Under The Sun, Moon And Stars

‘Let happiness run under the sun, moon and stars’

There seems to be something universal about the symbolism of the above line. Despite all the distractions of life we inevitably suffer through, the imagery of being connected to those celestial objects is compelling. It does not matter where you live, or what year it is, the lure of the energy they provide has a strengthening  power. Whether it is waiting for a day off to ‘catch some rays’, or to get out of the city to more easily see the moon and stars, these ancient forces are a part of our life. They tend to bring us happiness, and for some people they even provide healing powers.

I suppose I am no different in that regard. After the darkness of winter the longer days go a long way towards re-energizing my soul. And boy have I needed that lately. I have not been writing as much as I want to here lately, and my music related posts seem to be scarcer. The cause has not been for a lack of musical inspiration on my part. Over the last few months I have acquired lots of new music I hope will make its way on to these pages soon. It also has not been because I am uninspired with my photography. A new camera and lenses have given me lots of toys to happily play with.

This blog has always being about making a connection between music and my own photography, but I have not been able to pull that off too much recently. Like the last time it happened though, instead of feeling pressured, I just waited until I felt I had something to write. And like some of the best moments I have had since I started writing, it was when a song hit me at precisely the right time.

While enjoying a day off from work yesterday I sat on our balcony reading and relaxing. I had some reggae music on by one of my favorites- the sublime Jimmy Cliff. A year or so ago I wrote about his classic song Many Rivers To Cross here. It is hard for me to adequately express how much his music means to me. He sings of Jamaica.  Of hardship and happiness.  Peace and poverty. Love and hate. No matter the subject it always comes from a place of love. Live he frequently ends his songs with the words ‘Give Thanks.’ A reminder of what is really important to him and his music.

One perception of reggae music is that it is all about chilling out on a beach with a beer and Bob Marley singing Buffalo Soldier, or Jammin’. I have certainly been guilty of that offense myself. It is easy to get lured by that beat and groove to a state of relaxation. So often though, when you read the lyrics to songwriters like Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff the truth really comes out. The songs are quite often very powerful political statements.

Take the Bob Marley songs I mentioned for example. In Buffalo Soldier- ‘Stolen from Africa, brought to America, Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival.’ Or Jammin’- ‘No bullet can stop us now, we neither beg nor we won’t bow.’ When you really learn about the music and the atmosphere it was created under, those good time beach vibes don’t quite feel the same. So while I was sitting yesterday, I realized that the words to Jimmy Cliff’s song Under The Sun, Moon And Stars are no different.

The music might have that relaxed vibe, but the song is actually a bit of a plea and a statement about not living life the way his forefathers did and not accepting it either-

‘My forparents worked, from sun-up, ’til sun-down
Peace could not be found now they’re under the ground

I’ve heard them complain and cried out in pain
Seeking peaceful gain under the sun, moon and stars

Won’t happen to me, I’m not blind, you see
I’ve got to be free, I want it right here on earth
Got to have some fun, ‘for my life is done
Let happiness run under the sun, moon and stars’

This idea that I started off with, of a universal symbolism to the sun, moon and stars comes perhaps from my own (mostly) happy life. Once I really listened to the song, I realized that even though we all live under those same elements, our worlds can be vastly different with people not so happy or fortunate. Just like so many other reggae songs, the message comes in an uplifting way however. When Jimmy Cliff sings, even though he sings of hardship and poverty he reminds us we all live under the same sun, moon and stars. No matter who we are, no matter where we come from, no matter what our situation is. We all need to remember that. Give Thanks.

*A note about the photograph. Moon photography is something I have always wanted to try my hand at, but to really do it justice, you need a lot of patience, and some special equipment generally speaking. But one morning a month or two ago, as the sun was coming up, the moon was still in clear view, and the contrast of the dawn colors and the bright moon was too tempting not to take a photo. I’m happy I did! Now how about ‘one more’ from Jimmy Cliff?

