some things are better if you let them burn...
Faith is a strange thing. The trials we face can shake it or affirm it. And we can choose to place our faith in the mystical—the things we will never see our know for sure—or that which has earned our belief precisely because we have seen it. This song is named for Éponine Thénardier, my favorite character in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. I have always appreciated the complexity of this character; she is at once duplicitous and fragile, cynical and trusting. But the one constant in her life is that she places her faith in love, as she understands it. There is something to be said for that.
“Éponine” is often received as a song about losing faith, but no song could have this namesake and be that simple. After all, it is hard to see in the dark, unless you light a fire.
There’s a pockmarked stone facade
Rising up high above the town
That’s where they tell us all the thoughts of God
An easy trick if you’re looking down
I climbed the steps for confession
Bit my lip when I said your name
I left out all the pleasure
So I can take my penance on the back of the pain
Ooooh, what’d you do to me?
I didn’t wanna be an afterthought
Didn’t wanna be a story you tell
Local boy started out so good
Took a wrong turn, now he’s on the road to hell
I didn’t wanna end up like this
Didn’t wanna be sleeping alone
I didn’t wanna yell across the wire,
You’re my last chance goddammit pick up the phone!
I stole your photograph, when you looked the other way
I’m gonna need it when you leave me
It’s gonna lead me back someday
But this dog-eared hymnal here, I can’t read it anymore
Gonna slide it right back in the coal-black crack underneath your door
Now there’s a fire in the neighborhood
It’s gonna burn up that reverend’s house
We’re gonna see what he’s been hiding in the walls
What the screams in the night are all about
And now they’re calling for the bucket brigade
But the bells are ringing with his words
When it comes down to Judgment Day,
Some things are better if you let them burn