1. If I Were the Wind (and You Were the Rain)
Pendragon opens their incredible “Not of this World” with a song that just seeps into my very soul. “If I Were the Wind (And You Were the Rain)” is a song written by Nick, singer and guitarist of the band. This song is written to his son; guiding him and confiding his love for him. “If I were the wind and you were the rain/ That blows from east to west that melts away this pain/ If I were the sea and you were the sky/ I could wash away those tears”.
Nick is explaining life to his son. He is using the idea of sailing a ship to explain life’s hardships, obstacles, and turbulence. He assures his son that life will not all be smooth sailing. People will try to bring him down: People will try to sink his ship. Don’t let them, son. Be strong. Be confident.
However, there is another layer to these proverbs. Father to son, he expresses his love, and he shares his wish that he could always be with him—to heal the pain, and to wipe away his tears. Life is crazy and difficult. He wants so badly to guide his son’s rudder. He wants so badly to hold him in his arms forever. But he knows that he can’t. He knows that his son must be free to sail on his own adventures, voyages, and sorrows. “It’s time to wave goodbye/ Wiped from your memory/ But so fair of face and a heart of gold/ My son my son.”
I feel this for my three children every single day. I want to hold them in my arms forever and ever. I want to help them every step of the way. I want to shield them from the attacks of this world: I want to reassure them of who they are. I think every parent feels this way, and if someone doesn’t—I pity them. But I know I can’t do all this for them. I know that it isn’t good for them. It isn’t right. They have their own lives to live, and I just hope they always wants me as a part of them. All I can offer is do my best and prepare them. Someday, I will have to let them set sail on their own.
2. Dance of the Seven Veils: Part 1 – Faithless
“Here within the time we spent upon the mortal coil/ Not knowing what it all meant/ Our lives of pain and toil/Are those still standing tall beyond the china wall”. Part one of “Dance of the Seven Veils” is called “Faithless”. This is such an appropriate title, as this entire song is all about betrayal. If you notice on the cover between Adam and Eve there is a Scottish flag with a cross on it and also the word “betrayal”. This picture relates to this song.
As you can probably guess, the cross represents Jesus Christ and the flag represents William Wallace, both of whom were betrayed at a crucial moment. This song emotes so well the feelings of being betrayed and hurt by those closest to you. We want to trust those that we love. We would die for them, just as Christ and Wallace did. However, sometimes this trust is not held in honor.
“You were faithless in a twist of fate/ You jumped the queue at Traitors Gate/ Each act and motion locked away/ Will be known in the end”. Everything we do is eternal. We cannot undo things we’ve said or things we’ve done. If we betray the trust of our loved ones, that is something they will remember forever. Indeed, it will be locked away until the end.
“Naked now, you too were deceived/ And now you must stare into the eyes of the Gorgon” (Medusa and her sisters). Trust is fundamental to the human experience. We couldn’t really know anything, do anything, or create anything without trusting our senses and other people. When we betray someone, then, we betray ourselves and our connection with the human race. Naked we will be, as we reveal who we really are, and as we become transfixed with the reality of our actions.
Sometimes we are disloyal, and sometimes others are disloyal to us. It is a sad aspect of this life that this will happen to us at some point. It can cause us to lose faith in everyone and everything, and I really think that is what this song and album are really about in the end. As we sail through this life, it can be difficult not to feel lost. Yes, and weary.
3. Dance of the Seven Veils: Part 2 – All Over Now
The second part of “Dance of the Seven Veils” continues the topic of betrayal. “You drank from the poison cup/ not knowing it was a trap/ it’s strange but so true/ the one who loves you will run you through”. This desperate world is unsafe for our hearts. It is dangerous for our emotions. Our loved ones will disappoint and betray us. It is only a matter of when. And we will be tore apart in spirit and mind, as we search for any reason—any meaning—to live.
We can’t help but be serenaded by the love that they offer us. We are attracted as a moth to the flame because love and meaning are the very things for which all humans strive. But then they stab us in the back. Then they turn on us and say, “I never knew you anyways”. How can this be?
