(Rick Springfield/Matt Bissonette, Rodger Carter & George Bernhardt)

At the edge of understanding
Is where it all begins
When I reach the end of reason
Is where it all sinks in
In the midst of all the raging storms
The deluge covers me
I will find a place prepared for me
So dry beneath a tree

Oh Gabriel, I can hear you whispering
Oh Gabriel, in my silent suffering
Oh Gabriel, could you come to my defense
Oh Gabriel, how I wish that you would fly by my side

With no foregone conclusion
I'm sane but paranoid
Is it all ordered confusion
To find faith in the void
In the harshest winds, you took me in
And set me on my feet
Through the burning sand, you held my hand
And saved me from the heat
Oh Gabriel, I can hear you whispering
Oh Gabriel, in my silent suffering
Oh Gabriel, could you come to my defense
Oh Gabriel, how I wish that you would fly by my side


Oh Gabriel, I can hear you whispering
Oh Gabriel, in my silent suffering
Oh Gabriel, could you come to my defense
Oh Gabriel, I believe in providence

Oh Gabriel, I can hear you whispering
Oh Gabriel, how I wish that you would fly by my side

By my side



According to US

I really like this song a lot. Not sure yet where it "ranks" in order of favorites for me, but it is a favorite. It's one I can't resist when I'm wanting some "feel good music" or something uplifting if I'm feeling down. For me, this song speaks to what I think is a basic need for so many of us-- wanting to do the right thing and needing guidance at times, a guardian angel to watch over us and help us make the right choices (or just to save us from ourselves and to show us a miracle), a positive force in our lives and something enlightening to give us hope and faith. I believe most of us struggle with these feelings, which makes this song feel very universal (like so many of Rick's songs).
The song kicks off with a very cool first verse that has lyrics with meaning and imagery. I think he's trying to say that in the midst of all the chaos, which is often self-created, he can try to see past the storm and somehow knows (or hopes) there's a bit of peace on the other side of it...a silver lining maybe ("I will find a place prepared for me, so dry beneath a tree.") I really love his use of the word "deluge" here. What a great verse, "In the midst of all the raging storms the deluge covers me." Sounds kind of biblical which can go along with the song title "Gabriel," the angel. The flood--of mixed emotions, stress, temptations and other things that trouble him-- covers him. He feels overwhelmed at times. I think we all do. Or "deluge" a lot hitting him at once in his life, so many things to deal with and people needing him from every direction, and wondering what's the best answer and best solution. Somehow I can read a lot into this one verse.
The chorus sounds great vocally. Again, I think he's praying for some goodness and positive guidance. I kind of picture the whole devil/angel on your shoulder scenario. He's wishing it was easy to "be good." We all know that sometimes it's a hard call!
I love the next verse too, which says a lot to me in the one question-- "Is it all ordered confusion, to find faith in the void?" That's a good question and I think the answer is yes, going by what I believe in my own personal faith. I do think we are presented with challenges in our lives for reasons, often times not knowing what those reasons are until we reach the other side. Hopefully we do find faith within ourselves during the course of our personal circumstances and many obstacles. I really like the line, "With no foregone conclusion, I'm sane but paranoid." This makes a lot of sense to me. I've found times when I just look to the heavens and say, "WHY???" It's the burning question for many of us I think...why? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why am I so depressed? Why did I handle it that way? Why me? etc etc. Paranoia is a perfect word to use here, wondering if it was all "planned" this way to make us stronger, to test us, to see if we will crumble or if we'll have faith and soldier on through the tough times. The rest of this verse has good imagery-- "burning sand" and "the harshest winds." Good stuff!
This song would be one of Rick's more "spiritual" songs for me as I hear the line, "Oh Gabriel. I believe in Providence." I think it's a true reflection of how Rick wants so desperately to be a better man. He truly wants to make the right choices and be someone who learns from his mistakes. It shows that he's very much "human" like the rest of us and has to struggle, fall, get back up and brush himself off...move on and try to take lessons along the way to be better the next time. I think Gabriel often "whispers" from our shoulders or from our sides as he is 'flying with us,' when he should probably be shouting in our ears! An overall great Rick tune for me. - Kelley Pearson

I really think this song could be slipped into the middle of a hymn book, and it would not seem out of place at all. And yet, not one of my favorites from the cd. I like the versus way more than I like the chorus. Beautifully written versus. By the time the song gets to the end, when the chorus starts to repeat, I'm definitely ready to move on to the next song, if I even let myself get that far. This song was quite the group effort by Rick and most of his band. I sure wish he'd do some sort of documentary on the writing of his music (aka Foo Fighters), I think it'd be so interesting. - rlh

 I have been dreading this particular review. Not because I dislike this song, but rather because THIS IS IT! This song is where I got my crazy hypothesis. I think that this album, the whole thing, is Rick Springfield's epic poem, it is his "Paradise Lost". And I think the themes involved support my idea.
First, I must disclose that for the sake of time, I am going to use some direct quotes from some outside sources as I make my point - I will give credit as required. But if I typed all this myself, it would turn into a Ph.D. Thesis, and ain't nobody got time for that!
First, about Milton.
"It was 1638, and 2--year-old John Milton was feeling like pretty hot stuff. The son of an English law clerk had graduated with honors from Cambridge, spent five years reading and writing poetry, and had just arrived in Italy for a long tour of Europe. The more people read his poetry, the more compliments he got on his talent and promise. Milton took their praise to heart and decided that he was going to become one of the Great English Poets. You're welcome, English readers.
It took thirty years for Milton's prediction to come true. By the time it did, life had dealt John Milton enough blows to shake his youthful confidence. Twice widowed, imprisoned once, politically outcast, and completely blind, Milton had lost everything dear to him. But like St. Augustine, who found grace only after he hit bottom, Milton found divine inspiration when all else was gone. His 1667 epic Paradise Lost, the story of Satan's fall from grace and the epic battle between good and evil, established Milton as a poet for the ages. The poet and critic John Dryden is said to have remarked upon reading Paradise Lost, "This man cuts us all out, and the ancients too." (FROM SHMOOP.COM)
Back to my words...
Milton actually said, early in his career, that he would one day write the greatest English poem of all time. Many think, that with Paradise Lost, he did! (P.S. I tend to agree!)
So here is this dude, he's broke, blind, sick, and old - but (with the help of his daughters who scribed for him) he wrote a masterpiece about the struggle between God and Satan over the soul (and very existence) of man.
About Paradise Lost...
As I explained in an earlier review, PL opens with Satan and his fellow devil dudes laying CHAINED up, prostrate, and all crispy in a boiling lake of lava. Why are they in this predicament? They tried to take over Heaven, and God threw them out. They manage to get out of the lake, then they gather round to plan their next steps. Some of them want to wait it out until God is no longer mad. Some want to go kill God. But Satan, the self-appointed (in a roundabout, devious way) convinces them that the best way to get even with God (thus destroying Him) is to take out his latest pet project: PEOPLE! Satan thinks that he know just how to do that, and off to Eden he goes. It's a done deal - the fallen angels (now all devil dudes) are going to WAR with GOD in His GARDEN. (See my Rick theme - bad/Satan/War vs. God/Good/Nature)! HA!
God, knowing all, sees what Satan is planning. He, having told Adam and Eve that the ONLY fruit they cannot eat is that of the Tree of Knowledge, already knows that his people, man, will eat that danged fruit (some say it is an apple, but most now believe it was more likely a pomegranate-like fruit.) God's Son, Christ, volunteers to intervene on man's behalf.
Meanwhile, back in Eden, Adam and Eve are in the Garden. Satan, crafty bugger, decides to sneak in. He spies on the couple from atop another tree: the Tree of Life! He's got some kind of nerve, doesn't he? Later, he hops down, and disguised as a toad, he whispers crazy things into Eve's ear and gets really pissy when he finds that the humans are not "allowed" to eat from the Tree of Knowledge."
