The Sire of Sorrow (Job’s Sad Song)

The Sire of Sorrow (Job’s Sad Song)

The song above song, by Joni Mitchell, is one of the most powerful songs I have heard in awhile.  Typical for Mitchell, it features a poetic depth that leaves most other artists in the dust.  Both this version and the original are fantastic.  (The original is a more typical Mitchell arrangement based around her guitar.)

The Sire of Sorrow (Job’s Sad Song)

Let me speak let me spit out my bitterness
Born of grief and nights without sleep and festering flesh
Do you have eyes?
Can you see like mankind sees?
Why have you soured and curdled me?
Oh you tireless watcher! What have I done to you?
That you make everything I dread and everything I fear come true?

Once I was blessed; I was awaited like the rain
Like eyes for the blind, like feet for the lame
Kings heard my words, and they sought out my company
But now the janitors of Shadowland flick their brooms at me
Oh you tireless watcher! What have I done to you?
that you make everything I dread and everything I fear come true?

(Antagonists: Man is the sire of sorrow)
I’ve lost all taste for life
I’m all complaints
Tell me why do you starve the faithful?
Why do you crucify the saints?
And you let the wicked prosper
You let their children frisk like deer
And my loves are dead or dying, or they don’t come near
(Antagonists: We don’t despise your chastening
God is correcting you)

Oh and look who comes to counsel my deep distress
Oh, these pompous physicians
What carelessness!
(Antagonists: Oh all this ranting all this wind
Filling our ears with trash)
Breathtaking ignorance adding insult to injury!
they come blaming and shaming
(Antagonists: Evil doer)
And shattering me
(Antagonists: This vain man wishes to seem wise
A man born of asses)
Oh you tireless watcher! What have I done to you?
That you make everything I dread and everything I fear come true?

(Antagonists: We don’t despise your chastening)
Already on a bed of sighs and screams
And still you torture me with visions
You give me terrifying dreams!
Better I was carried from the womb straight to the grave
I see the diggers waiting, they’re leaning on their spades

(Antagonists: Man is the sire of sorrow
Sure as the sparks ascend)
Where is hope while you’re wondering what went wrong?
Why give me light and then this dark without a dawn?
(Antagonists: Evil is sweet in your mouth
Hiding under your tongue)
Show your face!
(Antagonists: What a long fall from grace)
Help me understand!
What is the reason for your heavy hand?
(Antagonists: You’re stumbling in shadows
You have no name now)
Was it the sins of my youth?
What have I done to you?
That you make everything I dread and everything I fear come true?
(Antagonists: Oh your guilt must weigh so greatly)
Everything I dread and everything I fear come true
(Antagonists: Man is the sire of sorrow)
Oh you make everything I dread and everything I fear come true

P.S.  One other thing I’d like to add is that I love the way Mitchell uses backup singers here.  They almost used like a Greek Chorus where they comment on the events at hand.  Leonard Cohen will also sometimes use singers in this same manner.

More Posts On Joni Mitchell Include: The Genius of Joni Mitchell

You Can't Pin Me Down

All of my hymns to depravity
Are really just odes to the Lord
He in his infinite wisdom
Sense of theater and the absurd
All of my psalms of violence
Are really just tributes to love
I’ve been scavaging like a vulture
Looking for the peace of the dove

You can’t pin me down

I will be a cloud of smoke
I will be a dream
I will be a crown of thorns
Up on Calvary
I will be a lover
In the throws of lust
I will be ashes
I will be dust

You can’t pin me down

Hence forth comes a mystery
In our darkest nights
In our deepest dreams

You can’t pin me down

– J. Brown

Neal Cassady Drops Dead

Neal Cassady drops dead
And Allen Ginsberg’s tears shampoo his beard
Neal Cassady drops dead
And Allen Ginsberg’s lips tighten and thin
Neal Cassady drops dead
And Allen Ginsberg’s hosed down in a barn
Neal Cassady drops dead
And Allen Ginsberg’s howl becomes a growl

Everyone has babies
Babies full of rabies
Rabies full of scabies
Scarlet has a fever
Ringlets full of ringworm
Angel of distemper
Poor little fella has got rubella
Liver full of fungus
Junior full of gangrene
Minor’s melanoma
Tykes full of gripe. 
Whippersnapper’s scurvy
Urchin made of acne
Get that thing away from me!

