“Way To Blue” by Nick Drake – on the longing for a way

In a previous post on Nick Drake’s song “Tow the Line” I touched on the question of what may have been some of the deeper longings expressed in that song. “Way to Blue” is perhaps even more explicit regarding his longings for a “way.”

I think that “Way to Blue” uses blue in an way not customary in language and music when “blue” usually signifies something not ordinarily sought, namely “the blues.” Rather “blue” probably signifies the blue of a sunny day, and metaphorically signifies blessedness/happiness.

Similar to “Tow the Line” the song expresses a hope that some unnamed “you,” can “come” bringing knowledge and more importantly acquaintance with “the way to blue.”  This person is thought to be conversant with “the land living by the breeze” and understanding of “a light among the trees.” These seem in some sense to express the animation of nature so that it is given meaning. He may not have consciously been thinking of it, but breeze/wind conveys the biblical concept of “spirit” (pneuma), while light (“let there be light”) is obviously a predominant biblical concept.

The song does become fairly biblically explicit with what seem to be obvious allusions to New Testament gospel passages. We see waiting at “your gate” (the narrow gate of the Sermon on the Mount) and “hoping like the blind” (blind Bartimaeus and other blind people in the gospels).

This unnamed “person” is asked to “look through time and find your rhyme” which certainly could signify divine abilities to reveal the rhyme (rhythm and purpose) woven throughout history.

The question asked at the end of the song,  “will you never fall when the light has flown” seems to be concerned with whether this unnamed person/God will always be what the bible in Psalm 46:1 says of God:

God is our refuge and strength,
a help always near in times of great trouble.

Was Nick Drake wondering whether the God of the Bible would “fall when the light has flown” in the increasing turbulence of modern times, or perhaps more personally when the light has flown out from Nick Drake’s life in his own battle with depression? Could that biblical “God” always provide help? Does that God provide help that is more than mere words? In “Time Has Told Me” he sang:

There’s really no way
Of ending your troubles
With things you can say

It seems that Nick Drake was longing not merely for answers, or mere words, but for more than that, for a way…to blue.

We will wait
At your gate
Hoping like the blind…

…Won’t you come and say
If you know the way to blue?

It also worth noting, in light of this song and the song “Tow the Line,” that the longing for a way is a longing for more than mere words, and that Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be such a way. He was the way incarnate meaning that the way is embodied in the human form of Jesus.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. (John 14:7)

Lyrics

Don’t you have a word to show what may be done
Have you never heard a way to find the sun
Tell me all that you may know
Show me what you have to show
Won’t you come and say
If you know the way to blue

Have you seen the land living by the breeze
Can you understand a light among the trees
Tell me all that you may know
Show me what you have to show
Tell us all today
If you know the way to blue?

Look through time and find your rhyme
Tell us what you find
We will wait
At your gate
Hoping like the blind

Can you now recall all that you have known
Will you never fall
When the light has flown
Tell me all that you may know
Show me what you have to show
Won’t you come and say
If you know the way to blue?

Original Content © Bryan M. Christman and Manifest Propensity, 2013. Excerpts, links, and reblogging 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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