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
[“Hosea” is from Resurrection Letters, Vol. II which is available today in the Rabbit Room store at Song of the Day prices ($10 CD/$7 Download)]
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.