Makna Kematian dibalik lagu PULL ME UNDER
Beberapa saat yang lalu saya pernah membedah habis lagu PULL ME UNDER dari Dream Theater. Bagian akhir lagu yang habis secara mendadak menorehkan arti bahwa kehidupan bisa berakhir kapan saja bila Allah SWT menghendaki. Maka, bersiaplah. Saya merinding mengingat habisnya lagu ini yang mendadak setelah musiknya secara indah mengalun dari awal dengan gagah perkasa. Analisis ini santa detil dan mengulas musik dan liriknya. Maaf masih berbahas Inggris karena dulunya akan diterbitkan secara international oleh penerbit rock, tapi saya tidak sempat menuntaskan secara utuh semua sejarah dan makna Dream Theater. Atau, sedang dalam proses .. begitulah …
Pull Me Under
(Images: Dream Theater, words: Moore)
Inspired by Shakespear’s “Hamlet”, this album opener begins with an atmospheric style through Petrucci’s acoustic guitar outfit followed by Portnoy’s drum sound that starts to roll into the music gradually, augmented with soft and melodic keyboard sound. This very opening is really a wonderful piece that lifts up listener’s emotions. Sometimes I repeat this tune because of wanting to have another chance for this only once occurrence musical piece – not being repeated anywhere else in the entire structure of this tune. It sets the whole tone of overall tune. This piece of music takes approximately one minute plus in the beginning.
The music builds up firmly in crescendo and turns into a faster tempo with guitar riffs [1:15]. The heavy riffs indicate the influence of Metallica. Drum beats remark the entrance of LaBrie’s vocal part [2:02] “Lost in the sky. Clouds roll by and I roll with them” nicely. Two things deserve attention here. First, the (relatively long) duration where the tom drum sound takes just before vocal enters, augmented with keyboard sound, has created a substantial impact for listener’s listening pleasure – yep, it does accentuate the tune. It projects an energy of the tune and at the same time sets an uplifting atmosphere for the next lyrical part. Second, on the opening lyrical part by LaBrie, it clearly sets the situation whereby the Prince Hamlet swore vengeance on King Claudius for murdering his father, the former King, and then marrying his mother, still Queen. It does not state how deep the vengeance was, but … at least it sets appropriate stage for the scene.
The music firmly turns into faster tempo from “This world is spinning around me” with more energy and uplifting mood that depicts the anger Hamlet had accumulated. The music in this part reflects the more complex composition with excellent harmony music and tidy performance demonstrated by all musicians with their individual instrument. Each of them is virtuoso in his own instrument. Great musicianship, overall. The energy is rising up when LaBrie sings “Dust fills my eyes” [4:14]. Oh … what a great melody this piece is: he sings differently and it projects full energy – be it positive or negative (represents Hamlet’s vengeance?) – of the overall tune. In here, I can sense the best blend between music and lyrical part; it’s so nice and uplifting! And the true pinnacle of this tune is when it reaches short guitar solo [5:00] followed with title’s lyrical part “Pull me under. Pull me under. Pull me under I’m not afraid” that represents how Hamlet voiced his bravery out-loud and shed the light of revenge for his father’s death.
The transition segment in quieter passage[5:30] filled with a soft and nice keyboard work by Moore augmented with a simple acoustic guitar fills. It gives a break to the music for relaxing mood in a slower tempo. The drum sound enters gradually, gives a firmed beat and brings the music back to its original style with fast tempo. Again the guitar solo fills into the music and brings to “Pull me under” part.
The ending part [7:13] is totally a metal vein characterized by heavy guitar riffs, power drumming, augmented beautifully with great keyboard work at the background. This keyboard sound provides a symphonic nuance of the tune and it enriches the composition. Hamlet’s famous soliloquy was the passage in which the conflict in Hamlet’s mind is detailed, and the ending part of this tune coincides thoroughly with it. The very end of the song LaBrie can be heard singing this lyrical part from Hamlet:
“Oh that this too, too solid flesh would melt.”
…and the music suddenly turns-off!
The first time I listened to this track, I thought there was something wrong with the master tape that resulted this unplanned stop of the track. But later I learned from www.DTFAQ.com when a fan asked why it was cut off suddenly. Two reasons:
First, the song intentionally cuts off like that, because part of the song deals with how sudden death can be. The sudden ending of the song is just like an unexpected death of a person.
Second, it was inspired by The Beatles’ Abbey Road side A ending, and Mike Portnoy explains that the melodies are building up and it just “pulls the carpet out from under you”.
The Message Beyond the Music
As in our day-to-day life, we are regularly posed with a multitude of challenges in any aspect of life: love, relationship, integrity, respect, dignity, etc. However, as human being, all of us have been given first birth-gift: “the freedom to choose” as Dr. Stephen Covey puts it in his seminal book “The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness”. According to Dr. Covey there is always “room” between stimulus and response whereby we can make up our mind on which pathway we’ll choose our life. In the case of Hamlet it turns out to be an anger that becomes a vengeance.
In other plot of life, we might picture the situation like an author Paulo Coelho put in his book “The Alchemist”: if you have cast an affirmative personal legend (in the words of Dr. Covey it’s called personal mission statement) and you have set your goals in life, all universe will conspire to help you achieve your dreams. Yep, in the process of receiving a stimulus of bad news or problems, there might be some anger as first reaction – which is human, I think – but this is a kind of a controlled anger where we can convert into a positive energy that will resolve the challenge or the problem.
In either case, the tune Pull Me Under can represent the situation. The next thing is when we are dealing with unwanted situations as results of our decision. The same cycle would apply and we’ll find the most effective response, it’s a continuous process improvement, basically. When we are posed with the sudden death – like what happens with the end of this tune – nothing we can do about. The song just visualizes the scene through the sudden stop at the end of the tune.
In summary, this tune may represent any situation in our life where problems challenge us and require us to decide on what sort of response we will take. The music represents a variety of situations and moods depicting the situation.
Pull Me Under once became a radio hit and it has become fans favorite where the band has always played it in any live performance. Actually, it was not planned by the band as originally they planned Another Day as hit. But, the radio had never played it on air.
Because of the nature of this tune that has an uplifting mood and upbeat rhythm combined with simple lyrics, it has a significant impact in the mind of listeners. Many people have been inspired by the beats and nuances of this tune. I remember one day on Friday evening after office hours I watched the Images and Words video, live in Tokyo with my colleague. We’re stunned with the performance of these guys and we emulated the lyrical part while we’re watching this tune performed. Even after we completed watching the video, my friend and I sung aloud the tune. It’s so energetic and I can not help it to stop emulating the energy of this track – forget about the Hamlet story.
The title passage “Pull me under” (continued until “I’m not afraid”) becomes common yell among fans of the band in my environment. Whenever we meet, we raise one of our arms and moving it up and down while yelling this part. It’s a rocking yell!!!
Whenever lonely in the car, this tune is suitable to keep our energy afresh while we’re driving. Turn the volume loud and starts singing while the tune is played. It helps elevate our emotions and makes a very enjoyable driving. Try it!
Almost all lyrical parts are enjoyable. In addition to “Pull me under” passage, the following part is also very uplifting:
This world is spinning around me
This world is spinning without me
Everyday sends future to past
Every breath leaves me one less to my last