THE BLOG

Love Is the Law

02/23/2015 12:24 pm ET | Updated Apr 25, 2015
franckreporter via Getty Images

"Discover a second face hidden behind the one you see." -Søren Kierkegaard

We shot a music video today at three sites. One, outside the cafe where Danish filmmaker Finn Nørgaard was killed last week. Two, outside the synagogue where guard Dan Uzan was shot by the same gunman. Three, at Søren Kierkegaard's gravesite.

On this day in 1843, Kierkegaard published his first book, the voluminous double volume "Either/Or." It was an epic argument for something beyond the law of identity. A thing was always more than itself. The ethical man was obligated to make changes and improve himself.

As we drove into Copenhagen, the weather couldn't make up its mind. Would it snow or rain? Next to the gravesite, we put our things in a dry spot underneath two massive, sweeping yews. We jumped up and down and clapped our hands together to get warm in preparation for shedding our coats and gloves to play through the song three times. The gardener walked up, wheeling a cart load of plant trimmings.

"What are you doing?"

"We're taking a picture in front of Søren Kierkegaard's grave," my friend MC said.

He looked dubious. "Is it for commercial use?"

"No. Well, we made an album based on the ideas of Kierkegaard and Bob Dylan's music. We're playing a show in Vordingborg tonight."

He put down his cart. "You're not really allowed to. You realize you need to apply to do things like that. But, if you promise that you will only take pictures of yourself and Kierkegaard's grave, I'll let you do it. And if you're going to Vordingborg, you should eat at Babette."

Then he gave us three more restaurant recommendations. His eyes began to sparkle. He called me "Americano." "Do you know we have the best restaurant in the world? Here in Copenhagen. But Noma is a marketing department. Where will they be in five years? You should stay classic."

He found out MC was from Præstø and started talking in the dialect of the region. He's from there too. He asked us if we knew where Regine Olsen was buried.

Regine Olsen was Kierkegaard's only love, though he called off their engagement to pursue philosophy monastically for the rest of his short life. He broke her heart.

"It is the most important grave in the cemetery." He told his assistant to watch our things and motioned for us to follow him. We took paths and then cut across the grass to a humble stone in an ivy patch. He stepped in and cleared the ivy from her name. He took off his hat and the snow fell on his bald head. "It's not on the map. It's on my map." He pointed to his head. "That's the best map here."

"It's not a fancy grave," he said. "It's classic." He replaced his hat and we walked back to the yews, colder now from the delay. The gardener bid us a good day. We took off our coats and gloves and played the song three times as the snow turned to a brutal drizzle and back again. Our fingers were numb.

Then we drove over to Krudttønden, the cafe where the shooting started. It means "the powder keg." Kierkegaard would have enjoyed the irony.

Two police stood in front of the cafe. One man. One woman. Everyone agreed. "I've never seen Danish police with machine guns." A small display of flowers lay in front of the door. Across the street, a mat of flowers and candles covered the asphalt and bled onto the sidewalk. Small signs. In a heart made of candles, "We are not afraid." Stapled to the ramp up to the front door, "Copenhagen strong." Among the flowers on the street, "Dansk Muslimsk Union."

MC went over to the police and talked for a moment. I held the posters under my coat to keep them from getting wet, which in retrospect maybe wasn't the best idea. The police walked over to me. With machine guns.

"He wants to see the signs." I pulled them out of my coat. Slowly.

LOVE IS THE FULFILLMENT OF THE LAW

"It's a passage from Romans," I said.

"Yeah okay."

A TREE WILL BE RECOGNIZED BY ITS FRUIT

"Okay."

THE GRACE OF GOD CAN NEVER BE SEIZED BY FORCE

"Okay." The police man smiled politely, holding his machine gun ready with both hands.

I thanked the officer. I gave one sign to MC and one to Jacob. "Put them wherever you want to."

Walking back to the van, I saw another mass of flowers on the corner. Among the gladiolus and tulips, there were plastic-covered copies of Charlie Hebdo, the last cover with Muhammad crying and holding up a sign, "JE SUIS CHARLIE."

We went to a cafe and had a warm, delicious lunch. Candles on the table at noon. The brave face of the city. We are Danes and, come hell or high water, we will be cozy.

We drove to the center of the city, parked, and walked down the cobblestone Krystalgade to the synagogue. The iron fence was overwhelmed with flowers. Pinks, roses, and lilies a foot deep. Basketballs signed with personal messages, sinking in flowers. The guard's jersey hung on the gate, embroidered with a Star of David. Among the bouquets, at the edge below our feet, a single candle still burned in the rain, the only lit candle I saw outside all day, over a child's note in Danish, pasted to the street by the rain.

"What does this sign say?"

"Hi Dan. We're sorry you died. We love you. Sincerely..." and ended with the two children's names.

People came and took pictures and shook their heads. We did our thing. People pushed through on their bikes, trying to go about their business, forging a path through the tragedy. Life went on.

Driving to Vordingborg, MC said to me, "Have you ever noticed how often, when you ask people what kind of music they like, they will say things like, 'Well I don't like pop music.'? It's as is we have to know what we're not, what we're against, in order to know ourselves."

We're releasing Mother Tongue today, February 20th, 2015. The album cover is a face made of two faces: Bob Dylan and Søren Kierkegaard, two writers whose work thrives on contradiction and anonymity. Now you see me. Now you don't. Who am I?

We should never be surprised when we find horror or grace in the most unexpected places. A thing is always more than itself. Discover a second face hidden behind the one we see.

We have one more show tomorrow night in Tønder. I'll leave you with the lyrics to the song we made the video for today.

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Love Is The Law

Love is the law. Love is not ruled by laws.
Love is the law. Love is not ruled by laws.
The holy fire burning in your heart
can't be divided like light from dark.
Love is the law. Love is not ruled by laws.

All is enough. Less is not love at all.
The law is just, despite every rise and fall.
The king is dead. Long live the king.
What can we give him who has everything?
All is enough. Less is not love at all.

Love is the law.

You can't run. You can't hide.
The blackest fruit has a seed inside.

Love is the law. Love is not ruled by laws.
All is enough. There is no higher call.
Every light shines from a single flame.
"You Shall Love" is Heaven's name.
All is enough. There is no higher call.

Love is the law.

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Your fan,

JByrd