October 11, 2009

The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me

Brand New are my favourite band of all time. Their progression of style over four albums is an unrivalled musical feat. Jesse Lacey’s lyrical prowess combines lyrical delicacy with sledge-hammer emotions. I will more than likely reference Brand New lyrics many a time in the near future, but for now let us look at ‘Limousine’.

I haven’t quite figured out how to put up audio on here so listen to the song here. Read this, of course, give the lyrics a read, then listen to the song. It will have you in tears. Maybe.

I thought this would be a great first real post as it is one of the most powerful lyrical stories i’ve ever heard. The story behind the song is this; in New Jersey, a few miles from where Jesse lives, there was a car crash. A drink driver collided with a limousine. There were two limousines returning from a wedding party late at night, in the first was Katie Flinch, a 7-year-old girl, in the second, her family.

The drunk driver was driving the wrong way down a motorway when the crash happened. Both Katie and the limousine driver were killed. When the second limo stopped behind the accident, the mother ran out to the scene to find that her daughter had been decapitated. She then cradled her lifeless body by the side of the road.

This is a very sad story, obviously. The song is beautiful. The song is written as if the mother were talking to her dead daughter; “Kay, it’s your ride”. The mother refers to her daughter as a “tiny boat with oars, feather oars”. She says that she’s found “your man”, he’s “drinking up, he’s all American. He’s volunteered the grace to end your life.” This method of song-writing creates an extraordinarily powerful image. Imagining the grief-stricken mother praying to her daughter. Jesse’s opinions on drink-driving are also seen as he treats the American drink-driving culture with distain.

Jesse Lacey

The chorus keeps the mother-daughter concept running as the mother screams that her daughter’s “frequency was not strong enough.” “We will miss you but in time you’ll get settled and we will write.” The next breakdown is one of the most impressive, complex constructions. Jesse suggests that the death of Katie has crushed her mother with guilt, presumably that she should have made sure her daughter travelled with her. He then casts more distain on human nature; “I saw our sad Messiah…he said, ‘I’d die for one time, but never again.'”

Hey beauty supreme/ well, you were right about me/ can i pull myself out from underneath this guilt that will crush me/ in the choir i saw our sad messiah/ he was bored and tired of my laments/ he said, ‘i’ll die for you one time but never again/

The song is a beautiful examples of a person being motivated to write a song by an event. The use of the conversation concept and the imagery used makes for extremely effective listening. Read the lyrics, then listen to the song, I have no doubt it will leave you in tears.

The last echoing words of the song display delirious attempts at comfort, a perfect portrayal of grief; “we’ll never have to rot together underneath dirt. I’ll never have to lose my baby out in the crowd. I should be laughing right now.”

I won’t copy the lyrics here as they are too long but you can read them here. The picture at the top is the album cover for The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me, it is rumoured that the girl in the picture is meant to represent Katie.

If anyone finds a sadder song out there, I will eat my hat.


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