“You and Me Against the World”

Released in 1971 –  The song was written by Kenny Ascher and Paul Williams – two men.  I never would have guessed it.  Fast forward 17-18 years or so, after my parents split for the second time and my brothers were doing their own thing,  it was just me and my mom mourning the loss of our family alone, together.

Fast forward to 1993 – my mom passed and I was a single mother with a 13 month old daughter. I often sang this song to my daughter at night when I put her to sleep.

What the song is about: A single mother’s anthem. A mother sings to her daughter about their journey through life together.

My favorite lines:

“You and me against the world,
Sometimes it feels like you and me against the world,
When all the others turn their backs and walk away,
You can count on me to stay.”

What the words mean to me: This is the verse that first pushed me to sing this at night to my daughter.  My mom stayed.  She was a rock, a dependable, persistent rock.  I wanted my daughter to feel safe and secure and to know that I would be present – always – and that she could depend on me and never disappoint me.

This verse also has the hint of how I depended on her.  I put all of my energy into this little girl and our life together.  After my mom died, my daughter kept me going out of sheer necessity – food, shelter, etc.  Then, my daughter kept me going because I wanted to give her a better life and I was the only one in the world that could do it.  We were alone, together.

“And when one of us is gone,
And one of us is left to carry on,
Then remembering will have to do,
Our memories alone will get us through
Think about the days of me and you,
You and me against the world.

What the words mean to me:  I often cried through these lyrics.  Still do.  I wrote this in an earlier post about my mother and another Helen Reddy song – “My mother remains my hero and a visage of strength, powering through life’s challenges with courage, integrity, and conviction.” (Read that post here.)  I never thought anything could ever really keep her down or take her away from me.  I think I sang this to my daughter, in part, to try to prepare us both for the day we will be apart.  When my mom took ill and died 10 weeks later, I had never considered for one moment that she could be taken away from me.  So naive at 22.

I think of my mother every day.  Memories are all I have of her…and ‘remembering will have to do’.  She is in my heart and the heart of my children – even the ones she never got to meet.  They have been touched by her because I have been.

The tears through these lyrics also let me express my sorrow to my daughter.  They allowed me show my daughter that it is okay to be sad and express your feelings…and that life does, indeed, go on.  I would speak of my mother and recall fond memories of her, sharing the stories.  I would tell Alexis that grandma is in heaven and I will see her again one day.  Which leads me to the next verse.

 

“And for all the times we’ve cried I always felt that
God was on our side.

What the words mean to me: I spoke of God and faith to my small, little girl.  Although my anger towards Him exploded within me at times, and I questioned my faith when such an angel as my mother had to suffer so, and to meet such an ugly, early end – I know that the same faith got me through.  The same faith that God has a plan is the same faith that helped me to raise a beautiful and talented young lady.  I see my mother in her, now – strong, smart, confident, kind, independent, forthright, and loving.  This brings me peace.

Full Lyrics for “You and Me Against the World”:

You and me against the world,
Sometimes it feels like you and me against the world,
When all the others turn their backs and walk away,
You can count on me to stay.

Remember when the circus came to town
And you were frightened by the clown,
Wasn’t it nice to be around someone that you knew,
Someone who was big and strong and looking out for

You and me against the world,
Sometimes it feels like you and me against the world
And for all the times we’ve cried I always felt that
God was on our side.

And when one of us is gone,
And one of us is left to carry on,
Then remembering will have to do,
Our memories alone will get us through
Think about the days of me and you,
You and me against the world.

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“Take Me Home, Country Roads”

Released in 1971 – John Denver first released this song written by  Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert, and John Denver

What the song is about: No hidden meaning here…it’s about the country roads of West Virginia and the joy of traveling home.

My favorite lines:

“Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads”

What the words mean to me: I wanted to belong somewhere and I longed for a country road to take me home.  My home was not in West Virginia, or in the mountains, but I guarantee my home had my momma.  I longed for her when I was a child.  We were sent to my grandmother’s home in Florida every summer due to the need for child care.  My dad had John Denver on an 8-track tape and I remember listening to it in the car – both directions.  On the way to Florida it made me very sad.  All I could think about was how much I was going to miss my mom and dad.  On the way back to Ohio at the end of the summer I felt lost because abandoning my grandmother did not seem like the right thing to do, but I so did not like being there.  I wanted to be with my mother and father – always.

There was one road in particular that I will always remember on the journey home that this song brings to mind.  It is barren and straight and goes on forever.  It felt symbolic of how far away and empty I always felt as a child – no matter where I was.

