Well, the song begins with a very dismal introduction. A slow, sad piano tune starts it out, giving the listener an almost depressing feeling (as if the title didn’t already). The first words that are sung by lead singer Matt Theissen are “I can feel the death on the sheets covering me. I can’t believe this is the end.” Already, in this 11 minute song, the stage is set. This is going to be the story of a man on his deathbed and who is soon to die (“…this is my deathbed, I lie here alone. If I close my eyes tonight, I know I’ll be home.”)
In the first verse, Theissen, as the man in the story, sings of his early childhood, specifically, his life at eight years old. At this age, he admits that he was naive enough to believe “the tales a kind mother made up for her son,” such as the story of how her father had left to go to the war (this was the year 1941, Theissen points out) and “died there with honor, somewhere on a beach there.” In reality, his father had been a preacher who traveled all around “teaching the words of the Teacher,” and eventually left his wife and son altogether. At eight years old, the man claims had he abandoned the thought of being a good father, perhaps subconsciously, just as he had been abandoned by his own father.
Then the scene jumps to 1947, when the man was 14. By this age, the man states that he had “acquired a taste for liquor and nicotine.” This habbit of smoking and drinking stayed with him for thirty years, and the man will not deny that that is why he is now laying on his deathbed.
In the second verse, we find out that the man was married to his wife on his 21st birthday, and they would have thier first child eight months later. The marriage, however, was seemingly influenced to a certain degree by his wife’s father, “who inquired with the barrel of a gun.” It is presumably because of this that the marriage didn’t work so well. Although they had each other, the two were alone, and after some time, the man’s wife would find someone else that she loved more/at all, and he would conclusion “I hadn’t been oved yet myself.” Without a wife, and no children to take care of, (since his wife had custody over the children) the man resorted to bowling and drinking bottles of Beam. (Theissen makes the clever metaphor of his marriage taking a “7-10 split”)
The third verse is the changing point of the song. The man, at this point, speaks of having been found by God (“I was so scared of Jesus, but He sought me out”) and admits regret for running away for so long. He also realizes that he does not have much time left to live, but at the same time, he is hopeful that he’ll be granted a much better life when he has died. “But then Jesus showed up, said before we go up, I thought that we might reminisce..” Jesus reminds the man of how one night before he went to bed, he had asked for forgiveness, relating the cry for help to a wolf who had just devoured a lamb and after doing so, saying, “What have I done?”
The previously unchanging chorus changes slightly to reveal the inevitable death of the man telling the story. “This was my deathbed, I died there alone. When I closed my eyes tonight, You carried me home.”
Next is a long and elaborate piano solo. At this point, it is safe to assume that the man is being carried from his deathbed to Heaven in the arms of Jesus and then has been brought to the Father. Switchfoot’s lead singer Jon Foreman steps in as God, singing “I am the light, follow me and take my hand. And I am the truth, embrace me and you will understand. And I am the way, and through me you’ll live again, for I am love.” With those words the song is ended.
This is an excellent song, in moral, lyrical and musical aspects. Although it starts off in a slightly depressing way, it succeeds in communicating the ever possible ending of salvation for all who truly ask for forgiveness of their sins.