12 October 2013

When the Stars . . .

I was just listening to Internet radio and doing something else when the Weavers’ version of “When the Starts Begin to Fall” played. Others have sung this songMarian Anderson for one as “My Lord What a Morning.”  This was one of what W.E.B. DuBois referred to as one of the Sorrow Songs, though somehow the hope that resides in this song speaks of joy—my lord, what a morning! Yes, in the morning the stars do begin to fallwhere else do they go?and the sun comes up on the horizon and the night becomes day and the cold becomes warm Ah, yes, for the slaves the day would be harsh and hard, and at some point the night would be welcome as an end to labor. But, oh Lord, what a morning !
            The version sung by the Weavers removes from the Gospel its Christian orientation and transforms it into  a song of defiance. Who will hear the sound of victory when the stars begin to fall? It will be us who experience the glory of this morning when the stars begin to fall.
            I think of Dylan’s song, “When the Night Comes Falling From the Sky.” His is an angry song. But it is a song also of freedom.  He sings:
            This time I’m asking for freedom
            Freedom from a world which you deny
            And you’ll give it to me now
            I’ll take it anyhow
            When the night comes falling from the sky.

I have ripped his stanza out of its contextit is a song addressed ostensibly to a loverbut as always with Dylan the addressee exists in allegory.  He speaks to those who have demanded from him answers, but he refuses the role arguing, “I can’t provide for you no easy answers/Who are you that I should have to lie?” It will all be known when the night comes falling from the sky‘it’ being the answer to the unanswerable questions.
            Ronnie Gilbert’s voice on this song is so plaintively clear and not clearly plaintive, filled with strength and promise. Dylan’s song is filled with anger and demand but no threat. I am made joyful by the Weavers and made strong by Dylan, but it is the same sky and the same morning when the starts begin to fall.