Lived in Bars

‘Master, what are you talking about?
When did we ever see you hungry and feed you,
thirsty and give you a drink?
And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’

Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth:
Whenever you did one of these things to someone
overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

Not so long ago for one summer I lived on the ocean front. I met all kinds of people, and more than a few surfers. One night my life changed after inviting two young men to sleep on the couch rather than continuing to ‘walk it off’ in the midnight hours before they’d drive home.

One of the two stayed for a few months, it turns out he had no place to lay his head to call his own. I bought a mattress and moved things out of my spare room so he had a place to call his own.

He was a bit troubled, just a child of twenty-one, but already enough life to last the rest of his years. He carried a guitar, had a beautiful voice with the depth and vocal range of Lenny Kravitz but a style all his own. It turns out we both loved music, and through him I discovered the power of music to touch the soul.

Something raged inside him, and I’d be lying if I didn’t confession that at times I imagined the devil himself wrestled within, something of the sort of the fight that Jacob would win. He’d come to be in possession of one of those red hotel room bedstand holy bible’s and had done more to it than no small measure of ‘self expression’.

He’d often share music videos with me, pulling them up on my big screen tv with my make-believe surround sound setup.

One day he shared a song he adores, Cat Power’s Lived in Bars.

I haven’t spent too long being sad for his love for this song, because to me it’s like a rainbow. He doesn’t realize what the lyrics mean, of what exactly it is that she sings of. All he knows is that it’s a song that he loves. Maybe he loves it for the progression into swing, or maybe his mind clings to the first lines which speak to him.

All I know is that I know his ‘redemption song’.

I play it often and think of him as I sing along. The funny thing is that I think it was a gift for me—every bit of it sings as if my redemption song.

It was that summer that I woke up.

I think it was the night I saw a stranger who was in need, and though others saw the ‘least’ of these, I treated him as if he could be a king.


We’ve lived in bars
And danced on tables
Hotels trains and ships that sail
We swim with sharks
And fly with aeroplanes in the air

Send in the trumpets
The marching wheelchairs
Open the blankets and give them some air
Swords and arches bones and cement
The light and the dark of the innocent of men

We know your house so very well
And we will wake you once we’ve walked up
All your stairs

There’s nothing like living in a bottle
And nothing like ending it all for the world
We’re so glad you will come back
Every living lion will lay in your lap

The kid has a homecoming the champion the horse
Who’s gonna play drums guitar or organ with chorus
As far as we’ve walked from both ends of sand
Never have we caught a glimpse of this man

We know your house so very well
And we will bust down your door if you’re not there

We’ve lived in bars
And danced on tables
Hotels trains and ships that sail
We swim with sharks
And fly with aeroplanes out of here
Out of here