We’re in the home stretch now! Let’s get right to it. If you missed something, here’s part one and here’s part two of our tarot reading. We’re doing Scenes from a Memory by Dream Theater!
Last week we started reading Scenes from a Memory by Dream Theater. We left it at a slow moment, about to tip into another frenetic rock piece. Let’s get in there!
I was looking over my list of albums I’ve put together, and none of them were thrilling me. So I decided to bother chat about it. Like many people, I jump onto Twitch several times a week to watch my favorite streamer, and I’m active enough in chat that people are used to me being around. So I asked them what some of their most personally significant albums were. I got a ton of options, some I knew, some I don’t. I wrote them all down. But the streamer himself reminded me of Dream Theater! So here we are!
Last time, I nerded out a little, and then we covered the first portion of A Passion Play, the prog rock concept album by Jethro Tull. Here’s part two, in which we meet the devil himself.
Let’s take a break from this Daggerfall mess. Here’s a Halloween special! It’s a day early for ye olde posting schedule, so don’t expect to see anything Wednesday. Halloween is the time, in the northern hemisphere at least, where we feel the presence of the dead close to us. So what better than an album about death and rebirth? Nothing, that’s what! Let’s talk about Jethro Tull’s A Passion Play.
Last time we did the first three songs of Led Zeppelin IV. That might not seem like much, but it certainly gave us enough for a post. Here’s the second part. I promise it’s got the rest of the album.
I’ve been interested in doing this album for a few weeks, so I decided to just skip the poll (this time!) and simply go for it. A tarot reading for Led Zeppelin IV is very appropriate, given the tarot imagery associated with the album. The album cover features a painting that the band picked up in a second hand shop. It looks a bit like the Waite-Smith Ten of Wands, with a man bent down under the weight of a bunch of sticks. But more importantly, the inner gatefold featured a painting that was just a version of The Hermit from the tarot.
We’re finally at the end of Abbey Road. Click here for the previous entry. This one was a doozy. There’s a lot in there though, so it seems justified. Anyway. Here we go!
13: She Came in Through the Bathroom Window
I do love this song. Apparently it was inspired by an actual fan who broke into McCartney’s place? Oh well. There’s this slightly ridiculous conversation that seemed to happen, between a police officer and a criminal who says she’s a dancer. Some things seem to be lies, but the singer doesn’t care. This relationship builds up out of nearly nothing, but the speaker is so dedicated he quits his job so he doesn’t have to implicate her? I mean, that’s what I always thought was going on.
After all this time, we finally get these two. So far the album has really been about something inside of love. This song, then, is just about the weirdness of it all. It’s absurd. Two people, weird as fuck, decide to changes their lives just because of another person? The weekend is ending (Monday is calling). It doesn’t matter. There’s a lot of stuff about work in here, isn’t there? The lovers are bout relationships, about the meeting together of two different streams of life. It doesn’t have to be sex, or even a couple. Look behind them; there’s the tree of knowledge on the left and, presumably, the tree of life on the right. So this could be the alchemical union, of two forces coming together to improve our sad lot in life. That certainly seems to be happening to the speaker of the song. This weird, mean neighborhood doesn’t bring people a lot of happiness, but they’re finding it however they can. The album, then, is not just about the mysterious “something” inside love and sex and attraction — it’s about the highs and lows of the whole experience. The Beatles started out writing (very good) sappy love songs. They ended by taking apart the entire experience of love and seeing how it worked. Damn.
14: Golden Slumbers
This is actually a poem set to new music. As in, McCartney saw some sheet music from the 1600s era play, liked the lyrics, but couldn’t read sheet music. So he made music. That’s… kinda sad, kinda cool? It’s hard as hell to talk about this song without talking about “Carry that Weight,” they’re basically the same song. Suffice it to say that this song talks about that desire to go home, the gentle and somewhat sad feeling we get late at night.
Three of Cups
The three of cups is a party, sure enough. Emotions are strong and happy, the world is bountiful. There are pumpkins and other things growing all around. The cups are raised. Threes can often imply children (since the 1 & 2 have produced a 3rd). The song is a lullaby. The situation is happy and good, even if there’s some sadness in it. In the card, there doesn’t seem to be any sadness. It’s a mystery. All I’ll add is that the grapes definitely imply some drunkenness, and so maybe this is the happiness that encompasses certain kinds of sadness. But then again, I once tipsily sat with a friend, at a party, and listened to sad-as-shit bluegrass music and talked about my dad. Other party-goers were horrified, but we both felt it was a perfectly natural and cathartic thing to do.