Take Me Home, Country Roads – full lyrics

Almost heaven, West Virginia
Blue ridge mountains, Shenandoah river
Life is old there, older than the trees
Younger than the mountains, growin’ like a breeze

Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads

All my memories, they gather ’round her
Miner’s lady, stranger to blue water
Dark and dusty, painted on the sky
Misty taste of moonshine, teardrops in my eyes

Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads

I hear her voice in the mornin’ hour she calls me
The radio reminds me of my home far away
And drivin’ down the road I get a feeling
That I should have been home yesterday, yesterday

Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads

Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, West Virginia, mountain momma, oh momma
Take me home, country roads
Take me home, down country roads
Take me home, down country roads

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“The Heart of the Matter”

Released in 1989 – I was in my early 20’s when I first really heard this song in small bar in Miamisburg, Ohio.  Sitting with friends, drinking, I found myself lost in the lyrics.

What the song is about: The lyrics of Don Henley’s song reflect on a lost lover that has moved on and one man’s attempt to move past the pain caused then and now.  It’s about forgiveness and learning how to move on beyond the pain, not just from a lost love – but from pain in the world.

My favorite lines:

“There are people in your life who’ve come and gone
They let you down; you know they hurt your pride
You got to put it all behind you ’cause life goes on
You keep carryin’ that anger, it’ll eat you up inside”

What the words mean to me: The heart of the matter – the bare, base meaning of it all – is forgiveness.  Forgive to have a peaceful heart.  Forgive so that you can live.  You are more than your anger. This song just pounds forgiveness into my head and helps to remind me that I have to let go of the angst in my heart.  None of the people I thought of that night were ex-boyfriends.  My issues were much larger than that. People suck – get over it and move on. Do not give them the power to change you – Just love them more.

“What are all these voices outside love’s open door
Make us throw off our contentment and beg for something more?”

What the words mean to me: These 2 lines stand out more now that I am 46 – and not 20.  Love can make us happy and content…yet sometimes something on the other side calls to us.  Other side of what?  you may ask.  Other side of anything, really.  The other side of our contentment – just other – not this, but that.  We struggle as we age, wondering is this it?  Sometimese we have longings that we can not understand.  Some find the answers in faith, some find the answers in family or work, and some never find them.

“The more I know, the less I understand”

What the words mean to me:  These lines need no explanation beyond ignorance is bliss.

Heart of the Matter – full lyrics

By Don Henley

I got the call today I didn’t wanna hear
But I knew that it would come
An old, true friend of ours was talkin’ on the phone
She said you’d found someone
And I thought of all the bad luck and all the struggles we went through
How I lost me, and you lost you
What are all these voices outside love’s open door
Make us throw off our contentment and beg for something more?

I’ve been learning to live without you now
But I miss you sometimes
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I knew, I’m learning again
I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak, and my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness, forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

These times are so uncertain
There’s a yearning undefined and people filled with rage
We all need a little tenderness
How can love survive in such a graceless age?
And the trust and self-assurance that lead to happiness
Are the very things we kill, I guess
Pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms
And the world they put between us – you know it doesn’t keep us warm

I’m learning to live without you now
But I miss you, baby
The more I know, the less I understand
And all the things I thought I’d figured out, I have to learn again
I been tryin’ to get down to the heart of the matter
But everything changes and my friends seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness, forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

Oh, there are people in your life who’ve come and gone
They let you down; you know they hurt your pride
You better put it all behind you, baby,  ’cause life goes on
You keep carryin’ that anger, it’ll eat you up inside, baby

I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak and my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness, forgiveness
Even if you don’t love me

Songwriters: MIKE CAMPBELL, DONALD HUGH HENLEY, JOHN SOUTHER, JOHN DAVID SOUTHER

© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

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“The Rose”

I used to sing this to my kids at night as I put them to bed.  Every word speaks of love and the ability to overcome even the harshest conditions to find and give love.  No matter how dark the world gets, have faith in love.  Such a beautiful message.

 

The Rose

By Bette Midler

Some say love, it is a river, that drowns the tender reed
Some say love, it is a razor, that leaves your soul to bleed
Some say love, it is a hunger, an endless aching need
I say love, it is a flower, and you, its only seed

It’s the heart afraid of breaking, that never learns to dance
It’s the dream afraid of waking, that never takes a chance
It’s the one who won’t be taken, who cannot seem to give
And the soul afraid of dying, that never learns to live

When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snow
Lies the seed, that with the sun’s love in the spring becomes the rose.

Songwriters: GORDON MILLS
© Universal Music Publishing Group
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