Yes! The Poets again!

January 22, 2010 at 3:10 pm (Music, The Entertainment Center) (, , )

March 17th.

Twilight Theatre.

Get your orders in as quickly as you can.  A single, Dreaming Wide Awake, comes out February 3rd, but I’ll probably wait for the album.

That is all.


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Where Do We Draw the Line?

August 11, 2009 at 12:15 pm (Music, The Entertainment Center) (, , )

“On your palm an endless wonder… lines that speak the truth without a sound. And in your eyes awaits the tireless hunger… already looks for prey to run down….”

This is the conclusion to our story arc; our hero has made his real rebellion, and he’s addressing the people who feel he’s betrayed them. They know as well as he does that it isn’t working right, but they’re not yet willing to end it, despite the fact that they’re already looking to move on.  The ballad addresses them, asking them when is the right time to end things, to move on, to look for things that really are better.  A new relationship, a new leadership, a new system… if the rest of the album poses the dangers of moving on too quickly, “Where do we draw the line?” acknowledges that there is a point when you have to move on.

“So why do we keep up this charade?  And how do we tell apart the time to leave, from the time to wait?  What does tomorrow want from me, what does it matter what I see?  If it can’t be my design, tell me, where do we draw the line?  Where do we draw the line…?”

One of the important aspects of the song is that it doesn’t actually answer its question.  Eventually, all things do come to an end, but there’s no grand plan to it that we can plot out and see.  Regimes do eventually become corrupt and need to be overthrown, but there’s rarely a point where you can look at it and say “now, we must act.”  Relationships draw to a close, but it’s usually months or even years before you realize that you’re in bed with a perfect stranger.    It’s tempting to let yourself be tied up in what’s comfortable once the time comes; better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.

But, ultimately, the line has to be drawn, whether you’re sure that it’s time to or not.

“Where’s the cooling wind?  Where’s the evergreen field?  Where’s my mother’s open arms, where’s my father lionheart?  It’s like the sun’s gone down… sleeps in the hallowed ground now.  With the autumn’s brown leaves, with the one who never grieves….”

“Whatever tomorrow wants from me, at least I’m here, at least I’m free!  Free to choose to see the sign… this is my line….”

The answer to the song’s question is that there is no obvious time… but the time does come, and you have to be open-minded enough to see it.  That you do pick the exact moment is less important than that you can see the moment has arrived, especially for the leadership.  Trying to drag things out past the point where change is needed is only going to make things harder.  Realizing that the line has to be drawn, and that you can draw it, is the most important part of trying to govern your life.  You don’t really lose until you’ve become so ingrained in your ways that you can’t see another way.

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Save Me

August 4, 2009 at 3:25 pm (Music, The Entertainment Center) (, )

And we’re back into the heavier rock, which I think is very intentional – starting with Miss Impossible, we had a shift from the softer tunes of Fragile and Clever Mind, gradually shifting more into the driving tones that exemplified More and Psychosis.  This is the point where our hero rebels, albeit a little more quietly this time – trying to use his position to fix things from the inside.  Unfortunately, it’s not taken all that well.

“If I want to be the man, should I open my wrists again, would that make it excellent?  If I want to be the one, should I book me an interview, get me an audition?  Save me, I’m my own worst enemy, runnin’ headlong to the wall, ’cause I want my freebie… save me, you’re the only one I see, and I need your love the most, when I least deserve it!”

This song is entirely about the struggle against the system he helped to create.  He’s become as much a prisoner now as before, and he’s lost his support – he’s the symbol of the regime to fellow rebels, and a maverick fighting against the good of the people to the loyalists.  Worst of all, he has to overcome his own desire for approval – he’s finally been accepted by the public, and his efforts to do what’s right are undermining that popularity.  Constantly fighting against the temptation to go back to the regime, it’s when he’s at his weakest (‘when he least deserves it,’) that he needs the support of the people he’s trying to help.

