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Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Tell-Tale Heart Soundtrack

Tayler Dalli
Blog Option #2

The “Tell-Tale Heart” Soundtrack

If there was ever a list of songs whose lyrics embodied a story of a man killing someone, burying him under the floorboards, only to dig him up after a phantom heartbeat drives him mad, then this would be the one. These songs have lyrics that have the same themes found in Edgar Allen Poe’s “Tell-Tale Heart” including guilt, paranoia, madness and some lyrics directly referencing this disturbing story.

"Everybody’s Watching Me" – The Neighbourhood

The song in its entirety is about paranoia, similar to what was experienced by the narrator. This particular set of lyrics is exactly the kind of writing you would expect from Poe, which is writing about murderers putting bodies in the walls and floors of houses:

 “I go through all the trouble of keeping it within my walls
I try to be as subtle as I can…assume that nothing needs me, all I've done defeats me”

 The narrator went through all of the trouble of dismembering the body and boarding up the floors to where it looks as if nothing has happened: “I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye --not even his --could have detected any thing wrong. There was nothing to wash out --no stain of any kind --no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had caught all --ha! Ha” (Poe 2). He did all of this only to reveal his secret to the police because of the old man’s heartbeat that drove him mad.

"The Bird Song"- Florence and the Machine

The story told in this song has similar themes to “Tell-Tale Heart.” The person described in the lyrics kills a bird because it wouldn’t stop singing. From then on, the guilt she felt started making her hear the bird’s chirps in her mind getting louder and louder. In the “Tell-Tale Heart” the narrator thinks he hears the heart beat of the dead old man under the floorboards. In his mind it gets louder and louder until it becomes unbearable: “Oh God! what could I do? I foamed --I raved --I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder --louder –louder” (Poe 3).

“But he sang louder and louder inside the house
And now I couldn’t get him out
So I trapped him under a cardboard box
And stood on it to make him stop”

"I Hate You"- Sick Puppies

I heard this song the other day in a store and one verse of the lyrics made me think of the “Tell-Tale Heart” immediately. Though the rest of the lyrics don’t apply to the story (the song’s about love), this short verse was reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe’s story:

“Every time I end up breaking you
You change into
Something worth keeping
Every time I'm close to saving you
You grow into a sin worth believing”

This particular set of lyrics reminds me of how the narrator in “Tell-Tale Heart” went into the old man’s bedroom every night for seven nights trying to kill him. Because his eye wasn’t open, he decided against killing him for the time being because he loved him. On the eighth night is when the narrator finally kills the old man: “And this I did for seven long nights --every night just at midnight --but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye” (Poe 2).

"Eyes on Fire" - Blue Foundation

“I won't soothe your pain
I won't ease your strain
You'll be waiting in vain
And just in time
In the right place
Suddenly I will play my ace”

This verse is similar to the kind of drawn out anticipation that the narrator experiences in the week leading up to the old man’s death. Though the narrator had premeditated his murder, he was waiting for the right time to strike. The song title is also ironic because the old man’s blind “vulture” eye is what led the narrator to kill him.

"The Tell-Tale Heart"- The Alan Parson’s Project

This song was written specifically about Edgar Allen Poe’s “Tell-Tale Heart”. The song is strange but it’s not the kind of lyrics or music you would expect from a song written about a murder. It’s appropriately named The “Tell-Tale Heart” and its written by a British band that formed in 1975 called The Alan Parson’s Project. The lyrics very accurately describe the story. The song tells the story from beginning to end. This particular verse refers to the heartbeat of the old man that drives the narrator mad:

“Louder and louder
Till I could tell the sound was not within my ears
You should have seen me
You would have seen my eyes grow white and cold with fear”

Poe, Edgar A. “The Tell-Tale Heart.” 1843. 1-3. Print. 

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