15 May 2015

Music Day - Sin For A Season

This song opens perhaps one of the most emotionally heavy sides of vinyl in the history of vinyl. Side two of this record dealt with adultery, drunk driving, crooked TV preachers, hypocrites, teenage runaways, abortion, suicide, and the American dream with a clarity that one will almost certainly never find elsewhere. And all of it to catchy, groovy, and creative rock.

This, the side opener, comes in with a deep, groovy, almost mournful chugging guitar and a slightly ominous synthesizer arpeggio at the appropriate times. The lyrics spin first a tale of a married man's one-night stand, then the story of a drunk woman driving toward home, but not making it unscathed... And Steve Taylor, in his pull-no-punches way, also pans the lyrical camera to the part that nobody ever talks about and the young and (temporarily) innocent never see: the regret. The months, the years of crippling, life-altering regret.
If the healing happens as the time goes by
Tell me why I still can't look her in the eye...
Now the years run together as the guilt goes wild
She still sees the body of an only child...

Coming on the heels of the mournful lines at the end of each verse, the chorus -- a repetition of the cry we all use to justify everything we do, the sort-of right and the clearly wrong -- seems so flimsy in comparison. It seems disgusting, and then to realise these are our own words on a daily basis -- I'm only human... 'nobody's perfect...' it sort of makes one catch their breath.

The third verse states his point even more bluntly, just in case we didn't get it in the first two verses. And it spells out very clearly that sometimes the Christians -- we who think we'll never fall -- are the worst perpetrators of this deception:
Gonna get the good Lord to forgive a little sin
Get the slate cleaned so he can dirty it again...

It's interesting to note the role of the hands in all three verses. The hand in the first verse with the napkin, the shaky hand in the second verse belying how inebriated she is, the hypocritical hands in the third verse carefully and stealthily chopping down the very people they claim to be building up and supporting. Our hands betray us... oh, be careful little hands what you do.

Title: Sin For A Season
Artist: Steve Taylor
Album: Meltdown
Year: 1984
Label: Sparrow Records
iTunes here; YouTube here.

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