The Empty Chair

Oscar Nominee for Best Song 2017 from the Documentary ‘Jim: The James Foley Story’

James Foley was a journalist who reported “conflict news” . meaning he went to Libya but came home . meaning he went to Syria . he did not return . instead ISIS kidnapped him with other journalists who did come home.

He was so full of life. I have watched the documentary and was awe inspired by his genuine concern and sincerity toward the people with whom he befriended and told their story. He went where the bombs were dropping and the bullets went whizzing by. What compelled him to return to the Middle East after being in Libya when Qaddafi was being overthrown and eventually assassinated by a brutal crowd.

Why he went back . his family search for answers. He wasn’t happy just taking life easy.

Listen to the song ‘The Empty Chair’ (I felt it should have won the Oscar for Best Song but instead an unbearable song to listen to from La La Land received the honors.) It speaks for Jim who will never come home. So moving and so is his whole story. Just reading the lyrics out loud to ‘The Empty Chair’ makes me cry. The same happens hearing Sting singing the song.

– j.kiley

The Empty Chair – Sting (by J. Ralph & Sting


If I should close my eyes, that my soul can see
And there’s a place at the table that you saved for me
So many thousand miles over land and sea
I hope to dare, that you hear my prayer
And somehow I’ll be there
It’s but a concrete floor where my head will lay
And though the walls of this prison are as cold as clay
But there’s a shaft of light where I count my days
So don’t despair of the empty chair
And somehow I’ll be there
Some days I’m strong, some days I’m weak
And days I’m so broken I can barely speak
There’s a place in my head where my thoughts still roam
Where somehow I’ve come home
And when the Winter comes and the trees lie bare
And you just stare out the window in the darkness there
Well I was always late for every meal you’ll swear
But keep my place and the empty chair
And somehow I’ll be there
And somehow I’ll be there

Songwriters: Gordon Sumner / Joshua Ralph
The Empty Chair lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

3 thoughts on “The Empty Chair

  1. Wow! Thank you for posting this! What an amazing song! Knew of the story, but wasn’t aware of this film. The next THR video explains how Sting first refused to make a song for the film, saying it was too emotional and couldn’t, and then was at home around the table for Thanksgiving and wondered how it would feel like to have a loved one in captivity overseas. The answer came to him with the image of keeping an empty chair for them at the table. He had his song.


    • Thank you for your response. It is a sad story about a magnificent person who showed courage and caring for the children & innocent adults he encountered. They loved him. His family loved him. When I first heard the song ‘The Empty Chair’ it ripped open my emotions. I was struck down with the feeling he must have felt. He did have others going through his ordeal – extremely frightening for all – counting the sunset or sunrise to keep track of time. It was only near the end they freed his fellow inmates but not James Foley. I watched the Documentary. It will lift you up to break your heart but worthy of your time to honor his life. Being a ‘conflict journalist’ was what fed Jim. It was his life. The story of the empty chair is so beautiful. When I hear the words with the music I can not hold back my tears. – j.kiley

      Liked by 2 people

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