Monday, April 15, 2013

I Could Kill You With My Bare Hands if I Was Free: Song For Zula

I am obsessed with a new song from Phosphorescent called Song for Zula. You have to listen to it.

I don't know who Zula is or what, exactly, this song is about but I am in love with it. From the 1st line which alludes to both Bette Midler's The Rose and Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire to the last horrible line—It's the most interesting thing ever. I want to write a paper about it.

It seems to be saying that love has the power to consume and trap, even to disfigure. This person never wants to be open to its grip again. Love, it's not pretty. I love the seething rage that seems to lie below the surface. The way the word "folks" is spit out with disdain, you think it's going to be a swear word. I'm always interested in hidden seething rage. I like it when something we behave condescendingly towards that seems weak or naive is actually totally self-aware and ready to pounce. I'm interested in the idea that we are constrained by love and disfigured by it.

This song sounds so beautiful and yet it is so devastating.

I like to imagine that at her spunkiest and most self-aware, this is my mom's song to my dad.

It is as romantic as it is hideous. Enjoy.

Matthew Houck is the man behind Phosphorescent. I'd love to find out his deal, if you know what I mean. He reminds me of Santino Rice from Project Runway, who I'm also pretty intrigued with.

And here are the lyrics:

Some say love is a burning thing
That it makes a fiery ring
Oh but I know love as a fading thing
Just as fickle as a feather in a stream
See, honey, I saw love. You see, it came to me
It put its face up to my face so I could see
Yeah then I saw love disfigure me
Into something I am not recognizing

See, the cage, it called. I said, “Come on in”
I will not open myself up this way again
Nor lay my face to the soil, nor my teeth to the sand
I will not lay like this for days now upon end
You will not see me fall, nor see me struggle to stand
To be acknowledge by some touch from his gnarled hands
You see, the cage, it called. I said, “Come on in”
I will not open myself up this way again

You see, the moon is bright in that treetop night
I see the shadows that we cast in the cold, clean light
My feet are gold. My heart is white
And we race out on the desert plains all night
See, honey, I am not some broken thing
I do not lay here in the dark waiting for thee
No my heart is gold. My feet are light
And I am racing out on the desert plains all night

So some say love is a burning thing
That it makes a fiery ring
Oh but I know love as a caging thing
Just a killer come to call from some awful dream
O and all you folks, you come to see
You just stand there in the glass looking at me
But my heart is wild. And my bones are steam
And I could kill you with my bare hands if I was free

Write me a paper about it and I will grade it.  Here are some resources.

I get very obsessed with things. The internet is my enabler. It can be yours, too.


  1. I downloaded this song as soon as I read it. I trust your taste in music implicitly (Elvis Costello, The Killers, Imagine Dragons, Allison Kraus are all songsters I either listen to or started to re-listen too because of your recommendation.) I'll get started on my paper. How long? 10 pages?

    1. I love it when you do what I tell you to do, no questions asked.

  2. Anonymous12:00 PM

    Of course, the first verse was totally about me on first read! But then I first heard the Christian undertones, and wondered if it was secretly Jesus rock
    But then what is he killing? Something about a thing he felt consumed and then changed him.
    I agree with this comment from youtube
    nataliekw 15 hours ago

    It seems to me that this song is more about rejecting religion than embracing it. He was drawn to the love promised by religion but it changed him into something he didn't like. It was a cage. He found out he didn't need it to stand, didn't need to wait around for a prophecy to be fulfilled, he was already a good person and could take good actions and go his own direction. Just my interpretation of the lyrics. There are definite Christian undertones but I don't feel that they promote it.

    It's all projection, but isn't that what's great about art?

    1. There is definitely Christian imagery. Interesting.

  3. Ahh, I love it! The lyrics are amazing. And I've googled the chords so I can try it on my Gibson. I guess I'll take a break from New York by Milk Carton Kids and learn C#m. Thanks!

  4. Kristen1:48 PM

    Hi Kacy, I read your post the other day and then my fave radio station played the song this morning. The DJ also mentioned the Johnny Cash connection. I also hear The Rose in it and also hints of gravely, intense vocals of Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty. To me, the guy suffered a crushing breakup. It echoes either a first love or a first, somewhat obsessive, love. Maybe he's mad at himself for getting in too deep. He sings about seeing love and then being disfigured by love. Also, he sees it as a cage, he's obviously feeling exposed, and says he will not open himself up to it again. Poor guy, whatever happened, he took it hard.


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