tank.

Dad’s solution? Have mom retrieve ALL chewing gum on hand. As I recall, we had a “Plent-T-Pack” of Juicy Fruit and one of Big Red.

Mom handed the gum around to all the kids. We began chewing with robotic, businesslike purpose there on the side of the highway in the mountains.

Once we assembled the “Wad”… dad attempted to plug the gas tank with it.

No dice. But a great idea. And a lot of chewing satisfaction.

Meanwhile, we got a tow truck.

Dad went to the shop with the tow truck guy.

He came back with a brand-new car.

Broken things get a bad rap.

Or how about all of those broken relationships we endure before finding “the one”?

How about breaking an egg to make an omelet?

How about a drunk hitting rock bottom, and watching his whole life fall apart as a requisite passage through to a new, better life?

I mean, you can have a breakdown… or a breakthrough.

Both involve broken things.

So I wanted to write a song about the duel nature of broken things… That it’s not all bad.

As Leonard Cohen said, there’s a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.

So when you encounter the next broken thing — be it a relationship, a vase, a leg, or whatever… don’t get too down.

Remember, the broken things can set you free… if you let them.

Also, the version of the song below is actually a second take. The first one was all mucked up with out-of-tune backup guitar riffs. It sounded like a bad acid trip at a James Brown concert. Hopefully this one is a bit better. It’s certainly a lot cleaner and more stripped down…

And a slightly MORE stripped down version, losing the last verse and bridge of vocals…


The Broken Things

Soul surrender on my brain
This kinda love drives a man insane
Soul surrender once again

Susan lost her kids, she really hit the skids
But that’s how she found her bottom,
Eventually she got ‘em back again,
She got them back again

Hail hosanna for the broken things, for the broken things

Soul surrender on my mind
Please, please pardon me if I’ve been unkind yeah
Soul surrender one more time

The broken things
When the stormy wind blows I can hear it sing
Yeah, I hear it, I hear it sing, yeah
Sometimes you win when you surrender

Soul surrender all day through
I’ll be okay, honey, long as I have you yeah
Soul surrender pure and true

The broken things
When the stormy wind blows I can hear it sing
I hear it sing, I hear it, yeah
Sometimes you win when you surrender

Soul surrender now I see
Just how broken things
They can set you free
Soul surrender redeemed me

Billy couldn’t get a look, he finally read the book
The secret it unfurled handed Billy a dozen girls,
A dozen pretty girls

Hail hosanna for the broken things, for the broken things

2 Responses to “The Broken Things”

  1. Tim Livingston July 31, 2017 at 2:17 am #

    Very soulful song Jay. Get’s me thinking. Great writing.

  2. The Publisher August 5, 2017 at 9:48 pm #

    Thank you, Tim. I have my concerns about this song, but I think its faults at least match its weaknesses. I dunno. I’m trying to get harder on my own stuff. Enough screwing around, man! Just kidding… thanks for listening and love ya. Please send some of your new stuff my way when you can.

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