Victim, or life’s adventurer
Which of the two are you?
Victim or life’s adventurer
Which of the two are you? 

Lyrics by Morrissey

Last night I heard a brilliant podcast about Allen Ginsberg.  I don’t remember the name of it, but I will try to find it and link to it somehow.  In the meantime I have been thinking of these lyrics by Morrissey.  Everything dies.  The only thing you can choose is to live life to the fullest or not in the meantime.

You'd Think 'Twas a Crime to be Human

The following lyrics are from a song in Brendan Behan’s play Richard’s Cork Leg:

You’d think ’twas a crime to be human
To sometimes get scared in the park,
When a copper sneaks up there behind you,
And flashes his light in the dark.

To regard savage dogs with suspicion,
In case that the bastards would bite,
To be hauled off to jail on suspicion,
And scared of a scream in the night.

You’d think ’twas a crime to be human,
With sex education in bed,
And postpone your thoughts of hereafter,
‘Till after you are twenty years dead.

To work overtime with young Nancy,
And give her a coffee and roll,
And likewise whatever she’d fancy
By weight or the lump or the whole.

You’d think ’twas come to be human,
And go for a swim in the sea,
And dance with no clothes in the sunshine,
And drink foreign lager for tea.

To regard co-existence with favor,
And nuclear weapons with fear,
To want more return for less labour,
Fatter fish, cheaper chips, better beer.

Let the heroes all die for the people,
If that is what they want to do,
And we’ll struggle on here without them,
I’ve concluded, now, frolics to you.  

Kiss Me A Lot (Official Video)

Above is the official video for Morrissey’s song Kiss Me A Lot, which in my opinion is from the best album from the last few years, World Peace is None of Your Business.  This is easily the most straightforward pop song on the album.  I like the fact that even in a straightforward pop song he can get a term in like, “Bastille mausoleum.”

This video has created a lot of controversy in the world of Morrissey.  He has strongly supported feminism throughout his career.  The fact that this video features scantily clad models, which are so normal in most pop music, has caused disbelief amongst fans.  I admit that I was surprised to see them.

However, I love the song and the man.  Even if you count the above video as a stumble in his career, his life’s work still towers above most of modern pop music.

Buffy Sainte-Marie to Release New Album In May

Buffy-Sainte-Marie-Power-Of-the-Blood-1024x1024

Last night I was extremely happy to find out that Buffy Sainte-Marie will be releasing a new album in May called Power in the Blood.  I found out by seeing the new cover pictured above.  (Looking pretty amazing for 74!)  She is one of the most fearless singer-songwriters of all time.  She was once blacklisted by LBJ for her political stances.  Instead of being defeated by being blacklisted by a sitting president, she just moved forward and continued to be outspoken.  Though most of the songs on the album are new, she starts off the album with a remake of the very last song on her first album.  Usually when an artist puts out a new album I don’t want to hear old songs again.  However, I feel that this time this reassessment of an old song has purpose.  Plus I have heard this version on iTunes and it is fantastic.  It is delivered with fire, brimstone, and power.  Things have gone full circle.  She is, all these years on, as bold as when as she began.  Here are the lyrics to the song It’s My Way:

It’s My Way

(I’m cutting my) own way
through my own day
and all I dare say is
It’s my own

(Got my) own seeds
Got my own weeds
I’ve got my own harvest
that I’ve sown

I can tell you
things I’ve done
and I can sing you
songs I’ve sung
But there’s one thing
I can’t give
for I and I alone can live 

The years I’ve known,
the life I’ve grown.
Got a way I’m going,
and it’s my Way.

