Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Heartsleves Haman: A latin rock drash

Peripheral People Album CoverThe Boston based Heartsleeves is another next-gen hybrid band, playing rock club stages but including occasional songs with explicitly Jewish content or references. Their Purim song, Haman, off their new album Peripheral People isn't the first I've heard (That would be their identity politics romp "Son of Lenny Bruce"). But it's great, a Latin rock bump-up with some nice sax work. The lyrics are a terse and fairly pedestrian retelling of the megillah, but the chorus "Give me the power to protect myself" is really interesting. It's a nice drash on the controversial end of the megillah where the decree allowing the Jews to be attacked isn't lifted, but a second decree is given allowing the Jews to fight back. The controversy is that many Jews don't like the image of Jews killing anyone (including Haman's sons) in retribution and claiming booty for the violence. It's also a nice drash on the classic megillah question regarding the presence / absence of God in the account. Haman's chorus offers a succinct answer to both ... God is present in the story and the climax of the story is God giving/renewing the Jews ability to defend themselves. In that way, the story becomes a prologue for nationalistic / militaristic aspects of Chanukah and modern "Jewish self-defense" ideas that emerged under Zionism. (Which I'll be discussing later this week when I write about the Chicago based punk/industrial project Hadar.)

Not bad for a 6 word rock chorus.

For more info on the Heartsleeves, check out their website, Facebook, or BandCamp pages or follow them on Twitter.

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