From The Inside (From The Inside, 1978)
“From The Inside” Lyrics:
I got lost on the road somewhere
Was it Texas or was it Canada
Drinking whiskey in the morning light
I work the stage all night long
At first we laughed about it
My long haired drunken friends
Proposed a toast to Jimmy’s ghost
I never dreamed that I would wind up on the losing end
I’m stuck here on the inside looking out
I’m just another case
Where’s my makeup where’s my face on the inside
All got your kicks from what you saw up there
Eight bucks even buys a folding chair
I was downing seagrams on another flight
And I worked that stage all night long
You were screaming for the villain up there
And I was much obliged
The old road sure screwed me good this time
It’s hard to see where the vicious circle ends
I’m stuck here on the inside looking out
That’s no big disgrace
Where’s my makeup where’s my face on the inside
This week we take another look at ‘From The Inside‘ released in 1978. The tracks and album are met with mixed reviews, yet the album is invaluable to Alice’s catalog. His heart is poured out in a way that fuses honesty, comedy, and raw emotion into a finely recorded piece. One that celebrates his journey to sobriety (and the characters he met along the way). Dissecting the title track, we find Alice recounting his time on the road. The song paints a picture of how he ended up at Cornell Medical Center in Mid-October 1977. A nightmarish scenario unfolds as he sings about drunken nights traveled across the country. The whiskey, the crowd, and his withdrawal into the clinic are discussed as he growls, “The old road sure screwed me good this time”, “I’m stuck here on the inside looking out”, “Where’s my makeup, where’s my face on the inside“. The listener is drawn in to the hospital with Alice. Ready to meet whatever he is about to find during his stay.
Has there ever been a time in your life when you were caught up in something? In your work? In your play? In your misery? In your joy? In your pain? In yourself? These aren’t easy questions to ask or answer. However, most of us, at some time or another, have gone down that rabbit hole. That spiraling hole that leaves us with a brief or lengthy stay in the solitude of our minds. Alone with our thoughts. Forced to spend time self-reflecting and recollecting past events. An ‘on the inside looking out’ sort of experience. A place you never really thought you’d ever be. A path that didn’t seem so tough until you reached your destination. Then only to find out that you’ve be traveling in a ‘vicious cycle’ and never wondering when it would end. Then once it ended, you were baffled by what had just happened. For Alice, it was an addiction to alcohol. But it can be any number of things such as: pride, malice, lust, greed, envy, etc. Things that lead us to very dark places in life. Places that require an intervention.
Things don’t just happen to us…almost everything that we seriously consider in this world has a physical, emotional, mental, and/or spiritual aspect attached to it. A physical condition (such as an illness or addiction), a career, an interest, and/or any other event of this life carries with it one, more, or all of those aspects. In this post, we will be looking at those elements and the affect they can have on us.
Alice vividly speaks of a time when he would wake up vomiting blood. The negative effects of alcohol had reached a crescendo. His body was shutting down. Physical strife is a part of this life. Whether it’s self-inflicted, unexplained, just a matter of age, or some other affliction, there’s no doubt that at some point in life we all have or will suffer. But what does suffering bring? Is there anything good or positive that can come from it? Like most things, it becomes what you allow it to be.
The Word offers much to say about suffering. In fact, if you search ‘Bible verses about suffering’ on Google, you are greeted with article after article about the top ten verses, methods for healing, and/or other topics listed about such things, yet it takes a decent amount of research to really find much benefit from affliction. After digging deeper, what we find is a number of verses and stories where God’s Love and adoration for humanity can actually be seen through one’s personal strife. In Job 42:5, we find Job rejoicing after all the trials and tribulation he had walked through. As if he hadn’t fully been made aware of who God was until the horrific events set before him had taken place. Relationships are often formed from suffering as well. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, we find a call for us to comfort others experiencing strife in the same manner which God comforts us. A certain bond is formed between those that have confronted similar afflictions and can share that experience. Lastly, a certain amount of growth, maturity and refinement are products of physical pain as well. In James 1:2-4, we find the power of perseverance. Combine that verse with Isaiah 48:10, and we find that our true character is revealed as we walk through the ‘fire’ so to speak. During these times, who’s character will emerge? Your own? Christ’s character? Maybe a combination? It’s easy to read and claim that physical strife makes you stronger, but it’s something more to actually believe it and discover its meaning while enduring the pain.
We are emotional beings. This album is filled with emotion – the emotions of Alice. As he dealt with the healing processes of sobriety, it seems a bit of anger, regret, vulnerability, fear, etc. were revealed as well. While it’s true, the majority of the album is about other folks in the sanatorium, there’s still a heartfelt confessional playing out as the record spins. It’s evident. Emotions are tricky. Depending on your state of affairs, you may find certain places in life where you are controlling your emotions or your emotions are controlling you. The three main ways to deal with your emotions are: 1) Control them, 2) Let them control you, or 3) Suppress them. Maybe you have a firm grip on keeping your cool at work, yet lash out irrationally at loved ones in the home. Maybe you have suppressed all emotion for a parent, spouse, and/or other friend/family member that you once cared deeply about. Whatever the case may be, we can’t escape our emotions. We must learn how to utilize them – not hide from them.
The Word shows us that Christ, like the rest of humanity, was emotional. He showed a number of emotions during his time here on earth. In fact, we find some unexpected emotional responses to unlikely scenarios. For instance, Hebrews 12:2 reads, “For the joy set before Him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Stop and think about that for a moment. Jesus was joyous about being humiliated, beaten, and finally crucified on the cross? Why? Because he knew it was the Father’s will. He knew that His sacrifice was the father’s gift to humanity. Another emotional moment, finds him angry at the Pharisees. In Matthew 23:33, it reads, “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?” Jesus was angry at their actions. He was upset with those leaders for abusing their power. For making claims they had no right to claim. For condemning others when they were just as guilty. Christ’s range of emotions were vast. He was observed showing compassion (Matthew 9:20-22, John 8:1-11), suffering in agony (Luke 22:42), exhausted (Mark 6:31, Luke 5:16), full of sorrow (John 11:33-35) and many other emotional states. Using Christ’s example, we find responding with emotion is natural. It’s part of human nature. However, what we also see is Christ using a healthy amount of self-control when exercising His emotional responses. We must do our best to strive for the same.
