The Meaning of Clementine

With our first Rock • Circus • Masquerade event upon us, our addressing suicidal thoughts directly in our show, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention being involved in our event, we wanted to take a moment to give you insight into one of our main songs for the night, Clementine.

Clementine originally was written to speak to someone in the throes of suicidal thought, to offer hope, and to offer help. This is how we use it in the show. But it also has a much deeper meaning.

Clementine is the story of a divine romance. It is the story of our human struggle with our deceptive and proud ego. It is the story we all live, a collection of souls, separate only in perception, and together in our rejection of the lies our ego tells us. It is the story of us holding each other up, and of our persevering together. It is a divine romance, not in a religious sense, but in the life we lived so impassioned together.


Allow us to explain the song piece by piece:

Rebirth and Clementine

A shadow falls upon your face
your journey’s at an end
From lonely roads you came to me
And took me by the hand
And I will take your burdens down
and turn the night to day
And I will call you Clementine
and wipe your tears away

This sums up our whole story, “a pair of star-crossed lovers”, the prologue of a powerful love story. We begin our journey together; the unnamed hero and the beautiful maiden, rescuing each other from the dark state of loneliness; joining together with deep empathy, vowing our undying love and friendship; determined to rescue one another from the dark, console one another’s tears, take one another’s burdens, and find hope in one another’s affections. Thus we begin our divine romance.

Clementine
Nothing’s gonna stop you now
There’s no rhyme or reason to it
Only a question of how
Ballantine
Got a drink in your hand
A thousand miles or more to go
One more drink and you’re dead
Valentine
How beautiful are you
Now is not your time to go
We’re all waiting for you

Time’s moving too fast
You’re screaming inside
Time’s wasting away
There’s more to this life than living

Depression, darkness, thoughts of escape, thoughts of suicide. Our hero recognizes her pain and sees all the life she still has ahead of her. He reminds her of all the beauty she has to offer the world, and all the people who love and care about her. He acknowledges and empathizes with her pain, and brings her hope. The music grows more tense with each stanza, a reflection and recognition of the intensity of emotion in the words being said.

Another day comes
And life’s just begun
Life’s just begun
And Yesterday’s gone
And I burn my wings
Into the morning sun

The music open up, giving a sense of release, hope, and joy. Our hero encourages Clementine and gives her hope in a new day. He also commits to her that he would happily fly to the ends of the earth for her, even to the point of death – just as Icarus flew too close to the sun, caught up in the throes of joy and his determination for a changed life. Unlike most interpretations of Icarus being prideful, we chose to instead empathize with Icarus and recognize his passion, determination, ambition, and fascination with life. Our hero commits to Clementine that there is light beyond the horizon, and he will risk everything to see that she finds it.

Clementine
He’ll find you out
Turning that blade into his hand
For covering shroud
Take my hand
And hold me close
I have a contract on this one
Collector of souls

Our story and music now introduces the villain. Our villain is a deceiver and a liar. He is there to sharpen our senses, and cover the light of hope so that our desire to seek it out grows even more. It is in this that our star-crossed lovers hold closely to one another, our hero protecting his bride. It is here that we see the strength of the vow to care for each other and the fierceness of our commitment to persevere. And yet, it is here that our song changes perception ever so slightly to frame our hero as the listener, and our heroine as the people we care for.

Time’s moving too fast
You’re screaming inside
Time’s wasting away
There’s more to this life than living

Another day comes
And life’s just begun
Life’s just begun
And Yesterday’s gone
And I burn my wings
Into the morning sun

Now these two stanzas take on a bit different meaning. No longer is the listener a third party to the story. Instead, we are now the hero and the heroine. We are all in this together, all part of the struggle of life, and all committed and determined to see each other truly live. Our love story turns from a romance of two lovers to the divine romance of humanity and our deep connection with each other.

Memories
Of my soul
Pick me up
And take me home
Holding out
And holding in
Holding on
Just to breathe in my sin
Wrong or right
This web of lies
Let me go
You’re blocking out my light

The song ends back in the throes of tension, our human struggle. Only this time we are in this together, and are able to overcome the villain. This time we recognize the villain, the deceiver, as being inside of us, our own ego. And this time we reject the notion that our ego controls us; we release ourselves from the chains of mediocrity and the lies told in the dark. This time, we are both the hero and the heroine, we are strong, and we break through the dark and into the light. What follows in the full version of the song is the release felt in victory, the vastness of the light, and the intensity of our flight, told in the universal language of music.

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