Friday, November 23, 2018

Five Minutes

Gretchen Peters writes songs that tell stories and offer insight into the human condition. “Five Minutes” is an example of a song that tells the story of a broken and flawed woman.

Five Minutes
(words and music by Gretchen Peters)
(From the album Hello Cruel World)

I've got five minutes to sneak a cigarette
Five minutes to myself
Back behind the screen door of Andy's luncheonette
And I ain't got time to worry 'bout my health

My boss Andy says I smoke myself to death
Andy he reminds me some of you
Back when you were Romeo and I was Juliet
West Texas Capulet and Montague

Now I don't think too much about you anymore
We weren't much more than kids
It was nearly twenty years ago I shut and locked that door
Now I've got five minutes
Not much time to reminisce

Most nights I come home from work and I pour a glass of wine
Sometimes it's three or four before I stop
And Jessie makes a sandwich if I sleep through suppertime
And she leaves me on the couch to sleep it off

Now Jessie just turned 17 and she's wild as she can be
And there ain't nothin' I can do
Last weekend she ran off to meet a boy in Tennessee
Just like I used to run to you

I gave her hell when she came home this afternoon
Mascara runnin' down her face
Seems like history repeats itself, and it ain't up to you
And in five minutes
Your whole life can change

Andy he's good to me, and I can see it in his eyes
He'd love to take your place
But somethin' deep inside me just withers up and dies
To make love to him and only see your face

Somehow I've let myself go gently down the stream
A fine example I have set
Between the working and the livin' and the ghosts that haunt my dreams
I've got five minutes and I'm gonna smoke this cigarette

There is so much I like about this song, but perhaps my favourite is the ambiguity in the line that says, “Most nights I come home from work and I pour a glass of wine, sometimes it's three or four before I stop.” We get the impression that there is a problem here. Through the rest of the song, we see history repeating itself in her daughter and we see both women drawn to men who are not good for them. They are lost and need to find a clear direction in their life.

From my Christian worldview I can’t help but think of flawed women in the Bible and how Jesus sees them and shows love toward them. Perhaps the woman in “Five Minutes” is a bit like the Samaritan woman in the fourth chapter of the Gospel of John. Both women seem to be searching for something more and looking in all the wrong places. The human condition is difficult. We are prone to wander from the better paths and stray so easily into destructive paths. There seems to be so little time in life to ask the important questions and find the true path and so we muddle on in the way we have always lived. Perhaps even the author of “Five Minutes” is searching for something more.

“…those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” - Jesus (John 4:14).

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