Lyrics: I Am Stretched On Your Grave

Sinead O’connor has lifted this song up out of the Celtic songbook, and found the right music in it as well.

Here are the lyrics from Songmeanings:

I am stretched on your grave
And will lie there forever
If your hands were in mine
I’d be sure we’d not sever

My apple tree my brightness
It’s time we were together
For I smell of the earth
And am worn by the weather

When my family thinks
That I’m safe in my bed
From night until morning
I am stretched at your head

Calling out to the air
With tears hot and wild
My grief for the girl
That I loved as a child

Do you remember
The night we were lost
In the shade of the blackthorn
And the chill of the frost

Thanks be to Jesus
We did what was right
And your maiden head still
Is your pillar of light

The priest and the friars
Approach me in dread
Because I still love you
My love and you’re dead

I still would be your shelter
Through rain and through storm
And with you in your cold grave
I cannot sleep warm

So I’m stretched on your grave
And will lie there forever
If you hands were in mine
I’d be sure we’d not sever

My apple tree my brightness
It’s time we were together
For I smell of the earth
And am worn by the weather

This is the most tragic love, somehow frozen eternal by having never been consummated in marriage. The lover longs for the grave to be with the beloved, death and the consummation confused by the circumstance. It is his one true love from childhood. Immortalized too is the night they were lost in the woods, and might have been joined then. The chastity fuses the love, as is the natural intention none are able to achieve, and if they do, is with the help of Grace. Her chastity is her pillar of light ascending.

My apple tree my brightness: the beloved is analogous to the tree of life. “For I smell of the earth and am worn by the weather” is his desire for the consummation of death strangely confused with his love. He knows he is lost or gone, or is sane enough to see that it is extraordinary that when his family thinks he is safely in bed, he is stretched out on her grave. The priests and the friars approach him in dread, because he still loves her, although she is dead. He is outside the comprehension of the spiritual community in madness of his love, those who ought understand these things. The lyric is a monument to this alienation, despair and a condition that cannot be known and shared except through lyric poetry.

As in Romeo and Juliet, the lovers, in their condition, cannot see that one cannot be with the beloved in any case, and the best legacy is to suffer on. Juliet might have been whisked away by a more responsible Friar, and had one been there to get the back of Romeo in his love, Juliet might have awakened and been raptured to Mantua!

Frank Serpico

The example of Serpico allows us to consider the difference between justice and law, and a provides a background for the new study of Police law. Police are under a different kind of law as administers of the law, with the extra responsibilities of the badge. The story of Serpico shows the blue wall of silence that demonstrates why the executive branch has proven incapable of checking, balancing and overseeing itself. The call to de-fund the police- while not practically serious- makes clear that the executive branches are dependent upon the legislatures for appropriations, and we will not fund the shooting of black men holding cell phones.

When one overlooks the scene of drugs and organized crime in America, one sees that this could not occur without the corruption of the police with money to look the other way. Serpico reported systemic corruption, and the reporting of David Burnham brought the issue to public attention. Peter Mass then wrote the bestselling book Serpico,” and Al Pacino played the role in a hit movie production. It is difficult to overestimate the effects these had on my early education, in high school, where one studies science, but little literature. Mr. Donahue had the book on a shelf pillaged by a sister, and we saw the movie. The first teaching was that the appearance of justice is not the same as justice. Later in life, when we saw the police impounding cars broken down and not impeding traffic, in less than 24 hours, and heard of many such property seizures, we could discern the systemic corruption because of Serpico. We have had some incomplete progress on this issue in Michigan, though to some extent the corruption merely shifts. It does not occur to us that the corruption is what allows the Oxy-heroin epidemic to occur, and that this makes us weak in foreign policy. Police do not see things in a comprehensive light, but obey authority, and are presented offers difficult to refuse.

