Monday, February 9, 2015

Death Is Not the End

Things might suck now, but
Don't worry; they'll suck much more
After you are dead.

I must admit that I stole the idea for this haiku from Nick Cave. He and the Bad Seeds covered the song on their 1996 album "Murder Ballads," a smorgasbord of violence, death and gore like no other pop album. Cave in an interview at the time suggested that the song, which sounds like a reassurance of deliverance after life in a painful world, could be read to suggest that the vale of tears that is life is surely eternal because, as Dylan tells us in each verse after describing something awful, "Death is not the end." I had to laugh when I heard that, and the more I thought about it, I'm not sure that Dylan didn't mean it that way when he released it on the 1988 album "Down in the Groove." (His backup singers were Full Force, all you old school rappers)

Here are the things for which you should be reassured, or horrified, to discover that death is not the end:
1. Sadness, loneliness, no friends, everything sacred broken and can't be mended.
2. Crossroads you can't comprehend, dreams vanished, unknown surprises around the bend.
3. Storm clouds, heavy rains, no one to comfort you, no one to lend a hand.
4. Cities on fire with the burning flesh of men, a lack of law-abiding citizens

In all seriousness, I think that Dylan meant this in an optimistic way, that death is deliverance, considering the middle-8 in the song:

Oh the tree of life is growing
Where the spirit never dies,
And the bright light of salvation shines
In dark and empty skies.

Keep all this in mind when you're contemplating the inevitable, and remember kids, don't drop acid and listen to this song.

Here is Nick Cave's version, complete with a host of guest singers from his band and other bands (including Shane MacGowan and Kylie Minogue).

1 comment:

  1. Yes Robert, another interesting piece of analysis. Time to come inside Bob Dylan's Music Box and listen to all the great versions of this and every track.