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  • Tom Benjamin

ONE LESS APPLE


ONE LESS APPLE is a song that began in the most unlikely of places and went on to cover a lot of ground I didn’t realize at the time. One morning on Maui, I opened our refrigerator and took out an apple. As I closed the door and walked across the kitchen it dawned on me there was one less apple in there. The image of one less apple on the “Tree of Life” immediately came to mind. One less apple on the “Tree of Life”… of course, & what then? 


After that fateful night in the Garden of Eden, word spread an apple was missing and the “who done it” scenario began. The repercussions of which, real or imagined, are still reverberating today.


How to retell this ancient story in a fresh way started a stream of ideas and images running through my head. Almost everyone knows this story and I’m no different. I was raised in the midwest. Sundays meant Sunday school and church…in my case Protestant in a small town. The Catholic Church downtown was the one many of my friends attended in those days, and as they often reminded me, the only one that could keep me “from going to hell”!


Looking back, that distant “other” world of lost innocence and simple explanations for everything is as much a part of ONE LESS APPLE as anything. You accepted everything on face value. The garden, the apple, the nakedness, the shame, the biblical shadows and shivers at the thought of plagues and pain and leprosy … yes, leprosy really bothered me in those days. It was a fearful condition and caused me as a kid to feel waves of compassion for those poor souls afflicted with such an unspeakable disease. I checked myself regularly for any signs of it and tried to “live right” to avoid such a curse.

Who done it? Well, we were taught it was Eve who picked the apple from the tree and tempted Adam. On the next morning the world was changed. Adam and Eve were aware and ashamed of their nakedness but had no one to blame but themselves. Like the song says: “You don’t know you’re naked ’til you do. Exposed for what you've done with nowhere left to run.” So, here we are, still blaming and shaming and trying to figure it all out, like the animals in the song who “blinked in disbelief” at the “new use for a fig leaf”.


The camels, monkeys and pigeons in the third verse relieve some of the stress and tribulations I imagine I felt as a young boy trying to deal with all of this. A nod must be given to Paul Simon’s “At the Zoo” and Bob Dylan’s “Man Gave Names to All the Animals” two songs I’ve always admired. These songs gave me a “pass” to put some observant animals into this song. I think we all often feel this way … wide eyed in disbelief at all that is going on around us.


So, ONE LESS APPLE became much more than an apple innocently enough taken out of the “fridge”. That apple touched off a flood of memories from a life so removed it sometimes seems like it never happened. Who were these people? Where have they gone? Did they have a good life? Did they become who they hoped they’d be? Were they treated well? Did they know dignity? Were they respected? Were they protected and given a chance to flourish? I hope so! I can’t remember all the details. Faces and names blur into one another, but they were good people, each in their own way, sometimes “hiding in the shadows”, sometimes “walking in the light”, aren’t we all. … Tom B

ONE LESS APPLE appears on my recent COSMIC CIRCUS TENT EP. A special thanks goes out to the musicians who played and sang with me on this track: Kirby Shelstad, Suchi Waters Benjamin & The Danberrys: Dorothy Daniel and Ben DeBerry.





ONE LESS APPLE

Tom Benjamin - music/lyrics


There's one less apple on the tree

There's one less apple on the tree

When that mornin' sun rolled 'round

There for all to see

One less apple on the tree

And you know those apples don't come free

The garden was damp from a midnight rain

The garden was damp from a midnight rain

There were footprints on the ground

Left without a sound

In the garden damp from a midnight rain

That morning the world first knew shame

Oh... my my

Something changed late last night

Oh... my my

Now we're hidin' in the shadows ...

Instead of walkin' in the light

The camels blinked in disbelief

The camels blinked in disbelief

The monkeys swallowed hard

The pigeons froze in place

When the camels blinked in disbelief

What was this new use for a fig leaf?

You don't know you're naked 'til you do

You don't know you're naked 'til you do

Exposed for what you've done

With nowhere left to run

You don't know you're naked 'til you do

And there's no one to blame except for you

Oh... my my

Something changed late last night

Oh... my my

Now we're hidin' in the shadows …

Instead of walkin' in the light

Walkin’ in the light

Walkin’ in the light …

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