Life is mostly mundane. We all have our daily routines: the school run, walking the dog, watching the latest episode of our favourite soap opera. Of course, every day is different in small ways, too: a new crossing lady today, the Labrador with the dark chocolate eyes has lost his ball, the TV soap has been postponed to make way for a special programme on some scandal or tragedy. Ripples of difference decorate the pools of our lives never disturbing the deeper waters that flow through our emotional veins.
Every once in a while, though, something far from ordinary happens. Into the Night is an account of one of those extraordinary, life-changing moments. The song was written by Chad Kroeger for Carlos Santana. It appears on the Ultimate Santana compilation album and was released as a single in 2007. The single was accompanied by a video and the song has inspired Crotchety Man to write a prose piece about it. Here, then, are three perspectives on Into the Night.
The Prose-Writer’s Perspective
It’s cool up here on the roof. From here I can see the city stretching out beyond the air-conditioning units, a forest of Mediterranean slates and gables jostling in the fading light of the setting sun. Down below relaxed holiday-makers are eating on restaurant terraces, strolling through the streets, enjoying themselves. I should be with them. We could be drinking together, teasing each other, having fun. But my father is dying and my heart is too heavy for laughter.
My dad was my hero. As a child, when I fell and hurt myself, it was always Dad who picked me up, checked me over and told me that I wasn’t badly hurt. Only then would Mum bathe my grazed knee or put a plaster on a cut. When I was old enough to drink too much it was Dad who fixed my aching head with a cheery “serves you right” and a raw egg hangover cure. And it was Dad who understood how I felt when I was dumped by the only angel in a world of plastic mannequin women. Nothing was said, but he shared my pain.
And now I am feeling his pain. He doesn’t have an unspeakable disease; he is just getting old. He struggles to see, to hear, to walk. The never-ending ache of arthritis wracks his joints. It is too much for him to bear. His spirit is fading away and watching his decline is agony for me. The Dylan Thomas poem, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, keeps going around in my head. I want my father to fight on, to be my superhero again, to defeat the creeping juggernaut of death.
Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.
But it is no good. My father’s life is coming to an end. If he doesn’t have the strength to carry on, how can I? Peering over the parapet, looking out over the rooftops, there is just one thought in my head. Jump. It would be so easy. So quick. A few seconds and my anguish would be over. It was the Devil’s voice and I could not disobey.
. . .
As I looked down a woman in a traditional Spanish dress came out of a doorway. She had long black hair and she moved with the grace of a swan. As I watched she waved at her friends in the bar opposite. A warm smile lit up her face and the essential spark of life itself shone in her eyes. My Spanish señorita walked lightly across the square and into a café where a chalkboard advertised traditional Spanish dancing. The Devil challenged my reverie. “She is not your señorita, my friend. And your father is still slowly dying.”
I wavered there for a time but the Devil’s grip had been loosened and another voice floated up from among the hubbub below. I don’t know if it was the voice of God or just the voice of Reason but it did not cower when the Devil spoke. “Look”, it said, “there is another way out. A better way.”
. . .
I found the café where the señorita had gone and ordered a beer. It wasn’t long before she appeared and began to dance. At first she performed traditional dances, swirling her skirts, stamping her feet and clacking castanets. Then the mood changed and she moved on to a more modern, more sensual style. Pretending to flirt with the men in the audience she picked out one or two to join her on the dance floor.
I was about to order another beer when she beckoned to me. Time stopped. All conscious thought evaporated. Propelled onto the dance floor by invisible hands I joined her and we danced. I was a puppet controlled by her voice, her eyes, her hands. Together we stepped and spun, twisted and swung, instinct choreographing our movements.
The Songwriter’s Standpoint
Into the Night marries the grandeur of the Canadian Rockies to the fire of Latin American rhythms. It rattles along like a steam train on a record run, huffing and puffing through a mountain pass. On the footplate the stokers are heaving great shovelfuls of coal into the firebox, sweating with heat and exertion. As we watch the engine sweep by, a blues-influenced rock guitar line sings of an anguish quelled by a vision of beauty and gracefulness, an evil defeated by love.
Like a gift from the heavens, it was easy to tell
It was love from above, that could save me from hell.
She had fire in her soul, it was easy to see
How the devil himself could be pulled out of me.
There were drums in the air as she started to dance
Every soul in the room keeping time with their hands.
Like a piece to the puzzle that falls into place
You could tell how we felt from the look on our faces.
She was spinning in circles with the moon in her eyes,
No room left to move in between you and I.
We forgot where we were, and we lost track of time
And we sang to the wind as we danced through the night.
And we danced on into the night…
The Video-Maker’s Viewpoint
There’s a lovely example of unintentional humour on the Wikipedia page for Into the Night. It describes the video in these words:
The music video features a man … about to jump off a roof when he sees a girl … dancing. He falls for her immediately …
Of course he doesn’t literally fall; he just admires the dancer’s beauty and graceful movements and in doing so his inner demons are tamed and vanquished.
The video uses shots of Carlos Santana and Chad Kroeger performing the song interleaved with scenes on the roof and in the café/bar. The clips of the dancing beauty and her troubled partner are annoyingly brief, as if semi-subliminal adverts have been inserted into a short film of the Santana guitarists. I know it’s a music video but wouldn’t it be better to feature the lovely woman at the centre of the story more prominently than the musicians? It is a visual medium after all. Or am I seeing with a Crotchety Old Man’s eyes?
The video is on YouTube. You can find it here.