Friday, February 17, 2017

The Poetry of Tool's "Parabol" and "Parabola"

Tool is often considered the most prolific and gifted progressive metal bands of all time. Their intense, almost arcane music is also often thought of to be more of a piece of art rather than a song, intended to be consumed in one sitting. Because of this, Tool's six albums over 27 years are (purposefully) released on only certain music platforms, making them an almost treasured rarity. The artistic and audibly gratifying tracks from Tool can all arguably be deemed poetry, but the songs "Parabol" and "Parabola" on the album Lateralus are particularly representative of this. 

The two songs, a combined nine minutes, are firstly unique in that because the album is intended to be listened to in one go, the first song, "Parabol," leads directly into the next song, "Parabola." "Parabol" is a purposeful misspelling on "parable" which is a basic story with a moral and religious connotation. almost a lullaby; its slow, melodic guitar and muffled vocals create a tired and comfortable atmosphere. With lines:

Wide eyed and hopeful. Wide eyed and hopefully wild

contradicted to the soft music it is sung over is almost forcing to have the listener feel two things at once, much like poetry does when it is read versus when it is spoken. The song ends with the powerful lyrics: 

This body holding me, reminding me that I am not alone in
 This body makes me feel eternal. All this pain is an illusion

The line of "This body makes me feel eternal," is filled with poetic ambiguity, as it causes the listener to wonder if the singer is referring to his own body's relationship with his mind or rather the intimate connection shared with another body, one that is "reminding me that I am not alone." 

As "illusion" drags on, it gets progressively louder and filled with emotion, eventually marking the start of "Parabola," with little obvious indication of a true start or end. The songs' themes of transcendentalism and spirituality are highlighted in "Parabola" as it lyrically emphasizes lines: 

Recognize this as a holy gift and celebrate this chance to be alive and breathing
A chance to be alive and breathing

This is multidimensional, much like how lines in poetry can also be multifaceted and deep, it is celebratory of the fact that humans are able to cognizant enough of their own existence, and also to recognize this and not take it for granted. To "recognize this as a holy gift" is both to understand the experience and responsibility of life you have been given, and to utilize what a significant and unique gift it truly is.

The song ends with an slightly altered version of the reoccurring lines: 

This body holding me reminds me of my own mortality

Embrace this moment, remember, we are eternal
All this pain is an illusion

The content ending to "Parabola" is similar to the lines earlier, but more poetic in that is is contradicting itself directly as it's saying the body is mortal, it is only temporary. But, our memory, our experience, as humans are eternal and the suffering is merely exclusionary and temporary. 

Music is poetry, and I think the members of Tool are all poets and that their work is exemplary of the similarities of poetry and music. 

No comments:

Post a Comment