How Random Babbling Becomes Corporate Policy (t3knomanser) wrote,
How Random Babbling Becomes Corporate Policy

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Savatage - Dead Winter Dead

In 1995 a band called Savatage released Dead Winter Dead a rock opera set in Sarejvo in the early nineties, just after the fall of communism. It's been weighing on me lately, so I thought I'd share. Click the links for the lyrics. If there's no link, it's an instrumental.

A gargoyle sits upon the ledge of a church. For a thousand years, he has watched humanity, and has sought to understand them. Why do they laugh? Why do they cry? And so, it watches as the story unfolds.

The is the Time
A young man in Sarejvo looks around him, and sees the newfound freedom that he and his people have. He's caught up in the glorious idealism of this momen, this is the time. The time for him to enjoy life, to find meaning, and he's in the middle of it all. At this point, the world is full of nothing but hope. Across the world, an old man sees the headlines in the newspapers. He is an accomplished cellist, who left his country during the rise of communism, disgusted. He sees this new hope, and vows to return to his homeland.

I am
Meanwhile, small men with smaller minds are dreaming of more. Driven by greed, they gather armies to themselves, and these petty warlords turn the people against each other. The young man, in his idealism, gets caught up with one of them. A young woman gets drawn into an opposing side. There is a clear image of these small men, with a demon curling itself around their minds, tempting them, "I am the answer you seek."

The young man is assigned to a post outside of the city. The only beautiful, wonderful things he can see are the explosions of the mortars he and the other men he works with send flying into Sarajevo. "We bring our own starlight."

Doesn't Matter Anyway
The young woman on the other hand is sent by her side to a weapons dealer. Here you have this cross between images of dimly lit, featureless room with tables piled high with weapons and a game show. The dealer clearly sells to both sides, making money from suffering.

This Isn't What We Meant
The old man returns to his homeland finally, and instead of finding hope, he finds destruction. The nation, and his city, Sarajevo, lie in ruins. He laments, knowing they prayed for an end to the old way, but this is not what they were asking for. Prayers have been answered, but "this isn't what we meant." "A long time ago when the world was pretty, standing right here in a different city..."

Mozart and Madness
The old man, torn to pieces by this, takes his cello, and sets himself up on the rubble that was once a fountain in the town square. each night, as shells explode all around him, he plays. He plays his heart out, hoping, fearing, and wishing things could be different. Both the young man and young woman listen, sharing those same feelings. This is their only piece of sanity in this travesty, and they cling to it.

Memory (Dead Winter Dead Intro)
Meanwhile, as winter falls, the war gets worse. The pile of bodies grows, the hate and hurt grow, and it begins to look as if there can be no peaceful solution.

Dead Winter Dead
The young man watches the people around him, and begins to realize that something is horribly wrong. The people around him are enjoying this, watching the fires. He looks for answers, he prays for hope, and finds none.

One Child
One day, the young man is assigned to patrol inside the city. Here, he finds a schoolhouse that had been struck by a mortar. Was it one he sent? Does it matter? The building was full of children, and each and every one of them is dead. Seeking release, seeking penance, he buries them all, "Right here in the earth I've been drawing a line/I'm digging it deep, don't know if I'll find/A tunnel out so we all can be saved/If not, just take this earth and bury me, for this will be my grave." The young man vows to leave this place, to leave this war behind him.

Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)
This isn't Christmas. Everything that had been hoped for is lost. The young man and the young woman sit in their camps, listening to the cellist play Christmas carols. There is an explosion in the center of town, and the music stops. They both leap up, uncaring of the danger, and rush into the city, knowing, fearing what must have happened. They meet near the center of town, and know from their dress and weapons that they are from opposite sides, but also that they are united in a common goal. They walk to the center together, and find the smashed remains of the cello, and the old man's body.

Not What You See
The young man turns to the woman, and begins, "No life's so short that you can't turn around...". He asks her to leave this place, to leave this war, and to come with him. "...if you win would it show - in a thousand years, who would know?" From above, a single drop of rain falls on the face of the dead cellist, smearing the blood. The sky is clear, and the only thing above them is the gargoyle, who sings out, "I don't understand what I see."

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