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Song meaning in Blackwater Park

Discussion in 'Opeth (Archived)' started by Xenopethgears, Sep 9, 2004.

  1. Xenopethgears

    Xenopethgears New Metal Member

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    I wanted to discuss what the songs on Blackwater Park are about, or what they mean. Sorry if this has been done before, I don't see it on the front page. I assume there's not a theme like My Arms, Your Hearse but I could be wrong. So let's start with The Leper Affinity I guess.
     
  2. Lone_Isle

    Lone_Isle New Metal Member

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    I think that BWP is probably also a concept album as Still Life and MAYH, it's just not as connected or as obvious. As far as I can tell it's about the residents of a leper colony. Opeth like to put a modern spin on medieval topics...

    hmm, IMO, Leper Affinity has a certain sexual overtures? It might be about the horror of contracting leprosy, with its references to skin and hide.
     
  3. jaykeegan

    jaykeegan Member

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    The following text is an extract from an interview with Mikael Åkerfeldt concerning the meaning behind the song, Blackwater Park.

    ''SM: You actually wrote a song with that title so what did that end up meaning lyrically?

    MÅ: Basically, "Blackwater Park" doesn't have to be a park. It is just symbolic for some kind of dark place. It could be within or whatever. The song "Blackwater Park" is about how disgusted I am with people sometimes. I just wanted to create some kind of very, very disgusting and very dark kind of mood with that track. That is really what happened as well.''
     
  4. Ermz

    Ermz ¯\(°_o)/¯

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    Yes, the two most obvious ones are the songs BWP and Dirge. Blackwater Park is basically, as jay outlined, about Mike's disgust with humanity, and just the general decline of humanity as a whole. The song is a metaphor.

    Dirge is about suicide, as the lyrics don't leave much to the imagination.
     
  5. Demoke

    Demoke This is the Almighty:

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    I posted this some time ago...

    Opeth – The Funeral Portrait – Blackwater Park

    Demoke


    You wait by the window
    Morning’s breath on the sill
    Idle hands given another try
    So you wait and you savour the moment
    Outside the canvas turned white
    Ruby eyes in the fog

    A catchy and haunting acoustic guitar riff introduces us to this song. Thirty seconds, and the other instruments are added while the soft guitar of the beginning goes on. We are around the first minute mark and the first stanza starts off.
    Right in the first line “you wait by the window” we are introduced to two characters: a speaker and a literal “you.” We are in the morning and it must be cold outside for we can see water drops (nice metaphor here “morning’s breath”) on the window sill. The foggy weather is another reference to the fact that it is cold. However, there is a contrast here for it is not uncomfortable. “Hands” that cannot be used (“idle”) are touched so the person waits and enjoys with pleasure this caress. While this person being touched is inside home, the canvas is white! “Canvas” is what artists use for painting, and this word is directly connected with the title “portrait.” The fact that the hands are “idle” can also imply here that the person is dead but now is found under a living state. This person must leave home. It is his/her own funeral. “Ruby eyes,” meaning the dark red colour of those eyes are in the fog, outside. Nice synecdoche to represent an out-of-this world character for I have never met any human being with such eyes colour.


    Rain washing clean all the sins
    A liquid gown that covers all
    Your loathe turns endless
    Opened mirage soothes your sense
    Locked on the pinnacle
    The best secret within

    It is raining: third reference to this cold, foggy and now rainy weather. If it cleans all the sins, then water here is opposed to infernal fire: salvation or damnation. “Your loathe turns endless” shows that this “you” is really reluctant to leave, which is probably making somebody lose his/her nerves. “Opened mirage”: this “unreal” feeling of touch (a mirage happens in the dessert, when it is too warm and you see illusions which are not really there) eases the person’s feelings. Let us remember s/he is just dead. It is his/her funeral outside. “The pinnacle,” the dead does not want to leave at all since the enjoyment is so great… The touching of the hands from before gives me the sense s/he is with his/her lover… It could be just God’s protection as well.


    Like a derelict child
    Heart burning for a stranger
    Ascending to the meek
    Flock round the liars in awe

    This stanza refers to the “ruby eyes” character. He is like homeless or deprived of all property, with “heart burning,” really wanting to get this person to hell with him even though s/he is a stranger to him. There is a clear contrast between good and evil, heaven and hell, but the good, the saved ones, are referred here with a bad connotation: the word “meek” is used to talk about someone gentle and quiet ready to do what others want without expressing his/her own opinion. It is as if this person is being saved, the touch can be from God, but the imperative from the devil is coming to mean something like “stay here in the suffering!”