His efforts being undermined by his supposed allies, he finds that he really hasn’t gained anything by his sacrifices – his popularity is a hollow shell, the love of the people forced in some cases, conditional in others, and never really willing.

“Did I really ask for all this, did I really cut open the goose, just to lose what’s in it?”

Finally, he realizes that he does need to go public with his efforts to fight the system – he needs to become a rebel publicly, not just working the system.  It’s now, when he sees what everybody *else* sees himself as, that he really sees how empty he’s become.

From a musical perspective, this song isn’t the work of a sellout – it’s the work of somebody trying to recover their artistic integrity.  And inside the context of the album, Save Me is the climax of our story arc… leaving Where do the Draw the Line as our conclusion for next week.

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Passion Colors Everything!

July 28, 2009 at 1:26 am (Music, The Entertainment Center) (, )

Almost there folks – just two more songs after this one!

“This is my toothpaste moment, oh I need to flash a smile! I’ll be the super-absorbent man, watch them flock to me in single file!”

Everything’s falling apart now. Our hero, the icon of the revolution that’s been going on for most of the album, is entirely disillusioned by what he really knows. At this point, his role in the revolution is entirely a falsehood, a cosmetically enhanced icon and propaganda piece. A hollow shell around a core that’s preparing to turn against it all, and back to what he originally stood for.

“I dance in tune with what I fear, to due adrenaline. Completely wrapped with what I hear, when passion colors everything, the songs I sing, from way up there, to deep within! The face I wear behind my grin, the price I pay for my original sin!”

Working in threads from prior songs, our hero is remembering what he stood for, what he used to be before the revolution became the cause, and not the means to achieve it. Wrapped up in the superficial glory of his position, he plasters over the inner turmoil, made worse by his reawakening heart and goals. His love for Miss Impossible, his knowledge that the system has fallen apart, and his guilt over being the one who set all of this in motion.

“I have a mind for simple things, but things are not all mine to simplify. There’s always some newborn technicality, you buy until you pay, until you die! And money doesn’t bring me joy, it’s more a darling dead-weight….”

This time, rather than breaking down the system entirely, he tries to use his power to fix it from the inside, to tear down the walls that the new regime is creating. Unfortunately, he can’t do that entirely. The wealth and prosperity he’s earned in the course of being the revolution’s darling, furthermore, isn’t pleasing him – it’s a reminder of how badly he’s sold himself out – and sold himself out, ironically, for love, back around the Ultimate Fling.

“I dance entangled with my dear, she pulls my every string! Completely trapped, yet never here, when passion colors everything!”

While he’s gotten everything he thought that he wanted, he’s been destroyed by it. He’s still a puppet, no more free or autonomous than he’d been when all this started – it just looks like he is, to the outside world.

“And when I’m finally brought to my senses… afraid to rain on my parade… Before I’m back to my defenses… to watch the whole thing escalate!”

Here is where it all finally breaks down. He comes to his senses and, before he gets the chance to re-justify it in his mind, sees that it’s time to step out and speak out against what he’s become….

Which leads us into ‘Save Me,’ next week.

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Diamonds for Tears

July 21, 2009 at 2:32 pm (Music, The Entertainment Center) (, , )

There y’go – the video’s probably much more entertaining than this will be.  😉

This song gets most of its meaning when you take it in the context of the other songs that come around it – after all, this song follows Miss Impossible, and precedes Passion Colors Everything (next week’s bit, Lord willing).

Considering the paradoxes established by Miss Impossible, and her showing up after a pair of love songs, Diamonds for Tears takes our ‘hero’ back into the frustration of dealing with a relationship that he’s not entirely sure about.  This time, it’s not as blatant as the Ultimate Fling was.  “When you’re sleepin’ next to me, I know you’re the one.  And when I hear you callin’ my name, I know the good I’ve done!”

But at the same time, there are things in the way, that leave him uncertain.  “If I deny you what you’re searchin’, do I do it out of fear?  Am I rulin’ out my reason, killing that which I hold dear?”

But, taken in the even larger context of the album’s view of a revolution gone horribly awry (see Revolution Roulette and Psychosis), we see what the conflict just might be.  Miss Impossible isn’t cheating on him.  She’s not hurting him, or using him… she needs to use him.

His girl’s in trouble – the revolution that he may have started has come back around to threaten the woman he loves.  “In these days of man-made wonders, we still bicker over flies.  When you come seekin’ for forgiveness, I’ll be forced to choose my side!”  The conflict isn’t between love and frustration – it’s between love and duty.  He knows that his girl is in trouble, and that he wants to help her.  But to do so, he has to turn against the revolution.  And he doesn’t know whether he should or not – he’s not entirely sure what’s going on, or what all of this is meant for, on either side.  Is she a scapegoat?  Is she actually hurting the system?  If so, should it be hurt?

“If I knew what it was meant for, would I know to play my part?”

“Is it a lost cause?  Can we overlook this taint?  Are these the dead laws, like a doubt eatin’ the saint?”

Does he help her?  I like to think he does, given the songs that follow.  I’ll go into it in further detail later, but I think that he does come to her aid, accepting the price he’ll have to pay, and what it means.

“And though I feel these shackles, like my darkness closin’ in, I will hold out my hands – I will hold out my hands!”

He’s shackled by his duties, by his responsibilities to the system he helped to birth, but he knows that it’s sick, that it’s tainted deep inside.  And he’s not going to sit back and watch as it destroys the woman he loves.  He comes to her aid, even though it’s going to destroy what he’s put all this effort into creating.

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July 15, 2009 at 11:19 am (Music, The Entertainment Center) (, , )

Apparently, the scheduling function screwed up.  So!  Uhm… take this in place of this week’s post on Diamonds for Tears?

Clevermind is, much like Fragile, more of a love song than several of the prior pieces on the album.  Unlike Fragile, Clevermind has a more hopeful tone than a consoling one, sung from the perspective of somebody who’s rising from the depths and starting over, with all the energy and verve that he lost during the depression that seems to be the subject of Fragile.  In many ways, Clevermind manages to be one of the most inspirational, and an excellent wind-up to the more energetic song that follows (Miss Impossible).

In general, I’d say that Clevermind is about equal to Fragile on the album; a very good song, but not one that’s got the depth or thought that others (like Revolution Roulette) seem to have.  But if you’re looking for a song that seems to soar on this album, this is the one for you.

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Miss Impossible

July 7, 2009 at 2:14 pm (Music, The Entertainment Center) (, )

“She can really be a handful, like the brownies that she bakes you.  She can be a bit hysterical, but never quite the break through….”

Ah, out of the love tunes, and back to the rock – here we go!

Miss Impossible is almost the polar opposite of Ultimate Fling; rather than a song about a woman who’s wealthy and well-placed, Miss Impossible tells us about a woman who’s “beautiful, unpredictable, damned irresistible,” but who isn’t much for tradition.  One paradox and contradiction after another, she’s the sort of mental puzzle that can be intensely frustrating, but intensely fascinating all at the same time.  While you might want to wash your hands of the confusion… well, as the song puts it, “it’s impossible to hate her.”  For every contradiction inside of her, our ‘hero’ knows that she’s the sort of girl he really needs, and is coming to recognize it.

Not much about this one, but it’s more fun to listen to than to discuss (link included).  Next week, we get to a similar piece in Diamonds for Tears – but with that one, you’ll get an actual video.

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June 15, 2009 at 12:15 am (Music, The Entertainment Center) (, , )

After Psychosis, it might seem odd that the Poets follow up with a musical 180.  From the hard-rocking paeon to the nihilistic and the manipulative, we open up with a gentle, slow guitar opening, the sort of thing that’s usually one of the Poets love songs.

It almost makes the opening line comforting.  “You’ve been biting bullets all the years.  And I’m there beside yourself chokin’ on tears.  And you aced avoidin’ possibility… when you placed your bets on bittersweet!”


However, the chorus tells us what’s up right away.  “Now don’t you worry, no need to be sorry, time to step lightly….  ‘Cause the love you used to feel is still there inside!  It may be a faded photograph, but I know you care.  So don’t hide, if you’re scared I’m here beside you, if you’re lost I’m here to guide you, and I give you peace when peace is fragile.  Love is all the good in you, love is peace when peace… is fragile.”

That’s why the song has the comforting, gentle sound to it.  THis *is* supposed to be a song of reassurance, of quiet affection and love for the subject.  Unlike the Ultimate Fling, this isn’t a song of desperate futility and frustration… it’s a song meant for the mourning, for those who are still enduring the grief of a relationship that’s ended, whether willingly or otherwise.

If not for the probable gender differences between the subject of this long and of the Ultimate Fling, you could almost see this song as an answer to the earlier one, trying to comfort the original singer, reassuring him that actual love is still in the offering, and that he was right to get out of it when he did.  We’re beginning to form up a possible ‘storyline’ to the album, but we’ll revisit that idea later… for now, next week, Clevermind.

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Album Analysis: Psychosis….

June 9, 2009 at 12:40 am (Music, The Entertainment Center) (, , )

“And I see that it makes me anti-everything,
And I see that it makes me want to shed my skin… shed my skin!
Revelation, leading to my psychosis and inspiration,
Digest another hallucination,
Psychosis by recreation!
Happy ’til the next deterioration… psychosis!”

Psychosis is one of the faster, more hard-rocking tunes on Revolution Roulette, and one of the few that I don’t really see, or look for, a second level of meaning in.  Instead, Psychosis seems a pretty straight-forward analysis of how entirely too many cults form.  As we see in the end….

“I think I’m gonna start up my own religion,
Seems to be the recipe for a new sensation!
Think it’s gonna make a trendy revolution!
Quite the contribution to the unnatural selection!”

Through the course of the song, we see a picture of nihilistic madness and hedonism.  A soul consumed by the desire for one new sensation after the other, finally deciding that the only thing left to do is to start his own faith… one probably dedicated to the sort of carnage that he’s been revelling in the thought of all along.

Personally, this is the sort of song that I love for coming up with characters.  It’s got the *attitude* that is so critical to creating a memorable villain.  One of these days, I’ll build a villain based around this song – I’ve actually toyed with the idea of building an anti-hero based around it.  When that day comes, rest assured, he’ll be posted here.  🙂

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Revolution Roulette

June 2, 2009 at 12:58 am (Music, The Entertainment Center) (, , )

For reference, I’m cross-posting this one to Dinner Table Taboos, as I get fairly heavy into a political discussion that may interest my readers there as well.

Here we go – getting into the really good stuff here.  Revolution Roulette, the title track, is the one that cemented the album in my list of favorites.  As with the past songs, it’s one that starts out sounding fairly normal – down with the system, power to the people, it’s time to revolt. 

“If this machine doesn’t stop, what will you do if it never goes out, never goes out of season?  It never stops as it turns, there ain’t no passion yet it burns, introducin’ my prison!  Losin’ myself in this place, soon I’m gone without a trace, freed with that final incision.  Look my heart is a bird, it needs to sing and to be heard, not this clockwork precision, yeah!”

The sort of thing you might hear anywhere, hmm?  But, as the song (and choruses) go on, it moves into a much, much more unusual theme – one that’s as topical now as ever.  You see, there’s a reason the song’s title is “Revolution Roulette.”  Like *another* sort of roulette that starts with an ‘R,’ the song poses, it’s a game you just can’t win.  Let’s take a look at the chorus as it progresses, shall we?  Starting with the first one….

“And the machine grows idiotic.
Who’s gonna be it’s ingenious critic?
Everybody loves a perfect solution to beat the odds against the poorest possible substitution!
What you see is never what you’re gonna get!
Everybody’s playin’… Revolution Roulette.”

