Examining the Promise

This week’s lyric day search landed me on Arcadia’s song, The Promise.  As I looked over the lyrics, I realized that instead of analyzing just one line in relationship to myself or my life, I should look at the entire song.

First, let’s take a look at the lyrics:

Whose tears on a gaping voice
Who’s stretching arms match
The hunger of mine
There lips will they never join
But always draw me closer
And further entwined
With a promise dealer understand
All freedoms fade away
To a point of view
Where many different pathways meet
And we’re standing on this precipice
With nothing much to gain save
But the deep blue screams
Of falling dreams
With our next move
Heaven hide your eyes
Heaven’s eyes will never dry
The shades of a thousand steel
Come flashing by my face
In the fury of war
In desolation and abandoned fields
The hungry make their stand
When they’ll stand for no more
Hear the passion in their voices
See the heaven in their eyes
Their hopes and schemes are waiting
Dreams of less than paradise
And sometimes we make promises
We never mean to keep
For blackmail is the only deal
A promise dealer sees
Heaven hide your eyes
Heaven’s eyes will never dry

Hmm…as soon as I read those lyrics, I think about what I teach each and every day.  As I’m sure that most of you reading this blog know, outside of my life as a Duranie, I teach high school.  Specifically, I teach United States History from Reconstruction through World War II (1865-1945).  To me, this song could be about teaching history, any country’s  history as there are many moments of grief, anger as well as hope.  Just yesterday, I taught my students about the Wounded Knee massacre that took place on December 29, 1890, in which about 250 members of the Lakota Sioux tribe were killed by the United States army.  There is a great and famous quote by a member of that tribe stating the Wounded Knee was the end of a people’s dream (Native Americans).  The lyrics definitely could fit that event.

If you spend any time at all looking at human history, many tears can be shed as the history of humanity is filled with horrors, tragedies and loss.  Of course, history also has moments of greatness, progress, hope.  There are so many lines from this Arcadia song that captures the feeling well, including “Heaven’s eyes will never dry,” “in the fury of war,” “the hungry make their stand when they’ll stand for no more,” and so much more.  The video, I think also, fits this theme, which you can see here.

When I look further into this song, I found an Ask Katy question on the band’s official website:

January 12th, 2001

Hello Katy, I was wondering, who wrote the lyrics to the song, “The Promise” on the Arcadia album? Also, what was the inspiration for the songwriter? Thank you for your time!

SIMON WROTE IT. “I DID. IT’S ABOUT THE WESTERN WORLD’S BETRAYAL OF THE THIRD WORLD. s”

According to the Song Meanings website, there was another Ask Katy question about this song in which case Simon supposedly responded with, “The Promise is about all that’s worst and all that’s best about humanity.”  My response to both of these quotes is fascination.  If this is the case, Simon views history similarly to how I not only view it but teach it.  This will make me listen to the song in a very different way now.

Speaking of history, Arcadia came out in 1985 at the time that a lot of people, including many fans and members of the press thought of Duran as nothing more than pretty party boys.  Some people saw them as superficial and only looking for a good time.  The lyrics to this song, in particular, really calls into question that assumption.  Clearly, Simon was not just about having fun.  He did think about the world around him and even wrote about it.  This makes the negative assumptions about the band even more infuriating to me.  Obviously, a lot of critics and a lot of the public missed that Simon and the rest were a lot smarter and more aware than what they assumed.

-A

 

One thought on “Examining the Promise”

  1. I love Arcadia and I love The Promise, both lyrics and music.
    I love your blog post as well.
    I always thought it had to be a “wise” lyric, a bit like “Election Day” which is a political one, but thanks to Simon’s figurate picturesque language nobody realized it.
    OK now, he wasn’t an Arcadia member and became a Duran member few years later, but Warren was quoted also by saying :” Duran is influential to the world as much they are influenced by the world”.
    Good quote that matches with my view on this lyric.

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