Friday, 14 June 2013

"Of Whom Shall I Be Afraid" by Jim Byrnes, and Taking a Break from Normalcy

The last three days, a line from a song has been on the tip of my mind, so to speak, but I could not remember it well enough to look it up, nor recall where I had heard it. This morning, the line came clearly to mind--"Of whom shall I be afraid"--as well as a singer's name--Jim Byrnes. I checked Youtube and that gave me the rest of the information that had eluded me. I had heard the song on an episode of the Canadian tv show "Sanctuary," specifically in a 2011 episode called "Fugue."

In this episode, one character is only able to communicate through singing. That is, she sings what she wants to say and can only understand what is sung back to her. In one scene, Dr. Magnus is searching through her dead father's old scientific records, looking for a clue to a cure. She feels her father's presence as she works, so he seems to sit beside her and sings this song.

This is an abbreviated and much more intimate version of the actor's own song from his album "House of Refuge." I prefer this version. The line "Of whom shall I be afraid" has a biblical ring, so some checking discovered it in Psalm 27. The song could be said to be a paraphrase of the psalm.

By the way, the title "Fugue" is appropriate in two ways. First, a fugue is a musical form in which different voices develop the theme. That, more or less, describes the episode. Second, a fugue is "a rare psychiatric disorder characterized by reversible amnesia for personal identity." That describes the main character of the episode. Well done, writers!

I suspect that this episode was written so that the actors could display their vocal talents, and provide a bit of a break from the show's usual structure. I think it may have been inspired by the incredible all-singing, all-dancing episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" called "Once More with Feeling" (Season 6, Episode 7, 2001). Here's a sample of my favourite cut, "Sweet's Song," unfortunately without the tap dancing visuals.

And here's a love song from earlier in the show.

 I don't know if all long-running series feel the need to break out of character or break out of the norm, but it seems Star Trek did. How else would you explain the "Mirror Universe" episodes, beginning with "Mirror, Mirror," in which all the characters get to play their evil twins. Star Trek: Enterprise gleefully adopted the same relief from unrelenting niceness, as the opening for the episode "In a Mirror, Darkly" makes clear.

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