Please read Parts 1-5 before reading this. Spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.
Lady In Waiting Easter Eggs You now know the woman our narrator sings about is a mermaid. I was inspired to write this album to play with the mythology of merfolk that paints them as either benevolent or malevolent. The literature speaks of some mermaids transforming their tails into human legs when they come on land. It also speaks of them seducing men, the speculation of how a mermaid (with her tail) would have sex with a human, and these ladies having children even with human males. I actually told a friend at Starbucks last week that the company used to show their logo with the split tail, zoomed in over the years to not show it, and now are again showing the split tail. I also explained how the split tail is how people have speculated a mermaid would reveal herself in a way for humans to fornicate with mermaids.
Song 1 “Irene, My Love” I wanted to show how the narrator was magically captivated by this mysterious woman he met “first by the sea.” That line is significant in two ways. 1. He will meet her again and again, since she leaves him after their marriage. He will also meet with the benevolent and malevolent sides of Irene who is later revealed to be named Siren. If I were to have artwork, the title would look like SIRENE, where the “S” is very faint, as an extra easter egg. The idea is that this woman dropped the letter “S” and took on the letter “E” to deceive this man. 2. In the upcoming songs, the narrator meets Irene by different bodies of water, which the literature susses out that different cultures believed mermaids appeared at different water locations. So, song 2 is by a waterfall, song 3 is down by the bay, and songs 4-5 are the sea again, though not stated as explicitly.
Further Song 1 Easter Eggs
- “let me see her treasure” This line is meant to be suggestive of her showing him either a common known mermaid treasure that they like to collect (think Little Mermaid; a hairbrush, mirror, some other human artifact) or literally her seducing him with her feminine sexuality (let your mind wonder imaginatively here as to what specifically she reveals to him).
- “I can’t do without…” This line is meant to be off putting as well as to hook the reader / listener. Why can he not do without her? It shows further her hold on him, and this same line shows up in the reveal song (4) “Her Prestige” where she still holds sway over him even though she may kill him.
- Chord-wise, I transition from an E7 at the end of the verses to an Em in the choruses. This change is off putting and is meant to create a visceral subconscious reaction for the listener, further playing with the fact that this coming together of two people is sweet but there’s something odd about this woman and her hold on our narrator. Likewise, I alternate using a bright chord (Fmaj7/A) and a strange sounding chord (E/C) to propagate this same feeling.
- Lastly, I intentionally use words that are in our collective consciousness concerning the attraction men have to women as well as words that could be a hint that Irene is enchanting, seducing, mesmerizing and bewitching our narrator as a mermaid would do. Mermaids are also known to vanish after a tryst with a human male, as Irene does at sunset, being drawn back to their home, the sea.
Song 2 “Her Ghost Perhaps” This song is meant to show a sweet reconnecting between the two characters after Irene’s disappearing. I blur the lines here in regard to time (who knows how long it’s been since Irene vanished?) and the nature of Irene’s appearance (is she really real, flesh and blood, or is this her ghost?). Song 1 has a line that could interpret a few years at least: “years past I still have no regrets.” As far as her nature, I see Irene as being alive still, coming to share a sweet moment with our narrator and keep him hooked on her. Perhaps her whole motivation is to lure him into the sea later as we’ll see…
More Easter Eggs
- “so I began to follow her call” There are stories of how a Siren’s call or song affects its hearers. Check them out yourself, but this is what I had in mind here. One story talks of how one man had his sailing companions tie him to the mast while he plugged his ears so that he would not hear the mermaid’s song and thus not be seduced into danger, possibly death.
- “my heart beat and quickened pace” & “a flood of emotion burst within” I quicken the tempo of chord playing for these lines to intentionally create an emotional moment for the listener, since this would have choked up our narrator reconnecting with Irene so sweetly and intimately after years of worry and wonder.
- “the midst of waterfall is all the sensation I recall” This line shows his further connection to Irene, holding on hope, holding onto the irrational pull of love, and holding on stupidly as we’ll see. This line also reveals our human nature of recalling deep, meaningful memories from common experiences we have often. Every time our narrator washes his face, has water spray on him from rowing his boat, etc. he will think of this moment with his love and long for her still.
- That’s why he’s “still surprised by it all,” by the fact that Irene reappeared in his life, if only for a moment, surprised that he’s just as in love with her as when they first met, and that she touches something deep within him that his soul longs for: connection, albeit not human to human.
Song 3 “Subtle Shifts” This is a song I wrote a couple years back and repurposed it. I was surprised how little I needed to change it. Anyway, I wanted to build upon the previous song (2) and further push the side of this Siren that is benevolent, in that she saves our narrator from a violent hurricane. Side note: being from New Orleans originally, I am familiar with hurricanes. Perhaps subconsciously, I wanted to write the original song to put words to the fear a hurricane can produce and the love that can help sustain us through the fear we face. While Irene is not a human, mermaids do share in common breathing with humans, hence our narrator and Irene focus only on their breaths.
