This song changed my life.
I heard it on KCRW one Saturday afternoon. It was beautiful. The guitar strings and floating chord lifted my mood, subconsciously worming its way through my mind and taking hold of my heart.
Maybe I did hear the words that day, but I didn’t listen. Yet, the distressed subject and her Shakespearean name came through loud and clear. Desdemona – of “Othello”. A symbol. In the play, Desdemona was an innocent woman found in treacherous conditions by the confident of her husband – Iago – whose desire for revenge moved him to plant the seed of doubt within the ear of her husband the Moor, the false idea that his wife was a cheating whore. She wasn’t. Desdemona was forever true. Yet, she was a pawn in a game of power, innocently standing by as two forces beyond her control held her down with false beliefs, painted a picture that wasn’t here, ultimately leading to Othello strangling her.
One Monday morning, I was walking around the neighborhood near the studio where I work. It was lunch time and I wanted to get in some steps to keep my fitness going. But most of all, I just wanted to get out of the office, away from the grind of routine, the giant thumb I chose to hold me to a desk. I was in emotional pain. I relished the fresh air and the birds and the green trees and nature. It was horrible to think I had to return to the useless world I was living in behind that office gate. The pay is below average. I worry about money. I was stuck, trying desperately to see the good in all this as I listened to my iPhone’s playlist on shuffle.
Then, this song came up. The intro transcended me like it did the first time I heard it on that Saturday, when I was free – when I was home with my dog drawing or writing. It put me back in the place in the middle of a Monday afternoon.
For the first time – I didn’t just hear the words – I listened to them.
Desdemona, help yourself
I hear you mourning at the dawn
Desdemona, ask which side
Of all this lying are you on
Did you build yourself a runway?
Did you tell yourself tomorrow?
Did you cry?
And are you dressed in hesitation
when you tell yourself that everything’s alright?
Cause I see a distance in your smile
And what your Mondays have become
could be the rest of your life
Desdemona, you’re not dead yet
No it’s not wrong
If you want everything in life under the sun
Under the sun*
‘Cause everybody’s out there killing time
And I will be damned to let you stand here killing mine.
Don’t you know we’re gonna change a whole world today
We stop waiting on the world to change*
Desdemona, we are not so very different
Do you see?
And at the moment braver still
Than what our minds let us believe*
Watch out now,Take care, beware of the thoughts that linger,Winding up inside your head,The hopeless surrounds you in the dead of night,Beware of Darkness.**
Even the walls that will surround you
Somehow steady by your very own hands
I don’t know just how to change you
All I know is how to tell you that you can*
Cause I’ll never tell you how to live
But you keep on telling me
That’s just the way it is
Desdemona more then anything I know
Never tell yourself that’s just the way it goes
I know it goes
But what do I know*
“Desdemona”, words and music by Tim Warren & Eric Donnelly*“Beware of Darkness”, words and music by George Harrison.**