Last week in the comments, someone mentioned the Old Testament story of Gomer, the prostitute that Hosea married, and all I could think about was how hilarious that name is to me and how deeply ungraceful and unpoetic it sounds. Fitting, I suppose. So thanks not only to Jim Nabors but to my long nurtured appreciation for ridiculous sounding words like Sponch, Fleep, Yomple, and, yes, Gomer, I just don’t think I could ever listen to someone sing that name in a song without snickering a little. What can I say? The ten-year-old in me is alive and well.
I haven’t asked, but my theory is that Gomer tickles my brother Andrew’s funny bone in the same way it does mine. So when he wrote a song about Gomer’s story, he managed to do it without ever mentioning her name. Of all his songs, it’s one of my favorites, and I don’t snicker a bit when I hear it.
Hosea by Andrew Peterson
Every time I lay in the bed beside you
I hear the sound of the streets of the city
My belly growls like a hungry wolf
And I let it prowl till my belly’s full
Hosea, my heart is a stone.
Please believe me when I say I’m sorry
You loveable, gullible man
I tell you that my love is true
till it fades away like a morning dew
Hosea, leave me alone
Here I am in the Valley of Trouble
Just look at the bed that I’ve made
Badlands as far as I can see
There’s no one here but me, Hosea
I stumbled and fell in the road on the way home
I lay in the brick street like a stray dog
You came to me like a silver moon
With the saddest smile I ever knew
Hosea carried me home again
You called me out to the Valley of Trouble
Just to look at the mess that I’ve made
A barren place where nothing can grow
One look and my stone heart crumbled
It was a valley as green as jade
I swear it was the color of hope
You turned a stone into a rose, Hosea.
I sang and I danced like I did as a young girl
I am a slave and a harlot no more
You washed me clean like a summer rain
And you set me free with that ball and chain
Hosea, I threw away the key
I’ll never leave
Pete Peterson is the author of the Revolutionary War adventure The Fiddler’s Gun and its sequel Fiddler’s Green. Among the many strange things he’s been in life are the following: U.S Marine air traffic controller, television editor, art teacher and boatwright at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, and progenitor of the mysterious Budge-Nuzzard. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Jennifer, where he’s the Executive Director of the Rabbit Room and Managing Editor of Rabbit Room Press.