M. Ward's Three Queries

A few weeks ago I was hanging out with a friend who happened to mention he too loves M. Ward who happens to be one of my favorite singer/songwriters. He asked me if I knew which was his Quaker song and I said no. He pulled out his iPod, plugged it into our car stereo and turned on Chinese Translation. Chinese Translation is a beautiful song, one of those songs that you listen to a hundred times but until someone says “did you know that song is about…” or gives you a different way to look at it, it’s content to just rolls off your ears. Well that’s what’s been happening to me and this song until my friend made clear the three queries that Ward presents in his song.

I sailed a wild, wild sea
climbed up a tall, tall mountain
I met a old, old man
beneath a weeping willow tree
He said now if you got some questions
go and lay them at my feet
but my time here is brief
so you’ll have to pick just three

And I said
What do you do with the pieces of a broken heart
and how can a man like me remain in the light
and if life is really as short as they say
then why is the night so long

and then the went down
and he sang for me this song

See I once was a young fool like you
afraid to do the things
that I knew I had to do
So I played an escapade just like you
I played an escapade just like you
I sailed a wild, wild sea
climbed up a tall, tall mountain
I met an old, old man
he sat beneath a sapling tree
He said now if you got some questions
go and lay them at my feet
but my time here is brief
so you’ll have to pick just three…

1. What do you do with the pieces of a broken heart?

2. How can a man like me remain in the light?

3. If life is really as short as they say then why is the night so long?

Number two is the one that stands out and connects with me and I have plenty of people who ask number 1 and 3. These seem to be universal questions that we all experience at one point or another in our lives. Maybe these are questions you wonder too? Either way this is great Quaker song! Enjoy.

Published by

Wess

...is the William R. Roger Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a "released minister" at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.

4 thoughts on “M. Ward's Three Queries”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! I wandered over to Amazon to listen to more of his stuff and I absolutely love it. 🙂

    Funny thing is I had heard him before, but didn’t know it. I’ve had “She & Him” on my wishlist for a while now. I knew it was Zooey, but didn’t realize it was also M. Ward.

    Again thank you. I love music so much and it is (in my opinion) hard to find truly talented individuals.

  2. I haven’t bought any She & Him albums yet, but I have listened to the excerpts of their new album on Amazon and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve listened to.

    I do prefer Ward’s voice over Zooey’s.

    Though I’ve hesitated to buy any S&H songs, I immediately bought three of Ward’s songs after listening to Chinese Translation here. 🙂 I bought Chinese Translation, Rave On and Never Had Nobody Like You. (The last two have Zooey on backup.)

    1. I would recommend listening to his album Hold Time when you get a chance. I think as someone interested in theology you may particularly enjoy his song “epistemology.”

      I love most of his albums and feel the same as you about Zooey.

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