- “they get inside, all the common folk” Love is sometimes unhealthy. Our narrator has, so far, shown his uncanny attraction to Irene. Some could say she’s become his whole world (as he himself says in song 1 ). We’ve all seen or maybe even been so into a significant other that we’ve pushed out our friends, our passions, etc. in pursuit of that person. I wanted to subtly suggest that this is the case by showing other people present. Thankfully and ironically, Irene saves him, but what if he would have helped others or hunkered down with them?
- “like we’re dancing then sudden romancing, this storm has us all rambling about” This line brings back the sexual attraction between our two characters and builds up to the last line: “we focused only on our breaths and his together inside her cleft.” Breathing here might be more intense, as it would be in sex, and the cleft mentioned could be either a natural rock cleft that Irene knew about to protect him in or, bringing back the idea of a human male having sex with a mermaid, her cleft could be between her split tail, offering him comfort and adventure during a hurricane. Movies often have characters that don’t want to die a virgin; our two may just want one last time…
- Like previously, I speed up the tempo with chords for lines like “rambling about” & “our screams and cries erupt” to add suspense to the situation.
Song 4 “Her Prestige” I loved the movie “The Prestige” when it came out as well as the idea of that word. I knew I wanted this album to be like (one of my favorite bands) The Decemberists’ “The Hazards of Love” in that each song tells a part of an overarching story, and when the listener finishes, they’ll be naturally drawn to listening again to learn more about that story and savor it further. This revealing song hopefully has that punch for the reader / listener. This is also why I am so excited to now be sharing these Easter Eggs. The song is pretty obvious in offering the fact that Irene is actually a mermaid named Siren. It also makes explicit our narrator having it bad for her “years off and on again.”
- If I were to ever produce this album, I would have a broody female voice sing the lyrics meant for Siren. This would be the climax as well as the reveal and a further reveal: Siren will kill him if he seeks after her still! It didn’t take me long to figure out this shift from our benevolent Irene to the malevolent Siren. I thought, “How will this story end?” and it seemed only fitting that she would kill him, revealing, as she says here, her destructive nature like the sea.
- The outro verse is suspenseful, keeping the reader / listener on the edge of their seat, creating a desire in them, in you, to find out what will happen. Will our narrator live or will he remain entranced by his seductress, risking his very life for the sake of love? Love, again. It makes us do crazy things. Perhaps this is the point of mermaid mythology within all our psyches and in the literature. I love reading about Bigfoot too and am drawn to why we’ve created him / them / whatever. Bigfoot is our minds working out the unknown, the things out there, in the shadows. Mermaids, I think, are our minds working out the strong sexual attractions we have between each other and maybe taking a stab at trying to understand why love makes us do crazy things.
Song 5 “Temptress” We all know he cannot stay away at this point. Years of his life have been spent obsessing over Irene / now Siren / whoever! Perhaps this is me working out the obsessive parts of myself. Why can’t I, why can’t you, why can’t any of us let go of danger, adventure, our passions, or whatever else that we’re so deeply drawn to in life? Anyway, we find that our narrator can’t give up his Lady In Waiting, which has an entirely new meaning now. I’ve heard they’re also called “waiting maids,” which could map on well with the reveal of Irene being a mer-maid. Most explicitly, I wanted the reader / listener to reexamine the title of the album, drawing from it now that Irene is a Lady In Waiting, who is eager to kill as mermaids can be.
- “as I scream and nearly drown” Our narrator dies by drowning, to be sure, but I had in mind the literature that suggests sometimes mermaids will want to bring their new human companions into the sea to play with them and show them around, perhaps not knowing that they cannot breath underwater like them. There are tales of “accidental” drownings, which, of course, surprise our mer-folk afterward.
- “all that’s left is my ghost to warn you” This is an eery and sad line. If only our narrator would have known… Well, he did know; he found out who Irene really was, but he just. could. not. walk. away. I wonder if anyone will heed his warnings. Did anyone try to warn him along the way?
- “avoid her spell” Ah, love. There is a violence to romantic relationships that I cannot fully articulate here. Some of it is perhaps instinct, some of it is maybe dark or unknown. I tend to think of love as mutual, respecting, honoring, etc. However, I have had experiences of love being the opposite, employing deception and games, and sometimes a mix of all of the above. How have you experienced love and romance? I’m amazed at how we’re drawn to these types of stories and different aspects of them too. My wife and I love watching Hallmark movies for many of these reasons and, I think deep down, because love between two people is a mysterious thing. It’s as mysterious, you can say, as mermaids themselves.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this. I have liked getting to write this piece of art and to share it with you. Please tell me what you liked, share your stories, or tell me what’s been on your mind about love lately. Love is, I believe, the bedrock and substance of our very humanity, and I am grateful to share it with you all.