Sense and Sentimentality

Sue played this to me in the car last night, and I managed, through significant gritting of teeth, to avoid telling her that it made me grit my teeth…

Not sure what it is, but it seems like sentimentality and emotional manipulation and lack of subtlety. It leaves no space for me to make my own decision, but tells me what to feel and what to think:

On the other hand, I was listening to this on the way home this evening, and it did actually have me in tears. It’s a simple song, and is subtle and poetic enough to be open to a huge range of possible interpretations… and something about it just got me where I live.

Rich Mullins – Jacob and 2 Women

Here are the lyrics to read while listening (no video). Knowing the story from the Bible helps, of course: Jacob was in love with Rachel but was tricked by his father-in-law into marrying her older sister Leah and then waiting another 7 years before marrying Rachel. But the song is obviously not just about that:

Jacob, he loved Rachel and Rachel, she loved him
And Leah was just there for dramatic effect
Well it’s right there in the Bible, so it must not be a sin
But it sure does seem like an awful dirty trick
And her sky is just a petal pressed in a book of a memory
Of the time he thought he loved her and they kissed
And her friends say, “Ah, he’s a devil”
But she says, “No, he is a dream”
This is the world as best as I can remember it

Now Jacob got two women and a whole house full of kids
And he schemed his way back to the promised land
And he finds it’s one thing to win ’em
And it’s another to keep ’em content
When he knows that he is only just one man
And his sky’s an empty bottle and when he’s drunk the ocean dry
Well he sails off three sheets to some reckless wind
And his friends say, “Ain’t it awful”
And he says, “No, I think it’s fine”
And this is the world as best as I can remember it

Now Rachel’s weeping for the children
That she thought she could not bear
And she bears a sorrow that she cannot hide
And she wishes she was with them
But she looks and they’re not there
Seems that love comes for just a moment
And then it passes on by

And her sky is just a bandit
Swinging at the end of a hangman’s noose
‘Cause he stole the moon and must be made to pay for it
And her friends say, “My, that’s tragic”
She says, “Especially for the moon”
And this is the world as best as I can remember it
And this is the world as best as I can remember it

I don’t think it’s an elitist argument, it’s a taste argument. Some will be very moved by the former and find the latter confusing or annoying because it’s ambiguous.

I was just thinking a bit about why I like what I like, and decided to share.

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