Saturday, September 17, 2005

"I Will Not Go Quietly"

I love this. This is a tall, tense, shuddering nightmare of a song, a wake-up-at-3 a.m.-with-the-cold-sweats song. It's defiance, vulnerability, determination and despair wrapped into a jarring, stop-start, wailing scream at the world. What was Don Henley thinking about when he wrote this? "Woke up with a heavy head/And I thought about leavin’ town/I could have died if I wanted to/Slipped over the edge and drowned/But, oh no baby, I won’t give up so easy/Too many tire tracks in the sands of time/Too many love affairs that stop on a dime/I think it’s time to make some changes round here." This is a song for those moments when you raise your fist at the world, at your own weakness and faults, at the injustices committed and opportunities missed.
What pushes this song over the edge for me is Axl Rose's wailing screech in the chorus, a mad-eyed, thousand-yard stare of a vocal, floating just beyond the boundaries of sanity: "I will not go quietly/I will not lie down." In fact, if you go away and read Dylan Thomas' immortal poem: "Do not go gentle into that good night.../Rage, rage against the dying of the light", you'll see exactly where this song comes from.

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