Here we are at the second act of the Mess trilogy that makes up the center of this album. The tempo is slow, plodding and heavy. Each measure could last an age. The song goes into a higher emotional gear after the lyrics have ended. The entrance of the organ at the outro just slays me and I wish it had been mixed higher (maybe they did so in the remaster?). Those tortured, dueling guitars at the end do indeed say what the lyrics cannot.
As for the lyrics, it is the story of ruminating over someone lost and being stuck in all the despair that rumination brings. I feel like I’ve written this story already. Let’s find something different to talk about. One lyric really stood out to me today as I was listening:
You bind me
Completely beat me
Time and the passage of it are frequent themes in JM’s later work. This is the first song chronologically that I can think of that mentions time so directly and takes the next step of revealing its nature. Time binds him to his memories and emotions felt for this person. Ultimately, time beats him and defeats him.
I’ve been contemplating the myth of Saturn recently. This may seem off topic but bear with me. Saturn was the ruler of the Golden Age. But he feared the future because of a prophecy that his children would someday overcome him. Saturn devours his children after their birth to prevent the future, and his eventual defeat, from coming. What a dick, right? His wife tricks him and keeps their son Zeus alive. When Zeus is grown, he returns to his father and forces him to vomit up the children he had eaten. These children become the pantheon of gods: rulers of war, love, hearth and home.
The myth of Saturn is no small thing when we look at our history. It is the subject of several classic paintings. A planet was named after him. His name is the root of Saturday (our own weekly, mini golden ages). That’s a lot of reverence for a story of epic daddy cannibalism. We get a better idea of what is going on here if we look to the Roman Saturn’s precursor: the Greek Titan Chronos. The Romans where shameless in taking Greek concepts and slapping new names on them. This is no different. The name Chronos reveals to us that this cannibal father figure is time itself.
Time devours everything it touches. It beats us. It binds us to a past that is gone and to a future we cannot predict. The slow tempo of this song is a hint that it is time that holds him captive more so than the person who is already gone. And time never devours so quickly as when we try to hold onto the past. Social psychological research has shown that each time you recall a memory, you degrade that memory. The memory itself is reshaped, restructured in the brain. If you ruminate over memories, you can degrade that memory to the point that it is no longer like the actual experience you had, that you are trying to re-experience in the act of remembering. Again, time never devours so quickly as when we try to hold on to the past.
There is some hope in the myth of Saturn/Chronos. The king of gods forces him to release all that he has devoured. All that was thought lost is restored in fullness. I believe in this. The God I love is no slave to time and he reminds me that I should be not be held captive by it either.