There’s a civil war being waged between His Spirit and our flesh. That war is played out in the battlefield of our minds. In fact, it’s the toughest war we face as believers. The way we think is not always Biblical, but the truth is, we are the gatekeepers of our own thoughts. We have control over them. We can displace them with His Word. We decide what we let in and what we keep out. Our thought process and mental health winds up controlling the majority of our lives and also influences the other aspects mentioned above as well. Mental toughness takes practice. However, mental preparation greatly reduces your chances of being ensnared by the traps laid forth by the enemy.
The Word gives us many guidelines with regard to our thoughts. However, Psalm 119:130 lays the groundwork for our mind perfectly. It reads, “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” If we are to walk with Him, His Word must be ingrained in us. We must be able to draw upon scripture and apply it to our everyday thoughts. He has spelled out who we are to be and how we are to think. It’s not a secret. It’s about taking every thought captive and turning it over to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). It’s a process. The process of a lifetime. A struggle where battles are won and lost along the way. But we fight to win the war. One of the most important things to remember and know is that His Will for us is perfect (Jeremiah 29:11, 1 Timothy 2:3-4). Don’t buy into the world’s perspective. A life walked with Christ is not one lived in captivity. He doesn’t ask us to submit our thought process to Him in bondage. He asks us to submit our thoughts to Him that we may be FREE. For where He is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).
The spiritual side of things requires faith. It requires a willingness to trust and know that there is more to this life than just the tangible aspects. Like the other aspects, we can decide whether we want to acknowledge the significance of its presence or not. Some embrace it. Some have found it easier to ignore or suppress those things. And others may not really even know or understand that it exists.
God’s Word is saturated with accounts of unexplained miracles, blessings, and the existence of the spiritual realm. The unseen events that bring us to Life. A new Life in Him. Ephesians 2:1-10 clearly references the spiritual world. That there is a spirit of this world – the ruler of the kingdom of the air (the enemy) – and the Holy Spirit – the spirit of salvation – made available to us through Christ Jesus. While it may seem confusing that such forces carry power (God’s power being all powerful and the enemy’s relying on us to grant him power), it’s not ambiguous. In fact, it’s quite obvious. If you begin searching for it, know that it’s not found in some scientific theory or equation. It’s found in faith. In the practice of faith. And usually not on the surface but deeper within. For instance, the power of prayer and transformation can be seen all around us, but it requires that we also seek His will (Matthew 7:7, 1 John 5:14-15). It’s not just a ‘believe it and He will do it’ sort of deal. It requires that your desires align with His Sovereign Will (Acts 4:28), His Moral Will (Matthew 22:36-40), and His Permissive Will (Psalm 37). For instance, don’t expect God to move or respond if your plea requires the opposite of His nature. If your prayer requires Him to be something different than who He is, don’t expect things to change. In fact, the further we walk in alignment with His Spirit, the more we begin to notice His Kingdom here on earth. We begin to see our prayers matching His Word (John 17:1-25). We see people bearing His fruit (John 15:1-8, Galatians 5:22-23). We see the church (His people) working together to accomplish His works. We see Love. Unconditional Love. Love that gives without asking for anything in return (John 15:13). We see change and transformation in the most unlikely places. We see His Spirit guiding and controlling the hearts and minds of those that seek and love Him. Are His people perfect? No. Do they fail? Yes. But is He evident in their works? Yes. Accepting Christ and embracing His Spirit, does not strip away the imperfections of humanity. It acknowledges that there is more. That we have faith in knowing that righteousness comes not through our works but through Him. We are made righteous through His Spirit.
Wrapping this up, we are complex creatures. Everything we experience carries with it one or more facets of our being. Whether it’s physical, emotional, spiritual, mental or a combination, our interactions with life are seen through those lenses. We were created that way. Our minds and bodies are comprised of many moving parts, processes, and functions. Things we can’t completely comprehend through our own understanding. Yet we take great comfort in knowing Him as our Creator and Lord (Romans 1:20). We know that through His Word the aspects of this life can begin to make sense. He’s given us the blueprints to follow. Question is, are we willing to?
In conclusion, “From The Inside” is a great song. One that really makes you examine your own thought process and well-being. It forces you to analyze the direction your life is heading. Could you ‘wind up on the losing end’? Are there areas in your life where you need help? Do you feel as if you are failing in certain areas? Maybe with family and friends? Maybe at work? Maybe just life in general? If so, don’t allow any of those conditions to fester. Seek out help. Confide in someone you trust. Be willing to recognize that life isn’t meant to be walked alone. It’s meant to be walked with Him. It’s meant to be walked with one another. It’s not meant to be pretty. It’s meant to be a process. A process that continually brings you back to Him. A place where you can always find comfort and rest. Knowing that He is in control – no matter the circumstances. When you take a look ‘Inside’ your heart, your mind, and/or your soul, can He be found there? If not, today’s the day to do something about that. Today’s the day to make a fresh start. Be well and catch you next week!
Keep walkin’ in Faith and rockin’ with Alice!
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"God, I believe in you and your son Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave to save me. Today, I invite Jesus into my heart to stay. I make you Lord over my life. Make me new. Wash me, Lord, and cleanse me. In Jesus Name, Amen"
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