Friday, October 19, 2012

A Guided Tour of Ten: Release

[A Guided Tour of Ten]
The fact that Release is the only song on Ten to not have the lyrics included in the booklet is significant. It is the most directly personal song on the record, the only one not mediated through a character, or even any kind of narrative. Instead it conveys a sense of intimacy not bound by any particular time, place of events. The whole record, up to this point, has been a back and forth mixture of betrayal and violence against the self alongside attempts to rise above it. The stories are exhausting and Release is an exhausted song, a final weary plea that conveys not only the need for release, but the determination to hold on until it finally comes—the song climaxing with that final act of strength and gently fading out and back into the murk of master/slave, staring the whole process over again. Ten never offers the way out—only the faith that it exists and that one day the closed loop will open.

Like Garden the music has a meditative feel to it—a hypnotic guitar melody accented by the swirling soundscapes and anchored by Eddie's voice, striking that incredible balance between deep richness and the vulnerability of a higher register. This is arguably Eddie's finest vocal performance, the subtle accents on the important lines: the slight quavers at just the right movement, knowing exactly how far down in his register to drop and when to bring it back up, and especially the way he sings the chorus and the redemptive, cleansing notes he holds after it

Release is best listened to at night, when you have quiet and stillness—it is easiest to search for something missing when there are no external distractions. And Eddie is clearly searching: for peace, for love, for meaning. He is tired of a world that seems unable to soften its violence and isolation with understanding, trust, and intimacy, but he does not know what he can do about it. And he is asking for help. Release is a prayer—calling out in the silent dark for deliverance. But he isn’t calling out to a God. Instead he looks to the father he never knew—to the person who should have taught him how to make sense of the world, he should have offered him guidance and prepared him for what was to come. He isn’t looking to God, as God must shoulder some responsibility for the mess we've made of things. His unknown father's love is unconditional, its promise never tainted by reality. He is the purest form of hope and deliverance Eddie can call out to. Whatever is best in Eddie he feels he owes to him (or to the promise his father embodies).

And the song culminates with his powerful, weary, desperate, defiant, hopeful plea to his father (or whatever we wish to substitute) for rescue. He refuses to surrender. He will hold the pain the world inflicts on him, he’ll deal with the isolation waiting for his answer, and finally (and this is the most difficult step), he’ll make himself vulnerable---he’ll allow himself to continue to trust again and to love again, and to keep doing so no matter how often he is hurt and violated—as long as it takes until he finds his release. It is a simple chorus (release me) but it says so much, and encapsulates the hope and need that runs through the entire record. No matter how violent and hard the world becomes, no matter how alone we may find ourselves, we cannot surrender. We have to hold on to the possibility of a deeper love that will eventually release us from our bondage.

Even Flow 
Why Go 


No Code 
Riot Act 
Pearl Jam 

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