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Looking for the One

Notes on "Looking for the One"

The 2008 Writers Bloc Songalong came along just as I was starting the Songwriters Challenge, and this song was written for both. For Writers Bloc, the topic was Searching; for the Challenge, the idea was to write a song about someone begging outside a store, and how we react to them.

I put the two together from the start, but I was edgy about writing about a person begging for money. Not that I have to be comfortable - many good songs come from the edge of your zone ... but it only works when I can project myself into the circumstances through feelings that I believe are similar.

I believe we're not all that different, emotionally. Different circumstances affect us depending on where we are in our lives, but jealousy, peace, rage, desperation, and courage belong to all of us ... but still it wasn't working.

So then I started to make it about a person, perhaps a young woman, begging for a ride to a new town. She was in England, at a motorway cafe, looking for a ride to London from a transport driver ... but that got complicated fast. I got bogged down, when I started thinking about the relationships.

In the midst of this, I remembered the experiences I used to have when I lived in Vancouver in the early 70s, and had long brown hair and a beard (longer than in the photo). Periodically someone would decide I could be Jesus, and would approach to ask me if I was.

There were many people in Van those days searching for a personal experience of God, and not always in ways that other people regarded as rational. In a funny way they never made me nervous. I couldn't be who they wanted, but it didn't seem to be such a crazy think to ask. Why not? The worst that could happen is I'd say no ... and the people asking were more than harmless, they actually had a lot of positive energy, and in many ways I felt closer to those seekers, who might have been crazy, than I did to people who didn't search at all.

And even for people who show no outward sign, it's not unusual to feel separated from God, or to desperately want to be connected ... to be loved, in short. Who can't understand that?

So, going from "looking for a ride from here to London", to "looking for a ride from here to Heaven", felt natural, and the song opened up, somehow. I like the hero of this song. And I like that for him, people's reactions are there, but they don't signify. Their reactions are background, whether they are kind and helpful like the street worker, just indifferent like the truckers and the server, or actively hostile like the cafe manager ... the only thing that really matters to him is the search ...

Looking for the One



C D G       He’s looking for a ride from here to heaven
C D Em     He’s standing by the door where the truckers pass
C D G       He gets as many "no"s as they have coffees
G Am       But it never hurts to ask.

He dances on the spot, he twirls and capers,
And he shudders to a stop when he feels it’s time,
He gazes and inspects the drivers’ faces,
Looking for the sign.

Em D G            He’s looking for the one who knows the way
Em D G            He’s looking for the one who made the journey
Em D G           The one who found the secret words to say,
G Am               The holy prayer he lacks
Am D7             So that God can’t love him back.

The server stands and stares behind her counter;
He knows that she can see him through the door.
But he knows that she won’t care, he’s not her problem,
That’s what managers are for.

The manager is furious to see him,
He shouts and then he calls the cops again.
But it doesn’t matter; on the street there’s freedom
To look for God in men.

He’s looking for the one who knows the way
He’s looking for the one who made the journey
The one who found the holy words to say,
The secret prayer he lacks
the one to make God love him back.

Em C                      Then a voice says, “Hey there, man,
Em C                      It’s cold tonight. Could you use a hand?”
Em C                      Gives him coffee, and a bun,
Am D7                   He is kind - but not the one.

He’s looking for the one who knows the way
He’s looking for the one who made the journey
The one who found the secret words to say,
The holy prayer he lacks
So that God will love him back.

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