Apr 26, 2024

When All There's Left To Do Is Reflect On What's Been Done

Throwing Copper
Live (1994)
The third studio album from the York, PA band Live is turning thirty years old today.

The album cover is a oil panting that was completed in 1989 by British artist Peter Howson.  Mr. Howson explained this work in a response to a letter that was published in a newspaper published in Glasgow, Scotland called The Herald:
This painting was done at a time when I was walking on the road to self-destruction, so when I saw it reproduced in The Herald it brought back some poignant memories.  The man in the painting is blind, and he is troubled because there is no-one to guide him. He is clutching a red Bible, trying to find sanctuary in the cliff-edge church, but that is now derelict.  Finally, he will be led over the edge and fall to his doom. The girls do not care and it is all a bit of fun for them.  Obviously this is not my most optimistic creation, but I am glad when something moves people to question our existence.
Reading this made it pretty clear to me why Live selected this work for the cover of their album.  I wouldn't call this a Christian rock album.  I don't think it has a message that comes from any religion in particular, but the songs make repeated references to god and to religion.  I wouldn't go so far as to call it the theme of the record.  It's referenced in the lyrics in much the same way that Kurt Cobain referenced medical themes in his music... in ways that are weird and too numerous to be a coincidence.  This album also reminds me a bit of Nirvana in that I have an idea of what might have inspired the songwriter, but I have absolutely no idea what the hell they're trying to say.

The timing of Throwing Copper's release could not have been better.  Alternative Rock peaked in popularity in 1994, and this record rode that wave to massive success.  It was certified 8x platinum and produced five singles that played in heavy rotation on MTV and on rock and pop radio stations: Selling The Drama, I Alone, All Over You, White Discussion, and their biggest hit, Lightning Crashes.

While I dig all of these songs, my favorite track on the album was not released as a single and didn't get played on the radio to the best of my knowledge.  The Dam At Otter Creek is the first song on Throwing Copper.  Now, I know that Live is from Pennsylvania, and I've read that Otter Creek is a tributary that branches off of the Susquehanna River.  Aside from that, I have absolutely no idea what the hell this song is about.  It's trippy and sounds kind of like something that would play at the end of a horror movie, which is probably why I like it.
When all there's left to do
Is reflect on what's been done
This is where sadness breathes
The sadness of everyone

Just like when the guys
Built the dam at Otter Creek and all the water backed up
Deep enough to dive

We took the dead man in sheets to the river flanked by love
Deep enough to dive
Be here now

Just like when the guys built the dam at Otter Creek
And water backed up, backed up, backed up deep enough to dive

We took him three and three
In a stretcher made from trees that had passed in the storm
Leave the hearse behind to leave a curse behind
Be here now

We took the dead man in sheets to the river flanked by love
We took the dead man in sheets to the river flanked in glory
Be here now

We took the dead man in sheets to the river
Flanked by the river, by love
Flanked by love
Flanked by glory