Three Songs for Siren

AllLoveMe4Some people, like Siren the Social Worker, are as elusive and attractive and maddening as butterflies. They flit around leaving havoc in their wake, totally unaware of their part in the damage. We all know people like that: bubbly, full of empty good intentions, fun to be with, enchanting, and always gone when we need them. Willing to help others  — at somebody else’s expense. Offering to buy drinks for everybody, as long as it is on the house. It’s hard not to love Siren, not to be strung along by her, not to  believe the empty rhetoric. But… the judgment day always comes, eventually.

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The Debt Collector is a stage musical by the composer/lyricist  team of Carter and Katz. The three songs embedded in this article are performed to great effect by vocalist Erin Royall Carlson.  The music was recorded, mixed and mastered by Rick Long, of Salt Lake City, Utah.


It may be very easy to say that we love everyone, but when this philosophy is put into practice, the results can be disastrous, especially when love is forced on others — and is expressed by taking things away from one person to give to another.  Whether it’s money or children, everyone has something that is of value to them.  And everyone can be hurt by the application of this kind of “caring.”

What’s more, the word “love” has been stretched to cover any number of very different feelings. Yet even Siren learns to her dismay that what really attracts her is not necessarily an expression of impartial concern for her well being.

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In the end, it is not the State or the Police or the purveyors of Public Love that save Sophie, the little girl who is held captive in the basement,  from the deadly attempts to break her spirit by a person intent on adopting her and giving her “a better life” than she had with her very fallible, but nonetheless real parents. It is the Debt Collector who puts his life on the line, because he recognizes the rights of parents to raise their children are as important as the rights of landlords to receive the rent on time.

And eventually, even Siren learns how to apologize.

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Today, we hear a lot about unconditional love and the need to forgive others even if they do not apologize. We are told we must forgive for our own sake — to end our own suffering — and that it does not matter if the wrongdoer has not repented or learned what he did wrong and is not ever planning to mend his ways. We encourage debtors to file for bankruptcy and victims to fawn over their molestors. In this kind of situation, even relatively well-intentioned people like Siren may never have learned how to apologize.  The Debt Collector gives a detailed tutorial in musical form for those needing to learn how to say “I’m sorry.” The first step is taking responsiblity. The last step is recognizing that no one owes anyone else the duty to forgive.

True reconciliation between and among people in a community who want to live and work together is possible. But it can happen only if each person takes responsibility for his own actions.  Some very beautiful things can follow. Even genuine  love — the kind that is grounded in reality! Good friends like Blood and Siren might even share a big juicy steak.

About Aya Katz

Aya Katz is the administrator of Pubwages. When she is not busy administering, she sometimes also writes posts like a regular user.
This entry was posted in Composers, Lyricists, Music, Opinion Pieces and Editorials, Vocalists and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Three Songs for Siren

  1. Sweetbearies says:

    Your play sounds interesting, Aya. I never did like forced apologies, or when people demand an apology. If you want to apologize, then do it. On the same token when I forgive someone for something they did that might bother me, it is more about just letting go and moving on. I truly believe no one is responsible for making me happy but myself. Thus, let someone apologize if they want to and mean it, but this whole demand an apology thing always felt forced.

    • Aya Katz says:

      Hi, Julia. I agree that forced apologies are useless. “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” So if the person has not come to a sincere appreciation of what he has done wrong, no apology that he is forced to mouth is going to help — and it will also never lead to forgiveness.

      I think most Americans right now are in a place where they confuse letting something go with forgiving, but there is a whole world of difference. You can let go and move on, in the sense that you are not thinking about the wrong obsessively and can get on with your life, and that is perfectly healthy. But that is by no means forgiveness. That is the same thing you do when you are stung by an insect and don’t let it ruin your day. You are not going to have a productive relationship with that insect, even though you may not decide to squash it.

      Forgiveness, though, comes from the heart, and it is not about making yourself feel better so you can get on with your life. It is about seeing the person who wronged you and coming to a place where you accept them and give them an opportunity to still contribute positively.

      In THE DEBT COLLECTOR many of the characters wronged one another — but they are part of a community and need each other, too. They cannot start to interact productively unless they make amends and pave the way for genuine forgiveness. Moving on is not what it’s about. The difference between forgiveness and moving on is like the difference between fixing your marriage or getting a divorce, seceding from the union or getting your oppressors to abide by the constitution, kicking a roommate out or getting him to pay his fair share of the rent.

  2. Pingback: Two Songs for Mrs. Hauser | PubWages

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