samson & delilah

In ALL, MUSIC by Stephanie Klein15 Comments

I went to Hebrew school every Sunday since first grade.  Then as I got older, they upped my sessions to twice, weekly.  Read from the Torah.  I remember learning to read Hebrew, really read it, when the letters became words.  Something clicked.  I remember the moment, in my sneakers, at a small desk, looking at a decorated bulletin board full of Hebrew letters.  Red paper.  It made sense, but after that, nothing else did.  I didn’t know what I was reading, only how to do it.  I didn’t believe the things they told me about water into wine and the parting of seas.  Adam and Eve nonsense. 

If they’d told me the story of Samson & Delilah then, I’d have enjoyed Hebrew school, would have seen it as a chick flick.  Man, if only they had really good Hebrew schools where they told you the story, played you some non-Jew music, and got you talking about relationships.  I would have sat upright and taken notes. I would have learned that his hair was long when they first met, that if he lost it, he’d lose everything, his strength and eyes by enemy hands.  She’d whisper to him at night, wanting to connect, beneath tangled sheets, overlapping feet.  "Tell me your secrets."  He’d make some up.  He wanted to watch the game instead.  Each night, he’d be charged with sharing, so he shared lies to protect.  Heard, "you don’t really love me" until he couldn’t take it anymore.  He shared, opened himself, and she cut him with it, dull scissors in yellow light.  And he told her it was all right.  He loved her despite. 

"Samson came to my bed
Told me that my hair was red
He told me i was beautiful and came into my bed
Oh I cut his hair myself one night
A pair of dull scissors and the yellow light
And he told me that I’d done alright
and kissed me till the morning light, the morning light
and he kissed me till the morning light"
–Regina Spektor, Samson

Today I’ve been listening to Samson by Regina Spektor on repeat (you must go download this song immediately.  Thank you Majer for sending it to me).  It’s the story of Samson & Delilah, told from Delilah’s point of view.   It’s the story of their love, how he loved her unconditionally.  How she came back to him every night, despite his lies.  How he rest his head in her lap, trusting, the way we do when we love.  Warm, asleep, bodies in slumber, breathing.  Last night, The Suitor told me, "I love knowing you’re next to me in the middle of the night, knowing I can touch you, and I get to wake up next to you and your skin and all of you.  I love that." 

I love how Spektor "pulled a Wicked," taking the side of "the villain" and sharing her story.  I did it once with Pygmalion’s Galetea.  I’m going to do more of these.  It reminds me there’s so much more going on than what we see, from our own warm skin, in the sheets of morning.  When we fight, when we make up.  Hair a mess. 

Comments

  1. "It reminds me there's so much more going on than what we see, from our own warm skin, in the sheets of morning. When we fight, when we make up. Hair a mess."

    Great ending.

  2. I wish I knew why people are drawn to certain others. It seems the ones we war with are the ones we most want to embrace, despite their lies. Perhaps it is some greater force posing us with the most difficult tasks to surmount, people to understand, so that we perfect ourselves.

  3. Except, of course, that even from this perspective, she intended to destroy her man from the beginning simply to satisfy her narcissistic need for validation. There is a certain pathological, "once I get him to REALLY love me, he MUST be destroyed" dynamic going on here.

    You're right that there is always more going on than meets the eye, but that doesn't necessarily make the perpetrator of evil more sympathetic or redeemable. Just more pathetic. Sad, really.

  4. On addressing classics from another perspective, one of my favorite poems has always been "Jocasta" by Ruth Eisenberg, recasting the Oedipus legend from his mother's point of view.Thanks for reminding me, as always, to reconsider my perspective.

  5. The "other" POV is always a trip — I remember reading Beowulf (in the original middle english, not recommended) and then years later going back and reading Grendl. It's almost like watching the Wizard of Oz and then seeing Wicked live on Broadway. Spinning it is always fun, and even though lots of people see some of the villains in pop tales in black and white, no one is ever that conniving — at least in their own senses of themselves — unless we're talking Sammy Jo and JR from Dynasty and Dallas, respectively.

    Well, maybe JR ;)

  6. your ranting is becoming boring day by day……write more, write regularly and write intersting stuff, and post new pictures……for chrissake……make it interesting.

  7. I remember sitting in Hebrew school – looking at the board – trying to wrap my brain around a language so foreign to me. I didn't last long enough for it to click unfortunately. I opted out for flute and dance lessons.

    Have you heard Matisyahu? He's a hassidic jew who's a mash of rap/reggae – absolutely phenomenal.

    Speaking to what Suitor said – i feel the same way when i spend time with my boyfriend in NY. I love knowing that he's there – that i can wake knowing he's next to me. And when we have disagreements – i can see his eyes. It's all in the eyes. I'm trying to move to NY so rather than in 2 week bi-monthly spurts, it can be a nightly occurrence.

  8. The lyrics alone are enough to make this thing have legs, but when you add in the magic of Ms. Spektor's brilliant piano playing and angelic voice, you have an instant classic.

    If you read the lyrical interpretations of this song it's interesting to note how some feel Regina herself was "Samson's" first love and she's interweaving the tale of Samson's later downfall with Deliah. The lines "and history books forgot about us, and the Bible didn't mention us, not even once…", "I loved you first", and "we couldn't bring the columns down, we couldn't destroy a single one" would certainly seem to support that viewpoint.

  9. Listen to Judy Collins, Suzanne Vega or Leonard Cohen, singing "The story of Isaac". It's a similar technique to use the unknown point of view. I guess You'll like it.

  10. How come you're referring to Phil as 'the Suitor' again — you changed to 'Phil' when you got engaged … I read into that that he wasn't a suitor anymore, but The One

  11. it's actually not about sampson and delilah…it's about sampson's first love…hence the lyrics "and the bible didn't mention us, not even once." i think the singer is singing from the perspective of a historical personage whose existence isn't backed up by anything at all, which to me, makes it even more of an amazing song.

  12. I can't express how glad I was to see you reference this song. I have a ton of Regina Spektor's stuff of my iPod, and it's all amazing.

    And I had the same interpretation that Matt and Jennie referenced.

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