I mentioned recently that I downloaded a bunch of new music from e-music, with all the free downloads I got, and one of the albums I downloaded was The Decemberists’ Picaresque.  The album is incredible, but don’t take this post to in any way mean the band is Christian.  They might be, but I don’t think so.

Anyway, I don’t cry when I listen to sad songs.  I’ve gotten teary-eyed during worship when God shows up, but I’ve never cried when I’ve heard a powerful sad song.

Until yesterday.  The song “Eli, the Barrow Boy” from Picaresque is possibly the saddest, most emotional song I’ve ever heard.  I listened to it while cleaning yesterday and had to stop and listen closer because the story was so sad and engrossing.  If you want to download it, click here, or listen to the streaming version.

The lyrics go like this:

Eli, the barrow boy of the old town
Sells coal and marigolds and he cries out
All down the day
Below the tamaracks he is crying
“Corn cobs and candlewax for the buying!”
All down the day

“Would I could afford to buy my love a fine robe
Made of gold and silk Arabian thread
But she is dead and gone and lying in a pine grove
And I must push my barrow all the day
And I must push my barrow all the day”

Eli, the barrow boy, when they found him
Dressed all in corduroy, he had drowned in
The river down the way
They laid his body down in a church yard
But still when the moon is out
With his pushcart he calls down the day

“Would I could afford to buy my love a fine gown
Made of gold and silk Arabian thread
But I am dead and gone and lying in a church ground
But still I push my barrow all the day
Still I push my barrow all the day”

I picture the story taking place back in the 1700s or 1800s in Europe.  Eli and his unnamed love are both poor.  He sells coal and marigolds to make a living, and his greatest desire is to buy her nice things to make her life a little bit better.  She dies and is buried in a random plot of ground, and this haunts him so much that he ends up either committing suicide or dying from grief.  Sad, isn’t it?

I didn’t cry the first time I heard the song, but as I was driving through town later that day, I played it again and just started weeping.  Eli’s story made me sad, but more I was crying for all the people throughout the world suffering for one thing or another.  One day, there’s not gonna be any poverty.  There’s not gonna be any pain, any sickness, any suicide, any heartache and loneliness.  Jesus is gonna set everything right.  But until then, there’s a lot of hurting people in the world going through a lot of suffering.

Sin ruined everything when it brought death and destruction into the world, but Jesus is building a new Kingdom where all that is gonna be done away with.

Website: www.decemberists.com
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