    Caked in the soil beneath
    Fear me when we meet
    Turn away in admiration
    My firm grip round the nucleus of joy

    The first line here is a reference to the burial. The dead body is interred. “Caked” means being covered by something soft which with the spell of time will become hard substance. The actual fight is taking place in the afterlife. Again this devil goes on using imperatives and commands: “fear me,” “turn away,” and an implied “admire me… I have got power, so much, because the whole idea of hell is enjoying, doing the forbidden things, which are the ones giving most pleasure.”


    Enough of this
    You will leave me now
    You will see it now
    Perish at my hands

    Finally, the demon has lost his nerves completely; he is fed up with waiting and is determined to take definite action. At this point, a climax in this song, we find the guitar solo.


    Close to you
    Tangled up in hair
    Fresh stigma looks
    Shall I take you with me
    And it is cold
    Ruby eyes in the fog
    It is me

    This being has taken this guy with him. Now he is a possession of the devil. We are no longer inside and under the protection of a home. “It is cold,” reminds us the text, “ruby eyes in the fog.” The dead person will descend to hell.


    And you are just like them all
    Stained by the names of fathers
    I’m greeting my downward fall
    Leaving the throes to others

    The person here welcomes his death and final fall to hell and waves life goodbye. The “throes” are violent pains at the time of dying… he is now rid of them. I like the way Mikael played here with the two words: “throes” and “others,” with the same letters, two words, a perfect way to say goodbye.
     
  6. Xenopethgears

    Xenopethgears New Metal Member

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    Pretty cool, thanks for the info. I'm especially interested in The Drapery Falls actually. Has Mikael explained what it's about at any point in time?
     
  7. ZeDzEdZeD

    ZeDzEdZeD dispassion player

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    should be translation from BWP japanise version:

    Could you give us a brief explanation of the music and lyrics from all the albums?

    Hmm. Basically I don't really think much about writing the songs beforehand. I didn't stand around drafting a big plan for success when writing any of the albums. I pretty much just hug the guitar and play. When soloing, most of the time I end up playing the blues, and an idea will come to mind. I just get a few riffs together, lay them down and record it. When it gets to be at the level of a song, the next time I go to my friends house we make a demo. But you couldn't say we planned any of the albums right from the start. We just go with whatever come into our minds. We don't really think about what we're doing. Really we just make music we think we'd like ourselves.

    And what about the lyrics?

    It's the same. I don't really think about them. Before this we've done 2 concept albums, and those were thought out a little, but this time we limited it to thinking about writing there and then, as it happened. So I didn't write the lyrics until were in the studio. Actually I didn't write them until 10 days before I was scheduled to lay down the vocal tracks. Basically the lyrics this time are more personal in content. At the centre, they confront my aversion to humanity, with a bit of spice. Somewhere along those lines.

    So the respective songs by themselves don't really have a meaning or theme. If any of the songs share the same ideas, what are they about?

    Yeah. That's just the way I write lyrics. Even though it's not a concept album, it feels like a new chapter in the same story. I can't really explain it well, though. We've already done 2 concept albums, so even though I wanted to try a different form, I've kind of gotten used to writing along the form of a concept. So unintentionally it go to have the feel of a concept.
     
  8. Longinus

    Longinus excerpt guy

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    That analysis is great demoke. Glückwunsch dazu ;)

    But, I have a problem with this:

    “throes” and “others,” with the same letters, two words, a perfect way to say goodbye.


    Do you honestly think that was intentional? I think it's a coincidence.

    Anyhow, after reading that interview excerpt I still don't know how Akerfeldt writes lyrics.

    Bah.
     
  9. Demoke

    Demoke This is the Almighty:

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    "throes" and "others" I believe it's clearly intentional. Anybody who has ever written something knows how hard it is to come across with good ideas and to put everything down sounding good and transmitting a lot of images. The time-spent-in-writing-the-lyrics constraint doesn't mean anything to me, since with a night of inspiration one can very much put down loads of thoughts. Not everybody can do that; one has to be gifted, somehow, I think.

    Well, yes, I read that interview after I wrote down detailed interpretations on "Wreath", "the drapery Falls", "the Funeral portrait" and "the Moor"... and more often than not, I had talked about Opeth lyrics in some interesting threads. Actually, those Mike thoughts discouraged me somehow from trying to see what's behind opeth lyrics. Still, at the same time, they seem to me so much more interesting as they respond to impulses rather than to a-thousand-hours-thought lyrics, I don't know if I can clearly express myself.

    I don't really think we shouldn't think about Opeth lyrics because they were written in a hurry, in few days, or something. I am surprised myself that they can have such quality at times, to be honest.

