Monday, July 26, 2010


Musically, this ebullient number falls in the "world-music" column. Lyrically, it's in the "love gone wrong" category.

But look at how different the reaction is this time. Gone is the wounded poet of "I Am a Rock," who responds to heartbreak by withdrawing from the world altogether.

Here, the speaker first re-woos his wayward lover. Although he lacks "confidence" in her, he asks her back: "I'm beggin' you please to come home."

She does come back in body, but is still a wandering spirit. Their reunion intercourse is interrupted briefly, but that is already enough time for the inconstant Cecilia to stray again, without even leaving the bed!

But this time, she begs forgiveness and asks him to be taken back. Well, several-times bitten is finally shy, and he responds with laughter.

The last verse repeats itself. Perhaps one time, the speaker laughs at Cecilia's tissue-thin declaration of love... and the second, at himself for embodying the idea that you can't do the same thing and expect different results (the so-called "definition of insanity").

In just a few short verses, our speaker goes from one form of prostration to another. First, he is down on pleading knee. But after realizing the folly of his ways, he is literally ROFL ("Rolling on the Floor Laughing," much more of a reaction that simply LOL), as the kids say today.

This song is joyous, for it marks a realization in the speaker that it's not him... it really is her. Maybe he needed to have it rubbed, so to speak, in his freshly washed face, but he has finally had his "a-ha moment." Even greater, he does not cry over his foolish waste of time, effort, and emotion, vowing to never love again.

No, he laughs. He laughs at Cecilia's immature estimation of love, and at the joyful future his new insight offers him. His cry of "Jubilation!" is entirely sarcastic. She loves him again, after having cheated on him in the time it took to wash his face? Oh, really? 'Tis to laugh.

Incidentally, the word "jubilation" comes from the word "jubilee," itself a Biblical term for the freeing of indentured servants (the Hebrew word is "yovel," said "YOH-vell). In fact, it is also from this passage from Leviticus that the quote etched on the Liberty Bell originates. So "jubilation" is not just a synonym for "joy," but an expression of joy at liberation.

And our hero has experienced that free joy at, of all things, a declaration of love, something that should joyfully bind. This is because he now realizes that, in the light of her fresh infidelity, Cecilia's "love" is as thin as the washcloth he just used on his face, and so he is free from his affection for her. "Jubilation," indeed.

Next Song: Keep the Customer Satisfied


  1. A second layer to this song is that Cecilia is the patron saint of music and he is writing about the writing process and inspiration. Making love in the afternoon would also then refer to the creative process, with inspiration. Everything is going well, he is interrupted by life’s mundane details, and when he returns, the flow is simply gone. To be an artist is to have your confid nice constantly shaken but everything comes right when the words flow again: jubilation! She loves me again—meaning he is writing/creating and he is manic/joyful, falling in the floor laughing.

  2. J. Gravois-- Thank you! That's a very salient insight, and it certainly gives a whole new meaning to the song. Ages late, Simon's song "The Coast" specifically mentions St. Cecilia; her church appropriately hosts "a family of musicians."