A dark theme keeps me here,
Though summer blazes in the vireo’s eye.
Who would be half possessed
By his own nakedness?
Waking’s my care –
I’ll make a broken music, or I’ll die.
Ye littles, lie more close!
Make me, O Lord, a last, a simple thing
Time cannot overwhelm.
Once I transcended time:
A bud broke to a rose,
And I rose from a last diminishing.
I look down the far light
And I behold the dark side of a tree
Far down a billowing plain,
And when I look again,
It’s lost upon the night –
Night I embrace, a dear proximity
I stand by a low fire
Counting the wisps of flame, and I watch how
Light shifts upon the wall.
I bid stillness be still.
I see, in evening air,
How slowly dark comes down on what we do.
In Evening Air
Theodore Roethke (1908-63)
A dark theme permeates David Archuleta’s new album, Begin., despite an interview with Deseret Book, in which he describes it as “easy listening.” To paraphrase a quote by novelist, Wallace Stegner, “Hard writing makes easy reading.” Begin. is to easy listening as hard writing is to easy reading. It is easy to listen to only because of all the hard work and talent that went into it. On this his fifth album his voice, including backup vocals which, as usual, are all him, never sounded better.
Yet conceptually, this is no easy listening album. Distilled into ten songs, one co-written by him and arguably the saddest, he takes on war, genocide, grief, murder, martyrdom, addiction, loneliness, desolation, despair, shame, low self-esteem, depression, bullying, suicide, poverty, homelessness, brutality, corruption and child abuse. That is a ponderous weight of sorrow contained in one brief body of work. Yet it is not, I think, so much a reflection of the darkness within himself, (though for a serious artist, this is essential) as a stubborn refusal to turn away from the harsher realities of life. Begin. is ultimately and overwhelmingly a message of hope.
David has repeatedly stated in interviews and in a video to his fans that these songs are clues to help them understand why he made the decision to go on a mission. He echoes this again in the liner notes: “Some people may not understand why I have made the decisions I have chosen to make, but that is the reason why I made this album…It really comes from my heart and I did my best to help you all know where I am coming from on my mission decision. While I can’t always [say] what I want to say using words, I hope that these songs will help you know.” David Archuleta
David sings of the lost and now he has gone to seek for them. Not as David Archuleta, the celebrity but as a humble servant of God who, in the name of love has sacrificed his all for what he believes: that we are all broke, flawed, imperfect, but we are not broken beyond repair.
We have only to Begin.