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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Randall Knife," by Guy Clark

This is a live performance of Guy Clark singing "Randall Knife." I wouldn't have guessed there would be a song about the Randall #1 "All Purpose Fighting Knife," but YouTube offers us a world of wonders.

I'm a literal-minded person so my first reaction was, "Hmm, a plausible series of events set to music." Then I thought, "Wait, maybe there's some symbolism involved." So here's my best effort to interpret it: As an expensive, high quality weapon, hand-made by craftsman, the Randall knife is a precious object. The father carried it during World War II, so it fascinates his son. At home, now a family man, the father cuts himself when he tries to use the Randall as a tool; you could cut yourself with any knife, of course, but Clark makes the point that the Randall is a weapon, not intended for mundane tasks. Later, the father lets his son take it on a scouting trip. The son carelessly breaks the tip off the blade and is terrified of the punishment he will get from his father, to whom the knife seemed to mean so much. However, the father says nothing about it. He is a father now, not a warrior, and he has adjusted his priorities accordingly. Perhaps that's why the son wants the knife most of all out of all the possessions his father leaves: it represents not only his service as a warrior, but his readiness, as a father, to forgive.

The Randall Fighting Knife might not qualify as a bowie by modern-day criteria, but it certainly would by the criteria of the 19th century. By the way, if he chose to, Clark could probably get Randall to reshape the tip on that knife so it has a point. Or maybe they could just give him a new one in exchange for the free advertising.

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