Thursday, December 12, 2013

Writers Listen, Too!

A recent post described the wonderful experience of listening to books, especially those read by the author, and the value of listening in honing personal writing skills. Last week’s post reminded writers to read widely and much. This week’s post returns to listening, but this time, to lyrics, the poetic songs accompanied by melody and instrument.

One song has always touched me, perhaps because of the wistful notes made tangible by the artist, Bonnie Raitt, as she sings “Wounded Heart by Jude Johnstone. Below are the song's lyrics portraying a love that endures but cannot conquer:

Wounded heart I cannot save you from yourself
Though I wanted to be brave, it never helped.
'Cause your trouble's like a flood raging through your veins
No amount of love's enough to end the pain

Tenderness and time can heal a right gone wrong,
But the anger that you feel goes on and on.
And it's not enough to know that I love you still
So I'll take my heart and go for I've had my fill

If you listen you can hear the angel's wings
Up above our heads so near they are hovering
Waiting to reach out for love when it falls apart
When it cannot rise above a wounded heart.

Tweens and teens yearn for a love of their own, and most imagine that love, when found, will bring with it unimaginable happiness and fulfillment. But these lyrics describe a love that continues apart from the beloved because no amount of love will overcome a wounded heart, flowing and ebbing with trouble like a flood .

This is the love that Catherine Earnshaw knows. No amount of love or concern was enough to end Heathcliff’s pain.

It is also the love that Cordelia feels for her father, Lear. He was deaf to her tender, honest words of love and regard for him. His raging troubles led to betrayal, humiliation, despair and madness. 

It is the love felt by every lover inextricably tied to a tortured soul: the Gandhis who must rescue an entire nation but cannot simultaneously be intimate; the Winnie Mandelas who must abide while the future inspiration for a people endures imprisoned; the Lee Krasners who rest uneasily beside a driven, alcoholic Jackson Pollock; the fictional Esther Blodgetts who cannot rescue the Norman Maines of this world. None of these loves fulfills both parties equally. None of them ends with both parties living happily ever after.

Johnstone/Raitt’s collaboration is a song of heartbreak and heartache, their cause a wounded heart. It is a song writers should know if they wish to tell of the full human experience.

Reading Challenge:

“Read” Bonnie Raitt’s album, Silver Lining, a release that includes "Wounded Heart."

Writing Challenge:


Write a story about a wounded heart.