Vincent

Do you recall a song by Don McLean called “Vincent”? It was popular back in the ’70s on the easy-listening stations, and I remember humming along to it as I played with my Easy-Bake oven and Barbies. I knew the words to the song, but because I was a child I didn’t really put any thought into the meaning of those lyrics. I just thought it was a cheesy but likeable soft-rock tune that was perhaps a little over-played.

I was recently flipping through an old piano book called “Great Songs of the ’70s”, trying to convince my 15-year old daughter to play some Elton John for me, when I came across “Vincent”. For the first time, I read through the lyrics to that song and realized it was about more than just a starry night.

It is widely believed that Vincent Van Gogh was bipolar, although official diagnoses for that kind of thing back in the late 1800’s were rare. But his brilliance and despair, mania and deep depressions certainly point to bipolar disorder. And he kind of captured the common self-harm aspect of the disease with the cutting off of his ear.

Anyway, Don McLean nailed it. After reading the words, and then re-reading them at least twice, I logged on to iTunes and downloaded “Vincent” (also known as “Starry Starry Night….”). I’ve decided to share the words with you. Maybe you’ll deem them worth the buck twenty-nine it will cost to dump the song onto your listening device, as well. Enjoy:

“Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and gray
Look out on a summer’s day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul

Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colors on the snowy linen land

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now

Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflect in Vincent’s eyes of china blue

Colors changing hue
Morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain
Are soothed beneath the artist’s loving hand

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now

For they could not love you
But still your love was true
And when no hope was left in sight
On that starry, starry night

You took your life, as lovers often do
But I could’ve told you Vincent
This world was never meant for
One as beautiful as you

Starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frame-less heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can’t forget

Like the strangers that you’ve met
The ragged men in ragged clothes
The silver thorn of bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow

Now I think I know
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they’re not listening still
Perhaps they never will”

Very nice.

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