Trigger/Content Warning: Discussion of Suicide
I’ve been on an 80’s music binge for a while now, and discovering the famous British duo Eurythmics has been an adventure. They truly have a song for every emotion, and their musical diversity makes them so easy to listen to. Of course, it helps that Miss Annie Lennox’s vocals are magical to say the least!
I came across the music video for their song “Angel” on YouTube sometime ago, and it put tears in my eyes. It was clearly a testimonial song to somebody Annie knew, and when I dug around the internet for this song’s backstory, it broke my heart.
It took a while, but I found this article on the song on Song Facts, and it revealed that “Angel” is inspired by two back-to-back tragedies in Annie’s life: the suicide of her great-aunt at 57, and the stillbirth of her first child, Daniel. According to the interview snippet on the article, “Angel” started off as a poem in tribute to her great-aunt, before transforming into its final form after the loss of her son.
Behold the music video for “Angel”, one of Eurythmics’s most tragically beautiful creations, directed by Sophie Muller.
(Lyrics from AZLyrics.)
Underneath this canopy of snow Where fifty-seven winters Took their toll Where did you go? And I believed in you I believed in you Like Elvis Presley Singing psalms on a Sunday (Where did you go?) Well she's gone to meet her maker Back to where she came from Come to save her soul... Come to save her soul... Come to take her home 'Cause it's late and past Your bedtime Well past bedtime Angel My angel Fly over me Angel... She took her life Within her hands She took her life Within her own two hands And no-one can tell her What to do now And I believed in you I believed in you Like Elvis Presley Singin live from Las Vegas (Where did you go?) Well she's gone to meet Her maker Back to where she came from Come to save her soul...
The opening stanza alone is so sad. “Underneath this canopy of snow, where 57 winters took their toll, where did you go?” Winter is associated with depression, and with these lines, Annie created a poetic analogy for her aunt’s anguish.
Looking at the characters in the music video, I can’t help but wonder if they’re Annie’s family members. My heart sinks at the possibility that the grieving old man is in actuality Annie’s grandfather/the father of her aunt.
Always, the final bit in the music video is the part that makes my heart ache the most. Seeing Annie mournfully wail heavenward as Dave pulls her back to safety hits too close to home for what me and my friends have felt for our loved ones who died from suicide.
I found multiple renditions of “Angel” across YouTube! I wish this song was as famous as their other hits.
Here’s a beautiful performance of this song from their 1989 Rome concert:
Likewise, another 1989 performance, on a late night show I believe:
For their album We Too Are One, they also created a choir version of this song, and it’s just as hauntingly beautiful:
When I was scrounging YouTube for different versions of “Angel”, I found this snippet of Annie Lennox acoustically performing this, just from last year!
And look what I found after digging on YouTube! Eurythmics contributed this song to the 1997 tribute album for Princess Diana, after her horrific and tragic death.
After learning that “Angel” was directly inspired by Annie’s beloved great-aunt taking her own life, it reminded me of Will, a former high school classmate and friend of mine who likewise took his own life, just a couple of months after we’d graduated. He’s always on my heart, and God showing me in His gentle ways that Will is truly at peace is one of the most sacred parts of my faith.
Almost 10 years after we lost him, I still grieve for him. My anguish over him blindsided me back in April, coinciding with my depression finally coming to the surface after I realized I couldn’t hide it under my emotionally-deceiving mask any longer.
On a Monday night in mid-April, after re-listening to “Angel” with its backstory in mind, I thought of Will out of nowhere. A somber realization hit me, that on the other side, he knows now how deeply he’s missed and loved, by so many.
It triggered tears without warning, and I ended up doubled-over in weeping. It genuinely felt like his grief washed over me in that instant, or even that God allowed me to feel his anguish before he took his life. It was scary, because it was a direct parallel to the dream experience I had about Will back in college, which was just as emotionally overwhelming.
I had the random idea that night to use my computer’s video maker tool to pair this song with some of the photos I’ve taken over the years. The end result was a “music video” that unwittingly proved to me that my depression has ran deep for at least the last five years. That’s sobering, considering that it was also five years ago when I had my dream of desperately crying out for Will in Heaven.
The next day at work, I genuinely heard God whisper to me, “You broke My heart last night”, and those words eventually led to me breaking down in front of my co-workers for the first time. It was terrifying, being so vulnerable. As kind as I try to always be, as much as I encourage everybody to be honest with themselves, having my own emotions out there like that is absolutely nervewracking.
Ironically, this ended up being just what I needed for emotional balance. I’d been feeling so emotionally numb before this happened, and it ended up bringing me back to a healthier medium. I can finally cry healthily, without feeling dead to the world or feeling overwhelmed with emotions.
And in hindsight, I think my everlasting anguish over Will’s suicide has ended up being an “anchor” of sorts for me. I’ve never struggled with suicidal ideation, despite how debilitating my depression has been at times. This can also be attested to that sacred dream back then, I think. It destroyed my fears of death, and proved to me that I’ll be reunited with Will when my time comes.
I know that Will found his peace, and that he will always be on my heart. Love is eternal, and never dies. It’s because we love those we lose to suicide that we continue to mourn them years later.
To close this post, here’s another tender song from their 1989 Rome performance: “When the Day Goes Down”, the gentle closing song from We Too Are One.
"All God's little children Are beautiful & pure And you're as good As all of them Of this you can be sure"