The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #47914   Message #716953
Posted By: Bennet Zurofsky
24-May-02 - 04:17 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: 'How many ships sail in the forest?'
Subject: RE: Lyric Query: ships sail in the forest
I am glad that someone brought up the use of this verse in Birmingham Sunday, since this query was posted while the last living murder suspect for the church bombing described in that song was on trial in Alabama for the deed after way too many years. I was glad to hear that the jury returned a guilty verdict yesterday.

I believe Richard Farina used the traditional verse for the same reason that it is used in the ballad: some things just cannot be explained, like how could a human being commit the crime of bombing a Sunday School class, killing three young girls, and injuring many others?

In addition, the image of a dark ship in the forest is a terrifying one. It seems to signify that there are many unknown, but substantial, hazards in the forest that the struggle for freedom must pass through. This meaning is certainly appropriate in Birmingham Sunday.