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Standing (Read 10682 times)
Elizabeth Michaelson
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Standing
05/19/04 at 18:38:19
 
I would love to know how you all interpret Standing.  
The melody always gets stuck in my head but as far as the lyrics go I'm a little confused.
It just hasn't sparked my imagination, yet, so I would love to hear your thoughts.
 
Thanks!
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Liz22
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Re: Standing
Reply #1 - 05/20/04 at 13:21:18
 
Really, Anybody?
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folkiegirl
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Re: Standing
Reply #2 - 05/20/04 at 13:59:56
 
ok..i'll give it a brief and very  
non-critical/sophomoric effort.
 
i've been listening to it a lot more these days expecting the upcoming concerts and knowing that this song is often on the setlist.  I agree there seems to be an air of ambiguity about the message, (i'm sure intentional) however there are several themes one can see...hehe..if they're a daydreamer like me.
 
first thing I hear is the melody and it's definitely one of the more "gospel-like" songs I've heard from Patty.  so...with that said...I think that there is a "universal" undercurrent of, simply said, love.  Love in it's most basic non-judgmental and compassionate form.  I tend to see sarcasm too...so it's so interesting the mix of melody with lines like..."I've turned away from your suffering too many times".  I think the person in this song is crying out for people to not turn their head, not close their eyes to human sufferings in general.  Of course, the very smallest of things that we do everyday qualify.
 
We think we are weak...but we aren't if we have strength of conviction, character, integrity and empathy for another.  I can't help but think of the work that Patty and others are doing to rid the world of the landmines.  I also see symbolism with the title word.."standing"..when so many people have been maimed/disabled..some not able to stand anymore.
 
ok..the brief part is turning long..so thats a very small start!
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Mud_on_My_Face
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Re: Standing
Reply #3 - 05/20/04 at 15:26:16
 
Here's my 2 cents.  I think that "Standing" is one of the clearest descriptions of the overall theme of the record -- that the world is scary and the times we're living in are messed up, but that we all (as individuals) have the power to pull ourselves out of the mire.
 
"I'm standing in the shadow of the hill.....
Feel a fear everywhere, hope it don't get me killed"
 
We're in a dark or evil place (the "shadow") at the foot of a big challenge (the "hill") knowing we have to climb out of it but afraid that it'll cost us dearly ("hope it don't get me killed").
 
"I'm standing in the shadows walking blind
I've been unfair and unkind
Turned away from your suffering far too many times..."
 
Here the narrator acknowledges that she's been complicit in some of the wrondoings in the world that she's talking about, that she could have helped but didn't.  And ultimately it's made it difficult for her to climb up the hill.
 
"Sister, brother, there's a fire on the hill
And it's burning like a lantern
Making all the time stand still"
 
To me, this shows that the narrator's being led to the top of the hill, maybe it's heaven, maybe it's salvation.  There's a lantern up there calling her like a beacon.
 
"Mother I am weak but I am strong
Standing in the darkness this long
But in the deepest darkness I listen to your song...."
 
This part kills me every time.  The narrator has spent the first 1/2 of the song talking about the ways she feels lost, misspent, etc. but now finally realizes that she draws strength from other people (I think of "Mother" as being metaphorical) and that by doing so she can reverse the cycle and maybe make her way up to the lantern at the top of the hill.
 
I love this song all the more on Impossible Dream (as compared with Silver Bell) because it fits so well into the overall scheme of the album.  And of course the fact that Patty uses a genre that's musically (if not otherwise) fairly basic and gives it so much "heft" just kills me.
 
Anyway, that's a longwinded answer but it's what I hear!
 
Ziad
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Liz22
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Re: Standing
Reply #4 - 05/20/04 at 17:11:11
 
Thank you guys both interpretations were stellar!
I needed that little nudge to help me understand it a little deeper.
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sandina
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Re: Standing
Reply #5 - 05/20/04 at 19:10:35
 
Ziad, you so eloquently stated what I feel every time I hear this song.  Too many times in my life, when I am at my weakest, I am truly stronger when I emerge.  So the words she speaks "I am weak but I am strong" are truly haunting for me and I relate completely.
 
