Thursday, June 30, 2011

when a song becomes more than a song

Sometimes a hole is just a hole. Until you take that first peek down the hole. Once you've done that, it's never really just a hole. Look a little further, maybe lean over a little too far, you might just fall right in. Right down the rabbit hole.

Sometimes art is just art. And sometimes art is an encapsulation--visual, audible, or both--of something very real. The art is there to say, Hey, this horrible thing happened and this is the only way I can process it.

Earlier, I wrote a little post for our family blog, in which I reference a song by The Drive-By Truckers called "Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife" (lyrics below). It's a gorgeous, yet sad, song that I've loved since I first heard it years ago.

The "rabbit hole" I mention is, in this case, the internet. While casually scanning the comments on the YouTube page for that song, I saw mention of this being based on a true story. Looking a little closer, leaning over a little too far, I read that it was based on the Harvey family of Richmond, Virginia.

Down the rabbit hole I tumbled.

On New Year's Day, 2006, Bryan and Kathryn Harvey and their two daughters, Stella and Ruby, "were found beaten, slashed and bound with electrical cord and tape in the basement of their burning house." Kathryn was co-owner of a popular toy shop. Both parents were beloved in their community. Their deaths were part of a senseless killing spree that occurred over seven days, claiming the lives of seven people in total.

"Is there vengeance up in heaven?" the song asks.

So the song became more than a song. It became the heart-breaking account of a loving family destroyed for no good reason.

Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife
When he reached the gates of heaven
He didn't understand
He knew that folks were coming over
Or was it all a dream?
Was it all a crazy dream?

He saw them playing there before him
What were they doing there?
It felt like home, It must be alright
Or was just a dream?
Was it just a crazy dream?

Memories replay before him
All the tiny moments of his life
Laying round in bed on a Saturday morning
Two daughters and a wife
Two daughters and a beautiful wife

Meanwhile on Earth his friends came over
Shocked and horrified
Dolls and flowers by the storefront
And everybody cried
Everybody cried and cried

Is there vengeance up in heaven?
Are those things left behind?
Maybe everyday is Saturday morning
Two daughters and a wife
Two daughters and a beautiful wife
Two daughters and a beautiful wife