I’m rediscovering my love affair with Natalie Merchant. And either she sings a lot about the Devil or I interpret a lot of her songs about being about Him (okay…two that’s still a greater-than-normal number the kind of music she sings). These two songs are so soulful—almost longing—that it almost doesn’t match the subject. Or perhaps it does; perhaps she is expressing dissatisfaction with the traditional relegation of the Devil to some kind of evil God instead of the Other which must exist. And perhaps I’m reading too much into it.
Maestro (Maestra?), the music!
You must click the picture because her vids are not embeddable 🙁
The Peppery Man was cross and thin;
He scolded out and scolded in;
He shook his fist, his hair he tore;
He stamped his feet and slammed the door.
This song reminds me of the myth of the Frauenkirche in Munich: the Devil challenged the architect to build a church that had no windows yet still shone with the glory of God. The church was cleverly constructed so that, when you stand at the entrance, the columns obstruct the view of the windows that line the sides of the nave, but you can still see the sunlight streaming in (even on cloudy days it’s pretty bright). The Devil, unable to enter a church, stood in the foyer and, enraged that He had been bested, stamped his foot, whereupon the earth opened up and He descended back to His domain (never to return to Bavaria again, yay!). His footprint can still be seen at the perfect spot to stand and marvel at the architect’s skill.*
This song is off her album Leave Your Sleep, which is a collection of the creepiest children’s lullabies you will ever hear. It’s totally worth a listen.
*If you think this story sounds an awful lot like Rumpelstilskin, you would be forgiven. I think folk tales have a way of getting caught up in one another.