A Playlist for the Ten Commandments – Pt. 2

We begin week two of my search for songs for a Ten Commandments playlist – a soundtrack for my new book TEN. Last week you got things off to a cracking start with suggestions for the Tenth Word: “Do not covet.” You can find the playlist on my Spotify account – or just search for “10: do not covet”. It features the likes of REM, Talking Heads, Barenaked Ladies, Janis Joplin and Skee-Lo. For the winning submission, I went with the most literal “do not covet” lyric – “I wish I had Jessie’s girl.” A signed copy of TEN is heading to Sean Hall, who’s clearly a big ’80s music fan.

This week I’m looking for songs that capture the heart of the Ninth Word:

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.” Exodus 20:16

At first blush this Word conjures up a courtroom scene, where your neighbour is on trial, and you give inaccurate testimony about them. In the book I discuss the wider subject of deception, and some of the ways we engage in that as individuals, institutions and society. Here’s a couple of quotes to illustrate:

“Gossip: when you hear something you like about someone you don’t.”

” If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.

The song lyric I opened the chapter with is from the Marvin Gaye classic, “I heard it through the grapevine”:

“People say believe half of what you see, son, and none of what you hear.”

So, what song lyrics come to mind for you when you think about “bearing false witness”? Or about gossip, or lying, or deception? Write the lyric, the song and the artist in the comments below, and at the end of the week I’ll choose my favourite submission and send that person a copy of the book. Feel free to share this in your networks – I’d love to build a playlist as varied as last week’s again!

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9 Responses to A Playlist for the Ten Commandments – Pt. 2

  1. Kara Chesnutt says:

    Policy of Truth by Depeche Mode (although I prefer Anberlin’s version)

  2. Kara Chesnutt says:

    or….Rumour Has It by Adele

  3. “Truth” by Neil Finn:

    They have showered me with riches
    And they say that I am worthy of their love
    And their attention but they still don’t know the truth
    Everything you do continues long after you’ve gone
    What I said, truth is worth more than pride

  4. Jon Boyd says:

    “Until the Day I Die” by Steve Earle:

    Back in the hills when we were only kids
    Love shined like a diamond in your eyes
    I swore I’d never hurt you – then I did
    Now I’m all alone with all my lies
    I promised that I’d never be untrue
    I’d never make you cry
    The only promise that I didn’t break
    Was to love you until the day I die

    I wish I’d never seen those city lights
    A sight for a country boy to see
    For every one that you see shinin’ bright
    Another is burnin’ out like me
    I wouldn’t listen though you told me dear
    I couldn’t see the lie
    But all the same I still love you tonight
    And I’ll love you until the day I die

    They built this prison just for fools like me
    Who don’t know a treasure from a stone
    I killed a man now I won’t ever see
    The green rollin’ hills where I was born
    No I won’t ever see your face again
    But if I close my eyes
    I can almost hear you call me back to then
    And I’ll love you until the day I die

  5. Brian Miller says:

    “The lawyers clean up all details
    Since daddy had to lie”

    “The End of the Innocence” – Don Henley

  6. Sean says:

    Bob Dylan
    The Hurricane
    … Difficult to narrow it down to a few lines but the last two verses capture the scenario brilliantly …. Big greets

    Pistols shots ring out in the barroom night
    Enter Patty Valentine from the upper hall
    She sees the bartender in a pool of blood
    Cries out “My God they killed them all”
    Here comes the story of the Hurricane
    The man the authorities came to blame
    For something that he never done
    Put him in a prison cell but one time he could-a been
    The champion of the world.

    Three bodies lying there does Patty see
    And another man named Bello moving around mysteriously
    “I didn’t do it” he says and he throws up his hands
    “I was only robbing the register I hope you understand
    I saw them leaving” he says and he stops
    “One of us had better call up the cops”
    And so Patty calls the cops
    And they arrive on the scene with their red lights flashing
    In the hot New Jersey night.

    Meanwhile far away in another part of town
    Rubin Carter and a couple of friends are driving around
    Number one contender for the middleweight crown
    Had no idea what kinda shit was about to go down
    When a cop pulled him over to the side of the road
    Just like the time before and the time before that
    In Patterson that’s just the way things go
    If you’re black you might as well not shown up on the street
    ‘Less you wanna draw the heat.

    Alfred Bello had a partner and he had a rap for the corps
    Him and Arthur Dexter Bradley were just out prowling around
    He said “I saw two men running out they looked like middleweights
    They jumped into a white car with out-of-state plates”
    And Miss Patty Valentine just nodded her head
    Cop said “Wait a minute boys this one’s not dead”
    So they took him to the infirmary
    And though this man could hardly see
    They told him that he could identify the guilty men.

    Four in the morning and they haul Rubin in
    Take him to the hospital and they bring him upstairs
    The wounded man looks up through his one dying eye
    Says “Wha’d you bring him in here for ? He ain’t the guy !”
    Yes here comes the story of the Hurricane
    The man the authorities came to blame
    For something that he never done
    Put in a prison cell but one time he could-a been
    The champion of the world.

