Monday, November 9, 2009

Try Not To Breathe

Have you ever had that 'Aha Moment'? Have you ever been listening to a song you have heard a hundred times and suddenly it just made sense?

Listening to this podcast from Studio 360 gave me my own 'Aha Moment' as Monica Murphy describes her moment brought on by R.E.M.'s Try not to Breathe and Nightswimming on the Automatic For The People album. It's a very interesting commentary on grief and music and how the two influence each other. I myself have listened to this song many times and never gotten the potential palliative care connection until now.

I couldn't find anything that commented on what influenced the writing of the song, just some comments that the entire album is about dying and mortality. The theories out there include that it is from the perspective of someone contemplating suicide, someone dying, someone already dead. Regardless, it seems to be influenced by someone contemplating mortality. Someone who seems to be making a decision about life and death. They want their loved ones to remember them. They don't want to cause worry or be a burden. Does this sound familiar to anyone else? I can think of many of my palliative care/hospice patients who have shared similar sentiments.

But this is my interpretation. Monica Murphy has an excellent interpretation of her own.

I will try not to breathe
I can hold my head still with my hands at my knees
These eyes are the eyes of the old, shivering and bold

I will try not to breathe
This decision is mine. I have lived a full life
And these are the eyes that I want you to remember, oh

I need something to fly over my grave again
I need something to breathe

I will try not to burden you
I can hold these inside. I will hold my breath
Until all these shivers subside,
Just look in my eyes

I will try not to worry you
I have seen things that you will never see
Leave it to memory me. I shudder to breathe

I want you to remember, oh (you will never see)
I need something to fly (something to fly)
Over my grave again (you will never see)
I need something to breathe (something to breathe)
Baby, don't shiver now
Why do you shiver now? (I will see things you will never see)
I need something to fly (something to fly)
Over my grave again. (I will see things you will never see)
I need something to breathe, oh, oh, oh, oh

I will try not to worry you
I have seen things that you will never see
Leave it to memory me. Don't dare me to breathe
I want you to remember, oh (you will never see)
I need something to fly (something to fly)
Over my grave again (you will never see)
I need something to breathe (something to breathe)
Baby, don't shiver now
Why do you shiver? (I will see things you will never see)
I need something to breathe (something to breathe - I have seen things you will
never see)
I want you to remember

Thanks to R. Scott Lake who sent me the link to the podcast which inspired the above 'Aha Moment'.

1 Responses to “Try Not To Breathe”

Drew Rosielle MD said...
November 17, 2009 at 7:34 PM

I stood in line at midnight in the early 1990s (?1994) to buy that album at 12:01 am on a Tuesday morning when it was released. Despite that, I never really listened to this song, and had no clue this was its content. Thanks.