(Lyrics and Music by Rick Springfield
Read by the Springthorpe family: Joshua, Liam, Michael and Rick)
My father was too weak
To parry the blade
As death side-swept through the house
One night when were busy doing other things
Dust filled his mouth
Stopped his breath
Darkness took his soul in this familiar place
His body wasted by the sickness
His spirit weary from the battle
He spoke to me
Forever his son
"Of all things save death"
I long to face it with him
In seeing his fear
I fear to speak of it
And though we both saw death's stark
Irresistible form in the far corner
We talked instead of evening shadows
on bedroom walls
And so it went
There were no proud and profound last words
No bright ringing final moment of clarity
He just died
We kissed his still warm face
And strangers came and took him from us forever
The cold wind blew through the tree
In my father's yard
And I looked for meaning
(total playing time 1:32)
A poem I wrote about the death of my dad that my sons. my brother Mike and I spoke over
some weird piano and FX.
I played the piano totally separately from the rest of the track and when I laid it in, it
fit perfectly, even ended at the end of the sound FX. Really synchronistic. -
Rick also says:
it's more like a sound scape. It's not a song it's a poem actually - not a poem - a piece
that I wrote about my dad's death, probably about five years ago. And, I had this idea to
do something with it - and, so I thought of doing a sound scape with maybe all my kids and
my brother, the generations talking. It's about ... it's a son talking about his dad and
what happened where he was when he died, and that kind of thing. So, I had my two sons,
Liam and Josh read. Just read the thing straight, and my brother just read it. .
And, then I got these - I sampled each piece, and tried to blend each line, and so
that one crossed the other and came out of the other. And so, just put some sounds - it
just opened up and threw some stuff in. And then, the weird thing - reading recently about
Paul McCartney talking about how, with the Beatles, - he would do things and was amazed
with how much timing - just how much synchronicity would happen, if you did one thing here
and one thing there and put them together. It's like that old story that, playing the
Wizard of OZ at some point and put on the Dark Side of the Moon, it's amazing how many
things coincide, ya know?
And, I tried to do a piano piece over the top of it - and it wouldn't work. I kept
concentrating on what was happening - and it ended up sounding like a soundtrack rather
than having a weird thing to it, which isn't what I wanted. So, I just turned the tape off
and just played something on the piano and the sequencer, then turned it on. It fit so
perfectly - even to where at one point - where my youngest son says, "and, he just
died." Talkin' about it, how when someone meaningful dies you're expecting some great
revelation or, some meaningful thing to happen between you. But, he just died. Nothing
really happened other than he just really, died. He just went. And the chord hit at the
right time, just after it and ended at the right point. It was amazing.
I couldn't believe it was in the hole, played in the holes. Like I did it on purpose...
that was one of the most exciting things I've done. I couldn't believe that it
linked up. It was wild.
I was just demo-ing it there (at his house). And then I thought, well it's meant to
be a little kind of sound-scape-thing. So we just used that. - eiozine.com
Rick says: That's a short piece I wrote, again, about my dad's death. My dad's a very
influential figure in my life and his death was a big changing point for me in my writing.
I wrote this and I always
wanted to do something with it but it wasn't appropriate to put
it in a song. So, I had my sons speak it and my brother and I did it and I edited it all
together in a sampler. I added some weird stuff around it that I thought was appropriate
and made it a kind of sound-scape. But it's my sons, my brother and me speaking in the
poem. - Twec chat, April 21, 1999
Song Facts - this can
be found on Karma
A critic's review
And the most arresting track, for
me, is actually the album's introduction, "His Last Words", less a
song than a processor-shredded recitation. If I'm reading through the
pseudonyms correctly, this is a short passage written by Rick about his
father's death, read by him, his brother (?) and his (their?) children.
"There were no proud and profound last words, no bright ringing final
moment of clarity", one of the kids explains, taking two tries to get
"clarity" right. "He just died." We do ourselves no
favors, and maybe this is why I liked Patch Adams even though everybody else
I know found it cloying, by trying to ignore death. We don't make it go
away, we just raise people, ourselves included, who have no sense of its
place in life, and thus no way to tell the difference between the things
that are worth putting it off for, like great loves and great pop songs, and
the things, like shooting the people who made fun of you in high school,
that are not. -
Nik Kershaw - 15 minutes - www.furia.com
Like others, I have skipped this one a lot but I am also very glad he wrote it and shared it with us on Karma. It was a bold and courageous track to include. The emotions and words are so powerful and raw, and the eerie soundscape (someone else posted that and it is the perfect way to think of this track) create a place inside your head that you don't want to visit very often.
The description of watching someone die is completely real and absolutely as it happens. Awful, scary, incomprehensible, amazing and awe inspiring all at the same time. Talking of mundane things rather than facing the reality that is standing in the corner is an
irresistible analogy and so apt. There are no profound or proud words to share, and unlike in the movies or TV, no bright lights or "moments of clarity" occur. One minute, it just happens. And life is changed forever.
What is clear by listening to this track and savoring the words is that Rick continues to deal with, sort out and grieve over his father's death. While hard to appreciate when you're looking for 3 minute pop tunes to jazz you up, knowing the track is there when you need a good cry or to think about the larger scope of our place in this world is very reassuring.
- Amy SP
This is my "skipper" track too <--hangs head in shame. Although I tend to skip it because it depresses me, and when I'm usually listening to Karma it's because I'm already in a melancholy mood - so I don't need to dip deeper into a worse emotion. I always wished it was at the end like April 24th 1981, but I'm thinking it must have been very important to Rick that it be on this album and that it be first, almost like he's forcing you to listen to it.
It is also very touching that his sons and his brother are the other voices chiming in on this piece. Makes it much more personal, and almost metaphoric in a way. It kind of gave me chills when I read that Rick said the sounds and words fit together as if in synch. As if a higher power had a hand in it :-)
I too, always wondered about the "truth" to the words. It is said in Rick's (Behind the Music or Biography) that he was on the set of GH when he got the call that his father had passed. Maybe he had just recently visited his father, so his condition was apparent at that visit. Or as someone else had said, spoke with him on the phone. Whatever the situation really was, it was indeed a major moment for Rick as witnessed by us fans throughout his music.
- Michelle P.
This is the "skipper" song for me on the cd. I don't even consider this a song really, more like a poem (cause songs are kind of like poems put to music, and there's no real music in this one for me). When Karma first came out, the car I had didn't have a cd player, and I had this on cassette and I got so good at knowing how long to keep it on Fast Forward to hit the beginning of itsalwaysomething just perfect.
This just doesn't have the universal appeal to me that April 24 and My Father's Chair had. For one, unless I missed something, Rick wasn't there when his Dad died, I'm coming up with a picture in my head that just didn't happen, so I guess in that sense it just doesn't feel real.
I love the fact he got his brother and his kids to read on this. And I love the last line "I look for meaning"....that is the one part that does ring very true. I think he has searched for meaning for the last 20 years.
Even though I tend to skip the song, I don't wish it wasn't there. I'm sure writing is theraputic and this is something he probably really needed to say.-