UrbnBoy123

Samson

42 posts in this topic

yea...i always thought it was about samson and delilah. because the bible mentions samson and delilah, but maybe incorectly and i think its a really sweet song, because biblically samson was such a trusting indidvidual and even after she came out and said, how can make you weak" he told her, granted after a few times of dishonesty, but none the less he finally told delilah to cut his hair, leading to his capture, death and inevitabley delilahs "downfall" and her peoples.

i thought "beneth the sheets of paper lies my truth" meant that the bibles words arent really true.

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quote:
Originally posted by juicytangerine:

HAHA! Anybody seen the movie Duplicity? The song, Samson, was referenced in the movie. I had a good chuckle when I heard it.

awesome! i'm gonna have to watch that sometime..

i don't think this song is very open-and-shut. you have to develop your own thoughts on it, because no one interpretation is going to be so "right" that others will flock towards it and drop their own interps., because samson is too all-over-the-pace to be taken literally. personally, i don't think it's totally about samson and delilah, nor are those two irrelevant. but that's just me! Wink

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I'm going to include the official lyrics from this site with my post because I will reference them often:

You are my sweetest downfall

I loved you first

I loved you first

Beneath the sheets of paper lies my truth

I have to go

I have to go

Your hair was long

When we first met

Samson went back to bed

Not much hair left on his head

He ate a slice of wonderbread

And went right back to bed

And history books forgot about us

And the Bible didn't mention us

And the Bible didn't mention us

Not even once

You are my sweetest downfall

I loved you first

I loved you first

Beneath the stars came fallin' on our heads

But they're just old light

They're just old light

Your hair was long

When we first met

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 in 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...

Samson went back to bed

Not much hair left on his head

He ate a slice of wonderbread

And went right back to bed

“Samson” qualifies as one of Spektor’s greatest songs, no less for its beauty than for its literary merits. Consequently, I have always wanted to write about it. It has a veneer of simplicity, as does many of her songs, but--though the meaning is easier to get at than with some others--it is still a difficult piece.

However, I must disagree with BLTW where she posted that the song is not to be "taken literally." "Samson" is perfectly valid for literal (non-allegorical) interpretation, and you should consider your interpretation, if it is well-formed, to be perfectly valid. The words of "Samson" should be taken just as literally as the Biblical story --who was Samson, anyway? Did he really even exist? Take the song "literally" with the entirety of its meaning--just because it is not realistic but imagistic does not mean it should not be given as serious a hearing as a book of history. In the end, even histories are vague, because our language does not convey everything we mean. The difference is that histories intend to relate facts while poetry intends to make you feel something. The latter is accomplished here, so analysis should strive to explain how it is done so well.

There has been significant discussion on this site, and in this thread particularly, of the way RS's lyrics attempt to resist being fixed into one particular angle. There is a good term for this--polyvalence. For example, the narrator could be Delilah, the prostitute Samson meets in Gaza* before he falls in love with Delilah, or it could be RS herself; cf. the lines "Samson…told me that my hair was red**." Samson could be the Biblical Samson, a symbolic character, or the speculated "actual," living, breathing Judge of Israel, an ordinary man who inspired a rather fantastical story. This latter Samson we will never know much about. The story survived.

The narrator begins the first chorus with "you are my sweetest downfall." The first time I heard this song all the way through, I was confused. It would seem that Samson, not Delilah, would say this because, in the story, Delilah turns out to be Samson's downfall. The line "I loved you first," which is repeated several times, was similarly puzzling. In Judges 16:4, Samson "fell in love with a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah." It is never indicated in the story that Delilah loves Samson. The Philistines use her to find out what can weaken the superhuman Samson; after three trials she finds out. Samson falls asleep on her lap, she calls a man and has him shave off Samson's seven locks, and the Philistines take him away, gouge out his eyes, and bind him in bronze.

After the first verse comes "and the Bible didn't mention us, not even once." There are two possibilities for the narrator: either she is Delilah, albeit one whose actual individual experience is quite different from the fantastical one which makes her the antagonist and Samson a virile hero who can kill a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey, or the narrator is a different lover entirely, one who exists outside the Biblical narrative. In part, the narrator is actually the singer herself, as complicated as that notion may seem. She is using the character Samson, one so frequently entangled with female characters, to sing about the way she views personal experience. Simultaneously, however, she blends in suggestions of Delilah (i.e., the cutting of the hair). Her method of retelling involves the insertion of herself in subtle ways into the old story, and making it entirely her own.

The following points separate the narrator from the biblical Delilah, while simultaneously obscuring the narrative center between the two worlds:

“You are my sweetest downfall”

“I loved you first”

“The Bible didn't mention us”

The narrator speaks [sings] in first person

By depicting Samson eating wonderbread and having his hair cut by scissors, the poem brings Samson into the writer’s modern world.

The writer brings Samson into her own love story. She found Samson "beneath the paper"--he does not exist on the paper of books any more materially than he does in Regina's mind, or yours—in fact, less so. The narrator is a docile compliant to love no less than Samson. To say that the femme-fatale scheme is reversed is an oversimplication.

I like the mention above by The Monster in the Closet of the line “But they’re just old light.” The “old light” here is the storyline, which may or may not accurately reflect the real events millions of light-years away. We look upon the past through a glass darkly. RS’s “Samson” is a new refraction that incorporates the clarity of the present into the dim view of a love long past.

