April 6, 2008

Cacophonous Melodies

It may not be as uncommon as I frequently make it out to be, but there's a kind of music I tend to like that isn't exactly a genre: music that contradicts itself. Happy melodies sung cheerily about terrifyingly depressing or horrendous topics and sad music played and sung in minor keys about glorious events. Though there's far more of the former, I believe. Oh, who am I kidding, I get a weird kick out of some dark, dark music - but still beautiful music.

When I think that kind of music, the band that comes most to mind is the now defunct Scottish group The Delgados (sad really, but according the members themselves, it was amicable). You'll note I'm not talking about the whiny, "I'm gonna kill myself" kind of music. I'm talking about music that talks about strange and dark situations or general depressions of life. So, I'll start with "The Drowning Years" from the album Hate.

This is the life of a woman with demons
The first time we met I was sure she was steaming
This is my life, this is my life, what a life
So we're introduced, at the start, to a man telling the story of a woman he knew and it would seem that she has some mental problems. It would also seem that the man himself isn't particularly happy, maybe even depressed.
Life isn’t precious and life isn’t sacred
Sometimes release only comes when you meet death
A night of reprieve we were wrecked when we slept in the park
When we woke in the morning you cried could I squeeze out the dark
This is the first time we broach the subject of death in the song, the idea being there are some pains that only death can release. In the continuing story, we find out that one morning after they'd spent the night together, the woman asks the man singing to kill her.
Destroy the noises that make all the voices
Get them out of my head
Bring on the screaming and I’ll take your demons now that I’m already dead
This is the chorus. Her cry out to the world, the man. She wants it all to end. At least, that's what I get from the first two lines. The third, I think is the man, who will take on the responsibility. He's already dead inside, so this might give him something to feel.
Days of release when she almost felt better
Gradually faded and words couldn’t get her
Where is the light, where is the light, get the light
Gradually she gets worse: fewer lucid days, she's less responsive in general. I know I'm stating the obvious here, but this is an exercise for me too: to actually think about what I listen to and analyze it a bit.
Fearless and clear all her doubts had been cast off
Last night alive is a nightmare I’m part of
Dreams are a lie, dreams are a lie, so am I
If that’s all there is then I might as well get in the fire
She's made her final decision; she wants to die. He's there for her last night, either to aid in the suicide or as just a figment of her imagination. In fact, given some of the language, you have to wonder if he's real at all, or if he's just a hallucination she's using to push herself over the edge. From here we go back into the chorus.
Oh how the rights of the righteous kept coming
Shining before like the day
I stand before them and cried that you’re dying your way
Followed by the above. All the doctors, who think medication or therapy would help, all her friends and family, who don't want to see her go and think she could get better, try to stop her from taking her own life. The man, however, gets in the way and to defend her choice, as it's her life. I don't think that's entirely the case - you have a profound effect on those around you, usually anyways - but it still boils down to an issue of personal right.
I’m still not sure if the right and the wrong side is one
The song then fades out to that last line repeated several times. It's an interesting thought. How many times are we all right and wrong at the same time? Even if the answer's right today, couldn't it be wrong tomorrow?