Well put, enjoyed reading your post.
 
Peace
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Mermaid
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Re: Standing
Reply #6 - 05/20/04 at 22:26:51
 
I'm with you guys...I had a hard time with this song, too.  This is what Patty had to say in the April/May issue of Paste magazine about the song...  
 
The author first writes..."Griffin has tremendous admiration and gratitude toward Black culture.  "I've pulled a lot of soul out of African American music.  At the same time, I am subject to the stereotypes that are fed to us day after day about African Americans on TV and in the news.  I feel like the light is so bright from that place.  African American musc is worldwide, it has made it all the way around the globe a hundred times over, because there's something about that culture that is so powerful."
 
"There's so many ways we do the same thing,we turn away from the light of things, the light of others.  And I like my comfort zones just like anyone else.  But they get pretty suffocating and unlivable.  'Standing' is--I think you always have to be standing, really looking at mysteries.  You gotta face your life.  If you put off something that's dark, it's gonna keep giving you trouble and causing suffering.  The line 'I turned away from your suffering far too many times' was admittance, like. OK, I know I'm doing that.'"
 
I think that helped me a bit with this song.  By the way, the article is excellent with some beautiful photos of Patty, too.  Included in the issue is a CD sampler with 23 songs from 23 different artists including Indigo Girls, Sarah Harmer, Edie Brickell, Nellie McKay, and Azure Ray to name a few!  "Love Throws a Line" is on there, too!  It's still on shelves but probably not much longer...
 
 
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jim vendryes
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Re: Standing
Reply #7 - 05/21/04 at 00:26:08
 
Quote from Elizabeth Michaelson   on 05/19/04 at 18:38:19:
I would love to know how you all interpret Standing.  
The melody always gets stuck in my head but as far as the lyrics go I'm a little confused.
It just hasn't sparked my imagination, yet, so I would love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks!

I think its about the despair of standing and watching christ being crucified and then seeing the light of his ressurection and his spirit shining as a lantern..as we spend our lives moving in and out of the light of christ but remember in the "deepest darkness" I listened to your song(love)...then a reference to god our mother-or so i think.great song-moves me greatly
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Liz22
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Re: Standing
Reply #8 - 05/21/04 at 00:41:58
 
Thanks Mermaid, I'll have to find that magazine.
How true it is when Patty says if you don't deal with your problems they will just come back to haunt you time after time.
Knowing now what she was thinking about when she wrote it makes it ten times more powerful.
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Fool_on_Fire
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Re: Standing
Reply #9 - 05/21/04 at 00:57:11
 
Jim - that's an interesting interpretation...I don't agree with you, I wouldn't apply that much religious meaning to it, considering Patty's rather distant relationship with religion (she's written several songs about rebellion against Catholicism but none that I can think of that are openly religious). It's interesting that you see that much of a religious dimension to it.  
 
I agree more with the idea that standing in a shadow represents a hard time in someone's life, feeling a fear everywhere; stuck in such a depression that you've almost put on blinders to the plight of everyone else around you. (As a sufferer of depression myself, let me tell you, it's VERY easy to get absorbed in the depth of that kind of sadness, until you are almost in a teflon bubble that separates you from the people you love.) The "fire on the hill" is what reminds the narrator of the humanity she shares with everyone else - and is, ultimately, what lifts her from the shadow of the hill. She is weak on her own, but strong once she recognizes her solidarity with others. What a powerful idea.  
 
edited to add: It just occurred to me that this song could be thematically linked to "Love Throw a Line." Just before the flood comes, just before the night falls, just before the blood runs into the valley...just before my eyes go, just before we can't go no further, love throws a line to you and me. Again, it's this disastrous situation, and right when it seems most hopeless, there's something redeeming...in LTAL, it's love, in "Standing" it's feeling connected to other people, listening to their song in the deepest darkness.  
 
