So yesterday I was blogging about the song Reach You and was using the whole idea of being Limitless. If we truly believe in who we are and what we are capable of then there is no ends to what we can achieve. On a purely aesthetic note it would appear that there is nothing Jahméne Douglas’ voice is not capable of. The way the song builds and builds to the most dazzling crescendo is utter brilliance. How the song seems to be able to touch us on a very personal level is nothing less than genius.
Alas the fourteen days are coming to a close (with the obvious exception of the epilogue tomorrow and hopefully somewhere down the line a little surprise!) and we have reached our Destination together. This last official song on Unfathomable Phantasmagoria – If You Just – is a rather appropriate way to close the blog as it does speak of one journey ending and another beginning. So the theme as these fourteen days ends shall be that of Destination.
If You Just – Destination
Wipe the tears away from your cheeks folks! I know it’s a tremendous sadness for the fourteen days to come to a close however I shall elucidate later on on where I should like to go from here. Let’s stick with the song for now though and just…try to get through this!
If You Just is a tremendously emotive song. Almost immediately the listener knows that the track they are listening to has been composed by Jahméne. Anyone who has ever watched an interview with Jahméne or read his poetry or even just followed the man on Twitter will know that this song just could not have been written by anyone else. It is completely concerned about the welfare of others, it sings of how we need to hold on to our faith, it repeats a line almost like a mantra or prayer and it is clearly a song which has been composed and sung from the heart. The gospel choir which sings on the track Dynamic Praise are totally in sync with the ideals this song advocates and there could be no better choice of back up on this track in my opinion.
As I have said it is a tremendously emotive song. Upon first writing this blog I put forward the idea that, for me, Unfathomable Phantasmagoria reads almost like the story of a relationship. There is the first half – the honeymoon phase if you want to call it that – in which everything is new, funky and fresh. The second half of the album is where things have become a bit more settled and the music becomes a great deal more humbling and humbler. This culminates with the last track If You Just which if we were to visualise it as though in a movie, this would be the scene where the lovers, or the friends or the family members must part ways and must impart advice on to each other. It’s a bit like hearing For Good in Wicked. But it doesn’t mean that the bond between the two has been severed but rather that they must carry on, possibly along a different stream. If this were the ending of it all it would be a rather gloomy note to end this magnificent opus on. However we know that all endings are merely beginnings.
Anyone who knows me will know of my love for that magnificent book and film Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. It tells the story of a number of stories which are all tied together. The story speaks of how our actions today ripple through the aeons to come and we must decide to we want to act for good or ill. There is a marvellous soliloquy in the this in which one character speaks to the one he loves through a letter:
“I understand now that boundaries between noise and sound are conventions. All boundaries are conventions, waiting to be transcended. One may transcend any convention if only one can first conceive of doing so. Moments like this, I can feel your heart beating as clearly as I feel my own, and I know that separation is an illusion. My life extends far beyond the limitations of me…I believe there is a another world waiting for us, Sixsmith. A better world. And I’ll be waiting for you there…I believe we do not stay dead long. Find me beneath the Corsican stars where we first kissed. Yours eternally, R.F.”
Do you know I really believe that is true. The ones we have left behind or the ones who left us behind are not separated forever but rather we trust and have faith that there will come a day in which we are all reunited.
This song, If You Just, is a magnificent testament to the desire of the human spirit to be free. We all desire freedom but only we can answer what we wish to be free of or free from. Death is not the end. At this stage I can not help but be reminded of how Jahméne’s life has been touched by suicide…as has my own. The reason I make this point is because when listening to this song I cannot help but be reminded of those times when I think about those who we have lost to suicide and I always remember to keep them in my prayers. It is my own way of stating my heart’s desire for the poor soul who has been lost to suicide. It’s a bit like what is acclaimed in this song. When all is said and done perhaps what this song says to me the clearest is:
“I wish that nobody felt the need to take their own life. They did. So instead of choosing regret I celebrate their life and hope and pray that their spirit is now at peace and free.”
Or to simply quote Jahméne:
“Know you can make it…If you just…be free.”
All in all, Unfathomable Phantasmagoria is an absolutely spectacular testament to the power and unconditional nature of true love. After spending all this time with the album and going through it on a daily basis I am left wondering: why is it I feel such a strong bond to this work and the artist? Is it because we are both second born sons? Is it because I have a twin sister and he has a similar bond with his sister? Is it because both our older brothers are and were named Daniel? Is it because we both have a personal faith and relationship with Jesus Christ? Is it because we both try to express ourselves through various forms of art?
These are all possibilities. However after all this time and all this soul searching I believe I am able to connect with this music, not just because of it’s genius, but rather most importantly because of it’s heart. Art without heart and soul is just…inconceivable. It would be like a barren desert devoid of any light or life. Love isn’t like that though. Love is not inconceivable but by it’s nature is tremendously difficult to measure the extent of and is in fact Unfathomable. Life isn’t like a barren desert but is a series of rather wonderful places and events which can be difficult to figure out and require effort, life is a Phantasmagoria…
Just like life and love, Jahméne Douglas, God bless him, is an Unfathomable Phantasmagoria.
Where to from here? Onwards…all endings are just beginnings and I hope this is the beginning of something wonderful as I continue to follow the work and words of this prodigious artist who writes and sings with wisdom beyond his years.
Thank you Jahméne.
With all my love and blessing to those who have made this journey with me.