Sunday, March 27, 2011

Don't Fear the Reaper... Literally

First I would like to make a comment about last Friday's forum with Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg. For those of you who did not go, you missed out! It was really cool to hear what he had to say about education and the internet. He seemed pretty optimistic that the internet and Facebook would continue to be an important part of the learning process for all students, young and old. I was secretly hoping that Senator Orin Hatch would ask him about how his feelings towards the use of blogs for educational purposes but, sadly, he didn't. I saw Max there, so I know at least one other person went!

Now I will be continuing my posts on modern music and Shakespeare (you can find my two prior posts here and here). For those of you who are not familiar with the Blue Oyster Cult song, "Don't Fear the Reaper," there are some pretty overt Shakespearean references in the song. This song, like the other two I have blogged about, also makes reference to Romeo and Juliet (the fact that I am finding so many modern day songs with references to Romeo and Juliet makes me wonder, what is it that appeals to modern day musicians about Romeo and Juliet? Is it the fact that it is one of Shakespeare's most popular plays and that is the only one they have read or is there something else? Give me your insight!). I am not particularly fond of this song, but I find it relevant for my blogging purposes (here is a link to the focus of my blog)

In the first stanza of the song, their is a reference to two lovers whose love seems to be forbidden. The singer makes reference to the fact that "all their times have come." This is very similar to what happened with Romeo and Juliet. They fought in order to be together, but the time came in which there was nothing left to do but put their lives on the line for each other. The stanza reads as follows:
All our times have come
Here but now they're gone
Seasons don't fear the reaper
Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain..we can be like they are
Come on baby...don't fear the reaper
Baby take my hand...don't fear the reaper
We'll be able to fly...don't fear the reaper
Baby I'm your man...
Also, in this stanza, the singer makes reference to the fact that neither the male nor the female in the relationship should fear the consequences of dying for each other's love. It is as if their love is more important than anything else. This is similar to how Romeo and Juliet felt.

In the second stanza, the singer specifically mentions both Romeo and Juliet, making the connection to Shakespeare's play even more overt. The start of the second stanza states the following:
Valentine is done
Here but now they're gone
Romeo and Juliet
Are together in eternity...Romeo and Juliet
Here, the singer makes reference to the fact that the happy times of Romeo and Juliet's love have gone away, but they are together in eternity. This reminds me of the fact that Romeo and Juliet felt that, after this life, their love might be acceptable and they might be together without anyone getting in the way of their love.

Once again, we can see that Shakespeare's influence has reached beyond the literary world and has made its way into modern day pop music. This shows the versatility of Shakespeare's subjects and his themes. They were relevant then and continue to be relevant today.

Here, I have just analyzed a small portion of the song. For the lyrics to the whole song you can find them here. Below I am posting a video of the band actually performing the song, but I would also like to invite everyone to check out this parody sketch done on SNL. It has Will Farrell in it, so you know it's going to be funny. Enjoy!