I’ve got my own stakes
in my own game
I’ve got my own name
and it’s my Way

I’ve got my own kith
I’ve got my own kin
I’ve got my own sin
and it’s my Way

I’ve got my own peace
I’ve got my own wrath
I’ve got my own path that only I can go
I’ve got my own sword in my own hand
I’ve got my own plan that only I can know

Don’t be sighing
Don’t be crying 
Your day will come; your day alone
Years you’ll know and a life you’ll grow
You got a way to go and it’s all on your own

I’ve got my own world
I’ve got my own life
I’ve got my own strife
and it’s my Way

I’ve got my own wrong
I’ve got my own right
I’ve got my own fight
and it’s my Way

I’ve got my own prayers
I’ve got my own fears
I’ve got my own tears
and it’s my Way

I’ve got my own joy
I’ve got my own load
I’ve got my own road
and it’s my Way

The years I’ve known,
the life I’ve grown.
Got a way I’m going,
and it’s my Way. 

Don’t be sighing
Don’t be crying 
Your day will come; your day alone

Put down the story of what I’ve known
Your bound for glory all of your own 
Put down the story of what I say
You’re bound for glory
all on your own one day

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Indian legislation’s on the desk of a do right congressman
And he don’t know much about the issues so he picks up the phone
And asks the advice of the senator out in Indian country
A darling of the energy companies ripping off
What’s left of the reservation

I learned the safety rule
I don’t know who to thank
Don’t stand between the reservation
And the corporate bank
They’re sending federal tanks
It isn’t nice but it’s reality

Bury my heart at wounded knee
I said deep in the earth
Won’t you cover me with pretty lies
Bury my heart at wounded knee

We got these energy companies
Who want to take the land
And we got churches by the dozens
Trying to guide our hands
And turn our mother earth
Over to pollution war and greed
No no

Bury my heart at wounded knee
Bury my heart at wounded knee
I said deep in the earth
Bury my heart at wounded knee
Won’t you cover me with pretty lies
Bury my heart at wounded knee
Bury my heart at wounded knee

We got the federal marshals
We got the covert spies
We got the liars by fire
And the FBI
They lie in court and get nailed
And still Leonard Peltier goes off to jail
(the bullets don’t match the gun)

Bury my heart at wounded knee
An eighth of the reservation
Bury my heart at wounded knee
Was transferred in secret
Bury my heart at wounded knee
We got your murder and intimidation
Bury my heart at wounded knee

My girlfriend Anna May
Talked about uranium
Her head was full of bullets
And her body dumped
The FBI cut off her hands
And told us she died of exposure

To bury my heart at wounded knee
Bury my heart at wounded knee
I said deep in the earth
Bury my heart at wounded knee
Won’t you cover me with your pretty lies
Bury my heart at wounded knee
Bury my heart at wounded knee
Bury my heart at wounded knee
Talk about a revolution
They stole my land
They won’t steal my soul

We had the gold rush wars
Why didn’t we learn to crawl’
And now our history gets written in a liar’s scrawl
They tell me “don’t be so uptight
I mean honey you can still be an Indian
Down at the y on saturday night”

Bury my heart at wounded knee
Bury my heart at wounded knee
I said deep in the earth
Bury my heart at wounded knee
Won’t you cover me with your pretty lies
Bury my heart at wounded knee
Bury my heart at wounded knee

Bury my heart
It was an eighth of the reservation
Bury my heart
Yeah was transferred in secret
Bury my heart
Got your murder, murder, murder and intimidation
Bury me
Bury me
Bury me
Bury my heart
Bury my heart
Bury my heart
Bury my heart

By Buffy Sainte-Marie.  Just to put an exclamation point on my last blog.

Winter Song by Nico

Winter Song by Nico.  Most of the people I know, from Texas to Pennsylvania and beyond, are in a deep freeze.  The period between New Years and spring is the hardest part of the year as far as I’m concerned.  Even the great Hunter Thompson could not survive this season as he titled his suicide letter, “Football Season is Over.”  I’ve never really taken to winter, either to its sports or its color scheme.  However, there is a strange and dark poetry, a certain kind of magic, that winter can bestow, that I would be a fool to deny.  This song, from Nico’s timeless Chelsea Girl album, is a prime example:

Winter Song

The snow on your eyelids that curtsy with age
Is freezing the stares on tyranny’s wings.
The bitter is hard and the warmth of your skin
Is diseased with familiar caresses.

