March 10, 2006

Ring of Fire

One time Kate told me that when she heard the Johnny Cash song Ring of Fire she thought it was about childbirth. It turns out she's not the only one; Defective Yeti has a blog that not only describes this link but shows how the Lord of the Rings is an allegory for pregnancy:

But only one person is the appointed bearer. And that poor sap has to carry the burden the entire way, a burden that just gets heavier and heavier as the weeks wear on. The bearer gets increasingly tired and cranky as they approach their destination -- and who can blame them? Their good-for-nothing companion doesn't do anything useful, except flit about and say things like "jeeze, I wish I could carry the burden for a while!" and occasionally fight off an enormous spider and/or fetch chocolate ice cream.

But as bad as the journey is, it's the ending that truly sucks: the agony of carrying the burden is nothing compared to letting it go. The bearer gets all, like, "I can't do it, it's impossible!" and the companion stands around heming and hawing and lamely asserting "sure you can!" And then, out of nowhere, a creepy-looking bald-headed creature comes onto the scene.

The first version of Ring of Fire that I heard was by Eric Burden and the Animals, from about 1971. Distorted, psychadelic. I was a kid, so I thought it was not only weird but also something I really needed to understand. It was my big brother's record and I played it again and again. I was in my 20s when I heard the straight Cash version with the mariachi horns, and listened to the words, about June's forbidden love for Johnny:

Love is a burning thing
and it makes a firery ring
bound by wild desire
I fell in to a ring of fire...

I fell in to a burning ring of fire
I went down, down, down
and the flames went higher.
And it burns, burns, burns
the ring of fire
the ring of fire.

The taste of love is sweet
when hearts like our's meet
I fell for you like a child
oh, but the fire went wild..


At March 10, 2006 4:30 PM , Blogger Matt_J said...

Here is an essay arguing that the Lord of the Rings is an allegory for the PhD thesis:

At March 10, 2006 6:50 PM , Anonymous Tim said...

I always though Ring of Fire was about the morning after you ate some really spicy mexican food.


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