15: Carry That Weight
Here we go. I suppose “The End” ends the album, but this song always seemed to send it off. Given all the imagery of weight and attraction we’ve heard so far, it makes sense now, I guess. It really does tie everything together. The song even calls back to “You Never…” with similar lyrics. We will all carry a weight, and it’s not necessarily bad. The speaker breaks down amid celebrations, like Mr. Mustard. He has that heaviness that the mysterious woman had earlier. He’s interesting, because he’s experienced now. There’s something in him other than looks and surface. I’m getting all this from the “boy” they keep saying. It’s about a young man growing up.
Page of Cups
And here’s our young man now, looking into his cup and finding a fish. We’re definitely remembering that “fish” is a symbol of femininity in western culture, right? What did you think it meant when a friend told Romeo he was “fishified?” The dreamy young man is getting some weight, some life, on him. The seas are starting to swell, behind him. The power is picking up in his life. If love is a power in the world, then “love” isn’t the simple sexual attraction people feel for one another. It’s that “weight” building up over time and drawing two people together. That’s the love that’s powerful. We may not understand it. We may not always see how it could possibly work. We may wonder if we’re good enough, or if this can last. But all we can do, if we want to be honest and good and happy, is to give in to those heavy feelings and let them pull us in. Orbit someone (or several someones!). But don’t force yourself in, like Maxwell. And don’t ignore it, either.
16: The End
Here we’re jaunty and energetic and excited. “The love you take is equal to the love you make.” There’s a now-famous line for us. If we have an ethic in the album, that’s it. And it seems to support what I’ve been saying, so that’s somewhat gratifying. Yay~
Seven of Pentacles
This is certainly a good card. We’re back to the earthliness. I think for the Beatles at their most spiritual, spirituality is about coming back to the earth, rather than trying to leave it. Well at least it is in this album. The line from above is the card here — it’s a farmer contemplating his harvest coming in, which he has worked over for months. He has labored, and he will receive back what he’s put in, in a form that can help him. I wonder if, sometimes, people now misread the 1960s sexual revolution as the freedom to just get it on. A lot of people — and, mostly, the people who started the sexual revolution — believed they were doing something spiritual and connective. They were joining with people, rather than using sex to gain power over people (I’m not saying that stopped in the 60s, eeeesh. Definitely not, alas). “Making love” in this song is a pun — it’s sexual but it’s also working to create love, to make something between two people and set it up so it lasts. And here we are. Doing that.
17: Her Majesty
Yes, here’s our twenty-three second song at the end which apparently wasn’t really supposed to end up at the end. On the other hand, the singer is dreaming about joining with her majesty, which makes me think about the queen back in Mr. Mustard. Maybe the whole album is the dream of the person speaking here. Maybe that’s why the tone is so fun and odd. That wine comes back, from the three of cups earlier.
Four of Cups
I have mentioned I write the first paragraph before drawing the card, right? Dang. Here’s the dreamy figure contemplating how he feels, with a gift he isn’t bothering about. Maybe this speaker shouldn’t be dreaming about her majesty. Whoever she is, he doesn’t feel comfortable about her. Maybe this is the mundane thing the album, as a whole, wants to warn us about. Don’t dream this way. Feel for those people that pull at you. The people you love in your head are still just you. They’re figments. Think of Charlie Brown’s red-headed girl. He doesn’t know her. He’s in love with a dream. Of course, we’ve all done that — or we have yet to. But be aware, after listening to this dramatic, heavy-tuned album, that you need that weight to show you were you should really be.
People often talk about “lightness” when they’re describing good feelings. They’re thinking of that weight that settles onto them when they can’t pay bills or lose that job or just feel lonely. But for me, happiness isn’t the same as lightness. Freedom is lightness. I can remember times in my life when I slipped out from under a terrible weight, and I certainly felt light then. But when I’m happy I often feel heavy, as though I’m a big fat cat that’s full of food. When I’m at home with my partner and our dog that acts like a cat, I feel a weight. It’s a good weight: the pull of things I love calling to me. And I think Abbey Road is encouraging listeners to strive for that feeling too, rather than the light, bubbly feeling of effervescent infatuation. And you can read that into things other than romance, too. And there, you can really go all-out by thinking of the “lightness” of being famous and rich versus the “weight” of settling in with Yoko Ono and just relaxing.
Fun fact: since I blogged about Dark Side of the Moon last week, this’ll be two in a row that emerged from the legendary Abbey Road studio. Abbey Road is, by one metric the final Beatles album. It was the last recorded. However, it wasn’t the last to be issued by the band. That’s Let It Be. This is, apparently, a huge argument for Beatles fans. It makes some sense — which album is the Beatles saying goodbye? I never really thought about it — last recorded means last, in my mind. But then again, I do so much with literature that I’m warped a bit, because when you’re doing authorial history release dates really don’t matter. Anyway. Let’s get to reading!