*Judges 16:1-3

**However, Delilah has been depicted with red hair in several paintings. cf. Samson and Delilah, by Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), Samson and Delilah by Tintoretto (1518-1594), and Samson and Delilah by Gioacchino Assereto (fl. 1630s)

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All I know is that this song is so beautiful especially when the violins kick in......ahhhhhhhhhh

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Excellent post, Me Myself! Thank you for sharing that. I am very interested by the interpretations suggesting that the song is not necessarily about Samson and Delilah in a literal sense.

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I see different meanings to this song (almost) every time I hear it. And I think it can mean a lot of things. For a while I was all into a "samson and another lover"-interpretation, where Delilah steals Samson away from her. And he comes back into her bed sometimes...being an ass when he goes back to delilah.

But one interpretation that I wanted to share is that Samson in this song has got cancer. He looses his strength along with his hair (just like Samson) because of the chemo therapy:

your hair was long when we first met

And Samson is a fitting name, since he fights this cancer bravely, with a strength no one knows how he got.

I loved you first

Maybe she had loved him for so long before he got sick, and never had the courage to tell him?

Or maybe he was her first real love.

Or maybe it's like now the cancer "loves" him. Cancer has taken him from her like a mistress would.

Or maybe all three of them.

I have to go - she can't stand seeing him like that. So weak. Or, you know, they have to be separated.

Beneath the sheets of paper

I was thinking the paper that's on the beds in hospitals? Or the charts? If it weren't for that she could have told him the truth about how much she loves him, but now she can't. It doesn't matter - 'cause he is dying. It would just be hurtful for him.

(when I watch the video I think the sheets of paper are music sheets. To play the piano. It's like she writes all these songs about him, but he never knew they were true and about him)

The wonder bread - the medicine that should make him strong again. But he goes right back to bed every time because it doesn't work.

And the history books forgot all about them. Like everybody knows about the original Samson and Delilah, but no one will ever know about their love and how this cancer was devastating to them. I think it questions a thing that I actually think about myself a lot of the time;

There are so many people in the world, but only a few of them are famous and known. There are certainly people who are as good as them or should be famous for what they have accomplished. There are certainly people in the world who have done so much good, but will never be known since all the media is interested in is Paris Hilton who is just famous because she is Paris Hilton. (no offense) Samson was her world, but he was just a chapter in the book about the world. Like he would be in her Bible. Am I making sense...?

Beneath the stars came falling on our hats, but they're just old light

I'm seeing two people lying in a hospital bed. A man under the blanket and a woman crawled up beside him. Looking out through the window on the dark sky...and they wish upon the falling stars that he will get better, but the stars can't help them. They're just old light. Already dead and gone before the light even catches their eyes.

We couldn't bring the columns down

means that he dies in the end. There was no way to beat the cancer.

The part when she cuts his hair

I think she tells him the truth, cuts through his emotional shell, and they have that one night together. Like when they both knew how much they loved eachother( samson came to my bed...told me I was beautiful )

and then she helps him die - by cutting his hair/strength/life support.

OR they just cut the hair that's left on his head, to prove that they are still in charge and not the cancer. until the columns couldn't be brought down anyway.

But I'm more into that she helps him die. I somehow connect he kissed me till the morning light with if I kiss you were it's sore . Like him kissing her tears away... Of course she could cry anyway. Maybe this was just during a weak moment of hers, when she told him how unfair she thinks life is.

And he told me that I'd done alright

He asked her to cut the life support himself. She cried when she had to do it, but he kept saying that it would be alright.

This post is quite messy, I know. But I think you guys will understand Smiler

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i

LOVE

that

interpretation!!

That's brilliant, and so sad!

so Samson is only mentioned in the song to iterate her almost romanticised take on him as a person, and the way he's handling his situation. (sorry if i got that wrong or over-simplified it :-\ )

"i loved you first" totally goes with everything you said, and is a very regina sort of thing, because it's not totally black-and-white, yet we all can get a good impression of the character's emotional state when she says this!

that makes so much sense! bravo!

anyone notice how easy it is to interpret death/chronic illness/tragic love stories into regina's music? Eeker

maybe that just stems from her view of life, though.. the world always moves on, you're only here for a short time, and therefore i guess it can be inferred that we're all on the brink of death (?)

or maybe Brumstixers are just really morbid.

Big Grin

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I always tought that all the samson thing is a metaphor of a love relationship.

The guy (samson) will let his defenses down ("I cut his hair... and he told me that I've done alright...)"), just to love the girl.

all the other things are easily applicable to this context:

"you are my sweetest downfall": He is irresistible, very lovely, etc-

"and the history books forget about us and the bible didn't mention us not even once": It isn't necessary for the couple that other persons know they are in love. It's just him and her, don't matter what others may think...

"we couln't bring the columns down": in the myth, samson dies crushed by the columns. in this verse, she is implying that the guy is still open to her, "his hair hasn't grow" Razzer

lol, reading it now it doesn't make so much sense :s

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I've had a lot of thoughts about this song, because it's one of my all time favourites (particularly the BTH and live versions), but the interpretation above given by sweetness in my lungs makes perfect sense to me, and makes the song even more heartbreaking.

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