A friend of mine asked, “How is this even a song?”
The query was about “Run for your Life,” a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The Beatles recorded the track on their 1965 album entitled “Rubber Soul.” Check out the first two lines …
“Well I’d rather see you dead, little girl, Than to be with another man.”
The threatening chorus continues.
“You better run for your life if you can, little girl, Hide your head in the sand little girl, Catch you with another man, That’s the end ah little girl.”
To thoroughly horrify yourself, take a moment to look up the complete lyrics. To be fair, John Lennon did say this was his “least favorite Beatles song” and the song he most regretted writing.
The Beatles, though, are not the only artists to write and produce a song about domestic violence. In 1923, Bessie Smith recorded “Outside of That,” which describes her love as “the meanest man in the land.” She’s so swept up in their passionate love that she’s willing to forgive him his bouts of violence. Or is she? When she tells him (for fun) that she’s leaving him, he blackens her eyes, blinding her, then pawns everything he ever gave her, but, as she says, “outside of that, he’s all right with me.”
Of course, there are more modern songs that seem to glorify not only violence against women, but in some cases, violent revenge against abusers.
We’ve all heard the saying that art imitates life. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that certain lyrics throughout history address the issue, and it is an issue.
The domestic violence problem is not getting better. It permeates every community spanning race, sex, age, economic class, etc. From July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017, there were 115 fatalities in Ohio as a direct result of domestic violence. An additional 42 family members died, including 10 children. Unfortunately, this is an increase from the previous reporting period. Also unfortunate, and downright sad, is the statistic that children were present at the scene of 23 percent of the fatalities logged.
Domestic violence is ugly. It exists in many more cases than we allow ourselves to believe. Women and men who have been violently assaulted by intimate partners are often filled with shame. They ask, “What have I done to cause this?” My hope is that people are asking, “What can I do to help?”
There is something we can all do to help, coming up this Sunday, October 8. The sixth annual Dash at Dusk 5k will be held at Liberty Park in Powell. It will raise awareness, celebrate survivors, and proceeds will benefit the new Turning Point Domestic Violence Shelter being built in Delaware. This much needed shelter will help male and female adults and children from Crawford, Delaware, Marion, Union, and Wyandot counties. Registration details can be found on my Facebook page.
Together, we can make a difference, and on the upside, I do see signs that the narrative is changing. Chase Goehring, a finalist in the 2017 Season of America’s Got Talent, wowed the judges and won my heart during his audition. Goehring performed an original song called “Hurt.” Here are some of the lyrics …
“9-1-1 I think we lost another one, Said he had a gun and called it love, Pulled the trigger to her head, Now she’s dead, Livin’ for another one, But you’re worth more than you think and I know you’re strong enough not to sink, And chin up girl, I believe in you.”
These lyrics go on to say, “Hey, baby, you don’t have to live this way, You don’t have a debt to pay, So put your foot down and pick your heart up off the ground, Cause that’s not where you belong.”
So, 52 years after the Beatles recorded a song seeming to glorify domestic violence, we see hope in our younger generation, some of whom are writing a new narrative.
I can’t write songs, but I can walk, and I’ll be at this weekend’s Dash at Dusk. I hope to see you there, walking with me to make a difference. All age levels and physical capabilities are welcome.
Carol O’Brien is Delaware County Prosecutor.