Under The Sun, Moon And Stars-Written By Jimmy Cliff

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All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle


19 thoughts on “Under The Sun, Moon And Stars

  1. Pingback: “Under The Sun, Moon And Stars” By Soundtrack Of A Photograph – Gardenlovepoet

  2. That photograph is unreal, Robert! It looks painted, in a good way. Certainly, one of my favourites from you!

    Love the last three lines of the lyrics you quoted. Sometimes, it can be a privilege to be able to enjoy the sun, moon and stars. Feeling better around them is not just poetical, it has been scientifically proven that the sun directly uplifts your mood! Of course, we struggle with the scorching sun here (and some people even get Vitamin D deficiency in trying to avoid it), but I feel the sky is one of the most effective antidotes and mood enhancers around.

    I have to ask though – how do you listen to music you like AND read? I know people who do both, but usually they don’t engage with either too deeply, which I know is not the case with you. I can’t do it, even if I try. Even with films and TV. If music I like is playing, then I have to go back and watch those scenes again (like say “Be My Baby” in Mean Streets). Most recently, I was watching an Amazon show based on the 80s called Red Oaks, and I couldn’t concentrate on the dialogue because they were playing New Order!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much regarding the photo. I totally lucked out, but (Warning…technical speak here) I had a new and stronger lens attached to the camera…which was a good thing since I was still waking up, but had that feeling of MUST TAKE PHOTO! I was really happy with the results, especially because to get a good moon shot you normally need to mount it on a tripod, but I took it free hand. So thank you.

      You are of course so right about the elements being not just poetical, but also providing very real health benefits. Lets just put it this way. Those people that can work in mines, or serve on submarines? I will definitely not be ever doing that!

      As to your question, I guess it depends on what I am reading. A magazine article or something not so taxing to the brain and I have no problem doing both. Actually I should say that is true, provided it is something all one level, and not too loud or cacophonous. If it is something I am reading that needs a bit more devotion to it, I generally prefer to read in quiet. For the record, I was reading a biography of the sculptor Isamu Noguchi, so not so taxing! When a song I know unexpectedly pops up in a movie or tv show, I think I get more excited for the performer, than having to stop and hear the song play out. Especially for most of the artists that I key in on here who are in some cases under the radar. That being said, I’ll have to check that Red Oaks show out. And speaking of New Order, do check out Oysterband together with June Tabor’s version of Love Will Tear Us Apart. If you are a die hard New Order fan you probably won’t like it. If you like a completely stripped down and gutted version of the song performed differently, you might like it! Thanks for such an awesome comment yet again!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am usually suspicious of covers, but there are some great ones out there, sometimes surpassing the original. I guess, unlike my gender, I can’t multi-task. Even if it’s something routine, like doing the dishes, I wouldn’t put on an album that’s new to me. I guess that’s why I don’t absorb as much as I would like to, in any medium. Speaking of your favourite artists, I think the recent movie Logan ended with Johnny Cash!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh the dishes and music do not go together at all. And vacuuming! So I would not do that for sure. Johnny Cash is being used in a lot of things now it seems. I mean he was always ‘big’ but it seems those recordings he did in the years before he died are still really resonating with bad-assitude! But let me ask something else? What about instrumental music when you are reading for example? Western classical music, or jazz for example? Just curious!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Nope. Nothing. Even muzak distracts me. I’ve gone shopping for clothes and freezed just to listen to something. I can’t even workout to music. Even if it’s something lounge-y or mindless. I need concentration just to hate it!

        I like how music for action films are shifting to other arenas besides metal. I remember The Hateful Eight ended with Roy Orbison. And there’s controversy now over Thor 3’s trailer using Led Zep’s “Immigrant Song”. I’m just glad they’re shifting from the same old, same old.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Agreed about the shift in tone. Not that I watch a lot of action movies but I have seen that too. That is really interesting though! Every once in awhile I will go running without music, but making a playlist of my own devising for it does really help keep me going. If it ever bothers me I shut it off, but that is rare. There is a Scissor Sisters song that every time it comes up in the mix, I swear for those 4 minutes I run at Olympic caliber speed!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I can understand music will break the monotony of something like running, but I think you can miss out on a lot too, especially when you’re out. Conversely, white noise machines and apps don’t work for me either, because I want the full ocean experience, not just the sound!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Well I don’t live my life through headphones and do periodically take time to listen to the natural or city sounds around me. Obviously 30 years ago when I was running the portability of music wasn’t as good so I learned to run minus any music. I don’t blame you on the machines though. I want the real thing!


  3. Pingback: Under The Sun, Moon And Stars — Soundtrack Of A Photograph – Marijuana Moon

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