“Night Train” by Bruce Cockburn

Lyrics:

Not a knife throw from here you can hear the night train passing
That’s the sound somebody makes when they’re getting away
Leaving next week’s hanging jury far behind them
Prisoner only of the choices they’ve made

Night train

Ice cube in a dark drink shines like starlight
The moon is floating somewhere out at sea
I’m an island in the blur of noise and color
Alcatraz, St. Helena, Patmos and the Chateau D’If

Night train

And everyone’s an island edged with sand
A temporary refuge where somebody else can stand
Till the sea that binds us like the forced tide of a blood oath
Will wear it down – dissolve it – recombine it

Anyone can die here they do it every day
It doesn’t take much effort tho it goes against the grain
And the ultimate forgetfulness of violence
Sweeps the landscape like a headlight of a train

Night train

Ice cube in a dark drink shines like star light
Starlight shines like glass shards in dark hair
And the mind’s eye tumbles out along the steel track
Fixing every shadow with its stare

Night train
Night train

And in the absence of a vision there are nightmares
And in the absence of compassion there is cancer
Whose banner waves over palaces and mean streets
And the rhythm of the night train is a mantra

Lyrics from the Cockburn Project

A song about the “mantra” of the night train, born in “the absence of vision and compassion,” expressed in the “forgetfulness of violence.” It is the “sound somebody makes when they’re getting away…prisoner only of the choices they’ve made.” The dark path to death that is “effortless”  to follow, coming naturally, though “it goes against the grain” of what we are meant for. It’s “banner waves” over the highest of us “in palaces,” or the lowest of us in the “mean streets.” The rhythm of the night train beckons us, and we are not disinclined to pay its costly fare.

The ancient book of Proverbs spoke of the way of the Night Train:

There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.

The “night train” manifests our “natural” propensity for darkness. Is there then, no “other train”? Thankfully, there is a train leaving the domain of darkness.

12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:12-14, English Standard Version)

 

Acoustic Solo Version:

Thanks to Bruce Cockburn for “Kicking at the Darkness.”

Comments, questions, critiques are always welcome!

Original Content © Bryan M. Christman and Manifest Propensity, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bryan M. Christman and Manifest Propensity with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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