Major Arcana – 9. Dig Your Grave – Suicide and Forgiveness

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When we get to this point of the story, Joe is in a bad way and he’s completely isolated. He’s depressed and has no one to talk to. He’s having desperate thoughts and can’t stand himself anymore, he can’t escape from how he feels. He’s reaching the edge of his ability to keep it together. This is his lowest point.

The song is “Dig Your Grave”, the tarot card represented here is Death. A song about suicide and forgiveness, “Dig Your Grave” is about letting go. Frustration, sadness, anger, and hate add up to eventual understanding and finally, acceptance of what happened. Traditionally the card of Death doesn’t actually mean that you’re going to die, but it means a loss, a conclusion, something that happens before a rebirth. It’s the end of one thing before you can move on to something else, in Joe’s case, something hopefully better.

This track was originally inspired by discovering a friend of the band’s suicide back at the end of 2008. I remember that we were completely shocked by it because she seemed like such a strong person and she had gone through so much (she was a young woman who was diagnosed with cancer and we thought that she had beat it) but in the end it just proved too much for her. Taking that feeling, along with what another friend told me about the suicide of his brother, we tried to process what that kind of emptiness would feel like, how you could get past it, how you could forgive someone that took their own life. Death is shocking in itself and it leaves a huge void where a person used to be, even more so when it comes at the “wrong time” (i.e., not old age or after a long period of infirmary) and when it’s self-inflicted. There’s blame and shame and disbelief and anger and every kind of emotion, but once they’re gone, then it’s just your relationship with that person that’s what your left with, it’s your thoughts about them, it’s your memories, and that’s it. You’re the one who gets to decide what their life and what their death meant because you’re the one still here.

We wrote “Dig Your Grave” during Singularity, when we were doing a song a month and a video to go along with each one. We tried to shoot a video for this track, but it just ended up being too cheesy and ridiculous, so we scrapped it. We didn’t want to lose the impact of what we thought was a powerful song by creating something that viewers would roll their eyes at. In the end, the footage just ended up being a lot of Ben looking sad and forlorn on a grey day in the winter landscape of Northern Wisconsin. That would have been perfect for a Bon Iver video, but it would have been ineffective for this.

 

In the end, we made another one of our TV video mashups to the character of John Locke from LOST (5-YEAR OLD SPOILER ALERT) who contemplates suicide on several different occasions. It was a way to use other people’s emotions that they already had with a character and a show that had powerful visuals where we could use a pre-existing relationship for the viewer.

We recorded the rhythm tracks at Smart Studios in Madison in a one-day session along with “Tunguska” and “Trashy Hot” with the overdubs being done at Raw Tracks studios in Waunakee. Smart was the best because they already had a drum set set up and a monster 8×10 Ampeg bass cabinet that was mic’d in the basement, when you were laying down bass and drums so you could come in and get to work right away without jerking around for four hours trying to get the drum sound “just right”. Man, that was a true pleasure of a place to create. I look at the old studio every day I go into the Broadjam office (which is across the street) and a part of the past slowly erodes every time I take a look at it. I’m glad I have tracks like this to listen to to remind me of it.

Click here to download the original album version of this song free.

Just click here to pick up a DVD copy of Major Arcana.

Lyrics:

I guess we all could have used a little less irony,
and a little more Polyanna.
I’m praying for the proof that there’s something worthy,
to come from the black hole of your sadness.

So is it better on the other side, the other side of the door?
And on the final ride, the final ride, you found what you’re looking for?

How you must ache,
The way you went and left us all behind.
I’ll dig your grave,
if it quiets down the screaming in your mind.
If it quiets down the screaming in your mind.

Yes, we forgave you in your eulogy,
What did you think that we would say?
Did you hope that all our anguish,
would make up for all your pain?
Did you see this in your letter,
did you know how it would go?
The way Mom pleaded with God,
and the way Dad hardly speaks anymore.

So is it better on the other side, the other side of the door?
And on the final ride, the final ride, you found what you’re looking for?

How you must ache,
The way you went and left us all behind.
I’ll dig your grave,
if it quiets down the screaming in your mind.

Nothing will ever be the same,
and this was a living Hell.
I tried but I could never hate you,
as much as you hated yourself.
Nothing could ever be the same,
and this was a living Hell.
I tried but I could never hate you,
as much as you hated yourself.

Tell me it’s better on the other side, the other side of the door?
And on the final ride, your final ride, you found what you’re looking for.

How you must ache,
The way you went and left us all behind.
I’ll dig your grave,
if it quiets down the screaming in your mind.
How you must ache,
The way you went and left us all behind.
I’ll dig your grave,
if it quiets down the screaming in your mind.

If it quiets down the screaming in your mind.
If it quiets down the screaming in your mind.
If it quiets down the screaming in your mind.
If it quiets down the screaming in your mind.

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