The first lines sound normal enough.  The machine is breaking down, fouling up – somebody needs to stand up for what’s right and fix this!  We love this idea, we love the people who present it to us (shades of election season 2008?  Or, for that matter, *any* election season when the people aren’t happy?)

But those last few lines hint at the problems.  The idea of there being a poorest possible substitution – not a replacement, a substitution of one broken system for another.  Replacing the old problems not only with a new set of them – but possibly a worst one.  History has seen this any of a thousand times.  The French Revolution – ditching the monarchy for the Reign of Terror.  England’s own revolution, when Oliver Cromwell killed the old king and took over, enforcing Puritan ideals.  Cuba, China, the USSR – most communist countries, really.

Nazi Germany.  Remember, Hitler was elected through a popular vote, on a platform of fixing the problems with the old system that had led Germany into its decline, and the disaster that was World War I.

Throw a dartboard at the dictatorships and genocidal regimes out there – you almost *always* find a case where the dictator came to power through popular support, only to turn on their supporters later on.

“And the machine grows parasitic.
Who’s gonna criticize the good critic?
Everybody has the  perfect solution to beat the odds against the poorest possible substitution!
What you see is never what you’re gonna get!
Everybody’s playin’… Revolution Roulette.”

Revolutions are aptly named – they almost always come around to where they started in the end.  I’m not going to claim American immunity on this one either – there are a lot of folks, on both sides, who’ve accused the US’ political leaders of trying to establish a monarchy of sorts (I’m not entirely sure they’re wrong either – the barrier to entry in the political arena is a lot higher than it ought to be.)  The way that it happens is almost always the same, too.

The system is there for a reason – it provides some sort of service.  Most often, it’s basic infrastructure.  So elements of the old regime have to be maintained… or, if not, replaced with something very similar.  It feeds off of itself, and off of the people – there’s no way to get away from it.  What’s worse, the old rebels begin to feel a sense of entitlement.  They saved the nation!  They brought it out of the jaws of destruction!  That they might not have a *clue* how to actually administer the *new* system doesn’t have any bearing on the matter.  The fact that everything wasn’t magically fixed when they took over isn’t their problem – they didn’t promise too much, they just need time. 

And then it begins to set in.

Who dares criticize them?  The people should be grateful!  It’s foolish to criticize the people who you owe your freedom to… in fact, it’s not just foolish.  It’s wrong.  It’s unpatriotic.  After all, who *would* complain?  Only somebody who thought the old system was better… only loyalists and sympathizers who need to be expunged.  *They’re* the ones causing the problems, not the fact that the new regime doesn’t know what it’s doing!

They need to be caught, exposed for the traitors they are, and purged.  Then it *will* be the Utopia we’ve been promising.  If it isn’t?  Well, clearly we haven’t caught all the loyalists and saboteurs yet, and we just need to try harder.  After all – some of them are undoubtedly posing as loyal *supporters*, just to get close enough to cause some *real* trouble.  We’d better start hunting them down… they can’t *always* have their guard up, we’ll catch them when they slip up.

 Whatever.  It.  Takes.  Because it’s for the good of the *people*, you see.

 “Everybody has the perfect solution,
But it’s just hard to resist the sweet seduction!
There ain’t no trick to winning double what you bet…
Welcome to, Revolution Roulette!”

And there we leave off – the last chorus, and the final downfall of the revolution as it starts right back up again.  The song gives a feeling of a Mephisophelian croupier, taking bets and waiting for the wheel to spin again… but really, it never stops.  Some people win, but in the end they always lose again.  Because people who start playing with revolutions almost never have an exit strategy.

The successful ones, historically, have been the ones where the rebels had the sense to realize that they could end up being just as bad.  I said before that I don’t claim US immunity against claims that we’ve done just that, I don’t say we’re inherently any better.  But I will say that I think we lucked out with who led our own revolution – they did a pretty good job of setting it up afterwards to prevent absolute dictators from taking charge.  Revolutions are a messy business, no matter how you carry them out… and the results often end up setting up the next one to come.

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