Saturday, 29 November 2008

Railing against the tireless watcher

2005 was not a great year. In fact, I would join with Lucy Van Pelt of the comic strip Peanuts in declaring that I had been stuck with a "used year". That February, I saw a television special called From Time to Time. It was a suite of six dances, all set to Joni Mitchell songs. The fifth of these was called "Neighbourhood Suite" and was set to "Sire of Sorrow", a song that I had not heard until then, probably because at the time the album "Turbulent Indigo" came out, I had one small child and was expecting another. The song haunted me for days after the television show, particularly its chorus: O you tireless watcher, what have I done to you, that you make everything I dread and everything I fear come true? In fact, one winter morning, as I was accompanying younger daughter to school from a speech therapy appointment, I was so mesmerized by that song playing in my head that I missed our Transitway stop and ended up way out in Orleans, having to find our way back.

The song is meant to be Job, railing at God from his ash pit, where he has retreated, covered with sores, having lost everything including his children. His neighbours come down to the edge of the pit to offer advice and to suggest what he may have done to tick God off. (Not helpful.) Eventually God himself shows up, only to ask: Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? (Actually not terribly helpful, either.) Job is eventually relieved of his suffering and gets to have more kids, but the scholars aren't kidding when they say Job is one of the more problematic stories of the Bible.

The first person voice in "Sire of Sorrow" is for me, however, unmistakeably that of a woman, which is why this song gets me where I live. Besides, 2008 is showing all the hallmarks of being a "used year". Here's a YouTube video that furnishes the lyrics:


Jaywalker said...

Oh Persephone. You're nearly done with this substandard year at least. Another month and you get a shiny new one to play with.

Joni knows her stuff though, I agree.

Persephone said...

Well, Jaywalker, I've never yet had two totally putrid years in a row. Mind you, there's a first time for everything. We have some major hurdles to clear in younger daughter's education in the coming year. Another reason I've been heading back to Quaker meeting to pray...