Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Proverbial Gun - Derek Webb

I don't know what this song means. I really like Derek Webb. And while I haven't listened to it much, I think this new CD, Stockholm Syndrome, shows promise. I don't know. Explain these lyrics to me.

Now I can buy the proverbial gun

And shoot the proverbial child

While my uncle looks me in the eye

And speaks of freedom

And my conscience goes up on trial

In the courtrooms of the mind

Where the judges all have sons

And all the lawyers are wounded

And the backs are all broke

And the bailiff is my brother

And the witness is my sister

And I'm guilty as hell

But by the afternoon I'm out

Out on the pavement walking

Wreaking of salt and blood

No hat upon my head

No shoes upon my feet

Picking your body

From my teeth

No stars above me

No stripes upon me



Art said...

These are intriguing lyrics.

It's an analogy, it must be, if it's a proverbial gun. I don't know of any proverbs that involve guns and kids. And I wonder what the uncle is doing.

Is the uncle criticizing the writer, saying that shooting children isn't freedom? Or is the uncle cautioning him, like "you are now able to buy the gun, which makes it possible for you to shoot the child, so be careful nephew, with freedom comes responsibility"? What does the uncle think about freedom? What does Derek Webb want us to think about freedom?

Second stanza: wow. The legal system is stacked against him. I'd think that his conscience is the jury, but no: his conscience is going on trial. What does that mean? His conscience is being tested.

Third stanza: I'm lost now. What does this analogy mean? I think he's guilty of shooting the child. But if this is still in the courtroom of the mind, it's a theoretical guilt.

Fourth stanza: "salt and blood" denotes sweat? A fight? He's wounded? He's wounded others?

Fifth stanza: Ugh, he's (metaphorically, of course) bit into "you".

Sixth stanza: this is the most powerful stanza, I think. He claims, cynically, that not being under the law of America, or belonging to any nation, makes him free.

But I don't think this song is really about political theory, or about how freedom must have restraint. It seems too simple to convey in this confusion.

Maybe it means that being free from rules hurtles you into a lonely world of death. Or maybe it's talking about what happens when we defy conscience, or rather, the conscience becomes clouded. If we won't let our selves be judged (but why unfairly? why is there such judge bias? is this trying to bring in the question of why Job did not see justice? Is true justice based on something we can't understand?) and rather break out into a fight, the freedom we get is hollow.

This is most definitely the longest comment I have ever written. Do tell me what you think of this muddled interpretation.

Micah E. said...

The uncle is America, Uncle Sam. That's it, I got nothin'.