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Lovers in a dangerous time

I’m not sure when I first heard this song. I know it was during my first summer in Alaska in 1986. My imagination wants me to believe that I first heard it somewhere along the highway leading from Fairbanks to Skagway; most likely between Beaver Creek and Whitehorse. Or perhaps it was somewhere near North Pole or maybe Carcross, in the area where the movie Never Cry Wolf, based on the Farley Mowat book of the same name, was filmed.

I guess it doesn’t really matter. Regardless of where I heard it first it struck a chord. It really resonated with me. Here are the lyrics:

Don’t the hours grow shorter as the days go by
You never get to stop and open your eyes
One day you’re waiting for the sky to fall
The next you’re dazzled by the beauty of it all
When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time
These fragile bodies of touch and taste
This vibrant skin — this hair like lace
Spirits open to the thrust of grace
Never a breath you can afford to waste
When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
Sometimes you’re made to feel as if your love’s a crime —
But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight —
Got to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight
When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time
And we’re lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time
From that time on I became a Bruce Cockburn fan; a great Canadian artist. This particular song first appeared on Bruce’s 1983 album, Stealing Fire. It was written after a visit to Latin America where Bruce encountered the tens of thousands of refugees from Guatemala.

The song has been covered by a number of artists including Barenaked Ladies, Dan Fogelberg and the Killers.

While the whole song spoke to me I remember one particular line that made a particular impact; Got to kick at the darkness ‘til it bleeds daylight. And I’m not the only one inspired by this particular phrase. One of my other favorite artists, Bono of U” fame, borrowed this text for U2’s Rattle and Hum album and the song God Part II. Now and then I feel like kicking at the darkness is all we can do. In the early 80’s when this song was written, the Cold war was still a very real part of all of our lives and the nuclear doomsday clock read a couple of minutes till midnight. Darkness seemed to be all around us; it was a dangerous time. But by choosing to love instead of hate, choosing to take the hand of our loved ones and moving forward instead of becoming passive and giving in to hopelessness we were all, in a way, kicking at the darkness.

Perhaps this text also has some relevance for us today in the 20 teens. So join me in kicking at the darkness ‘til it bleeds daylight J.

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