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« "Mississippi Goddam" by Nina Simone [Amy Lingafelter] | Main | "Tears Dry On Their Own" by Amy Winehouse [ Amy Lingafelter ] »

September 25, 2015


I think you're confusing two different parts to the song. He starts by praying for help in Abilene, then he describes the incident that happened in Ft. Smith involving the preacher. The prayer asking for a miracle comes after the incident with the preacher and is unrelated to it. After describing the incident in Ft. Smith, where he got away without any help he realizes that he's fooling himself by believing he is speaking to anyone other than himself. I don't see any support for an actual god in the song. But that's just my opinion.

Interesting! I don't think the song ends up on that side either, but I always read it as wantonly ambiguous on the matter, and that the prayer was ongoing throughout, allowing him to escape to his death at the end... Looking at the places and times and the switches between prayer and plot, I see exactly what you're saying though... It has such a specific Blue-Duck-Jumping-Out-of-the-Jailhouse window spin to it: the gallows are for no man. Love this song so much. Thankful someone else has read it so closely too.

Mike, there is no actual god. He pondering good vs evil, regarding his own life. It’s the classic checks & balances that “we” humans undergone to provide some sort of meaning for our actions.i Lke ying & yang, right n wrong, good vs evil, god n the devil. So many songs & writing use god as a metaphor like in Billy Bud (the Christ figure). We’re always confronted w/ the Crossroad; what to do; which path to take. It’s what keeps the higher brain moving and turning forward. But most certainly there is a god in the song. Maybe Tom Ames thinks he’ is “HE” (God). Tom reminds me of Emilio Estavez as Billy the kid.

Ambiguous as to the existence of god, yes, but the act of praying steels his courage to meet his fate.

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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