I’ll try to convey some of my thoughts regarding the second song, “Treaty”. The music for it was written by LC himself (unlike the first song, credited to Patrick Leonard), and as already noted by some people before, the melody somewhat resembles “Anthem”, although the lyrics are dissimilar.
My impression is that the song implies despair of religion (my take on it might be somewhat different than Joe’s, although we are proceeding somewhat along the same lines). Once again, there is a strong presence of Jesus here (as in songs nos. 1, 3, 7 & 8, at least); the song begins with the famous changing of water into wine, and continues with the unfamiliar changing of it back to water, which is something a simple conjurer at a circus might do but is not expected of God (unless a mischievous one). The third line mentions the table, a very loaded word for LC (as part of his very intimate vocabulary, together with “room”, “window” and a few other words). A table can be a substitute for an altar, so the religious context is invoked, as well as the nights spent in searching (familiar from Book of Mercy and several songs), leading to a disappointment: “I try but I just don’t get high with you”.
The refrain talks about the wish to sign a treaty “between your love and mine”, probably a wish to find a way to reconcile conflicting wills, unsuccessfully. A “treaty” is usually signed between states; the Bible speaks rather of a “covenant” between God and the whole of humanity (Genesis 9:8-17), and later on specifically between him and the Patriarchs, and the People of Israel. LC referred to it in BoM, for example: “Blessed be the covenant of love between what is hidden and what is revealed” (chap. 14, and see also 27); there he seemed somewhat more optimistic than here.
“Jubilee” – In the Bible (Leviticus, 25:8-17, the original Hebrew word is “Yovel”) the Jubilee occurs once every 50 years, and in that year all the slaves should go free and all the fields revert to their original owners. I think that for LC it might have symbolized his release from the shackles of depression, as also expressed in the song “Born In Chains” on the PP album, a song on which he worked for many years, and probably didn’t record until he felt it was truthful. However, here he seems to say that he sold himself into slavery for the love of God, but now that he is released it turns out that only he himself is real; still, he apologizes for making him into a “ghost”, so does he in fact wish to continue the relationship?
“I haven’t said a word…” – the second verse speaks about feeling lost after something that was so safe is gone. “I heard the snake…” – the third verse seems to say that even recognizing your sin is no guarantee for salvation, and there’s no sense in being “born again”.
The song ends on a somber note: “It’s over now, the water and the wine”. I find the following line particularly interesting: “We were broken then, but now we’re borderline”; “broken”, of course, is another of those words very special to LC (I talked about it in Amsterdam in the context of “If It Be Your Will”). In spite of the word’s basically negative meaning, LC regards it positively, as sometimes a desired state to be in. Here this positive state of being broken is also a thing of the past, and instead, now we are “borderline”, neither here nor there.
So on the whole, whichever way we look at it, it is a very sad song, expressing deep disappointment. That said, at least two more points should be made; first, as Joe indicated so aptly, each song should be regarded in the context of the whole album (I’ll have to come back to it later on). Second, the rich imagery, the biblical references and the whole structure of the song give it a sort of pleasant feeling which may even disguise the sadness and compensate for its writer and speaker being “angry” and “tired”. The fact that this song was chosen for the reprise that ends the album with the beautiful string arrangement must be meaningful too. (Of course, it can also be interpreted as speaking about a woman, but that wouldn’t make it happier).
Last edited by DBCohen
on Mon Oct 31, 2016 2:32 am, edited 1 time in total.