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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Songs About Death

**Warning! Contents may depress!***

As I have mentioned previously, I seldom talk about this, but a number of circumstances have crossed my path in last week or so that has got me thinking about it.  So, in order to put some of it away, I'm going to talk about it.  A little.
My first wife, may she rest peacefully, passed away some time ago.  I rarely talk about this because revisiting the emotions, even now, is difficult for me.  Reliving the events is something I rarely ever do.
But I do remember becoming somewhat obsessed by the reality of inevitable death.  This obsession, and her funeral, led me to listen to what other people were saying about death.  Through the poetry of music, the loss that death brings is heartbreaking, and seeking to understand my emotional distress, I thought I'd listen to what the others were feeling through their poetry.
I amassed quite a collection of music by assorted artists and bands.
There are the obvious songs:
Hurt, by Johnny Cash.  And When I Die, Blood Sweat and Tears.  Seasons in the Sun, Terry Jacks.  In the Air Tonight, Phil Collins.  Painted Black, Rolling Stones.  Green Green Grass of Home (I can't remeber the artist).
Pink's Who Knew is beautiful song about the loss of a lover.
Wallflowers One Headlight is a lovely song in Cohenesque style.  Beautifully put together.  I think the song is about suicide.
Rush's Afterimage which opens with the powerful line "Suddenly you were gone, from all the lives you left your mark upon.."  In many ways the song, memories of the time they had together mirrored my own.
Frank Mill's If You Love Me Love Me Love about an old man who sang about his loss until the day he died (I, in romantic fashion, though of myself as the old man, in the future, but was saved from that by my meeting The Wife).
Emerson Drive's Moments If this song means nothing to you, I have to wonder if you have lived.  Its not a song about death, per se, but about the contemplation thereof.
Brad Paisley and Allison Krauss Whiskey Lullaby:  I can't even describe the depth of this song.  Its heart wrenching. Like Moments I cried when I first heard it.
Live's Lightning Crashes.  I first heard this song on the cult TV show Strange Luck.  Powerful, emotional, and a statement on the circle of life, and death.
Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue's Where the Wild Roses Grow.  From Nick Cave's The murder Ballads Album.  A must hear, and by far the best song on it.  About murder.
Alannah Myles The Last Time I Saw William.  About the senseless tragedy of man's life who could have been so much more.  "I saw love, loss, and loneliness in the corner of his eye, I never did see William cry."
Loreena McKennit's version Carrighfergus. A lament from a dying man who would rather be with his love, who I think is dead.  It explains the Marble Stones as black as ink line.
Sarah Mclachlan has written many, but she has two I consider more beautiful than the others.
Drawn to the Rhythm.  A song about suicide, the first two verses explain the emotions, but the last explains the result.  At the risk of getting in trouble with Nettwerk, the last verse is:
In the still and the silent dawn, another day is born.
Washed up by the tireless waves, body bent and torn,
In the face of the blinding sun, awake only to find,
That heaven is a stranger place than the one I left behind...
But the most beautiful and emotionally charged song for me on the subject is Ben's Song.  From her first album Touch.  There is no substitute for her subdued piano and purity of voice in the song.  It is a powerful lament, or a dirge, and one, that for me, is the ultimate on the subject.  It is still hard for me to listen to, but again, at the risk of offending Nettwerk and the artist who penned it,  I'm going to give the entire lyrics.

On the hills of fire the darkest hour
I was dreaming of my true love's pyre
Who will bring a light to stoke the fire
Fear not for you're still breathing

On a winter's day
I saw the life blood drained away
A cold wind blows on a windless day

Hear the cry for new life the morning's flame
You were the brightest light that burned too soon in vain
Who will bring you back from where there's no return
Fear not for you're just dreaming

On a winter's day
I saw the life blood drained away
A cold wind blows on a windless day
There is a genuine sense of loss conveyed in this song, and Sarah conveys it on more than one level.  This song clearly marks her as one of the most powerful and beautiful voices in the last 25 years of music.  If you have never heard the song, you should listen to it at least once.


  1. Replies
    1. It is. I'm sure I have others, but thse are the ones that I found have meant the most to me personally.

    2. You might also remember me singing the song "Love me, Love Me, Love" at the infamous tree in Braeside.