A Better World To Be

The notion of a better world to be is a universal one, an archetype, a part of our collective unconscious. As for myself, I’m not figuring on too much angel cake after my death. My grandfather said that “when you die, it’s six feet under and that’s it”. He told me these blunt words when he was on his deathbed. He said “the heaven and hell stuff is a lot of bullshit”.

Blaise Pascal, in his famous Pascal’s wager, made an argument for belief in God and the afterlife based on the heavily weighted negative consequences of a wrong bet (ie, If you don’t believe in God and an afterlife and then, oops, there is one, well it’s fire and brimstone for you, Jackson). So, with apologies to Blaise Pascal, I’m holding off on all bets. I figure to play it by ear.

Interestingly, the Old Testament makes no mention of any afterlife and you would think think that some of those old-timers might have been privy to some of the inside info. Myself, I am sometimes aware of the spirit that is in all things and of which I am a part. This admittedly occasional experience would seem to transcend time and is quite sufficient for me. Meanwhile, I think it prudent to keep on playing that country music.

I wrote this song about a Better World To Be years ago, back in the Bronx, when belief in a life after death, a better world to be, was still in play for me. It’s a song that goes together with my Sweet Dreams and Happiness song (which appears on my CD Up in the Bronx and Down in LA, and which is available together with the Up in the Bronx book). Click if you want to hear the two songs played together, back to back.
Meanwhile, keep on playing that country music!

Here’s a little excerpt from the novel. In chapter III, our hero Jack Isaacson returns home from a walk in the rain and sings this song.

Hey! There's Up in the Bronx on the shelves at the Los Angeles Public library
Hey! There’s Up in the Bronx on the shelves at the Los Angeles Public library

When Jack returned home, he changed to some dry clothes, and picked up his twangy, Harmony steel-stringed guitar, his prized possession, his only prized possession. A tune was in his head. Chords. A rock & roll progression. The kind that goes from G to E minor, and then to C and to D, and then finally back to G. But this one just sat there alternating between the G and E minor for a long time. And the rhythm took over. Back and forth from the tonal to its friend in minor:
“Sweet dreams and happiness.
Baby, don’t you fall.
Go home, pick up what’s left.
I’ll meet you in the hall.”
“All I need’s, my baby when I call,” said the refrain in C.
Jack felt very pleased about the tune and the lyrics. But somehow, he thought, it wasn’t fair to that poor baby – who’s needed and called upon like that. Is that all I need? he asked himself. Would that be right? Would that set everything straight?

12 thoughts on “A Better World To Be

  1. Like it! I have to believe in two better worlds – one we can create here in many small or big ways, and another on other dimensions. Nice changes in the tune too. (Visited because of your comment on GregRenfro.com.)

  2. hi Stephen,
    couldn’t listen to your music, because my browser blocks “Shockwave Flash” – don’t no why, now I can’t listen to any wordpress audio files …

  3. Wow you have a book in the library! That is so cool! And I love your song — very moody and cool. I’m leaning towards reincarnation of late. It seem the most plausible.

  4. This reminded me of Hud, one of my favorite old movies. I Googled these lines-
    Pastor: “Look at it this way, he’s gone to a better place.”
    Lonnie: “I don’t think so…not unless dirt is a better place than air.”

  5. I take Pascal the other way. If God damns people to Hell for disbelieving in Jesus, he is a monster, and I want no part of it. If Christianity is a blessing, it has to be a blessing here, and not in a possible afterlife. This is another place where I disagree with St Paul: “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied”. I like the suggestion that Paul used irony, and some of his statements we take at face value are satires on the sillier beliefs of the Christians he wrote to.

    1. In my little song I conclude “this is the better world to be”. Naturally, we’ll all have to wait until we get there, but there could easily be an afterlife without any heaven or hell. Of course that would put some people out of business.

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