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Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?

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Mark Cohen 19 Feb 01 - 03:12 AM
Joe Offer 19 Feb 01 - 03:29 AM
bbelle 19 Feb 01 - 10:03 AM
Joe Offer 19 Feb 01 - 04:48 PM
Sorcha 19 Feb 01 - 04:53 PM
John Hardly 19 Feb 01 - 05:06 PM
Sorcha 19 Feb 01 - 05:09 PM
Mark Cohen 20 Feb 01 - 03:39 AM
Mrrzy 20 Feb 01 - 09:49 AM
MMario 20 Feb 01 - 09:55 AM
Joe Offer 21 Feb 01 - 03:07 AM
GUEST,Chris Horsley 15 Aug 08 - 02:20 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 15 Aug 08 - 05:21 AM
GUEST 01 Aug 09 - 01:55 AM
Taconicus 01 Aug 09 - 07:51 PM
GUEST,Marty 03 Aug 09 - 11:13 AM
GUEST,Chris Horsley 17 Aug 09 - 10:39 AM
GUEST,leeneia 17 Aug 09 - 01:25 PM
GUEST,DDVA 09 Dec 09 - 02:43 PM
GUEST,Sue 12 Apr 10 - 11:22 PM
GUEST,craig 17 Jul 10 - 12:40 PM
GUEST,Cindy 19 Jul 10 - 06:51 PM
Joe Offer 19 Jul 10 - 07:48 PM
GUEST,Mark 27 Jul 10 - 04:05 PM
Larry The Radio Guy 27 Jul 10 - 06:03 PM
GUEST,Jen 17 Aug 10 - 03:18 PM
GUEST,Paul M 31 Aug 10 - 07:40 PM
GUEST 01 Sep 10 - 07:59 AM
GUEST,Guest, Fran 06 Dec 10 - 02:05 AM
GUEST,dawgmum 04 May 12 - 07:27 PM
GUEST 18 Nov 12 - 11:07 PM
GUEST,Nick 04 May 13 - 01:43 AM
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Subject: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 19 Feb 01 - 03:12 AM

Here I am on vacation in Kona, and I still can't stay off the 'Cat! Recently I've been listening to Peter Paul & Mary's Album 1700. (CD 1700 just doesn't have the same ring...) I realized that I don't understand the song "Weep for Jamie" any better than I did in 1970. I once thought it might be about a woman who had an abortion, but some of the lines don't make sense in that context. Now I know there is the "don't worry about what it means, just sing it" school, but it seems to me there is a meaning that I'm just too dense to get. Enlightenment, anyone?

Since it's not in the DT, I'll put the lyrics here, as best as I can remember them. Sorry, I don't know the author or copyright info.

The other side of Jamie's door
Is aching loneliness, one, two, three, four
She dances with the ancient fears
With porcelain smiles and wetless tears

(CHO) Weep for Jamie, for the bones that tear at her flesh inside
Weep for Jamie, she lives in the land where her father died

Don't try to answer her helpless call
She can't hear your words, she feels nothing at all
With no tomorrow promised by today
She's the child of emptiness, yesterday

(CHO)

I'll sing you one of a love without an end
I'll sing you two of a tree that cannot bend
I'll sing you three of a womb never filled
And the fourth deepest wound and the love that it killed

(CHO)

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Feb 01 - 03:29 AM

Hi, Mark - I think you have the lyrics pretty close to the original Peter Yarrow composition, but you can Click here to get to the official lyrics at the PP&M Website. I checked the liner notes for the album, and they said nothing about the song.

Album 1700 was a departure from their previous work, but I've always kinda liked it.

-Joe Offer-

WEEP FOR JAMIE
Peter Yarrow-Pepamar Music Corp- ASCAP

The other side of Jamie's door is aching loneliness.
One, two, three, four,
she dances with the ancient fears,
with porcelain smiles and wetless tears,

(Chorus)
Weep for Jamie.
For the bones that tear at her flesh inside,
Weep for Jamie,
She lives in the land where her father died.

Don't try to answer her helpless call,
She can't hear your words she feels nothing at all.
With no tomorrow promised by today.
She's the child of emptiness yesterday.

(Chorus)

I'll sing you one of a song without an end,
I'll sing you two of a tree that cannot bend,
I'll sing you three of a wound that never filled,
And the fourth deepest wound and the love that it killed.

(Chorus)


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: bbelle
Date: 19 Feb 01 - 10:03 AM

Album 1700 and Album are in the top five of my favorite PPM albums. I love the ethereal sound of Weep for Jamie and the harpsichord (I think). In those days, I didn't always try to find the "meaning" of a song. Just took for granted that it meant something. Youth, idealism, and naivete at its best.


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Feb 01 - 04:48 PM

You know, Mark, if you go to http://www.peterpaulandmary.com, you'll find a link for posting questions about PP&M - It goes to Frodofolk@peterpaulandmary.com. Frodo (Rick Stehn) has a vast knowledge of PP&M's music, and he also has direct contact with PP&M and can ask Peter if he doesn't know the answer himself. Tell him Joe Offer says hello.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: Sorcha
Date: 19 Feb 01 - 04:53 PM

Good idea, Joe. It sounds to me like, (Just My Opinon!!) that Jaime is a lonely, alone, pregnant Irish teen.......it would asnwer all the questions.........


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: John Hardly
Date: 19 Feb 01 - 05:06 PM

I always thought it was sympathy for one who will never know love because, in her fears and unyeilding nature, she could never give it. A more artful way of describing those who won't risk for love.



...but I am probably wrong about this. Anyway, it's one of my favorite PPM cds too.


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: Sorcha
Date: 19 Feb 01 - 05:09 PM

("Irish" because she "lives in the land where her father died".........)Could be some other ethnic strife place, too.


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 03:39 AM

Well, at least I know I wasn't missing something obvious! Thanks for the suggestion, Joe. I'll try that link. And I agree with you, Joe, and Bluebelle, I've always liked that album. Some of the songs on it were among the first I learned to play on guitar.

I suppose it would be too easy a trivia question to ask where Album 1700 got its name. But maybe not, since it's now out on CD, and many of the younger folks may not even know what "Album" means!

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 09:49 AM

Wow, how sad. No idea what it means, I'd never read the words before. Sniff. Think I'll go get some cold water before I embarrass myself at work again...


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: MMario
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 09:55 AM

but sorcha - "womb never filled" wouldn't go with pregnant...

my first impression is a young girl permanently traumatized by sexual abuse


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Feb 01 - 03:07 AM

I think Jamie suffered something that made it so she could never trust enough to love somebody. I've always thought she sufferes some sort of sexual abuse, maybe something to do with her father. Maybe her father lived and died in a "land" of his own anger and abuse, and dragged his daughter into that land.

I think Peter Yarrow intended to open the song to a million interpretations. I suppose he lived in his own land of confusion at the time. Not long afterwards, he was arrested for taking sexual liberties with two under-age female groupies.

As for "Album 1700," it's #1700 in the Warner Catalog - no deep meaning, just kind of a private gag.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: GUEST,Chris Horsley
Date: 15 Aug 08 - 02:20 AM

Jamie is a jewel


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 15 Aug 08 - 05:21 AM

Thanks for resurrecting this interesting thread, which happened before my Mudcat days so I missed it first time around. I think all the interpretations above are plausible, but in my mind the phrase "womb never filled" doesn't rule out abortion. It could mean that her womb will never now be filled because an abortion has destroyed its reproductive capability. They were not legally available except to people who met a strict set of conditions, so desperate terrified girls often paid extortionate sums of money (where'd they get it?) to backstreet sharks who ruined their bodies. Many wombs were never filled after such an experience.

But the sexual-abuse interpretation is just as apt, and just as compelling. One can even (if you can bear the thought) combine the two themes.

I have never actually heard this song: I saw it in a Peter Paul & Mary Songbook, was struck by those riveting words, and played/sang it for myself. It's beautiful and its meaning will never (alas) go out of date. Did Peter Yarrow ever give any background as to how he came to write it? (Supposed to be working & truly don't have time to surf the PPM site right now.) It has the horrifying ring of a true-life tale. That is some song. It should be heard more widely.


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Aug 09 - 01:55 AM

I appreciate this thread so much! This is one of the first songs I sang in 7th grade... I had the impression at the time that she was autistic, or tramatized so much as to be in her own world, locked in....

haunting haunting song, 30 years and I still remember it clearly.

time to remember teh chords I figured out... Dm for sure!

thanks again folks!
another Mary


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: Taconicus
Date: 01 Aug 09 - 07:51 PM

Maybe she never got over the death of her father, and never found any other love, perhaps nothing more than that. In any case, it seems a poetic profile of some lonely (probably older) woman the author knew. I like it all the more because it could read on any number of possible histories for the woman.

It's often the songs whose meanings are the most unclear that are the most haunting and affect us the most deeply, I think. Don't you find that so?


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: GUEST,Marty
Date: 03 Aug 09 - 11:13 AM

I found this page because I know this song well, and have it in my head today, but have no clear idea of its meaning. Thanks for a great thread.


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: GUEST,Chris Horsley
Date: 17 Aug 09 - 10:39 AM

My question is, where is Jamie? I suppose I could hire a private eye, you know, like Sam Spade, but then, that would be no fun, albeit quicker. So, Jamie, where are you? I'm still in the same old shack, but this time I'm married to Suzanne, aka, "Little Sue", you remember, friend of "that slut" Linda. Suzanne is my true love and I hope you found yours, I truly do. So, you know where I am and if you ever see Al, maybe we can give him a script worthy of the summer of '67.


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 17 Aug 09 - 01:25 PM

Recently I read a book by a woman who suffered serious depression for years. I think the song is an excellent description of someone suffering deep, clinical depression.


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: GUEST,DDVA
Date: 09 Dec 09 - 02:43 PM

That has long felt to me to be just what this song is about. And I heard it first in the middle of a deeply horrific, hopeless internal time of life for me; we'll call it life. And I've never forgotten the awful agony I felt hearing this song. It could be just a personal mis-interpretation. But I suspect not. This song is something deep, about things expresable only in poetic terms, not descriptive ones. Our language doesn't have very good words for the depths of Jamie. But a song or a poem can have a way to express it. The writer/composer who finds a way to do this is a master, a remarkable person, and must have some deep understandings to be able to do such a work. I have thought for some time that if I ever had a moment with Peter Yarrow, this is what I would ask him about, this song. It's an amazing song. I actually haven't been able to bring myself to listen to it again since then (early-mid 1970's). So powerful. But I've never forgotten the song, or the personal experience it was, from hearing it just the one time. It was a thunderbolt.


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: GUEST,Sue
Date: 12 Apr 10 - 11:22 PM

I just found this thread, eight years after it was started, because this morning the song suddenly popped into my head. Several years ago I had to get rid of my entire album collection, mostly '60s and '70s folk, because I was moving and downsizing, and no longer had a turntable. (This was just a few weeks before the ones that could turn them into mp3's made their appearance - how sad is that?).

I always loved this song, with its minor key and haunting melody. I hate having to go to iTunes and pay for music I used to own, but that's what I'll have to do. Of course I never understood its meaning, and don't understand it after reading this thread, but I love it anyway!


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: GUEST,craig
Date: 17 Jul 10 - 12:40 PM

I stumbled across this thread while asking the same questions as many here. Like much poetry it evokes but doesn't explain.

The portrait it paints of this woman is compelling and, as far as it goes, familiar; a woman hollowed out by loneliness to the point that she can't even weep for herself (I think that's a second meaning for the title; we have to weep for her because she can't any more).

As to her past, there are scattered hint but they are all highly ambiguous and I don't think its possible to come up with a definitive picture of what has come before.

"She lives in the land where her father died. "
"And the fourth deepest wound and the love that it killed."

These are hints that are are open to countless interpretations. Sexual abuse? Maybe. An abortion? Maybe. A traumatic love affair long ago?

Another thing to remember is that, given the artists and the period, there may be a lurking anti-war message; perhaps her father died in 'Nam and she never got over it. Yeah, that's pretty speculative but makes as much sense as the other explanations.

We're not meant to know.


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: GUEST,Cindy
Date: 19 Jul 10 - 06:51 PM

I gotta agree - we're not meant to know, and that allows each of us to make it personal - to find the meaning that works most for us.

Abortion was a fairly hot topic 'back in the day' - sexual abuse not so much.

I always thought of Jamie as kind of an Eleanor Rigby - locked into a world where she lives by convention, unable to touch anything real or to be touched.


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Jul 10 - 07:48 PM

I think the definitive answer about the meaning of "Weep for Jamie"......is that there IS no definitive answer. I think sometimes we forget that oftentimes poetry is intended to have many meanings and to apply to many situations. We humans tend to demand specificity, and often the poet's intent is universality.
"Weep for Jamie" applies to many people I have encountered in life, in many different ways.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: GUEST,Mark
Date: 27 Jul 10 - 04:05 PM

I have been performing this song for almost 40 years, and while I agree that concrete interpretation is risky, I feel this is the ultimate poem, and as such we ought not look for places and persons as such so much as metaphorical archetypes.

Jamie is the spinster devoted to her father for whatever reason we cannot know, but she is alone, locked up within herself held captive by fears as old as mankind or rather as old as the oldest that women face which is namely their traditional dependence on a man, either a father or husband, and to hide it from the world they put on a mask of porcelain smiles and never let you see them cry. Her father has died, leaving her alone in the world in the greatest anguish imaginable because her one link with the world and any meaning it has for her is gone. The "land where her father died" is the grief and horror within herself in which she must now live forever. No tomorrow promised by today is pretty obvious, but there is a missing word "and" in one of the versions that ought to read (if you listen to Yarrow's performance) "She's the child of emptiness AND yesterday" She's the child of yesterday because she cannot move on and live her life without her father. Of course, we can wax grandiose and interpret Jamie as the whole human race that is in grief and torment over the death of God, but in the interest of keeping it local, I have to disagree once again that the lyric is "I'll sing you three of a womb never filled" which goes back to the fact that she is a virgin spinster devoted only to here father (this used to be not so uncommon). I cannot say what the fourth deepest wound is, but in context with "one of a song without an end" which must be the life she must live forever in grief, "two of a tree that cannot bend" is the immutable inflexible nature of her sorrow, now having had no other man in her life, the fourth deepest wound has to be the death of her father itself taking with him all the love she ever had in the world. I think this has to be one of the saddest songs I've ever known, and I've known a lot of them. Anyway, that's how I see it. Thanks!-MWR


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 27 Jul 10 - 06:03 PM

The Peter Paul and Mary website states that it is "a wound that never filled", which makes the most sense to me.

I think the interpretations by Mark (she's locked up within herself held captive by her fears), Craig (she's so hollowed out by lonliness that she can't weep for herself so we must weep for her, Leeneia (a deep clinical depression), Joe Offer (abuse by her father), John Hary (She doesn't know love because she can't give it) are all astute and attest to the power of this great song.

It does seem to me to be an excellent portrayal of a depressed woman. And she is haunted by some kind of recent loss and/or childhood trauma. My guess is that most of her acquaintances don't even know she's depressed--they're fooled by her "porcelain smile and wetless tears".

It also typifies the pressure everybody feels to focus on surface and the difficulty of (and sometimes the resistance to) knowing other people in a really deep way. It's probably even more relevant in today's narcissistic society where the focus is so much more on "image" than reality.


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: GUEST,Jen
Date: 17 Aug 10 - 03:18 PM

Craig,

A post that you put up in 2008 about a banjo popped up in a google search that I just ran. I hate to bring this up in a thread about a different topic, but I didn't know how else to get a hold of you.

