06 June 2013

"Great" to the End: Track by Track Story Meanings

"Great" to the End attempts something I've never tried before with my lyrics: it ties together the multiple songs into one big story. I'm usually all for catchy tunes that can stand on their own, but this is something deeper. This has been something that I've always wanted to try with my writing, and I feel like Great was a good first attempt at it. "Great" to the End is a rock opera about a ruler, kind of like a king. He comes to power, only to neglect the needs of his people. While distracted by a new romance, his people decide to rise up, and remove him from power. It's a revolution story. Rock operas I feel can get a little cheesy sometimes if the story is too straightforward, so I might have been a little too vague. Hopefully I struck a balance, but I feel that it's something I should be conscience of going forward. To help people better understand the story I'm trying to tell with this album, I'm going to break down the meaning of each song below. There are multiple meanings to each song, but right now we're only going to be looking at their meanings for the story. If you haven't listened to the album yet you might want to hold off and attempt to follow it without the use of this post. I'm technically "SPOILING" the story so stop reading if you don't want to know yet.


This quick little intro is about the leader's rise to power. It starts out with thuds of a guitar, then notes which are supposed to create the image of bells ringing. I purposely created chaotic noises in the background to signify the previous leader's fall. In the midst of these you can hear a drum march coupled with a melody emerging. This is our main character's rise to power.

In Great, the main character is indulging in the power of his new position. He believes another rebellion isn't possible and that he'll keep his power until the day he dies.

This song is about our leader's apparent shock after a tragic event happens. He's not doing well, and the lines of reality are blurry to him at this point. The leader has nobody to help him through this, and this event significantly affects him going forward.

We learn in Rewind that the leader has lost his significant other. He is trying to convince himself that he has accepted what has happened to him, and is able to move on. Of course, we know that's not the case. The song rewinding at the end is a way of signifying that he is still hung up and stuck in the past.

Consider this a darker continuation of Rewind. His way of thinking is slowly changing because of this tragedy, and at this point, he sees the future as bleak and hopeless. References to taking painkillers are made, which hints that our character has started to abuse drugs. He blames himself for his lover's death and starts down a path of self destruction and despair.

While all of these internal conflicts are going on with our guy, he's unable to focus on his duties. Running a nation is hard, and he's starting to view it as a pointless annoyance. There's no end to it.

The conclusion song to Act I is a dramatic departure from the current tone. Our character get's an inspirational feeling and decides to change some of his behaviors to pull himself out of this rut.

This change he decided on turned out to be a bad one. He reaches for what he sees as a more bad ass persona, trying to seem threatening to others. It's just his way of getting attention, after not having anyone to lean on.

With this new persona comes an increase in destructive behavior. He's starting to let loose with women and booze. The song also includes a reference to his pill popping, noting that he hasn't quit that either. Distorted and buzzing guitar chords mark the effects of his drug abuse.

In the middle of all this chaos, the leader meets Jaimie, the girl of his dreams. It's time to let go of his past relationship and focus on this one.

He falls in love with Jaimie, but our guy's sanity is still being questioned at this point. Does he really love Jaimie, or is she just a substitute for his lost love? I leave that to question with a few lines. "Even time can't tear us apart" might mean the passage of time still hasn't had an effect on his love for his lost significant other. "I'll never let you go" might mean he will never move on, or it could mean that he loves Jaimie even more than he loved what he lost.

With the introduction of the new romance, our character decides to change his attitude about his duties. With his views on them expressed in Grind Work, our leader decides to just not do them, and instead to waste his time wisely: having fun.

Now the people start to realize what's up. They are being neglected and the leader isn't solving their problems. Partial blame belongs to the majority of them for not standing up about it. Now, collapse is inevitable.

The leader knows that things are going downhill, but he doesn't care. He believes that he is ready for it when it will finally end and is just focused on having a good time right now.

The people against the leader start to gain momentum and open the public eye to what has been happening. Their nation is in ruin because of his careless behavior and the time is coming to overthrow him. The guitars and drums in this song heighten the sense of urgency.

16. MR. LOVE
With this song, our character finally has a name: Mr. Love! Now, he doesn't actually have a name, but this song is from the rebel point of view and they nickname him that because of his distraction with Jaimie. The time has finally come, and the people are out for blood. They want justice done.

Mr. Love realizes at this point that he won't be let down easy. He starts to panic and goes on the run from his pursuers, leaving Jaimie behind.

Mr. Love ponders what will happen to Jaimie, because regardless of his fate, they will likely never see each other again. It's a very cynical view, with him questioning if she even loved him. Our leader is still not right in the head, and is still mixing up his emotions for Jaimie and his past love during the first two verses. We learn his past love died in a car accident, and at the bridge, there's a turning point for him as a character. He finally learns to let go and face the truth, he is in love with Jaimie. This is a major development in the story, as we see that Mr. Love actually has some sanity left in him after the event and that he can let go now.

In this song, Mr. Love finally gives up being on the run. We see how he's matured as he decides to give himself up for his people. He realizes that he is a part of a revolutionary cycle, and that there is no way to walk away from this. It will repeat, and he has to give himself up. The song concludes with a deep drum bang which signifies Mr. Love being shot.

The people take pride in their strength as a nation and the fact that they endured. Mr. Love is fascinated by the cycle taking place around him and how old familiar things are becoming new again. He ponders if he will be around for the next one. Notice how ocean waves are used to symbolize the peaceful acceptance of death. This brings us full circle and begs you to ask the question: was he really great to the end?

Mr. Love admires the beauty of his own life as he lays dying. He fully believes that he did the right thing in the end. The album fades out as he accepts death, and lets it peacefully come over him.

Listen to it in full right here with your new knowledge of the story: