Sunday, June 29, 2014

Issa's Sunday Service, #190: Sufjan Stevens, O'Connor, Springsteen, and Robert Bly

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There have been any number of songs with the title "A Good Man is Hard to Find," many that have no association with the writer, Flannery O'Connor.

Sufjan Stevens's version is definitely not one of them:

A Good Man is Hard to Find

Once in the backyard
She was once like me, she was once like me
Twice when I killed them
They were once at peace, 
they were once like me

Hold to your gun, man 
and put off all your peace
Put off all the beast
Paid a full of these, I wait for it, 
but someone's once like me
She was once like me

I once was better
I put off all my grief, I put off all my grief
And so I go to hell, I wait for it
But someone's left me creased 
and someone's left me creased

Bruce Springsteen has also expressed great admiration for the writer Flannery O'Connor, who was just last week referenced in a William Stafford poem. For all the details of the Springsteen connection, check out this article at Dappled Things entitled "Naming Sin: Flannery O'Connor's Mark on Bruce Springsteen." 

Here's the Boss with a live rendition of "A Good Man is Hard to Find," performed right here in Pittsburgh

A Good Man Is Hard to Find  (Pittsburgh)

It's cloudy out in Pittsburgh, it's raining in Saigon
Snow's fallin' all across the Michigan line
Well she sits by the lights of her Christmas tree
With the radio softly on
Thinkin' how a good man is so hard to find

Well once she had a fella
Once she was somebody's girl
And she gave all she had that one last time
Now there's a little girl asleep in the back room
She's gonna have to tell about the meanness in this world
And how a good man is so hard to find

Well there's pictures on the table by her bed
Him in his dress greens and her in her wedding white
She remembers how the world was the day he left
And now how that world is dead
And a good man is so hard to find

She ain't got no time now for Casanovas
Yeah those days are gone
She don't want that anymore, she's made up her mind
Just somebody to hold her as the night gets on
When a good man is so hard to find

Well she shuts off the TV and without a word
And into bed she climbs
Well she thinks how it was all so wasted
And how expendable their dreams all were
When a good man was so hard to find

Well it's cloudy out in Pittsburgh

As you may have noticed, the song has a sub or alternate title: "Pittsburgh." It seems that, beyond the title and its appearance as a line in the song, there is little here that relates to O'Connor except perhaps tone. At a Springsteen lyrics site (Lebanese!), Bruce is quoted about the song and he mentions the first time he met Ron Kovic, the author of "Born on the Fourth of July." 

If you haven't read the original, it's here - for how long, who knows.


I ran across this Robert Bly poem this morning in his collection Talking into the Ear of a Donkey - this is my 3rd or 4th time reading the book over the last 3 years or so and it just gets better and better. 

At first there didn't seem to be a connection to the above song, then I started to think more closely about the original story and it seems my mind is, as usual, making connections that on surface I'm not immediately aware.

It's life and life only:

Keeping Quiet

A friend of mine says that every war
Is some violence in childhood coming closer.
Those whoppings in the shed weren't a joke.
On the whole, it didn't turn out well.

This has been going on for thousands
Of years! It doesn't change.  Something
Happened to me, and I can't tell
Anyone, so it will happen to you.
Robert Bly

Photo by Danny Hammontree via fotor


swatting a fly
but hitting
the Buddha

translated by David G. Lanoue


PS  Click to learn how to contribute to Wednesday Haiku.


Theresa Williams said...

This post made me smile.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Theresa ... makes it worthwhile!