Songs of Serenity
© 2017 by Scott Perry
Guns & more guns & there’s guns & then guns & there’s
Guns with the guns & more guns & then guns & there’s
Guns & then guns & more guns & there’s guns & then Bombs
Over and over
x 5 … then …
Sun and more sun and there’s sun and then sun and there’s
Sun, ahh the sun and more sun and the sun and there’s
Sun and it’s sunny, more sun and there’s sun and then Moon
Ahh – ahhhh
What can I add to the 14 words that appear in this song (one of them, 68 times)? I am only heartsick that mass murders keep happening and being reacted to in the same insane manner as a fly banging into a closed window, “over and over.” So I’ll let those words stand for themselves, starkly representing the sheer mind-numbing repetition of these events.
This song came to me in a dream, fully formed, I heard one complete verse exactly as it is here. In the dream (which had nothing to do with this subject matter, some unrelated setting) I was aware that it was a song coming to me and I should try to remember it. This is one of the dreamsongs I have captured that required a little sacrifice of sleep. Because when you wake up with a song in your head at 3am you have a choice: go back to sleep, sweet sleep waiting for your warm embrace (it’s so easy just close your eyes again and drift, don’t worry you’ll probably remember this one… ). Or … physically drag yourself out of the warm bed, in the dark, heavy-limbed, find something to record into, and huddle in a corner so Brandy can’t hear you softly singing what you’ve heard in your mind’s ear. More often than not, that’s the end of your night’s sleep, because of the 10—15 minute disturbance of getting up and working what you dream-heard into real waking sounds, it is never easy to fall back asleep after that.
What I had heard in the dream was so perfect as it was, repetitive and droning over only two chords (G, fittingly the key of the tune, and D), that I decided to just keep repeating it, punctuating each identical verse with the words “over and over.” Awake, I added the final verse substituting the word “sun” for the word “gun” – I wanted to take the edge off the numbing negativity with a positive hopeful finale, right up to the last peaceful sigh of “Aaah-aaaaah” in six-part harmony. There are six verses in all (like that famous symbol of the old west, the six-shooter; which also, as Bon Jovi sings, suggests the six strings of the guitar), but only the first five deal with guns and bombs; the sixth is all sun (and then moon).
Numbers fascinate me and it’s hard not to read significance into them, find patterns of meaning.
John Lennon was shot five times the night he was killed by a madman with a gun. Not a mass murder, just a very impactful one. In her continuing advocacy for some kind of sanity on guns in America, Yoko Ono has now and then posted a photo she took of Lennon’s bloodstained glasses from that night, with a statistic of how many people have been killed by guns in the US since John’s death Dec 8th, 1980. Each time she posts it, the number has climbed so much higher – the last one I saw was over a million people. So among my story-pieces I have a pair of round-lensed sunglasses (which I always call Lennon glasses) in memory of him, who had so much impact on my life. A small tribute to the victims of gun violence.
Originally I called this song simply “Guns” which makes perfect sense, but I wanted to take the edge off that too and include the companion word ‘sun.’ When I put them together as “Gunsun” I saw further pattern in that small six-letter word. Besides the straightforward “Gun-Sun”, I could see “Guns-un” with a little protest hinted at in the “-un”. Then I decided to not capitalize the G (again, the key of the song, G-major), and once I saw “gunsun” just like that I immediately also felt the word “unsung” coming out, a simple switch of one letter front to back. Over a million songs unsung, and who knows how many unsung heroes were among those lost lives? It breaks my heart to think of all that John Lennon left unsung.
By the way, it’s not the word “guns” that appears 68 times in this short song, its total count is 60 (because the last verse switches to “sun”). The most frequent word is actually “and” – I think there is some kind of message in that. Guns aren’t the problem. “And” is the problem. It’s what all of us who are so heartsick at this mind-numbing repetition say in chorus every time a mass shooting occurs – “And?” One day I hope it will be answered.