What happens when you take one of the world's most famous stories and turn the plot inside out, then sing it in a gorgeous lilting voice over an intricate piano melody?
You get Regina Spektor's "Samson," the only pop song likely to get stuck hopelessly in your head while also making you reconsider everything you thought you knew about the impossibly strong ancient Israelite hero Samson and his "downfall" of a lover, Delilah.
The song, which showcases both Spektor's quirky songwriting and her classically-trained pop sensibility on the piano, is a huge favorite among her fans. Hit play and find out why.
|Producer(s)||David Kahne, Regina Spektor|
|Musician(s)||Regina Spektor (vocals, piano)|
|Learn to play|
|Album||Begin to Hope|
Regina claims that she has no specific influences for her songs, but that they merely come into her head and appear as sheet music and lyrics. Maybe they come from her very wise subconscious? In any case, the Torah was obviously an influence for this piece, as well as any classical composer who liked writing in difficult keys—Chopin, for instance.
The Bible, obviously, or the Torah (Tanakh). If you can get your hands on a tangible copy, you might just feel the age and weight of it a little more.
The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: the Conflict Between Word and Image
A startling theory, well-written piece in which the author, Leonard, Shlain, argues his claim that the rise of alphabetic literacy led to a decline in women's rights through history, comparative religion, anthropology, art, music, neuroscience, etc. An amazing book.
Reubens' Samson and Delilah, 1609
The website from which this photo comes has this to say about the painting: "Samson, the Jewish hero, fell in love with Delilah. She was bribed by the Philistines, and discovered that his strength came from his hair, which had never been cut. While he was asleep it was cut, Samson was drained of his strength and the Philistines were able to capture him. Old Testament (Judges 16: 17-20). Rubens depicts a candlelit interior; the Philistines wait at the door, one of their number cuts Samson's hair, while an elderly woman provides extra light. In a niche behind is a statue of the goddess of love, Venus, with Cupid—a reference to the cause of Samson's fate."
Regina Spektor Interview
Among other things, Regina mentions in this interview that her performance in Portland, Oregon, was "strange" and everyone seemed "spaced out" but then concedes that it's the "pot capital of America," so maybe everyone was just high. She also talks at length about the trials that female singer/songwriters have to go through to be taken seriously, which ties nicely into "Samson." When she talks about getting compared to countless female artists from Tori Amos to Kate Bush to Fiona Apple, she says: "I understand people's need to classify. I mean, that's what humanity is built on. We'll walk into a new territory and discover a new flower and give it like a seven name Latin title, ya know? And the little flower is like 'What the f---? I'm just a pink with blue spots little flower! And nobody else is like me!' But they totally need to classify and explain."
"Herself, Her Characters: An Interview with Regina Spektor."
A great part of this piece is when Regina expresses her confusion over her listeners' need to find personal meaning in her songs: "I don't fully understand the fascination of people wanting to know the 'real' you after listening to your songs," she said. "People always want to know which part of the song really happened, they want to know some sort of a 'Truth'. For some reason they can see the same actor acting in 17 different movies, using 17 different hair colors, using fake props, changing their voice, changing their accent, being evil or being the victim, and they are okay with that. They understand that it's just a movie, they understand that it's an art. But with music they forget. Music, somehow, is life."
An Unofficial Fan Site
Where dedicated Regina fans can come together and wax poetic about their favorite artist.
In case you wanted to dive into the Scriptures that inspired this song.
The Pointer Sisters on the Subject
The Pointer Sisters compare Romeo and Juliet to Samson and Delilah. See, we told you they were some very famous lovers.
Regina Spektor Interview
The one with the spacey host.
Regina Spektor Interview… Abroad
For a Swedish TV show.
"Hotel Song" Live
An example of Regina freestyling her songs.
NPR discusses Regina
A good review of her as an artist and her music. Click "listen" to hear what they have to say about her.
Interview for a British Station
She talks about living in London, braving the unpopularity of being a piano singer-songwriter, and mentions that her song "Fidelity" was based on High Fidelity with John Cusack. Clearly she made a good choice with the singer-songwriter thing since we have seen Alicia Keys, Vanessa Carlton, Sia, etc. all rise to popularity with the piano.
Regina on Democracy
Regina waxes political and philosophical for one interviewer, discussing everything from revolutions to totalitarian states to the environment to the importance of voting.