Charlie Peacock Is Walking Right Into A Death Trap

by Bobby Gilles

in Songwriting/Hymn Workshop

Charlie Peacock is in prison. Well, at least that’s one of the settings for a colorful new video featuring “Death Trap,” a new song from No Man’s Land, Charlie Peacock’s ninth solo album and first vocal recording in 12 years.

The video, and the song itself, plays like a whomping good time, with bandmates who sound like world class players yet also like pickers-and-grinners at a small town jamboree. With squeezebox, pedal steel, fiddle, crunchy electric guitar, saxophone and more, the sound of this band is like a cross between Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions band and the players from Dylan’s last few studio albums.

But why is Charlie Peacock in jail? It’s part of the world created in “Death Trap,” which, for all the joviality in the music, is a serious lyrical meditation on the truths of human nature the Bible describes in the book of James:

“but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” – James 3:8

Thus the lyrics are strong medicine, going down easily with the spoonful of sugar Peacock’s band enthusiastically provides.

Peacock’s lyrics set the stage well, beginning with a poetic technique known as “anaphora” in the first three lines (the repetition of the same words at the beginning of successive lines). It’s a technique used well by everyone from the hymnist Charles Wesley (Come Thou Long Expected Jesus) to Martin Luther King, Jr. (whose “I Have A Dream Speech” brims with anaphora). Here, Peacock tells us:

Didn’t want to make you angry
Didn’t want to make you cry
Didn’t want to make you hate me
and wish that I would die …

And off we go from there. Peacock’s character knows that silence is golden yet keeps on “walking, talking right into a deathtrap.”

In spite of his better judgment, he can’t help himself from letting anger loosen that poison tongue:

If a man can’t hold his tongue
Till the anger is done
He’ll be walking right into a deathtrap.

This inability to do what we know is best is another truth of the human condition that Peacock effortlessly addresses in a way that isn’t at all preachy — it simply comes off as obvious:

“I know better but I don’t know better/ I know better but I don’t know better/ I know better but I don’t do better, no”

He’s like Paul in Romans 7:15 –

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

“Death Trap” clocks in at just over four minutes but feels like it’s half as long, so you’ll want to hit “repeat” a few times. And if you’re in the jail with Charlie, why not? Where else can you go?


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