This is really one of my favorite songs. Oh, yeah, I love this tune. I did it as a neo-spiritual. Theres a minor crescendo at "I once killed a man...", and things come to a real head in the last verse, where you've got strings, chorus, tho whole bolt of cloth, right up to the last word, where it just ends. The song is cut short, just like the life of the Inmate. It's impossible to hear it without getting a chill.
At least, that's how it is in my head. One of the biggest frustrations of being a composer without a band is that YOU don't hear what I hear. Nevertheless...
They say you should write about what you know. If that's true in every case, then how in the world are we qualified to write about Death Row? Because in a deeper sense, we're all on Death Row, with no possibility of parole. Try this: read the lyrics and think of it in terms of a metaphor for your father's death. We think of our parents as indestructible, and their deaths are the first real foreshadowing of our own mortality. This is when, like the Inmate, we see the Angels coming.
Now is that deep or what?
wmh - August, 2005
I live in solitaire like Norman
Truly he's a friend of mine
But I don't see the angels a-comin'
So Norman tells me that I am blind
Norman tells his great big stories
Mostly funny -- sad at times
If I could only be like Norman
I might escape these walls I climb
A promised land beyond the fences
Of which he speaks now 20 years
And says if not for all this muscle
These past mistakes would disappear
I once killed a man like Norman
I mean, at least that's what they say
But he could never harm another
I know him and it's not his way
I hear footsteps echo down the hall now
They've sent for Norman, absent stay
They say they've come to end the misery
Of all his victims here today
Alone in solitaire like Norman
Truly, once a friend of mine
But now I see the angels comin'
And here I am, just like Norman
Here I am, just like Norman
Here I am.
Just like Norman