Policing is new in modern society, having apparently begun with bobbies in London and in Philadelphia along with Ben Franklin’s Fire department. The domestic and foreign executive offices were not previously distinguished, so that soldiers of the king were those who threw people in prison, hopefully for oppressing their fellow citizens. I am reminded of the genetic presentation of the origins of justice by the pre-Socratic and modern thinkers, and the Socratic treatment of this contract theory of justice (Republic Book II). What all cities have in common is the attempt to prevent the few strong from oppressing the many weaker sorts through the force of the community as a whole. It is a replacement for the original tyrannies of nature that are the practical alternative to government. That is, crime fighting is the common purpose of all legitimate government. Its corruption- the corruption of the badge- to serve the self interest of its ministers is the decline of every civilization. Meanwhile, the gangsters tell themselves that if they did not provide the illegal things, the people would get them from another, so that they may as well profit. The enthroning of the idea of the successful; entrepreneur is sometimes indistinct from the honoring of the natural courage of gangsters.

Prohibition swelled organized crime in America, leading to the growth of new criminal gangs, which once were no larger than bands of bank robbers. The gangs continued to sell drugs after the prohibition of alcohol, and from these funds seem to have grown tentacles into all commerce, so that for example no concrete could be poured in New York City while obeying the law, and the Italian mafia would gain a certain percentage. Again drawing on the comprehensive picture, we note the difference between genuine economy and the “caterpillars of the commonwealth,” who weaken the economy by draining rather than producing value, and attacking private property. The epidemic of opioids turned about one third of a generation into prostitutes and thieves collecting money for the heroin mobs. It is as though the people in general did not notice until it entered and began draining the suburbs.

Organized crime then in part corrupted the appearance of justice, by corrupting the badge, to some extent, and only in part. It is interesting to observe the relative strengths and influences of crime and government, both here and, for example in Mexico, to see what can occur and what has occurred. As excerpted by Wikipedia,

In October, and again in December 1971, Serpico testified before the Knapp Commission:[9]

Through my appearance here today … I hope that police officers in the future will not experience … the same frustration and anxiety that I was subjected to … for the past five years at the hands of my superiors … because of my attempt to report corruption. I was made to feel that I had burdened them with an unwanted task. The problem is that the atmosphere does not yet exist, in which an honest police officer can act … without fear of ridicule or reprisal from fellow officers. Police corruption cannot exist unless it is at least tolerated … at higher levels in the department. Therefore, the most important result that can come from these hearings … is a conviction by police officers that the department will change. In order to ensure this … an independent, permanent investigative body … dealing with police corruption, like this commission, is essential …— The New York Times, December 15, 1971.[13]

Serpico was the first police officer in the history of the New York City Police Department to step forward to report, and subsequently testify openly about widespread, systemic corruption payoffs amounting to millions of dollars.[14]

In doing this, Serpico risked his life and more. He demonstrates the courage of the World War II era carried into the sixties, a virtue that seems more and more to escape the later generations. There is a sense in which police and soldiers too “lay down their lives for their friends,” as Jesus teaches, “greater love has no man than this.” John 15:13. Famously, when asked by one who is not involved in political action, but an actor, why he would make such sacrifice, Paco (again from Wikipedia) answered:

“Well, Al, I don’t know. I guess I would have to say it would be because… if I didn’t, who would I be when I listened to a piece of music?”[16] 

Wikipedia continues:

“He has credited his grandfather (who had once been assaulted and robbed), and his uncle (a respected policeman in Italy), for his own sense of justice.[17][18]

But why, in the higher sense, did these examples so effect him as to awaken what sleeps at best in most humans? What is it that causes heroes? Throughout his life afterward too, he seems to apprehend some mysterious intelligibility that is akin to justice and music, and the cultivation our genuine, and not merely apparent, prosperity and happiness.

Appendix: Tweets preserved:

Who the Patrolman was that drove Serpico to the hospital has resulted in the following answer. Remember, this is entirely “unverified”, but appears to be as best we can know at this time. (If you think otherwise, please let me know!).39 frank serpico@SerpicoDet· At the time of his arrest Mambo possessed the 22 cal pistol he used to shoot Serpico, as well as Serpico’s 38 cal 2-inch revolver, which he had picked up after Serpico dropped it after he was shot. Serpico had been able to fire one round from that gun hitting the suspects hand.

Uniformed MOS responded to a 10-10 job they took Serpico in a radio car to Greenpoint The shooter escaped out a window, and was later caught where detectives had been conducting a stake-out for him. The arresting officer was Ptl Maxwell Katz, who shot the perp in the stomach.

