Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Song-by-Song Review of Raising Up the Dead: Come with Me

Siren sing sweetly
Song so soft saying:
“Come with me”

Innocent, listen
Green shore sweet beckons
Come with me, Come with me

Glory and dust on your clothes and your feet
While you are resting in peace

My hands are bound and my heart is tied
Enslave me, you’ll save me
Come with me

Taste these lips dripping
With honey sweet, listen
Come with me

Sweet couple they’re singing
Secrets safe keeping:
Come with me, Come with me

Take your relief from these stones and their stain
Your fall will be broken with faith

When I first heard this song I thought it was very sweet and comforting. Then I thought about the lyrics and realized that I think the song represents the very “siren song” of which it speaks. The song, in fact, is quite disturbing. It’s definitely a song about death (Green shore beckons, resting in peace, dust on your clothes and your feet). I don’t want to make too much of a leap in judgment, but I think the song may be about suicide. “Take your relief from these stones . . . your fall will be broken with faith.” The musical ending of the song certainly seems to indicate following the siren, then falling only to end with a very abrupt stop.

In fact, Death and Eschatology are major themes of this album (Raising Up the DEAD). The next song, “Streets of Gold,” is obviously about eschatology – the end times, tomorrow, streets of gold. Death and the knowledge of time hang like a shroud over the entire album until we get to the very last song. From the beginning, the fickleness of words and betrayal bleed into a strained relationship, to a person on the run who is not accepted by flesh and blood family, to someone on the run from her first lover, to a broken family in which the wife literally steals time, through a siren song, to death and streets of gold, to the impermanence of pictures and the eternal legacy of children who are “turning time inside out,” onward to building a new house and breaking ties with family expectations while hoping for the future of children, arriving at the heartbreakingly meticulous work of sculpture, which must be carved at and broken to reveal beauty, and finally to another ambiguous “she” who drives her car into a lake, wanting to be raised from the dead. Whew.

I don’t know if the placement and order of the songs are indicative of anything, but if so, then “Come with Me” marks the end of the first half. If we compare the two halves, I think we see brokenness in the first half and redemption in the second. Perhaps the songs are mirrors of each other. I’ll leave that comparison to someone else.

The music makes me realize how much piano is being used on the album. I never remember thinking of piano as a dominant instrument in a Caedmon’s album before, but in Raising Up the Dead, it comes through in a quite a few songs, most notably and beautifully in this one.

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