A cruel world we have. We can’t pass through it without gaining deep scars. And we will continue to be wooed by the dance of the seven veils—the offers of meaning and love that are but shadows that conceal true motive. We can be wooed by angel wings, only to be bitten by a serpent.
“We set sail on waters new/ our eyes set on a new world/ it’s time to wave goodbye/ to the lives I touched and left behind/ but through this melody and rhyme/ I’ll find some comfort here”. Life is ultimately a spiritual journey. It is an adventure where we are learning constantly. Sometimes, when we’ve been betrayed, it’s best to move on with our sights set on greater things. Sometimes, the toxic people in our lives need to be cleared, at least for now. There is a greater world out there that no earthly love can ever rival. Sail on, my friends.
4. Not of this World: Part 1 – Not of This World
The glorious title suite of this incredible album from Pendragon is played out over the next three tracks. “Not of This World” speaks to my soul, and my spirit nods in agreement with the words. “Looking for God – Looking for life/ Looking for all the right words and answers/ Looking for something not of this world”.
This world weights us down sometimes. We start out on our voyage thinking that we will have fair skies and still seas, but we are immediately buffeted by betrayal, sadness, death, lost love, and on and on. How is one supposed to survive this? When I was young, all I wanted was to be an adult. I wanted to be “free”, I thought. Now I’m older, and I realize that this life is nothing but chains. This life is nothing but a burden on my back.
War, disease, famine, depravity. Doubt. Fleshly limitations. Inner struggles. There is something better out there. Something not of this crazy world. “Looking for hope – Looking for home/ Looking away from all the despair/ Looking for something that just isn’t there”. I can feel it in my heart of hearts. There are so many questions and so many available answers. However, I know the truth lies outside of what this world can give me, at least in its present form. I know that there is a perfect place and perfect being that can embrace me in the spirit of rest. Yes, rest. I can feel the stress on my back, and the despair in my mind. I have to belay my mind. My heart and spirit know the way.
5. Not of this World: Part 2 – Give It to Me
The second part of this suite is an exploration of the depravity and hopelessness of this world. This life leaves us wanting more and begging for some sort of justice for the horrible things that we and other humans have experienced. Yet, we are all part of the problem.
“Eating money wanting more/ Give to the rich and rob from the poor/ One day man will eat the world/ Fill his pockets and sell his soul”. Greed and gain consume the souls of men. We trample others for nothing more than trinkets and status. And one day, it will all destroy us. Our actions are not without consequences.
Life is a drain on our spiritual dimensions. We know there is a better way, but we can’t stop ourselves. This is best summarized by one of my favorite lines from this album “You cannot put back the fruit on the tree”. We are flawed, imperfect, even depraved creatures. And there is nothing that this world can offer us that will change these facts. We need something else. Something not of this world.
6. Not of this World: Part 3 – Green-Eyed Angel
The final track of this wonderful song gives us a peek into the vast melancholy void of sadness that the writer is experiencing. The previous track mused over the issue of man’s inhumanity to man, and the resulting weariness it brings. However, this track addresses something far more sensitive and delicate: the loss of a loved one. I believe, actually, that it wasn’t death that took her, but rather divorce.
“Green eyed angel coming down from heaven/ I never thought the one who loved me more than any/ Would be the one to lead me to the gallows”. He misses his love. It’s that simple. And this drags him down to the pits, and he cannot find any good in life now.
But there is good. His friends comfort him. Indeed, he can feel love and comfort from the memory of she who left him forever! The world has lost its color, but there is a new paintbrush waiting for him somewhere.
Have you ever lost someone you loved? I know people that literally have not. That day will come, though, be it through death or through a broken relationship. I’ve lost many. Too many. The world can seem unfair. God himself can seem cruel. But I take comfort in knowing there is something outside of this mortal coil that is far more important than the crude matter that is our flesh. This world is unforgiving and difficult. It can hang us by the gallows. But I feel that there is far more than the toils of this life that cause us to long for something bigger and deeper.
