Lyrical themes: Suspended Animation

Recently I wrote a blog post about dreams and nightmares – a common motif in my songs. Another recurring theme is what I think of as ‘suspended animation’. I have several songs about characters who have, in one way or another, hidden away from the world. Distanced themselves from human contact. Here are a few of them:

All Of The Dark 

Arguably the whole of my 5th studio album is about this issue, but this final track is where the main character takes his final step. Having tried to escape from the controlling, totalitarian government, he gives in and has them strip away all his memories and emotions.

Make me nameless and faceless 
Scratch out eyes and teeth and soul 
Make me blank and empty and void and nothing 
I’ll be on the wind 
Smoke mist gone 

Can you take 
All of the dark 
All of the things I’ve believed?

It’s a long song this. Nine minutes of despair set to a rock beat. I particularly like the dreamy opening and the big rocking middle section.

I Still Smile

A much lower key approach to a similar theme is I Still Smile. This song is from the point of view of a latex robot that someone has bought in a last ditch attempt to find some sort of companionship.

I have all the time you need
I have all you want
My arms are always here
To make you feel complete

Even when you’re crying, I still smile. 

Self Made Man

There are several songs that I think of as my ‘signature songs’. Some of The Creatures is one of those. So is this.

Self Made Man is about a man who has been slowly replacing all his body part with mechanical alternatives. Eyes, muscles, legs, arms, teeth. Eventually every inch of his flesh.

There use to be a woman who used to be my wife 
I’ve cleaned off all the rust 
From all the tears she cried 

There’s one tiny spot, one little place, one last piece of flesh 
This time tomorrow it will be replaced with gleaming wire mesh 

Those lines are some of my best, I think.

Why do I write about this theme? I think there are several reasons. One of them is simply my influences. I love Radiohead and this is a common theme in Thom Yorke’s lyrics. I’m also a comedy nerd and Chris Morris’s Blue Jam radio show (you don’t know it? Listen, quick!) also has a similar mood.

But also, at the risk of sounding a bit too confessional, it’s a feeling I can relate to. I am definitely an introvert and there’s something about solitude that appeals to me a great deal. I am also often genuinely bemused by what are considered normal social expectations and interactions, and therefore can often feel a little alienated.

But that’s just normal stuff for us introverted people. Nothing in my life is half as weird as what the characters in my songs have done to themselves.