~Elise
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« Last Edit: 05/21/04 at 01:04:39 by Fool_on_Fire »  

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marybeth
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Re: Standing
Reply #10 - 05/21/04 at 06:26:15
 
I agree that the theme of Standing fits very well overall into the new album, and I've paid the song a ton more attention in the context of Impossible Dream than I did on Silver Bell. It has really grown on me, one of my favorites on the album!  I think Patty's themes are really getting to me, I've even written an apocalyptic song myself lately......
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Re: Standing
Reply #11 - 05/25/04 at 11:39:45
 
To Jim and Fool on Fire -
 
 "Standing" is a powerful and beautiful song. I think both of your interpretations work. As far as Patty being religious or not, well, you don't write songs like "Mary," "Love Throws a Line," "Mother of God," and "Standing" without having some sort of deep spiritual dimension to your being. Let's not forget that she is a giant fan of the Staple Singers and the Dixie Hummingbirds. My guess is some of the deep devotion and conviction of those incredible gospel giants has rubbed off on her.
 
I was raised Catholic and went through Catholic school and can relate to some if not much of what she faced and saw. Her attitude in song and interview as well as live seems to be of a fondness for the foundation of her Christian upbringing, sprinkled of course with some understandable cynicism ("Wiggley Fingers").
 
She has too much heart to be black and white about any subject, especially one of the deep significance of faith.
 
Another album of bold, somewhat unexpected, spirituality and religious conviction is the Indigo Girls second (self-titled) album. I'm a long time Indigo fan and that album is borderline gospel-folk and arguably their best work.  
 
Let me know your thoughts...
 
hoffy
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Liz22
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Re: Standing
Reply #12 - 05/25/04 at 17:58:23
 
That is the beauty of Patty's writting, it invites you to have your own ideas of what a song is.
 
I agree with the people who have expressed that the song isn't religious.  I now believe that the song is about the struggles of man and whether you decide to do anything to help or if you decide to turn your head and ignore it.
 
I don't have a religious bone in my body, so maybe I just choose to see it that way, and you see it your way.  That makes niether of us wrong.
 
Elizabeth
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deaeterna78
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Re: Standing
Reply #13 - 05/28/04 at 09:26:54
 
I've always interpreted this song as one about human frailty. I truly think in part it's a song about being self-involved and not noticing the people around you and their suffering (a major issue in our society today as a lot of people have become very self-centered). On a more personal note, I tend to relate it to my struggles with depression. That's kind of what "standing in the shadow of the hill" has come to mean to me. And, also the line "Mother I am weak but I am strong" in some ways reflects human frailty to me, but also speaks to me about the search for inner strength when things get tough. But, it could also be a line about humility and accepting one's own frailty as well as one's own strength. We all have both, you know.  
 
Take care,
T.
Who is not sure she is expressing herself very clearly this morning.
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blue_bird
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Re: Standing
Reply #14 - 07/07/04 at 21:53:31
 
I was listening to this song in the car today ... REALLY listening to it for perhaps the first time, and it hit me with its power.  I know that we have all said this at one point or another about Patty's music ... that it hits us at all different moments and gives us what we need at that given time.  At this point in time, I really need "Standing."  The beauty of "Mother, I am weak but I am strong" cannot be overstated.  
 
I really enjoyed re-reading this thread, and I appreciated all the different interpretations.  I can see and hear and feel both religious as well as secular overtones.  To me, the song certainly deals with the importance of seeing the pain of others and helping them, and yet it also deals with overcoming private pain with the help of God and/or others.
 
What a great song, rediscovered after the millionth time of listening to ID. Smiley
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sandina
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Re: Standing
Reply #15 - 11/17/04 at 14:18:13
 
Even though I've loved "Standing" since I first heard it, I don't think it meant as much to me until the other day.  I was alone in the car listening to Silver Bell.....I usually skip Standing on that cd since it doesn't mesh with the rest of that particular album well....but I didn't that day.  I started singing along as usual and when I got to " I turned away from your suffering far too many times" it hit me like never before.   For me, that line is speaking of the narrator herself.  It made the whole song gel for me for the first time.
 
Now, perhaps this is just because I've been realizing lately that I've neglected my own happiness by avoiding some realities around me for too long....so suddenly while I've admitted my shortfall in taking care of myself, this song finally took on a new life, and I love it even more.
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