Friday, March 28, 2014

Rainbow - "Stargazer"

A few weeks ago I spent a long sleepless night with the lyrics to Rainbow's "Stargazer" going through my mind over and over. Rainbow Rising is an all time classic heavy rock album that I've Rippled about already (http://ripplemusic.blogspot.com/2011/10/rainbow-rising.html) but I feel the need to revisit it's centerpiece and focus on the lyrics. Cozy Powell's stunning drum intro and Ritchie Blackmore's thunderous riffing set the stage for Ronnie James Dio's ominous opening lines -

High noon, oh I'd sell my soul for water
Nine years worth of breakin' my back

Is this some sort of Western tale or perhaps the sound of a man working on the chain gang? Then he follows it up with the bold statement -

There's no sun in the shadow of the wizard
See how he glides, why he's lighter than air
Oh I see his face!

Ponder that for a moment. Why would there be sun in someone's shadow? Why is he lighter than air? The next few lines sound hopeful and uplifting -

Where is your star?
Is it far, is it far, is it far?
When do we leave?
I believe, yes, I believe

As it turns out, there's no joy or hope, only toil and misery to be had -

In the heat and the rain
With whips and chains
To see him fly
So many die
We build a tower of stone
With our flesh and bone
Just to see him fly
But don't know why
Now where do we go?

So it turns out the wizard has enslaved people to erect a tower to launch himself from into the stars. Holy shit, that is heavy. The people work and work but don't even really know why they're doing it. The wizard's charisma is so strong he can convince people to toil under horrible conditions for no apparent reason. Does this scenario sound familiar in today's world at all? Let's move on -

Hot wind, moving fast across the desert
We feel that our time has arrived
The world spins, while we put his dream together
A tower of stone to take him straight to the sky
Oh I see his face!

Where is your star?
Is it far, is it far, is it far?
When do we leave?
Hey, I believe, I believe

In the heat and the rain
With whips and chains
Just to see him fly
Too many die
We build a tower of stone
With our flesh and bone
To see him fly
But we don't know why
Ooh, now where do we go

Blackmore's massive guitar solo climbs up higher and higher on the fretboard until he can climb no more. The last note echoes before Powell forces the band to return to the pounding slaveship rhythm. Dio re-enters to deliver the fatal blow -

All eyes see the figure of the wizard
As he climbs to the top of the world
No sound, as he falls instead of rising
Time standing still, then there's blood on the sand
Oh I see his face!

Where was your star?
Was it far, was it far
When did we leave?
We believed, we believed, we believed

The poor souls who toiled through heat and rain, with whips and chains are forced to see their hero die before their eyes. Was there any doubt this would be the final outcome? Has there ever been a single person that's been placed upon a pedestal for idolization that hasn't failed? The president of every insurance company should be forced to listen to this song non-stop for the next 1000 days.

In heat and rain
With the whips and chains
To see him fly
So many died
We built a tower of stone
With our flesh and bone
To see him fly

But why
In all the rain
With all the chains
Did so many die
Just to see him fly

Look at my flesh and bone
Now, look, look, look, look,
Look at his tower of stone
I see a rainbow rising
Look there, on the horizon
And I'm coming home, I'm coming home, I'm coming home

Time is standing still
He gave back my will
Ooh ooh ooh ooh
Going home
I'm going home

My eyes are bleeding
And my heart is leaving here
But it's not home
But it's not home
Ooh

Take me back
He gave me back my will
Ooh ooh ooh ooh

The finale of "Stargazer" leaves me puzzled. This man toiled and was let down by the wizard. Now his eyes are bleeding and his heart is leaving. Did the wizard intentionally commit suicide to give the people back their free will? Or are they so confused by having their will returned that they're unable to handle it. That's usually the case for the followers of charismatic but faulty leaders. 

After my sleepless night dissecting these lyrics I looked up some other interpretations on-line. I was glad to see that others had also spent some hard time analyzing "Stargazer." Some claim the tower represents the building of the great pyramids. Others seem to think the wizard is an alien trying to return to his home planet. More than one person noted that the song could be symbolic of Dio's relationship with Blackmore, how no one can ever please the stern taskmaster in a pilgrim's hat. All of these are valid thoughts but I truly BELIEVE that this song was so ahead of it's time that it predicted the massive tower of lies we are all enslaved to in this very day & age. Only DIO is real! What do you think?

"Stargazer"

1 comment:

Metal Goddesses said...

Fantastic Classic Album!

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