Daily Archives: May 7, 2011

Dancing Through The Fire

CD cover for Dancing through the Fire

CD Cover for Dancing Through The Fire (thanks to Karen Wells for the design, and Lancia Smith for the photo)

My new CD Dancing Through The Fire should be out this summer and I have begun to play some of the songs on it at gigs. The title track has provoked quite a lot of comment, so I thought I’d make some brief remarks here, give you a sneak preview (or should that be prelisten?), if you havn’t heard it live, and post the lyrics for you to read.

I’ve always been a big fan of Joni Mitchell’s song Woodstock which I first heard sung by CSNY. I loved the lines “We are stardust, we are golden, we are caught in the devil’s bargain, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden” but at the same time it seemed a little simplistic and naive to think that we could simply wish ourselves back to Eden, that we could simply dream ‘the bomber jet planes turning into butterflies above our nation’ and it would just happen. Well it didnt ‘just happen’ and for all the good dreams of the Woodstock Nation, human evil and everything that is anti-Edenic seems as deeply entrenched as ever. However, not long after I heard Woodstock I began to read a great poem in which the poet also recogised that we needed to get back to the garden but with this difference; he recognised that we needed to grow, to be purged and changed, to be made ready for the garden again. He saw that we would have to go through hell and recognise it for what it is, that we would have to climb a holy mountain and pass through water and fire before we got back to the garden. He knew that we could only make that pilgrimge if we had grace, good friends, and the love of God in Christ as our companions. That poet was Dante, and at the end of his Purgatorio (the second book of his Divine Comedy) he describes how he was enabled by his love of Beatrice and the love of Christ shining through her, to dance through the last circle of fire and meet her again in the garden. Dante’s desription of that moment was also crucial for TS Eliot in his life journey and he wrote in Little Gidding

“From wrong to wrong the exapserated spirit proceeds, unless restored by that refining fire where you must move in measure like a dancer”

Here’s Botticelli’s beautiful image of that moment

I guess Joni Mitchell and Dante and Eliot were all in my mind when I decided to write my own song about life as an acompanied pilgrimage, through which we are trying to break free from ‘the devil’s bargain’ and ‘get back to the garden’

I’m very grateful to members of Mystery Train who play on this track, to the wonderful Sophie Davies, who sings with me on this one, and to Mike Boursnell of Cambridge Riffs who plays on it arranges, and produces the whole thing.

so just click on the play button or the link below to listen to to an early mix (3.8) of my song and you can also read the lyrics below

[audio https://malcolmguite.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/dancing-3-8.mp3]

Dancing 3.8

You were born to be a pilgrim.
born to walk the dusty road
born to scan the changing skyline
born to haul a heavy load
you’ve got friends to walk the road with
you’ve got music to inspire
and you will get back to the garden
by dancing through the fire

you have crossed through many rivers
left many memories behind
you have followed many footsteps,
gone down pathways you cant find
all the sirens on the sidewalks
cannot sell what you require
you will get back to the garden
by dancing through the fire

Br: And for all the hell you been thru
theres a mountain still to climb
and all that’s happened to you
can be seen there as a sign
at the summit is a garden
all encircled by the flame
where they burn away your burden
and they call you by your name

So you came out to the cross-roads
but you’ve got no-where to turn
you followed all the best roads
tried to read the signs and learn
theres an easy road goes down ward
but the true roads climbing higher
you will get back to the garden
by dancing through the fire

When you make it to the border
You’ll have nothing to declare
Just a heart that kept on beating
on the far side of despair
its time to give away your burden,
burn it on your funeral pire
so you can get back to the garden
by dancing through the fire.

When you finally climb the mountain
you’ll see the river through the flame
you’ll remember where you came from
you’ll hear the sound of your true name
on the other side of heart-ache
lies the heart of your desire
and you’ll get back to the garden
just by dancing through that fire


Filed under imagination, literature, Songs, Theology and Arts