It’s a complex song, and I get a lot of hits on my blog from people trying to find out what it means. First, a line by line analysis of Amy Ray’s (of the Indigo Girls) “Yoke” found on the Beauty Queen Sister CD. In the next blog, I’ll sum up what I think Amy Ray is trying to say in the lyrics:
I found the binding of the yoke
Binding is restrictive.
That connects us here, in this herd of hope
“us” and “herd” compares people to animals (oxen now; horses toward the end of the song).
Herd refers to a social grouping of certain animals of the same species, either wild or domestic, and also to the form of collective animal behavior associated with this (referred to as herding) or as a verb, to herd, to its control by another species such as humans or dogs.
“here” as in Earth/alive
“hope” universal questions of why people are alive and what our mission is
Escort me to your kingdom come
“Thy kingdom come”, a phrase in the Christian Lord’s Prayer referring to the Kingdom of God
Amy is talking to another person
She wants to know what actions “here” will get her to heaven
from the gallows’ hold, and the things we’ve done
Imagery of a person hanging from the gallow
A person hanging from a noose is trapped, immovable by their own power, dead but not at peace.
She recognizes that all people are flawed and have done bad things (ie death by hanging)
You stole so much, so much at times
Going back to crimes–why a sentence of hanging
A hunter might over-kill the prey, but herds of animals only kill what they need.
also shows an unequal relationship–one person only takes, never gives
Just being bad, like the books we read
“Just being bad, like books” is a justification for bad behavior
They compare their actions to the actions they’ve read about
What books is she talking about?
Maybe history books which prove men’s over
maybe law/policy books that give people “the right”
Maybe the Bible where whatever bad behavior is commonplace.
The helplessness that you played upon
manipulating someone weaker or someone’s weakness in some relationship
also a hunter would take advantage of a prey’s weakness in order to kill it.
Was just tenderness, to disarm
hiding true intentions to put another person at ease, then taking advantage in a relationship
“disarm” is the hunting metaphor again–animals have attributes (teeth, claws) that hunters must overcome
She ushered in love, but it drove you mad
who is “she” that Amy is referring to?
a girlfriend? An animal? The Earth? A goddess?
A relationship with true love on one side and anxiety/deception on the other
love for animals/environment that person could not live by
Not to have everything of your envisioning
A very telling line.
Someone who doesn’t appreciate the things they have, instead wanting it all
A controlling person in the one-sided relationship
Human Greed that over-kills in hunting or over-consumes nature
She wandered in on the peace you lacked
wan·der http://img.tfd.com/m/sound.swf (wndr)
Yeah, and you’re losing still, that life you could have had
Losing the stability of a loving relationship?
Losing the naivety/love/trust that “she” has?
Losing a zen-like spirit of one-ness with nature?
Losing a more Native American mentality that there should be balance in hunting?
Literally losing life, because the Earth is destroyed by carelessness?
Tell that story one more time for me
“One more time” ephasizes, it’s a favorite, repeated story
Whoever Amy is talking to takes pride in their deception
Of the bated fields just for the taking dear
A baited area means any area where shelled, shucked, or unshucked corn, wheat, or other grain, salt or other feed, whatsoever capable of luring, attracting, or enticing such birds is directly or indirectly placed, exposed, deposited, distributed or scattered. The regulation further states that…such area shall remain a baited area for 10 days following complete removal of all such corn, wheat, or other grain, salt, or other feed.
where you heard the hunters call
Hunting calls are noises hunters make to attract specific animals.
The person Amy is talking to, attracted this naive person as prey.
Use deception to kill “her” (being the Earth/animals)
But your discipline kept you from the fall
“Discipline” explains how true intent was knowingly hidden–with difficulty and effort
Speaks of a hunter perhaps tripping, an animal falling after being shot, or of falling in love
This line brings the subjects (hunting and disallowing the openness required in love) together
But oh, to hold that tenderness in these grubby hands
Amy wants to hold the tender bird meat from the fields?
Amy wants to hold the tender-loving woman from the relationship?
Amy figuratively wants to “hold” on to the Earth’s tenderness and the environment?
I’d shoot anything
Not discrimminating about the prey she hunts
not as picky about love objects.
And you laughed at me, but you know I’m right
The person she’s talking to brushed off her criticism.
So why do you claim the strength to put up a fight
Asking why they “put up a fight,” Amy is questioning the other person’s intent
The word “claim” implies that the other person might not be as sincere as they come off.
“claim the strength” shows the other person is actually weak.
And you hold your nightmares close from view
Keep fears under the surface. Show bravado.
The horses going wild, under a breaking moon
Back to the herd/animals/nature
There’s no way the bridle ever fits the bride
A bridle is a piece of equipment used to direct a horse.
Oxen are driven with the use of a collar–no bridle
bridle may be wordplay to conjure weddings.
“No way the bridle fits” could mean that man is not meant to direct any part of nature
It could also be talking about equality in relationships–true love has no controlling force
things work in a balance like the oxen working together in a yoke
Yeah, and the weight of it, thats why we’re here
The weight of this connundrum
This interplay between people, and in relationships answers the question of our purpose.
Learning how to balance what we want and the effects on animals/Earth.
Next up: My guess/analysis about what this song is saying.
- Indigo Girls (USA) (genderidentitywatch.com)
- Activity (teachingresearcher.wordpress.com)
- The Yoke and the Carpenter (zandhthoughts.wordpress.com)
- Word for the year (rashmipatel.wordpress.com)
- Political Lessons from Antelope and Deer (Sociology) (orenhammerquist.wordpress.com)