Thursday, March 24, 2011

For a Song: The Queen and the Soldier

Suzanne Vega: The Queen and the Soldier


Almost three years ago, I made my first blog post, on Star Maker Machine. The theme was songwriting, and the song was The Queen and the Soldier. I am posting it now because many of my readers may not have ever seen that post, but also because this is a song I am forever coming back to, and each time I hear something new. What strikes me now is that neither the queen nor the soldier have names. Some very specific things happen in the song, but the two characters are generalized. This happens all the time in fairy tales. Even Beauty and Snow White, for example, are not really names. These stories represent patterns rather than actual people. The things that symbolically happen in these tales are repeated through generations. So it is with The Queen and the Soldier. It is not necessary for the actual participants to be a queen and a soldier in her service, but these symbolic roles define the parameters of the relationship. Nor does every relationship with these roles have to end as it does in the song. Suzanne Vega’s song is not a prophecy, but a warning. But is she warning the queen, the soldier, or both? I leave that as a question for my readers to contemplate.