Song For A Good Son

Song For A Good Son (M.Steele)

Year: 2003
Band: Bangles
Album: Doll Revolution
First Live Performance: N/A
Last Live Performance: N/A


Tabs
Guitar
Bass

Lyrics:

A summer’s day so long ago
A thousand boats dancing on the bay
I came to you inside a dream
We both held hands and fell into the water

You never claimed to know me well
The dark-eyed son, the privileged man
You found me bitter, you thought me cold
Well now I’m gonna make you understand

My mother died, my father cried
He left me lonely by the waterside
Waterside so deep and wide
If I follow maybe I will find her

Beyond the salt and spray
The current carried her away

Beyond the salt and spray
The current carried her away

I can’t outrun my destiny
Tell me who will sing a song for me
Darkness darkness cover me
By my own hand is the way it has to be

My mother died, my father cried
You will find me by the waterside
Waterside so deep and wide
If I follow maybe I will find her
If I follow maybe I will find her…

Analysis:

Michael’s second song on Doll Revolution, SFAGS is also the only one of her three tracks to not exist in an earlier live version. Accordingly, details of exactly when it was composed are unknown. Unlike some of her other tunes however, Michael has explained some details thanks to her 2003 chat on Return Post (see below). These quotes attest to musical influences including The Church, Jimi Hendrix and the Cocteau Twins, while also pointing out that SFAGS is inspired by a dream (an aspect which gives the lyric ‘I came to you inside a dream’ extra meaning) and sung from the perspective of a dead friend whose voice she wished to help preserve through song.

Although death also appears as a theme in Michael songs such as Bird of Prey and The World You Leave Behind, Song For A Good Son is perhaps her most downbeat song, telling a dark story of grief, family disfunction and impending suicide. In this regard it provides a clear counterpoint to the songs around it on Doll Revolution. As the lyrics themselves are fairly direct and expressive, its worth looking at some of the song’s more subtle features. Although hard to tell for certain if this is intentional, it is interesting to note that on the page the lyrics read like Old English poetry, in that every line has a prominent caesura:

A summer’s day / so long ago
A thousand boats / dancing on the bay
I came to you / inside a dream

We both held hands / and fell into the water

You never claimed / to know me well
The dark-eyed son, / the privileged man
You found me bitter, / you thought me cold
Well now I’m gonna / make you understand

Furthermore, the song repeatedly uses alliteration, as in ‘left me lonely’ and ‘the current carried her away’.  Themes of death and water being seen in Old English poems such as The Seafarer and Beowulf also emphasise this possible connection.

Another notable feature is that SFAGS lacks a traditional chorus. It instead uses a roughly symmetrical structure, Intro > Verse > Refrain > Bridge > Solo > Bridge > Verse > Refrain > Outro, with changed lyrics in the second refrain, ‘He left me lonely by the waterside’ becoming ‘You will find me by the waterside’, this line also echoing the song’s opening dream sequence. Such features remind us that SFAGS is a song of tragedy and tragedy yet to come, a repeating cycle that even the narrator feels to be destiny.

Quotes:

“I wrote it about a friend who’s no longer with us — I guess I wrote it form his point of view because I wanted him to have a voice even though he was gone.

After I went to my friend’s wake, I woke up a few nights later and the words “tell me who will sing a song for me?” popped into my head. It kind of spooked me into writing the song.

The musical part of the song came from a dream I had – in the dream there was a ghetto-blaster playing a bad Jimi Hendrix-style song – but it was a song that I’d never heard before. As I woke up, I realized that it was a new song trying to come out… so I sort of de-Hendrix-ized it, and that’s where the melody and chord structure came from. Pretty weird, isn’t it?”-‘Greetings Intrepid RPers and Friends’, RP August 2003.

1 Comment

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *