This song began as a short piano piece by John Arndt, who has played with us for years, and who wrote a lot of the songs on this album with Lisa and I as well as assisted in producing the album. (He has actually released a bunch of his little piano tunes on iTunes. You should check it out. The Beat of Her Heart idea is "number 10") Anyway, as soon as I heard it, I wanted to hear more of it. So I talked to John and we decided to develop it into a full song. But what kind of song could it be? To me, the music had this sort of timeless quality and I felt it needed some sort of timeless story. I'm not exactly sure what it was that made me land on the mythical story of Orpheus and Eurydice, but it just felt right, and when I told John and Lisa about it, they agreed. For me, there was just something about Orpheus that I relate to.
If you don't know the story, here's the gist of it… There's this musician named Orpheus who deeply loves his beautiful wife, Eurydice. One day, Orpheus is playing his lyre and she is so moved by his music that she begins dancing through a meadow. She is watched and pursued by a satyr. (Which I guess is some sort of freak-goat-man-thing) She runs from him, steps on a viper, gets bit and dies. Orpheus is deeply grieved and begins to sing so beautifully and mournfully that the gods weep and convince Orpheus to travel to the underworld to retrieve his beloved wife. On his arduous journey, he uses his music to convince the powers that be to give her back. Consent is given but only on the condition that he must walk in front of her without looking back until both had reached the upper world.
All he has to do is walk out of there and not look back. Sounds easy enough, right?
Yet, how you can he not look...? I mean, he doesn't KNOW that she is actually following him. All he has is the word of Hades… And how trustworthy is that word, really?
Blindly walking out of there might prove him to be a gullible fool….just strolling out of the underworld in blind faith that Hades has indeed sent his wife out behind him. Imagine if it was you.. I mean, all that work that you did to get into the underworld… All the work of getting past the gatekeepers and using your music to lull the guardian of Hades to sleep so you could go even deeper… And now you're just going to take Hades at his word that your wife is really there with you? Why should you trust him like that? And, how in the world is he even going to know if you just take a quick glance backwards to make sure that you aren't being an idiot? Just one quick glance and you can KNOW that you are on the right path and that your love is really is there with you….
"My mind was a tempest, my doubt was a storm I turned back to see if she really had come Just as our eyes met, she faded from sight That's when I knew I would never find the beat of her heart Or the song in mine"
Man. What a story.
I get it. I too have a hard time trusting authority figures. If Hades tells me that I can't look back, I'm sure as hades looking back. (sorry, couldn't resist that one) And I have experienced great loss as a result of that part of my skeptical soul.
I had a really hard time figuring out where to put this song in the album order. At first, we had it buried pretty deep into the album. But it's such a dark song, that I felt like it needed some light around it to keep some breath in the listener's lungs through the album. We decided on putting it second because I thought that it offered such a stark contrast to the first track, and I always enjoy that "what the..?" feeling that I occasionally get in listening to an album that keeps me on my toes. We knew that not everyone would like it like that. I knew that some would feel such a strong contrast as disjointed or jarring. But, that's a part of the essence of this record to me. As we have already stated thus far in the record: life is jarring. Existence is not simple and without a fight. There is no life without death. And if we are going to make it to the full life that is found elsewhere on the record, we may need to experience some loss and some death along the way.
So that's the gist of the song to me. It's probably not going to be played on the radio. But I like the story and am really looking forward to playing the song live. It has a very involved guitar part that is fun to play, and I get to sing "I played my guitar and the earth opened wide." I think that's kind of badass.