Folkklassieker du jour: “Matthew 25:21”

Een van de mooiste moderne folkalbums is The Life of the World to Come van The Mountain Goats (lees: songschrijver John Darnielle). Elke song op het album is vernoemd naar – en geïnspireerd door – een Bijbelvers.  Ternielle beschouwt zichzelf als “niet-praktiserend katholiek”. Zijn teksten benadrukken vooral het ‘humanistische’ karakter van de Bijbel. “Matthew 25:21” gaat over een vriendin van Ternielle die overleed aan kanker: “I wrote the chorus on an airplane when I was going to California to say goodbye to someone dying too young. I wrote the rest of the song about six months later in a hotel room in Northampton, when the sting of her death was still fresh. It is my tribute to a mother whose absence is still felt daily by all who knew and loved her. I miss her so much”. 

They’d hooked you up to a fentanyl drip
To mitigate the pain a little bit
I flew in from Pennsylvania
When I heard the hour was coming fast

And I docked in Santa Barbara
Tried to brace myself
But you can’t brace yourself
When the time comes you just have to roll with the blast

And I’m an eighteen wheeler headed down the interstate
And my brakes are going to give and I won’t know until it’s too late
Tires screaming when I lose control
Try not to hurt too many people when I roll

Find the harbor freeway and head south
Real tired, head kind of light
I found Telegraph Road, I’d only seen the name on envelopes
Found the parking lot and turned right

I felt all the details carving out space in my head
Tropicana’s on the walkway, neon red
Between the pain and the pills trying to hold it at bay
Stands a traveler going somewhere far away

And I am an airplane tumbling wing over wing
Tried to listen to my instruments, they don’t say anything
People screaming when the engines quit
I hope we’re all in crash position when we hit

And then came to your bedside
And as it turns out, I’m not ready
And as though you were speaking through a thick haze
You said hello to me

We all stood there around you
Happy to hear you speak
The last of something bright burning, still burning
Beyond the cancer and the chemotherapy

And you were a presence full of light upon this earth
And I am a witness to your life and to its worth
It’s three days later when I get the call
And there’s nobody around to break my fall