7. A Man of Nomadic Traits
“And so this story has no end/ Man’s search for true enlightenment/ Where others see reality/ Is a mirage that I clearly see/ I sometimes wonder who’s right and who’s wrong/ In this crazy world I don’t belong”. Through trials, death, loss, sorrow, and horror; our writer feels no connection to this world. The sheer pain and toil that he experiences has caused him to be a wanderer, ever searching for the answers to life’s mysteries. But, as hard as he tries, he cannot find anything that eases the pain, hides the sorrow, or satisfies his spirit. He feels alone, and it truly burns.
On and on he goes, trying this and that. Trying nothing at all. But he never can fill the void in his soul. He listens to men’s wisdom, but there is nothing but propaganda to be heard there. He just can’t understand why no one else feels the same way he does. On and on he goes, seeking solace. Seeking truth.
8. World’s End, Part 1: The Lost Children
“We started our life so innocent but got lost somewhere on the way/ Learnt little from the wars we’ve raged that keep coming back round again”. We are all nothing but lost children. Or, at least, our actions say so. What do we do, day in and day out? We hurt. We burn. We destroy. This two track song, “World’s End”, describes exactly these things.
We start out this life in a seemingly innocent fashion. As babes, we hurt no one. Yet, it doesn’t take long for us to begin our paths of destruction. “And on up that hill we traveled with no cause to care for the others/ So where are all the lost children?/ They’re you and me and you’re still my brothers”. We trudge up the hill of life, selfish and uncaring. We are hopelessly lost, even in the midst of the beauty all around us.
We place so much emphasis on faith and truth. But we do this at the expense of love. We just have to be right about everything. We demand trust from others. But we never seem to figure out that all this will come with love! Love is the greatest of all these things, and yet we ignore it for our own selfish routines. We destroy the nostalgic, gorgeous things of this world for our own agendas. Indeed, we even use the truth to maim and hurt. Our childhood innocence forgotten, we press on in greed and war. Truly, we are lost.
9. Worlds End, Part 2: And Finally
“And those who live now have endured/ Are called unto the shore/ And my soul will be free/ I’ll fly free now as a bird/ Our voices to be heard”. In this second part of “World’s End”, Pendragon shares with us a belief. Yes, a faith in another world. Another life. Another life after this life.
We are lost children, ever exposed to the toils, sins, evils, and stresses of this world. But we’ve had enough! Pendragon assures us that we will die someday. We will not be stuck in this troublesome world forever. “Heading for hope – Heading for home/ Heading for roads that don’t lead me back here”.
But it’s more than another life. It’s home. It’s a place where we are loved, and we love others unconditionally. We commune. We are connected infinitesimally. We are. It’s a place to be, ever in the glorious shadow of our Creator and of each other. I share this belief. I do. I believe in another life, and because I believe that, this one has meaning. I know that the afterlife is often depicted as beautiful beyond imagination and void of any sorrows, but what really attracts me is the lack of my own inner struggles: the absence of my own depravity and my own difficulty to relate to others. I will love. And be loved. I believe that experience will come to this Earth someday. I don’t necessarily believe in an eternal heaven, but I do believe that men will live in harmony someday.
Pendragon‘s “Not of This World” is a tribute to another life and another place, but really is a tribute to the strange beauty of our flawed lives. It starts with a view of our births and the fresh lives ahead of us. But then it ends with our deaths. This might sound depressing, but it’s far from that. What’s depressing is the story in between those two points. We begin our journeys briskly and confidently, but this world is no respecter of persons. We cannot get through this life without experiencing pain, sorrow, evil, and stress—much of it within our own hearts. So death: death is a release to another, better place. On the other hand, this spoilt life is something with profane beauty to it: The human experience can be reconciled and renewed, as hard as that may seem. So, with that knowledge, we can face this life with continual confidence. It’ll be tough, believe me. And we will long for it to end sometimes. But we are here for a reason, and that reason is to make this place our home, a place not of this world.