Wednesday, September 7, 2011

7 Firemen Angels

I had a dream last night that I was one of the firefighters who responded to the World Trade Center on 9/11; in the dream another firefighter and I had been sent back to a rescue truck for some equipment -- the truck was inexplicably parked beside my old elementary school in Albion -- and we looked up to see one of the Towers right behind the school, just as it exploded and collapsed toward us. We were running from the falling debris through a field when I woke up.

It's the first time I remember ever dreaming about that day, and it wasn't a fun dream ... but it reminded me of something I wote awhile back.

Strictly speaking this isn't a poem, or even original: I put new lyrics to an old song and came up with "7 Firemen Angels", which was originally published in my columnn on September 11, 2006. Still, I hope you'll like it.


Clearly, September 11 is a date that will resonate for Americans for many decades to come, and will no doubt be the December 7, 1941 of our generation. Just as clearly, a lot of ink will be drained in a continuing quest to pay tribute to those who died that day, both rescuers and civilians in all four locations.

On September 11, 2002, a song started running through my head, and I couldn't get rid of it. I hadn't heard "Seven Spanish Angels" for years, but it was there as plainly as if Willie Nelson was walking alongside me, belting it out. It drove me nuts. Then, weeks later, as I was singing along (in private), I suddenly heard myself say,

"There were seven firemen angels . . ."

And it clicked.

Within an hour I had the entire chorus worked out, and I thought it wasn't half bad considering I'm no song writer. You can argue that it should be "fireFIGHTER", and you can also ask, quite reasonably, "why seven?" I don't know. Why not? I guess songwriters are allowed to take a certain amount poetic license.

Then I put the whole thing aside and tried to forget it. Fat chance. It was like a signal was being beamed directly into my brain, and I finally realized I couldn't shut it off until I wrote the whole song -- divine inspiration or incipient insanity, take your pick.

So I took the song, which was written by Eddie Setson and Troy Seals in 1985, and put my own words to it. Now it's finished, and I present it to you because I felt I HAD to show it to someone. As I said, I'm no songwriter, but it wasn't going to leave me alone until I finished it. Besides, as they say about homemade gifts, isn't it the thought that counts? Here's a web link to the original lyrics, as sung by Willie Nelson and Ray Charles: http://www.homestead.com/deesongs/spanishangels.html

I hope you'll take it in the spirit in which it's intended:

He looked down into the fires,
and tears fell at the sight.
He saw four funeral pyres
that couldn't be made right.

Three thousand people dying,
and they didn't know what for.
Now He saw his children crying,
as their nation went to war.

There were seven firemen Angels
who were dispatched by the Son.
They were coming for the others
who had gone on their last run.

When the buildings fell,
and the smoke cleared
there was thunder from the Throne.
And seven firemen Angels
took the other Angels home.

They reached down and took the badges
that lay on the smoldering ground.
There were cop and medic patches
from the victims all around.

But the bodies there were hollow
as the Angels passed that way.
for they called out, "spirits, follow"
and took them home that day.

There were seven medic Angels
where the buildings had stood once.
They were coming for the others
who had made their last response.

When the buildings fell,
and the smoke cleared
there was thunder from the Throne,
and seven medic Angels
took the other Angels home.

The sons and wives and daughters
cried "how could such a thing be?"
And from high above the Lord replied,
"It's the price of being free."

"For the world is full of people,
who would do such things today
but you can't give in to evil
so God bless the U.S.A."

There were seven police Angels
who answered that last call.
they were crying for the others,
as they watched their comrades fall.

When the buildings fell,
and the smoke cleared
there was thunder from the Throne,
and seven police Angels
took the other Angels home.

11 comments:

  1. Seven is the number of perfection. :-)

    Those of us who are either old enough to have witnessed the Blitz, or heard vivid stories second hand, or seen the WWII contemporary newsreels; well, we understand.

    To give but one instance, the city of Bristol. On the night of 24th November 1940, 168 bombs dropped on the city in less than a minute.

    http://www.bristolblitzed.org/?page_id=63

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  2. I would say this poem came from the Other Side to you for you were the one designated to put it into words. I love this, Mark. This is an amazing poem of immortal love. The tributes to those courageous people still need to be spoken.

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  3. Very well done, Mark. And very timely.

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  4. Seven is the number of perfection ... I like that. I'm a student of WW II, and have seen both the newsreels and read the first-hand descriptions of what went on; it was like 9/11 every night in England, for far too long.

    Thanks, everyone ... and I think maybe this idea really did come from the Other Side.

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  5. I just finished writing a tribute poem to 9-11 and then I came across this wonderful lyrical poem you wrote. I don't think I'm familiar with the original song, but I really think you did a wonderful job with your own words! Thanks for sharing and you can see mine up this weekend--it is not a song however, just a poem.

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  6. "Land of the free, because of the brave." I hope we never forget 9/11.

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  7. Thanks Eve, and Mike, I agree. Eve, I hope I can read yours this weekend -- my regular e-mail that gives me notifications seems to be down, but hopefully it'll be back up by then to give me a reminder.

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  8. This is very good of poem, hon. What was the song from which you'd used the rhythm to which you'd added your words? Just curious. I cried when reading this poem cus of the memories of seeing this happen, as well as cus this just is so sad.

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  9. The song was "7 Spanish Angels", April -- there's a link up there that you can click on to hear one version of it.

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  10. Congrats, Mark, you're a songwriter. It does drive you nuts till you write it down, doesn't it? Great job!

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  11. Wayne, I'm not sure I'll evere be patient or, for want of a better word, precise enough to be a songwriter. But you're right, sometimes an idea drives youi crazy until you write it down.

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