38frank serpico@SerpicoDet· Roteman went to an apt in the bldg to call for an ambulance; he said that he stated he was a cop, and a cop was shot. The radio job failed to mention that. Cesare went outside to get an ambulance. IMO riiiight Just like a taxi ?

1320frank serpico@SerpicoDet· Ptl. Serpico was shot in head as he attempted to enter the apartment, with his partners, to effect the arrest of the dealer. After being shot – remember, there were no portable radios, or cell phones at the time – a call went in from a building tenant reporting “shots fired”.3431

frank serpico@SerpicoDet· with that prisoner as Serpico and the other 2 plainclothes narcotics patrolmen went upstairs for the dealer. The dealer they went to arrest was known as “Mambo”, real name of Edgar Echevaria.

111 frank serpico@SerpicoDet· The narcotics team consisted of Serpico, along with his partners Ptl Gary Roteman, and Ptl Arthur Cesare. The fourth member of the team, Ptl Paul Halley, had earlier made an arrest of a drug buyer from the apartment, and remained in the car

1113 frank serpico@SerpicoDet· The location of Patrolman Frank Serpico’s drug bust that resulted in his being shot was at 778 Drigs Ave, within the confines of the 90 Precinct. This five-story multiple dwelling building is identified by the name “NOVELTY COURT”. It took place at Apt# 3-G, on February 3, 1971.

217

frank serpico@SerpicoDet· As requested; SOME LITTLE-KNOWN SERPICO FACTS A recent inquiry by a loyal reader had me – and my sources – checking out some facts concerning the “Serpico” case. The following information may be of interest to you.

117 frank serpico@SerpicoDet· My S&W .38Sp snub nose is still in my possession. The Browning 9mm was my back up. Not authorized by NYPD till @25yrs later.

frank serpico@SerpicoDet· “And I believe, my opinion, that there are some who couldn’t live up to his standards. And so they took it upon themselves, as a crusade, to diminish what he did.”

II

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frank serpico@SerpicoDet·Seems our toddler comedy team Mutt & Jeff are throwing tantrums. Little, napoleon complex, super cop has been marinating in his soiled diapers and big bro Jeff don’t know how to change them. GreatGranny to the rescue.2215m.mcdonald77@Mcdonald77M·Yeah Granny!12GreatGranny@GreatGranny20·Mr. McDonald, I find it interesting that we independently came to the same conclusion regarding the kids. JEALOUS !!!!12m.mcdonald77@Mcdonald77M·There is a more pernicious possibility that has not yet been eliminated. Who in New York might not want police to stop taking money? They raise a good question for history to try to get the motions choreographed in the 7 minutes after the shooting, before the call for transport11frank serpico@SerpicoDetReplying to @Mcdonald77M and @GreatGranny20They had to get their stories together. I doubt a call was ever made. If a cop called it would have been signal 1013 officer down. A Good Samaritan tenant in the building made the call. Period.

More R.E.M Lyric Reading

On “Fire, or “One I Love

Lyric poetry in rock music is a speaking of the soul to the one loved. That’s why this one catches, as a rarefied essence. And it is fire. He does not sing the lines: ‘(she is coming down on her own now).” That is strange. It is to the one he has left behind because she did not come along on her own. So it is like Airplane’s “I saw you/ “Comin’ Back to Me.” That is just a dream.

Losing My Religion:

From Songmeanings.com

Oh, life is bigger
It’s bigger
Than you and you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I set it up

That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough

I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

Every whisper
Of every waking hour
I’m choosing my confessions
Trying to keep an eye on you
Like a hurt lost and blinded fool, fool
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I set it up

Consider this
Consider this
The hint of the century
Consider this
The slip that brought me
To my knees, failed
What if all these fantasies
Come flailing around?
Now I’ve said too much

I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

But that was just a dream
That was just a dream

That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough

I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

But that was just a dream
Try, cry
Why try?
That was just a dream, just a dream, just a dream
Dream

“Losing my religion” of course intends the cliche,’ which, despite what is said, means more than exasperated or angry: it means being disillusioned. It means seeing beyond a love or the illusion of love, as in the opening and closing lines. The lengths equal to the distance in the eyes of the one loved is a nice line. But the analogy of love and faith is what catches the unconscious, as we secretly desire a spiritual lyric poetry. He sees himself, in the corner, seeing what disillusioned. If he refers to the spotlight of his own stage, seeing himself as the frontman of R.E.M., it means something like that the exasperation of love has led to the inspiration of R.E.M. lyrics. Losing my religion is then near to “losing my sanity” with losing the faith from the love- again despite what is said, that the song is about romantic rather than religious matters. It is similar then to when Jack White says,”I’ve been talkin’ to myself because I can’t forget…”

With a lyric poet as Stipe, his mere loves ARE of general significance.

