Friday, January 16, 2009

Poetry Friday: Bonnie 'Prince' Billy

"I am what I am." It's a statement usually made to excuse behavior--behavior, if we're being honest, that the speaker knows he or she ought to apologize for, but for which the speaker really isn't sorry. Sometimes, though, that feeilng of being trapped inside one's body, with nothing but one's own thoughts and feelings and particular way of doing things, can be more guilt-inducing than guilt-absolving. And sometimes it's tough to tell the difference.

That's one of the many mysteries tangled up in Will Oldham's "Wolf Among Wolves," a standout track from his gorgeous, understated third record as Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Master and Everyone. I saw Mr. Oldham perform this song about four years ago at Sound Fix, my favorite of Williamsburg, Brooklyn's many fine record stores, and the planet-sized sense of longing, fear, and resignation captured in his small-town warble haunts me to this day. At those times when we are forced to question the choices we've made, in the publishing business and otherwise, it's important to remember every once in a while that, in many cases, there really was no choice.

She loves a soul that I have never been
A dog among dogs, a man among men
And every day, when I come home to her
She holds a phantom, she kisses and she hugs him
And I am not averse to how she loves him
Why must I live and walk unloved as what I am

Why can't I be loved as what I am
A wolf among wolves, and not as a man among men

She craves a home that she can go in
A sheltered cave that I have never seen
Not in my life, and not even in my dreams

Why can't I be loved as what I am
A wolf among wolves, and not as a man among men

The music is every bit the words' equal - you can hear the album version here (ignore the video, it's just amateur video shot to post the song, not official).

1 comment:

Samir said...

I love I love I love this song, and through that I love you!