half the Beast, the neighbor of the Beast

At shapenote singing on Sunday (which was Mothers Day), we sang a fair number of songs with mother in their texts. Some are decidedly odd, but one was an old friend, Family Circle (the music is included in my posting on “Come Thou Fount”; “And rejoice, O my mother” is in the chorus). Family Circle is 333 in the Sacred Harp, the book we sing from, and I remarked that this was half the number of the Beast.

Singer Terry Moore was entertained by that, and passed on to me a song by folksinger Mark Graham entitled “The Neighbor of the Beast”. The singer tells “a story that the Bible never told”, about living on a winding road in The City (the one that has 12 gates to it), at number 667 — the neighbor of the Beast. Yes, the Beast with seven heads (now with a kid, little 333). The Beast is an annoying neighbor, playing Motorhead and Judas Priest at high volume into the night and consorting with the Whore of Babylon; the singer wonders why the guy can’t sometimes play some decent country music.

Background, on the number of the Beast:

The number of the beast … is the numerological identifier ascribed to the beast from the sea, the first of two symbolic beasts described in the Book of Revelation’s thirteenth chapter.

… The first beast emerges from the sea having seven heads inscribed with blasphemous names, reflecting the titles given to Roman emperors (“Lord and Saviour”, “Saviour of the World”), considered to be blasphemies in the eyes of Christians. (link)

“The Neighbor of the Beast” is track 11 on The Kings of Mongrel Folk, an album by the duo of that name (Orville Johnson and Mark Graham). Mongrel folk is their own playful terminological invention, meant to suggest the many diverse influences on their music; they get to be the kings of mongrel folk because they’re the only mongrel folksingers there are.

3 Responses to “half the Beast, the neighbor of the Beast”

  1. Jonathan Lundell Says:

    Of course, if The City follows the rest of our house-numbering conventions, 667 is across the street from the Beast, not next door.

  2. Two mother songs | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] a posting that started with the shapenote song Family Circle (#333 in the Sacred Harp, Denson […]

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