Here is the collected wisdom on the matter:

Wikipedia: “Stipe has repeatedly stated that the song’s lyrics are not about religion. The phrase “losing my religion” is an expression from the southern region of the United States that means “losing one’s temper or civility” or “feeling frustrated and desperate.”[10] Stipe told The New York Times the song was about romantic expression.[11] He told Q that “Losing My Religion” is about “someone who pines for someone else. It’s unrequited love, what have you.”[12] Stipe compared the song’s theme to “Every Breath You Take” (1983) by The Police, saying, “It’s just a classic obsession pop song. I’ve always felt the best kinds of songs are the ones where anybody can listen to it, put themselves in it and say, ‘Yeah, that’s me.'”[13]

This disillusionment leads to what may be indistinguishable from madness, though it is temporary, and related to the inspiration. The indication of the Police song about unrequited love and obsession is very interesting. While Sting seems in error, Stipe seems correct in his response to “obsession,” from the first line. He means by this a true love, which is self sacrificing. It is of the sort that one does not love in this way again. The song may even communicate this correct response to the circumstance of one’s one crucial love.

R.E.M. – Losing My Religion (Official Music Video) https://youtu.be/xwtdhWltSIg via @YouTube

The video is full of clues, including the “hint of the century.” It is as much a primary work of art as is the song. The writing that appears in a flash is da Vinci’s discovery and invention of the helicopter. This, the helicopter, is related to the theme of wings and sprouting wings. It would be the modern, mechanistic and artificial mode of ascent, as opposed to the natural development of love. The groups of figures are, first, the band, Second a group from Art, From what first appeared to me as Peter Breugels and da Vinci’s School of Athens and the Death of Marat or the tragedy of the French Revolution. It is , a set of definite references to Art history, Caravaggio and certain others, woven to tell a story. I do not understand the Persian and Hindu references, but this would make a third group. The spotlight, and the work of music, is represented by a fourth group, the communist workers, and in one scene these are him singing. It is difficult to place the homo-eroticism and the conflict regarding the princess and the angel wings, but the question concerns eros, ascent and sin. “Choosing my confessions” coincides in the video with homoerotic sin, or a festering of the appetites in a deserted love, as Nash says, “I embrace the many colored beast.” We will be working on the meaning through the video, as Stipe said in a 2004 concert that the song belongs to us, the fans, and refers to a collective matter as well, expressing something for us and for the age.

The video opens with spilt milk, I believe as in the proverb, “don’t cry over spilt milk.” The members of the band are then looking up, apparently as the angel descends, like inspiration into lyric poetry.

There are then the wings and reference to the angel, who falls and enters on various occasions, a homoerotic shadow figure, partly unconscious. The theme reminds of the teaching regarding love and the growth of the soul’s wings.

Eric Ducker, in “Rolling Stone, reports Stipe’s explanation of the idea:

“I’m not supposed to tell anybody the idea, but if you want, I’ll try to explain it to you.” I told him there’s a story by Gabriel García Márquez called “A Very Old Man With Wings” in which this freak angel arrives and nobody knows quite what to do with it. So it’s that story, told abstractly through the style of these guys called Pierre et Gilles, who are these iconic gay photographers that take how Indians do their gods and goddesses, then they do that to the Western gods. I said that it would be interesting to have an Indian copying two French guys copying Indian work. That’s the style of one piece [in the video], that’s the heavenly abode. And the place where the angel lands, it would look like Caravaggio, whose lighting I really like. Then there’d be propaganda posters, which is a third group of people who might see this event, but might misinterpret it or come up with a different solution altogether.

The archetype on which the plot is written has similarities, then, to Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust theme.