I bought an old banjo in Edinburgh last week that matches the same dimensions and description as your post and I was wondering if you ever found out any more information about your instrument. I'm trying to find out what year it was made or any other information about the instrument that I bought. Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: GUEST,Paul M
Date: 31 Aug 10 - 07:40 PM

I'll sing you one of a song without an end,
I'll sing you two of a tree that cannot bend,
I'll sing you three of a wound that never filled,
And the fourth deepest wound and the love that it killed.

song without end,
for me this is the cycle of life, (you know the old story, boy meets girl, have children, live happily ever after, both fulfilling primevel urges that have driven the species for 100,000 generations)

tree that cannot bend.
Is the inflexibilty of the cycle. Individuals have no control of their natural urges and desires, any more than a a salmon swimming up stream


Is it wound or womb??
If it's womb then perhaps

then 3 is self explanitory.

The fourth deepest wound could be the inate/primevel need for a women to have and love children, she never had children thereby her potential for love was never realised. She goes through life longing to have children.

I have never seen the lyrics b4 today, consequently my opinion may be well of the mark.
The fortunate thing is that the lyrics are so vague, they can mean whatever one wants them to.
cheers
paul M


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Sep 10 - 07:59 AM

Don't try to answer her helpless call,
She can't hear your words she feels nothing at all.

And the fourth deepest wound and the love that it killed.

One kind of person can "feel nothing at all" but can relate to others sufficiently to inspire something like love which then might be killed -- one with Narcisistic Personality Disorder. People with NPD can seem very caring and affectionate (in fact they grossly inflate their emotional attachments calling casual acquaintances "dear friends") but in truth they "feel nothing at all" for anything but themselves. They are profoundly solipcistic and consequently live in profound loneliness. It is practically impossible for them to maintain relationships, their personality disorder being a wound that must eventually kill love.


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: GUEST,Guest, Fran
Date: 06 Dec 10 - 02:05 AM

Jamie was a real person. She lived across the hall from me in a UC Berkeley student dorm. Jamie was her real name. She was 19 or 20, and would sleep most days with her door shut. She'd be up at night. When PPM came to campus for a performance, Jamie went back stage and was invited by Peter to travel with them for a week or so. Jamie's father had died, I don't remember exactly when, but I think it was a year or two before. The album with the song came out the next summer and I thought that Peter really captured what was going on with Jamie. She probably was very depressed but as the song suggests, she didn't show it. If I could go back in time, I would try to be a better friend. Larry Saidman's comment fits for me, except that the loss would be from her father's death, not from father abuse. It's a beautiful song for a beautiful person.


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: GUEST,dawgmum
Date: 04 May 12 - 07:27 PM

A somewhat distant friend from my childhood recently died after a wretched life of loneliness, an abusive marriage, diabetes and ultimately, a choice to die of her kidney failure at a comparative young age of 60. Weeks before her actual death in 2011, I awoke recalling ALL the words to this PP&M dirge and sang it again and again on my morning walk. It haunted me, as I had not made a connection.

She had lived a life devoid of true love or happiness. She never had a baby. She suffered illness and its delusions of being *ok*.

Indeed, I weep for Jamie-- and Liz. RIP! Sweet dreams. May you now have the life I wish you had enjoyed while living.


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Nov 12 - 11:07 PM

Just came across this thread. Weep for Jamie has been part of my soul since I first heard it when I got the LP 1700. I was teaching middle school music at the time and used it with the premise of the distruction from drug abuse. Many of my students "got it." but some just thought it was weird.

The thought, as I remember, followed young people copying the drug use of their parents or other older persons and dying.
"It CAN happen to you." If it does, life unfulfilled ends.


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'Weep for Jamie'?
From: GUEST,Nick
Date: 04 May 13 - 01:43 AM

For me these lyrics initially evoked a tale of a young woman whose, possibly first, love for someone had been thwarted by class or religious barriers; hence the allusions to tradition. Her reaction was to close herself off from any other relationship. The "fourth wound" was the original rejection of her suitor.

Now, I think that, like all good poetry, it reflects the thoughts of the listener, and each of the foregoing interpretations is valid and interesting.


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