A Beautiful Delusion

I’ve been reading Faith, Hope, and Carnage by Nick Cave. I highly recommend it. In a series of interviews with Seán O’Hagan, Cave discusses his artistic process, the death of his son, and the way his faith has changed and grown in recent years. I’ve found it immensely inspiring.

Even though neither is “orthodox,” Cave leans toward Christianity and O’Hagan leans toward agnosticism. This makes for some interesting dialogue. At one point, O’Hagan pushes against Cave’s superstition about life’s mysteries, to which Cave responds “Perhaps it is a kind of delusion, I don’t know, but if it is, it is a necessary and benevolent one.” I love that line, and immediately wrote down the phrase, “A Beautiful Delusion.”

You may remember that I’m on a quest to write jazz with deeper lyrics than the typical themes of romance and unrequited love. I thought “A Beautiful Delusion” would be a perfect fit. One of the things I love about the way this song came out is that the first verse could actually be a love song in which a suitor tries to woo a love interest: “You think I’m crazy, but if you listen to your heart you’ll know that we could be lovers.” But verse 2-3 move on to “if you listen to your heart you’ll know there is too much mystery, beauty, joy, and pain in life for humanity to be mere configurations of carbon responding to the world via the chemical soup bowl known as our brain.”

While the lyrical subject is heady, the music is simple and pretty. In fact, when we played it instrumentally at our weekly restaurant gig, a patron rushed up and asked the name of the song. She thought it was a tune from a musical!

Lest you think composing and performing music is always serious, I’ve included an outtake from Thursday’s recording. Even though Ed and Susan are great musicians, there are always snafus when reading a new song. Below is our false start, a conversation about how the song should actually begin, and the successful restart of the song. When I say, “Don’t talk!” I’m not being misogynistic. I’m kidding Susan because every time we record a song she’ll lean over to me and say something during the recording. But even my stern warning didn’t work; you’ll hear on the full recording that she turns to me and says, “So pretty!” at 1:58. I guess the recording could be interrupted in worse ways…

1. A beautiful delusion–
maybe that’s all it is.
An innocent confusion–
that there might be more than this.

A beautiful delusion–
that’s all it is to you.
And though you may be right,
is it your heart or just your mind
that can’t believe it’s true?

2. A beautiful delusion?
Look all around, you’ll see
a thousand aching beauties,
a million mysteries.

A billion stars are shining.
You catch your breath with awe.
When your heart wants to explode
with all the longing in your soul,
it doesn’t seem delusional at all.

2. Ineffable illusion,
a faint remembered dream,
a sorrow for no reason,
a joy inside a pain.

Questions that search for answers
and hearts that yearn for love.
Oh, how do you explain
the little magic of each day?
Maybe this delusion’s enough.


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