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expectedperfection

Devil Come to Bethlehem

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Thought it was interesting no one was discussing this, so I'm cutting and pasting (again) my interp from songmeanings, but lyrics first...

Joseph and Mary are so bad.

Kissing in the park, kissing in the park, kissing in the park.

He practices dentistry without a license.

But its alright cause Mary read the books and shes got his back.

They're saving up for a trip to France.

Gonna leave the baby with one of the in-laws.

Just long enough to see the Eiffel tower and back.

Wear a scarf and booze on the airplane.

The Devil come to Bethlehem,

with a bible and an alarm clock.

The Devil come to Bethlehem,

and he ain't afraid of the dark.

Joseph and Mary are so sad.

Sitting in the park in Paris, France,

reading the news, and it sure looks bad.

A pile of empty postcards on their lap.

Nothing bright to write and nothing good to send.

Devil come to Bethlehem,

with a bible and an alarm clock.

The devil come to Bethlehem,

and he ain't afraid of the

dark-ness is less frightening than the

light-ness is less frightening than the dark.

Joseph and Mary are so Dead.

Honest, its been years, its been years, its been many, many years.

All their descendants are long buried and gone,

and their closest blood relatives works in a Philadelphia Sears.

Walking on water in his own bathtub,

turning that water to wine.

Devil come to Bethlehem,

with a bible and an alarm clock.

The devil come to Bethlehem,

and he ain't afraid of the

dark-ness is less frightening than the

light-ness is less frightening than the

dark-ness is less frightening than the

light-ness is less frightening than the dark.

i could be totally wrong, but i've always interpreted it as a message about the depravity of religious commercialism. i thought the "devil" was religious fanatics who are obsessed with seeing the "holy land" and go trekking over there like tourists with their cameras, hence "with a bible and an alarm clock". they have their trips planned out with their little itineraries and they use their modern machines to tell them when to be where and they lug their western lives around in backpacks and miss the whole point. i may sound cynical about it, but i'm not an angry atheist--nor am i atheist at all--i promise. just get fed up sometimes with the shallowness of it all.

i think the reason she put joseph and mary in our world and sort of modernized them was to make the statement that that's how they exist in today's world. that they don't carry any significant weight anymore--this especially rings true for the last verse, but the first and second definitely show this as well.

the first half of verse one is saying (to me--and i'm no authority) that this is how these people are remembered. these biblical figures are discussed in only the most superficial way. they're the parents of jesus. end of story. people read/preach the stories of the bible but don't go past them, don't read further into what's being said and what was going on in the world at the time and so on.

the second half of verse one lets us see what they would be like in the modern world. leaving the baby with in-laws to take a trip--unheard of in their day. but i also get a sense that's she's talking about modern people who are tied to their beliefs even though they have deviated considerably from their original intentions and even though our cultures have deviated so completely from theirs. "wear a red scarf" clearly not a big deal to most westernized societies, but it means something else to other cultures and religions and she states it in the song, i feel, in the voice of mary. and by stating it, we are meant to think that it's a big deal, that it's an iniquitous act, as well as "boozing" and that she finds these things extravagant.

this carries over to verse two, which gives us further insight into what they'd be like/how they'd feel in our world, to see what it's become. "joseph and mary are so sad...nothing bright to right nothing good to send" and the joni mitchell lines work so perfectly in the context of the song. i think it's a rather melancholy song...but then again...what do i know?

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I'm surprised nobody else has commented on this one yet! Devil Come to Bethlehem is quite possibly my single favorite Regina song (consequently making it my favorite song of all time? >_&gtWink, and I've always found myself particularly struck by the lyrics. First time I heard the song, I cried. It was so beautiful. I got shivers listening to the beauty cascade out of my speakers.

My interpretation? The love story of a modern day "Mary and Joseph." Completely unaware of who they are, what they are, and what they will produce... simply the story of two young lovers, finally saving up enough to go on the trip they've always dreamed of. The final verse concludes with an allusion to their (perhaps?) son, quietly discovering his own powers as a result of his divine birth as he climbs in his bath.

And perhaps the chorus goes with the idea that since the son of god is unaware of his divine status, the Devil is returning to spread darkness since the one sent to stop him doesn't even know of his quest. On second thought... perhaps Joseph and Mary DO know about what Mary will produce... but perhaps they decide to shield their son from his fate by keeping him far away from the land where all that stuff's gonna go down.

Either way... I don't take to much away from it other than a fairly literal interpretation. I don't think of things like the "bible and an alarm clock" line to be particularly important to the story, or exist as metaphor for something else. I really think they're simply there to help "fill" the song. Sometimes it's a bit nonsensical. But it's a story, it's fictional, it's a tall-tale. Nonsense is all-over the place. And it's absolutely adorable. <3

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I found this:

"WOMANROCK:

If you’re not writing about your own life, how do you zero in on what you want to write about?

Regina:

It’s like this curiosity. I love people and their quirks. I make up one characteristic and see how it would influence his whole view. I don’t know he’s a dentist who practices but he doesn’t have a real license. But his wife is his assistant and she is a real dentist. So she’s got his back. I’m interested in what they do together and why they do it. It’s really fun. I can just make stuff up. People are so kind and good to give me an hour of their lives so I can just rant and rave. It’s so much more interesting to write about that than myself. I think most of them are sympathetic characters because I think most people are sympathetic."

source

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