    Four months later the ghettos are in flame
    Rubin’s in South America fighting for his name
    While Arthur Dexter Bradley’s still in the robbery game
    And the cops are putting the screws to him looking for somebody to blame
    “Remember that murder that happened in a bar ?”
    “Remember you said you saw the getaway car?”
    “You think you’d like to play ball with the law ?”
    “Think it might-a been that fighter you saw running that night ?”
    “Don’t forget that you are white”.

    Arthur Dexter Bradley said “I’m really not sure”
    Cops said “A boy like you could use a break
    We got you for the motel job and we’re talking to your friend Bello
    Now you don’t wanta have to go back to jail be a nice fellow
    You’ll be doing society a favor
    That sonofabitch is brave and getting braver
    We want to put his ass in stir
    We want to pin this triple murder on him
    He ain’t no Gentleman Jim”.

    Rubin could take a man out with just one punch
    But he never did like to talk about it all that much
    It’s my work he’d say and I do it for pay
    And when it’s over I’d just as soon go on my way
    Up to some paradise
    Where the trout streams flow and the air is nice
    And ride a horse along a trail
    But then they took him to the jailhouse
    Where they try to turn a man into a mouse.

    All of Rubin’s cards were marked in advance
    The trial was a pig-circus he never had a chance
    The judge made Rubin’s witnesses drunkards from the slums
    To the white folks who watched he was a revolutionary bum
    And to the black folks he was just a crazy nigger
    No one doubted that he pulled the trigger
    And though they could not produce the gun
    The DA said he was the one who did the deed
    And the all-white jury agreed.

    Rubin Carter was falsely tried
    The crime was murder ‘one’ guess who testified
    Bello and Bradley and they both baldly lied
    And the newspapers they all went along for the ride
    How can the life of such a man
    Be in the palm of some fool’s hand ?
    To see him obviously framed
    Couldn’t help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
    Where justice is a game.

    Now all the criminals in their coats and their ties
    Are free to drink martinis and watch the sun rise
    While Rubin sits like Buddha in a ten-foot cell
    An innocent man in a living hell
    That’s the story of the Hurricane
    But it won’t be over till they clear his name
    And give him back the time he’s done
    Put him in a prison cell but one time he could-a been
    The champion of the world.

  7. Bill says:

    There are so many great songs about gossiping, lying, liars and deceit it’s hard to choose one. It’s hard to choose two too, but here are a couple that come to mind.

    “Don’t Start Me Talking” by Sonny Boy Williamson

    Well, I’m goin’ down to Rosie’s
    Stop at Fannie Mae’s
    Gonna tell Fannie what I heard
    Her boyfriend say

    Don’t start me to talkin’
    I’ll tell her everything I know
    I’m gonna break up this signifyin’
    ‘Cause somebody’s got to go

    Jack give his wife two dollars
    Go downtown and get some margarine
    Gets out on the streets
    Ole George stopped her

    He knocked her down
    And blackened her eye
    She gets back home
    Tell her husband a lie

    Don’t start me to talkin’
    I’ll tell everything I know
    I’m gonna break up this signifyin’
    Somebody’s got to go

    And Bob Dylan, “Positively 4th Street”

    You got a lotta nerve
    To say you are my friend
    When I was down
    You just stood there grinning

    You got a lotta nerve
    To say you got a helping hand to lend
    You just want to be on
    The side that’s winning

    You say I let you down
    You know it’s not like that
    If you’re so hurt
    Why then don’t you show it?

    You say you lost your faith
    But that’s not where it’s at
    You had no faith to lose
    And you know it

    I know the reason
    That you talk behind my back
    I used to be among the crowd
    You’re in with

    Do you take me for such a fool
    To think I’d make contact
    With the one who tries to hide
    What he don’t know to begin with?

    You see me on the street
    You always act surprised
    You say, “How are you?”, “Good luck”
    But you don’t mean it

    When you know as well as me
    You’d rather see me paralyzed
    Why don’t you just come out once
    And scream it?

    No, I do not feel that good
    When I see the heartbreaks you embrace
    If I was a master thief
    Perhaps I’d rob them

    And now I know you’re dissatisfied
    With your position and your place
    Don’t you understand
    It’s not my problem?

    I wish that for just one time
    You could stand inside my shoes
    And just for that one moment
    I could be you

    Yes, I wish that for just one time
    You could stand inside my shoes
    You’d know what a drag it is
    To see you

    And when I think of songs about lying what comes to mind first is Johnny Rotten screaming “You’re a liar!” 🙂

  8. Artist: The Who
    The Song: It’s Not True
    The Lyric:
    If you hear more rumors
    You can just forget them too
    Fools start the rumors
    None of them are true

  9. Alan says:

    “I am a LIAR!” – “Liar” by Henry Rollins

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