Samson and Cain (songs by Madi Blair)

I had some really impressive creative products emerge from my class on the Bible and music this semester. But I think the one that blew everyone away more than all others was by Madi Blair. It provided one of those moments that an educator knows immediately they will remember for the rest of their career. Listening to the song, I started off by saying that clearly this was not the first song this student had written. She said that, in her opinion, it was the first good one. That my class had provided the inspiration for and the occasion for that experience was genuinely moving for me. When you listen to the song below, you’ll understand why the reaction of the entire class was that this song should be released and that people will pay money for it!

A number of things that Madi said about the process were especially interesting. One was that this song resulted from a sense of frustration with an earlier attempt to make a more complex and complicated song, which she felt was “mediocre.” This one that works so well, on the other hand, is characterized by an underlying simplicity in terms of its chords and melodic line. And yet the lyrics are incredibly rich – not only do they take a biblical character who is often only considered a negative foil to Samson the hero and give her a positive voice of her own, but the lyrics are also full of interesting echoes of other parts of the Bible as well. As Madi put it, “The people that nobody likes in the Bible are always really interesting.” I think there should be an entire album dedicated to telling those stories!

But let me not delay letting you hear “Samson” by Madi Blair any longer. The lyrics follow below the embedded SoundCloud player.

Lyrics to Samson by Madi Blair (c) 2018

i’ve got plans
oh i’ve got plans
a thousand silver pieces
a thousand silver hands
oh i’ve got plans

i know you
oh i know you
a soldier strong as a hundred oxen
or a thousand men
oh i know you

so tell me honey honey honey
where it all comes from
tell me why each tie i’ve tied
lies broken and undone
tell me how you took down temples
answer me my love
oh my love

trust me, trust me, let me in
i’ll give you everything i can
just answer answer this one question
i know there’s something you keep hidden
show me, show me what it is and
i will love you oh my samson

i’ve got time
oh i’ve got time
to bend and crawl and worm my way
into that heart and mind
i’ve got time

i’ve got you
and you’ve got me
well if i’m the serpent in the tree
and you’re my breaking eve
sure, you’ve got me

oh honey honey honey
let me take that loneliness
fill the aching in your chest
left by battle and death
let me love you right how your god clearly never did
oh my love

trust me, trust me, let me in
i’ll give you everything i can
just answer answer this one question
i know there’s something you keep hidden
show me, show me what it is and
i will love you oh my samson
you’ve come so far, i know
but now you’re all alone
in a bed that’s not your own
sweet strong stupid boy
i’ve got your head and your heart
why not take your hair too?

trust me, trust me, let me in
i’ll give you everything i can
just answer answer this one question
i know there’s something you keep hidden
show me, show me what it is and
i will love you oh my samson
my samson,
oh my samson,
give me your strength
and i’ll make everything alright.

There are other songs on Madi’s SoundCloud account, but only one of them is also a result of this course. It is called “Cain” and is a reworking of the song “Flaming Hot Cheetos” by Clairo. Ultimately “Samson” was the song that Madi was most happy with and considered her final project, but this one is also striking. Once again the lyrics follow below the embedded SoundCloud player.

Lyrics to “Cain” by Madi Blair (c) 2018

I supposed to sit quiet while you pick favorites, oh no
Am I despondent, am I displeasing, oh oh no
Should I be going, should I be leaving, oh oh no
My birthright was thistles,
My inheritance was thorns,
I’ve been tied to cursed ground since the day that I was born
Eldest and heir to sin sourced from a serpent’s mouth,
Venom locked in veins and it’ll never ever come back out
come back out
bring it out, bring it out, bring it out,
come back out
bring it out bring it out bring it out bring it out
do do do do do,
Dust to dust, (x4)

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  • John MacDonald

    Wonderful. The fingerprints of the teacher rest on the shoulders of the sculptor just as those of the sculptor rest on the work.