Speaking of songs, here’s another one I like: “The Call,” by Regina Spektor. It shows up at the end of Prince Caspian, the second film in The Chronicles of Narnia series.
I watched the movie with my kids during one of our times on furlough/Stateside service. It’s easy to draw parallels between the Pevensies’ travels and cross-cultural service, and given the Christian underpinnings of C. S. Lewis’s writings, the missionary aspect isn’t too far away either.
The lyrics of “The Call” certainly are evocative for me. They begin
It started out as a feeling
Which then grew into a hope
Which then turned into a quiet thought
Which then turned into a quiet wordAnd then that word grew louder and louder
‘Til it was a battle cry
I’ll come back
When you call me
No need to say goodbye
The song plays over the closing scene of the film, as Peter, Susan, Lucy, and Edmond return from Narnia to World-War-II London. If you’ve ever come back “home” after living abroad, you know the feeling. It’s as if nothing has changed, but everything has—in big and small ways. Susan is called by the wrong name and Edmund realizes he’s left his new flashlight behind.
Of course, the lyrics don’t fit the missionary “call” perfectly, and “The Call” isn’t a “missionary” or “Christian” song. That makes sense, as Regina Spektor isn’t a Christian songstress. Born into a Russian Jewish family in 1980, the Spectors moved to the Bronx when Regina was nine. She tells The Village Voice,
I don’t even know half the time what exactly I believe. I do know that in some moments, I’m sarcastic about religion, and sometimes, I’m in awe of it, and sometimes, I’m angry at it, and sometimes, I love it.
The Village Voice says Spektor “can’t explain the meaning behind any of her songs, because she doesn’t so much write them as much as let them happen” and then goes on to cite “The Call” as an example of that process. Spector refers to writing the song, which she did late at night after a private screening of Prince Caspian, as “one of the most pure things that ever happened to me.”
If even Spektor doesn’t claim to know what her songs mean, I figure that gives me liberty to work my own meanings into “The Call.”
It also lets me stop trying to understand “Samson.”
Samson went back to bed
Not much hair left on his head
He ate a slice of Wonder Bread and went right back to bed
And history books forgot about us and the Bible didn’t mention us
And the Bible didn’t mention us, not even once
(Cristina Black, “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Regina Spektor” The Village Voice, June 10, 2009)