Friday, October 12, 2012

A Guided Tour of Ten: Deep

[A Guided Tour of Ten]

Before I really dive into Deep I wanted to something about its placement on the record. For the most part I think Ten is a well tracked record, but I've never been quite comfortable with the location of Deep. Deep belongs earlier, amongst the stories like Once, Even Flow, Why Go, Black, and Jeremy, where there is no way out, and no resolution beyond anger and shared outrage and grief. Like Oceans and Porch, Garden begins to offer the promise of a way out, and the segue from Garden into Release is much stronger (thematically and musically) than Deep into Release. I'm not sure how I’d retrack the album, but I’d definitely switch Garden and Deep at a minimum.

Deep is one of the more violent songs on Ten, and the explosive opening music reflects that. It has always reminded me of someone in free fall painfully crashing through barriers that fail to stop them, or even slow them down. The rise and fall of Eddie's voice does a nice job moving the song along. Whereas the music gives each little vignette an appropriately sinister tone he starts each verse calmly, even casually, which makes the panic in each chorus hit more powerfully.

The verses themselves are quick mini-portraits (as is every song on Ten) of a life falling apart. The first has a person contemplating suicide. He feels small, insignificant, and decides to put the question off, settling for the slow suicide of drug abuse instead. In the second story the subject is similarly feeling trapped not only by the fact that the larger world offers him no sources of meaning and stability, but also by the lack of understanding from the rest of society. Like the first character, he's an outcast, although where the first person was lost in a cold, uncaring crowd the second person feels trapped in a smaller world of faked intimacy and artificial community. In both cases the isolation is especially bitter since they both find themselves surrounded by people (a city with all its possibilities, and a small town where people are supposed to know and care about one another).

The final story is easily the most moving and chilling of the three—the story of a young, fairly innocent girl in the process of being raped. Either way, what should be the most intimate and joyous act that two people can engage in becomes violent and distant. Rather than intimacy what connects her to the man above her is her objectification. She isn’t a human being, but a means to an end, to someone else's gratification. The violation is both physical and mental, a taking of her body and a taking of her humanity. Eddie gives extra weight to this verse the way he snarls the ‘she just ain’t nothing’ lyric, as most of the other verses don’t have any of the lyrics receiving extra emphasis until the chorus.
In all three cases the person is too far along to find a way out. The constant falling, the constant feeling of insignificance, the destruction of humanity has left them trapped and alone, and not sure where to turn to next. Like most of Ten, the catharsis in Ten comes from Eddie's voice, sharing his outrage that we allow people to feel this alone and this violated (existentially or physically). There is no resolution. It's a dark song, although angry enough to not be altogether hopeless. As long as there is anger the spark of resistance is still there, which means that there is always the possibility of a way out, even if we are in too deep to see it. 

Even Flow 
Why Go 


No Code 
Riot Act 
Pearl Jam