There will be some benefit to the consideration of the images in Jungian terms, of shadow, anima, self, wise man, child and such. The one who suffers is the adolescent child emerging into love, and the young adult erotic questions. The divine woman and her cohort are pictured in the mode of the icons of the Upanishads, seen as the Hare Krishnas have spread these among us, depicting stories from the Hindu books similar to our Homeric epics.

Hmmm “…how the Indians do their gods and goddesses, then they do that to the Western gods?” Ok. Poets.

Jung considers the soul in terms of three levels, each with an aspect that is more or less unconscious. The “shadow” is similar to the Freudian unconscious, containing repressed memories, parts of ourselves not acceptable to our conscious persona, as we see ourselves. Deeper than this, though, are the archetypes of the collective unconscious, and what Jung calls “anima,” the Latin word for soul, is the etherial “She” behind the love of every man for every woman. The corresponding function in a woman is called “Animus,” or spirit, and these are related to the formation of the imagos, shaped decisively by the parents, by which one find their fitting love. In the 5th volume of his collected works, Symbols of Transformation, Jung discusses the battle of the hero for deliverance from the mother, the same as the earth or cave, so that the soul might ascend. What is born from the death of love is also a child, but the adult or true self, and it is this, also like a nascent faculty, which integrates the contents of the archetypes in the unconscious, considered now to be knowledge in the soul. It is this child then that pursues wisdom and is guided by the wise old man,” the archetype of the philosopher. The “You,” then, the woman who appears as semi-divine, the beloved as carrier of the “projection” of the anima. The soul of a man produces an image that at once is and is not the beloved, and this image is the feminine unconscious of the male. Hence the beloved appears more beautiful to one in love, gilded by the charms and favors attributed to Aphrodite. But the form of the beautiful is the only one to appear in the visible at all, the first condcete experience of the divine as distinct from the contents of the imagination regarding the divine.

Wikipedia: A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, subtitled “A Tale for Children” is a short story by Colombian writer and author Gabriel García Márquez. … into the sea, he sees a very old man with wings laying face down in mud in his courtyard.

…”The priest, Father Gonzaga, comes by the house because he is surprised by the news of the angel. At this time, onlookers are making hypotheses about what should happen to the angel, saying things like “he should be the leader of the world,” or “he should be a military leader in order to win all wars.” However, Father Gonzaga decides to determine whether the man is an angel or not by speaking to him in Latin. Since the man with wings did not recognize Latin and looked too human, the priest decides the man could not be an angel.”

The semi-divine woman is the one beloved, although the homosexual angel is a representation of the self, again half in shadows.

The adolescent suffering similar to the crucifixion is similar too to The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian by Antonnello de Messina. This too has a man tied to a post impaled by darts, bloodless.

Antonello da Messina - St. Sebastian - Google Art Project.jpg
Sodoma 003.jpg

Wikipedia:

Saint Sebastian (c. AD 256 – 288) was an early Christiansaint and martyr. According to traditional belief, he was killed during the Roman emperor Diocletian‘s persecution of Christians. He was initially tied to a post or tree and shot with arrows, though this did not kill him. He was, according to tradition, rescued and healed by Saint Irene of Rome, which became a popular subject in 17th-century painting. In all versions of the story, shortly after his recovery he went to Diocletian to warn him about his sins, and as a result was clubbed to death.[1][2] He is venerated in the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.


Caravaggio – Wikipediaen.wikipedia.org ›

Wiki: Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was an Italian painter active in Rome for most of his artistic life. During the final four years of his life he moved between …

Wikipedia

The Caravaggio figure indicated as the lyrics say “hint of the century” is from his painting of St. Jerome translating the scripture.

Saint Jerome Writing-Caravaggio (1605-6).jpg

Caravaggio had an interesting dispute with a rival painter, who describes him as representing carnal rather than heavenly eros, which is represented by the rival painter himself, in winged figures. But let us look for the drama or plot to the video, and try to see how this goes with the lyrics of “Losing My Religion.”

Following the spilt milk, and the attempt of his friends to comfort his despair, as he says, “the lengths that I would go to, he appears winged. He spreads his arms to say “bigger,” and these become his wings. His transcendence of the love is the lengths to which he must go. When he says “That’s me.” there appears first the homosexual angel with small wings, a cupid -like figure, or cupidity. He repeats “that’s me, and the spotlight is the communist workers, and again it is the suffering adolescent martyr when he says “losing my religion.”

“You ” is the anima figure, the princess, pictured with her cohort, and she is also “you on the occasion of her other appearance. The first time she appears centrally, is is at the word “I thought that I heard you sing.” Then at “trying to keep an eye on you, it is the homosexual cupid and the old St. Jerome looking up at the divine appearance of the beautiful in the one loved. Then, at “I’v said to much, the old St. Jerome figure falls, revealing that the cupid figure and he were in a heavenly condition. The cupid figure reaches down, but cannot reach Jerome, and the old bearded man picks up Jerome and points to him, at “hint of the century.” This is the same as the slip that brought him to his knees, humbled him, but brought him down, like losing his religion. The slip may have been to share his confession with the one loved. “Failed.” The attempt may have been to share confession with one loved who was not faithful, or had 11 gallows on her sleeve. A possible reading that may be in the right direction, and would explain the tension in the imagery.

Much more might be unraveled. Who is the second old man from Caravaggio, equivalent to the man who receives the angel in the story of the old man with wings? Who are the other Persians and the idolatrous Canaanites or Babylonians with the cow? The song is, after all about religion, if in a way not likely to be understood, and this would be to bring Jerome a crutch, and to look to lyric poetry for inspired songs.Who are the two who bring Jerome a crutch, and the one looking up to the heavenly cupid? There are wings in every group, including the communist workers at song, with something like an emblem. The artificial wings of the helicopter occur on the word “try.” To laugh, sing and try would go along with love, but that is here only a dream, as the one loved is one who does not love. Some are like that, the poorer, though less pained. Only the soul of the philosophers recover’s its wings.

Stipe has done well to keep his loves private, but one expects that “Losing My Religion” is written over the same love as Country Feedback, which Stipe calls his favorite R.E.M. song. Here the ducks are arguments the one lost has set out in a row.

Swan, Swan, Hummingbird

There is a very good reading of “Swan” on the Songmeanings site, unraveling particular lines from publications during the civil war. The scenes are from a publication from a prison camp, with trinklets being made of anything to sell for greenbacks, as to the captain. The futility of the Civil War is the theme, the price of heroes being inestimable to the captain’s mother. The beginning and the end reference the Christ, who emerges occasionally in the semi-automatic lyrics. “Girl and dog he bore his cross-” the family he was beginning was sacrificed in the war. Here are the lyrics from Songmeanings.com”

Swan, swan, hummingbird, hurrah
We are all free now
What noisy cats are we?
Girl and dog, he bore his cross
Swan, swan, hummingbird, hurrah
We are all free now
A long, low time ago
People talk to me

Johnny Reb, what’s the price of fans
Forty apiece or three for one dollar?
Hey, Captain, don’t you want to buy
Some bone chains and toothpicks
Night wings, or hair chains?
Here’s your wooden greenback, sing
Wooden beams and dovetail sweep
I struck that picture ninety times

I walked that path a hundred ninety
Long, low time ago, people talk to me
A pistol hot, cup of rhyme
The whiskey is water, the water is wine
Marching feet, Johnny Reb
What’s the price of heroes?

Six of one, half dozen the other
Tell that to the captain’s mother
Hey, captain, don’t you want to buy
Some bone chains and toothpicks?
Night wings, or hair chains?
Swan, swan, hummingbird, hurrah
We’re all free now
What noisy cats are we?

Long, low time ago, people talk to me
A pistol hot cup of rhyme
The whiskey is water, the water is wine.

From Twitter:

“This is a song about a war that, our country inflicted on itself a few decades ago..

REM – Swan Swan HThe http://Songmeanings.com page on “Swan” is VERY good. What is the connection of Johhny Reb to the bearing of the cross and wine? If the Captain has paid the price, they are not in a prison camp, but…. The civil war trinkets remind of Ophelia selling flowers and Edgar in Lear… “What noisy cats are we” comes direct from a civil war writing Rikdad suggests: compare Duck, Duck, Goose,” an arbitrary selection, as of which would die in the war or arranging those in the prison camp. The largest and smallest birds, and two very special birds. The Swan loves once, for life, then sings the “Swan song.”

Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana, Galilee, but it is of course eucharistic, the bread and wine. “Do this in remembrance of me,” He says at the last supper. Rikdad Songmeanings: A telling phrase is “wooden greenbacks”: Greenback is a name for the US dollar, and “wooden”, applied to currency, means false or worthless. This would describe Confederate currency near or after the end of the war, when it ceased to have monetary value.

Try Not To Breathe

I will try not to breathe
I can hold my head still with my hands at my knees
These eyes are the eyes of the old, shiver and fold

I will try not to breathe
This decision is mine
I have lived a full life
And these are the eyes that I want you to remember, oh

I need something to fly over my grave again
I need something to breathe

I will try not to burden you
I can hold these inside
I will hold my breath
Until all these shivers subside
Just look in my eyes

I will try not to worry you
I have seen things that you will never see
Leave it to memory me
I shudder to breathe

I want you to remember, oh (you will never see)
I need something to fly (something to fly)
Over my grave again (you will never see)
I need something to breathe (something to breathe)
Baby, don’t shiver now
Why do you shiver? (I will see things you will never see)
I need something to fly (something to fly)
Over my grave again (I will see things you will never see)
I need something to breathe, oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh

I will try not to worry you
I have seen things that you will never see
Leave it to memory me
Don’t dare me to breathe
I want you to remember oh (you will never see)
I need something to fly (something to fly)
Over my grave again (you will never see)
I need something to breathe (something to breathe)
Baby, don’t shiver now
Why do you shiver now? (I will see things you will never see)
I need something to breathe (something to breathe)
(I have seen things you will never see)
I want you to remember

Old folks home residents are this song, a good one for the workers to know the circumstance. The poetry of Stipe extends in its breadth to thought on death, said also to be the beginning of philosophy.

The one dying is concerned for others and feels bad about burdening those caring for them, and so would even try not to breathe. He tries to suppress shivers. The end of the first verse is indeed as one who has chosen euthanasia, as these will do even from feeling a burden.

As the one dying enters something like a delusional state, the lines become deeper and enigmatic.

I need something to fly over my grave again
I need something to breathe.

Air. The one dying needs air and a memorial at the same time, and wants their person to remember:

I want you to remember, oh (you will never see)
I need something to fly (something to fly)
Over my grave again (you will never see)
I need something to breathe (something to breathe)

The one dying has seen something, or things their person will never see, but says, leave it to memory.” The last lines are “will see,” related again to what they have seen but fail to communicate:

(I will see things you will never see)
I need something to breathe (something to breathe)
(I have seen things you will never see)
I want you to remember.

Though they want us to remember, these things are left to memory.

On Songmeanings, it is related that “There is a Southern saying that says every time you shiver, an angel has flown over your grave. So the death theme, connected with angels, is plausible.” (middleofsomewhere93on June 02, 2006).

Old Man Kensey

The words to Kensey are more than random:

Old man Kensey
Wants to be a sign painter
First, he’s got to learn to read
He’s going to be a clown on TV
Flexes his elbow, taut and free
(That’s my folly) I believe

Drink up the lake
Kensey’s awake
(If that’s my folly)
That’s my mistake

Old man Kensey
Wants to be a goalie
First, he’s got to learn to count
He’s going to be a clown on a circus mount
Letters to me signed in sopped up tar
(That’s my folly) Kensey’s going far

John, Bill and Ed
Stand on your head
(If that’s my folly)
I’m ready to go

Old man Kensey
Wants to be a dog catcher
First, he’s got to learn to stand
He’s gonna be a clown in a marching band
Letters to me signed, ransom, greed
(If that’s my folly) I believe

Drink up the lake
John, Bill and Ed
(If that’s my folly)
That’s my mistake
Kensey’s awake
Stand on your head
(If that’s my folly)
I’m ready to go

Drink up the lake
Stand on your head
(If that’s my folly)
I’m ready to go

Clues are the repetition of clown, the sad deep music, and the presence of the lyricist in the story. It is about the similarity of the job of troubadour, lyricist and front man, and the nearness of madness or a similar eccentricity. Hence it ends “I’m ready to go.” The imagery: Drink up the lake” is an image of the flooding of consciousness by contents of the unconscious one cannot yet integrate. “Stand on you head” is also an image pertaining to the soul, probably not the inversion of the hierarchy of values, but only the reversed values of the eccentric when compared to the everyday common world,