Withdrawing from splendor and royal decay
Among all the triumphs and jaded awards
The angry and blazing circus of sun
Blasphemes as the crown prince arises.

You cannot beget all the sins that you owe
To the people of paradise magic
Pretend to answer passion and form
With foreign rationalizations.

Primroses are the jewels that lurk
Among masks of pleasure that flicker with doubt
Embraces of fame that’s simultaneously fear
To advance and demand to be recognized.

The river shall flow through hollow green faces
Of caricature’s resentment etched out of the tongues.
Both reluctant princess asleep before birth
The classical sensitive failures.

The worshipping wicked cling to the dark of your heart
Lying there and wait with your angels
Moan and ravish from dawn to dusk
The avaricious young lovers.

In My Secret Life, Leonard Cohen, and Songwriting

In My Secret Life by Leonard Cohen.

In my secret life
In my secret life
In my secret life
In my secret life

I saw you this mornin’
You were movin’ so fast
Cant seem to loosen my grip
On the past

And I miss you so much
Theres no one in sight
And were still makin’ love

In my secret life
In my secret life

I smile when Im angry
I cheat and I lie
I do what I have to do
To get by

But I know what is wrong
And I know what is right
And Id die for the truth

In my secret life
In my secret life

Hold on, hold on, my brother
My sister, hold on tight
I finally got my orders
Ill be marching through the mornin’
Marchin’ through the night
Movin ‘cross the borders of my secret life

Looked through the paper
Makes you want to cry
Nobody cares if the people
Live or die
And the dealer wants you thinkin’
That its either black or white
Thank God its not that simple
In my secret life

I bite my lip
I buy what Im told
From the latest hit
To the wisdom of old

But Im always alone
And my heart is like ice
And its crowded and cold

In my secret life
In my secret life
In my secret life
In my secret life

This song has always meant a great deal to me.  The lyrics as usual, for Leonard Cohen, are masterful.  If you take a line or a couplet out of the song, there are a couple good ones, but they are fairly simple.  However, the way he builds imagery throughout the track means that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  Also those last verse lines leave the song with a sense that the narrator hasn’t resolved any his conflicts, other than to possibly live with his contradictions:

But I’m always alone
And my heart is like ice
And it’s crowded and cold

In my secret life

One will notice that a lot of great songwriters leave one with a sense of mystery, they leave things unresolved.  This allows a song to keep going, even once you are done listening.  It starts the imaginative process, but doesn’t fill in every blank, making the song yours as much as theirs.  It becomes something you can take out into your life with you.  Now there is a difference between performing that trick, and just being vague to the point of meaningless.  The best writers know how to give you enough to pull you in, but leave enough space for the imagination of the listener so that a song will register on a personal level.

Valentine's Day by Bruce Springsteen

I’m driving a big lazy car rushin’ up the highway in the dark
I got one hand steady on the wheel and one hand’s tremblin’ over my heart
It’s pounding baby like it’s gonna bust right on through
And it ain’t gonna stop till I’m alone again with you

A friend of mine became a father last night
When we spoke in his voice I could hear the light
Of the skies and the rivers the timberwolf in the pines
And that great jukebox out on Route 39
They say he travels fastest who travels alone
But tonight I miss my girl mister tonight I miss my home

Is it the sound of the leaves
Left blown by the wayside
That’s got me out here on this spooky old highway tonight
Is it the cry of the river
With the moonlight shining through
That ain’t what scares me baby
What scares me is loosin’ you

They say if you die in your dreams you really die in your bed
But honey last night I dreamed my eyes rolled straight back in my head
And God’s light came shinin’ on through
I woke up in the darkness scared and breathin’ and born anew
It wasn’t the cold river bottom I felt rushing over me
It wasn’t the bitterness of a dream that didn’t come true
It wasn’t the wind in the grey fields I felt rushing through my arms
No no baby it was you
So hold me close honey say you’re forever mine
And tell me you’ll be my lonely valentine

Valentine’s Day by Bruce Springsteen.  From the album Tunnel of Love.  Tunnel of Love is one of the best albums ever in terms of dealing with adult relationships.