    To finish this post, I'll tell you an anecdote. it happened in Málaga, Picasso's birth place. There's in Malaga city centre a big sculpture with the shape of a hand which at the thumb turns out to be a dove. There was a group of tourists, the first thing they did when seeing it was to star taking photos and talking about Picasso and how great he was and so on and so forth. They read some information about it at the bottom and it happened that it wasn't anything by Picasso at all, and they all started laughing at each other and deleting the photos they had taken because for them now the sculpture didn't have any value...

    What I want to mean with this is that we keep on adoring other pieces of literature, included in the canon and studied at universities, not knowing much about, for instance,how much time the author spent writing a certain poem... still they're considered great. Now because Mikael says he didn't spend so much time writing those lyrics, and because he is not at all thought to be a poet or something like that -although I don't think you will disagree that he really uses poetic language- now we start saying "oh, well, they're not that great; he didn't put a lot of effort on that... "

    The thing and the question now is: do you like Opeth lyrics? are they worth to be thought about? are they literature? are they not? are you still full of prejudices, too? Discuss!
     
  10. Longinus

    Longinus excerpt guy

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    True, true.

    But, one has to look at how Mikael writes lyrics. First in swedish, then he translates them.
    AFAIK, there are two words that have the exact meaning of 'throes' :
    agonies and throes

    Now, the last four lines of the song all have 7 syllables. If he used 'agonies', the last line would've had 9 syllables.
    I think that's why he used that word.

    Oh, and I'm the biggest fan of Opeth's lyrics ;)
     
  11. Demoke

    Demoke This is the Almighty:

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    I don't know how really good his English is. If it's like mine, which I believe it is, if not better, then he must for sure try to think and to look for the words directly into English (not looking at translations from the dictionary, really) inspired by other sources (books or other bands' lyrics). I know I read sometime he translated from Swedish into English but I don't think he still does it like that nowadays (I'd nearly bet he hasn't done it in the last three albums).

    The second thing: I used to have a teacher who always kept on saying that there're not two exact synonyms in a language (why would we have them two terms for the same meaning?). for that reason, I've checked both words, "agony" and "throes" and, while the former can be used in a more general sense (coming to mean "extreme physical or mental pain"), the latter is used to talk about "violent pains, especially at the moment of death".

    When Mikael says "leaving the throes to others," he doesn't simply say that he is leaving agonies for other people, but he is implying that the person has already died, too. Put into context, the word is the most exact one which could show the full meaning he wanted to convey.

    The stuff with the syllables and "throes" is arguable, too, since you imply that that was the last word to "complete" the line. Couldn't it be that he wanted really to use that word and that the whole verse is adapted to it, and so he came across "others" (rhyming with "fathers" and the same vowels like "throes"...).

    I don't know. Opeth lyrics rock!
     
  12. Longinus

    Longinus excerpt guy

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    Oh well. We may never know. I'm glad you like their lyrics though.

    Again, have you ever done another analysis and/or are you intending to do one in the future?
     
  13. Demoke

    Demoke This is the Almighty:

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    After my last thoughts on the matter I might consider do one again :). This time I would take something from Deliverance again, or maybe Damnation... We'll see...
     
  14. TheFourthHorseman

    TheFourthHorseman In The Twilight World

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    Mikael writes too many ghost/nightmare stories.
     
  15. Rose Immortal

    Rose Immortal Spirit of Hope

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    Bleak has always struck me as thematically very similar to MAYH; in fact, it would make a nice fit on the album right before "Demon of the Fall". Listen to the outro of "Bleak" and the intro to "Demon". What's even more interesting is that both have the references to a distraught spirit watching his loved one, and both show that loved one as near suicide, and perceived by the spirit as lying. If I didn't know better I'd actually think "Bleak" was an outtake from MAYH intended either as a companion to "Demon" or another song considered to go in that place.
     
  16. deliverance

    deliverance ecnareviled

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    hey, at least we can all bring our opeth lyric booklets when we go camping, and put flashlights under our faces, whilst reading them and eating smores.
     
  17. Longinus

    Longinus excerpt guy

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    Too many ghost stories? Hmm, other than MAYH I couldn't think of one..

    And he has written 3 nightmare songs (Wreath, Advent, Nectar) . Other than that his songs are either about love and its loss and misanthropy. And death. And supernatural powers.

    Rose Immortal: BRI is actually MAYH in short. You may see that song in a new light when you check the lyrics again.

    It's interesting to interpret Opeth's songs, then Mikael comes with a vague explanation what the song is about and you can still interpret most of it your way.
     

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