Summer Music Challenge: 9,000 Days

Although more than one day has passed since the last post, here’s the next installment in the series: a song I like with a number in the title.

music challenge

The song I have chosen today is “9,000 Days,” performed by the South African vocal group Overtone.

“9,000 Days” is a track composed for the 2009 Clint Eastwood motion picture Invictus, featuring Morgan Freeman as the late South African president Nelson Mandela. The film, set in 1995, focuses on Mandela’s new freedom after spending 27 years in prison (roughly 9,000 days), hoping to begin to reunite South Africa after the recent end of apartheid. In order to begin, he tries to unite the country through rugby. Which, fun fact, I was in rugby club for a semester in eighth grade, but that’s not important right now.

The song, although the title pays homage to the amount of time Mandela spent incarcerated, is based loosely off of William Henley’s poem “Invictus.” The poem is written below.

Out of the night which covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Out of the night that covers me
I’m unafraid, I believe.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Beyond the hours that turned to years,
I thank whatever, whatever gods may be.
 
9,000 days were set aside,
9,000 days of destiny,
9,000 days to thank gods,
Wherever they may be…
 
It matters not the circumstance,
We rise above,
We took a chance.
And I thank whatever, whatever gods may be.
(Whatever gods may be…)
9,000 days were set aside,
9,000 days of destiny,
9,000 days to thank gods,
Wherever they may be…
 
Oh, a broken heart that turned to stone
Can break a man but not his soul!
 
9,000 days were set aside,
9,000 days of destiny,
9,000 days to thank gods,
Wherever they may be.
And I thank whatever, whatever gods may be…
This song is actually genius. It borrows phrases from the poem “Invictus” which is the poem that movie Invictus was named for, meanwhile connecting it back to Nelson Mandela through the repeated use of “9,000 days,” and LET’S NOT EVEN TALK ABOUT THE STRINGS SECTION OR THE BEAUTIFUL HARMONIES AND I– *breathes*
What I love about this song is its seamless incorporation of Henley’s original words. The original poem is so powerful, its meaning closing the work: I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul. 
It doesn’t matter what circumstance you’re in; it doesn’t matter what the odds are. You do not have to be conquered. You are the master of your fate, and you can decide how far you go.
And I love the lack of closure, how whenever gods are addressed, it is always followed with, “…wherever they may be.” It speaks to this weird part of the human soul that is unsure of its place in the universe. No one knows for sure what God has in store for us, and no one has solid, physical evidence that there even is one. But there will always be a desire for something to be out there, someone listening. Wherever or whomever they are, there is always a reason to be grateful. Even in the midst of the storm, there is always gratitude.
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