The Difficulty of the Twelfth Step…
…not that the other steps are easy…
I am responsible when anyone, anywhere
Reaches out for help, I want my hand to be there
– The Shattered Fortress, Dream Theater (lyrics by Mike Portnoy, dedicated to Bill W.)
This will be complicated…. Splitting it into two parts will help.
First, the song. The Shattered Fortress appears on the 2009 release, Black Clouds and Silver Linings. It is the last song in what is known as the Twelve-Step Suite by Dream Theater – with the lyrics all written by the drummer, Mike Portnoy.
As you might have surmised, it is his reflection on his experience of alcoholism and recovery via Alcoholics Anonymous (hence, the dedication to William Griffith Wilson, also known as Bill Wilson or Bill W. – the co-founder of this organization). Portnoy took his final drink on April 20, 2000. It was his thirty-third birthday. He credits AA with saving his life.
Altogether, the Suite includes five songs, with one song appearing on each of five consecutive Dream Theater albums spanning over seven years, from 2002 – 2009. The lyrics above are the last lines of the last of these five songs, identified as XII: Responsible. Step twelve, as published by Alcoholics Anonymous, reads as follows:
Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
The song incorporates the words from what is commonly known as the Prayer of St. Francis. There are other passages of equally meaningful reflection – all from the view of looking at the life of another, of how to be of service, of how to hold humility and empathy. Some examples:
Justice but do not judge
Courtesy for others’ flaws
Kindness — it’s not that hard
Self-restraint of tongue and pen
Inventory — my daily friend
Analysis let down your guard
I always thought that this song was one of the best examples of Dream Theater, both lyrically and musically. But when it first came out – and for several years the
Article from LewRockwell