In a famous line, Satan says,
"Knowledge forbidden?
Suspicious, reasonless. Why should their Lord
Envy them that? Can it be a sin to know?
Can it be death?"
The Angel Gabriel, a guardian of the galaxy's garden, discovers Satan hanging out in the Garden, has a few sarcastic words for him, almost fights him (God intervenes by sending a message: the scales of justice appear in a vision in the sky illustrating to Satan that he is out of balance {outnumbered} in this particular fight, so Satan backs down from a physical encounter), and then politely tells Satan to go to Hell (Literally!)
Exit Satan. For now...
Undaunted, Satan eventually returns to the Garden (this time as a snake) and convinces Eve to convince Adam to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. CRAP! They eat, then have some big time nasty sex.
After those shenanigans, the gates of Hell open! DOUBLE CRAP! And Satan's children, Sin and Death, build a literal BRIDGE (see BRIDGE references) between Earth and Hell. Whoops!
God gets nasty mad at this whole deal and has had quite enough of Satan. He turns him and all his little devil dudes into serpents (the lowest of the low in nature.)
Adam and Eve get tossed out of the Garden. They live not so happily ever after. Sin brought pain.
Ok, there's a brief synopsis. But here's the meat as it relates to the song Gabriel.
First, Gabriel is an angel (maybe an archangel - but the religious jury is out on that one). He is the one (in the Bible) who first tells Mary that she's pregnant with the Son of God. So, he's a messenger...a messenger of GOOD NEWS. Also, St. Gabriel (all the named angels in the Bible are now Saints) is the patron saint of radio broadcasters, telecommunications folks, and the like. People who herald messages (like musicians!) see St. Gabriel as their patron saint. Interesting, isn't it?
Now remember, Gabriel is in Paradise Lost. He has that big brouhaha with Satan. So, clearly, in the title, we are already seeing our hero call out to an angel, and that angel is a major character in Paradise Lost.
In line one, we get the Tree references. But what do they mean?
The Tree of Knowledge is the ONLY tree in the WHOLE garden that Adam and Eve were not supposed to eat from. Rick refers to being BENEATH a tree (a tree at the edge of understanding/reason (knowledge?). This can be explained in two different ways. First, if the "tree" he is referring to is the Tree of Knowledge, I don't think he is sitting under the tree, I think he's acknowledging that he (a human) is below/not worthy to eat from that tree. He is BENEATH it. If he is referring to the Tree of Life (the Tree that Satan sat UPON as he spied on Adam and Eve) then he's acknowledging that the GOOD place to be in the tree of LIFE is under it, shaded by it.
Make sense?
Good, moving on...
Rick refers to flying in at least 3 songs (songs about healing/living) on this CD.
And Milton has a very famous line about flying in PL...
"Me miserable! Which way shall I fly / Infinite wrath and infinite despair?
Which way I fly is hell; myself am hell; / And in the lowest deep a lower deep,
Still threat'ning to devour me, opens wide, / To which the hell I suffer seems a heaven."
See, our hero does not want to fly away to Hell with Satan, he wants Gabriel, the angel, to "fly by his side." Flying in Rick's version of Paradise Lost (S4TEOTW) is the antithesis of Milton's version. Flying becomes a good thing in Rick's world - fly with the angels, dragonfly, you can fly (Joshua), you taught me to fly (I Found You).
Verse two: there is "ordered confusion." That's kind of a synonym for chaos. Funny, that.
Chaos is how Milton referenced Hell.
"I sung of Chaos and Eternal Night, / Taught by the heav'nly Muse to venture down
The dark descent, and up to reascend..."
So when Rick sings about "ordered confusion" and "harsh winds" and "burning sands", and heat, he's singing about Hell. Granted, not a literal Hell as Milton was intending, but a figurative one. (His addiction? Pain/Depression/Sex??? = His personal Hell?)
And finally, as another, for me, definitive nod to Paradise Lost, the line, "I believe in providence".
To set the scene, (I STOLE THIS DIRECTLY FROM here's the context:
"Michael comes down from heaven to the garden to prepare Adam for his expulsion from paradise. He shows him the future; that is, most of the events of the Bible. He also gives him a lecture on how he is to behave and what qualities of mind he must have if he is to live a happy life. He tells him that for the paradise he is losing he will gain an internal paradise that will make him happier than the terrestrial paradise would have made him. Adam is to instruct Eve in what he has learned. Eve is awakened; she says that she has had comforting dreams. She says that Adam may lead on and she will gladly follow, as to be with him, no matter where he may be, is to be in paradise; but to be alone, is to be banished from it. Through her rashness in eating the forbidden fruit, she has lost everything, but from her will come the Promised Seed who will restore everything. Adam and Eve walk out through the eastern gate of the garden and down the cliff to the plain below:"
Let's go back to Milton. He wrote
"They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld / Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,
Waved over by that flaming brand, the gate / With dreadful faces thronged and fiery arms:
Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon; / The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide; / They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way."
Freakin' sad, right? But still hopeful. And that's this album. Sad in places, angry in places, but still hopeful. It is Songs for the End of the Songs for When Paradise is Lost.
I know this is all kind of out there, but I'm firm in my belief that this CD is an ode to Paradise Lost. Rick is a reader, and there is just too much here to be ignored. I really should have made this the first of my reviews as I now feel the need to backtrack and point out all the PL references in the songs I've already covered, but I'll keep moving along and hopefully figure out a way to put a nice bow on it when I finish the CD.
For now, I'll just sum it all up with my little chart.
God/Good/Nature -
Gabriel - an angel - duh! "Faith in the void - faith is a good thing. "Come to my defense." I think that's a reference to Gabriel being prepared to fight to get Satan out of the garden. He defended them. Also, the Scales of Justice appearing as a vision is a form of defense. Both references = God/Good. And recall, St. Gabriel is also a patron saint of radio/broadcast people. There were other angels in Paradise Lost, so why Gabriel? Because he was a messenger: like Rick.
Nature = the tree reference and the very idea of angels (creatures who can fly.)
Bad/Satan/War = raging storms, silent suffering, burning sand, the void, heat, yada, yada.
The deadly sin? Pride! The references to the Tree (whether it is the Tree of Knowledge {prideful Adam and Eve ate from it despite being warned by God} or the Tree of Life {Satan, the harbinger of death, boldly atop it while he spied on Eden}) are all about pride, pride, pride! And NOT in the name of love!
Repeated terms/ideas -
Chains - Rick mentions chains in several songs. And in the beginning of PL, the devils are all chained together in the lake of fire.
Bridges - Rick sings constantly of bridges in this CD. In PL, Sin and Death (Satan's children) build a bridge from Hell to Eden.
War - there a tons of war references on the CD. And PL is all about a great war between Heaven and Hell.
Deadly sins - there is one mentioned in every song on the CD (except maybe one). PL is the story of the birth of the deadly sins, pride being the first.
See the patterns now?
Whew. I hope you are all still with me. And I hope that now that I"ve done my best to explain this in a rational way you see where I am coming from with my goofy little theory here. In case you missed it, I'll state it once again:
S4TEOTW is about God(good) vs. Satan(evil) for the soul of the protagonist (Rick/his alter ego/mankind as a whole). As such, it mirrors and reflects and draws from Milton's Paradise Lost in so many ways, I believe it to be an actual ode to that famous poem. And that makes me and my little English Lit loving heart LOVE Rick Springfield even more than I did before. Because anyone who reads, knows, quotes, or nods at John Milton is always welcome to sit on my couch and feed my dog potato chips! - Ann Tolar Davis