Nick DeStefano – We Seek Higher Ground

Nick DeStefano – We Seek Higher Ground


They say pictures are worth a thousand words. Set them to a song both heartbreaking and reflective and you have yourself a full blown narrative. Nick DeStefano’s “We Seek Higher Ground” channels Fred Durst a la the “Behind Blue Eyes” cover, and you can’t get any more literal than the track title here.

The harrowing song details the tragic events of a flood – after a few frames we understand it could very well revolve heavily around the storm at Seaside Heights, NJ, a few years back – and the use of pictures throughout paint the tale of its effects. Notably, the chosen photographs showcase the physical aspect of the natural disaster balanced by DeStefano’s lyrics which depict the pathos of the victims.

The video’s power can be thanked to the lack of human beings in it. Frankly, we don’t have to see human despair to understand it. A shot of the American flag almost covered in water and tremendous property damage (vehicles, playgrounds, and houses completely covered) is enough to understand a distant stranger’s pain. There is a loss of innocence that is sensed throughout as DeStefano’s hook cries, “We seek higher ground/As our memories wash away/We seek higher ground/As our pain lies deep within our veins.”

Poetically, the photographs seen in the video are pinned to the barks of trees. Despite nature providing some of the most life-altering (and life-ending) circumstances known to mankind, it is also a provider of life. Mother Nature stands as a sort of middle ground here in the finger pointing of fault in tragedies.

The idea of memories represented are elegiacally shown by the out of focus shots that introduce the viewer to each set of pictures. While photos are indisputable, it is as though we are brought back to hazy occurrences we wish to forget. DeStefano sings, “The nights are cold/The power’s out/We pack our bags/Feel like there’s no way out/What can you do when this is your home?/We have nowhere to go and my family’s close.” This sense of a dead end is driven home by an aerial view immediately after which reveals the widespread impact of the damage across this particular town.

What comes as a beautiful reminder of hope is the frequent use of the video’s only live moving shot. We flow down the water glancing at a space between two trees. The sun shines vividly with streams of light flooding the scene. Obviously, it is a different type of “flooding,” one that is more welcoming and warm. We then shift back to the photographs of disaster. This works in how it presents man’s seesaw of emotions during a catastrophe – we struggle between maintaining hope and realizing the physical loss of what lies before us.

DeStefano’s most evoking lyrics are heard somewhere in the middle of the track: “Watching my kids throw away all their toys/The tears in their eyes/The pain in their voice.” The context here suggests that such a misfortunate brings a universal understanding of grief.

What happens when the storm clears? You deal with the rubble. “We Seek Higher Ground” ends with just that – the water is dry but the scars remain. While a total buzzkill, “We Seek Higher Ground” provides a sobering reminder of what we have.

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Martha Tilly