In the eighteenth and penultimate part of Soul Music, OH MY GOD. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Okay, I really loved this. A LOT. LET’S DISCUSS, EVERYONE.
An eternal high five to Ridcully, whose perfectly timed magic probably saved Buddy’s life, perhaps someone else’s. Mostly, I’m just pleased that the assassination attempt failed in a way so that Mr. Clete got hurt instead.
LOOK, I JUST FIND THIS EXCEEDINGLY CREEPY AND UNSETTLING:
Then they’d stopped, and listened, as new music poured out over the park and took every man and woman and thing by the hand and showed him or her or it the way home.
The beggars stood and listened, mouths open. Someone looking from face to face, if anyone did look at the invisible beggars, would have had to turn away…
It’s the mouth thing. The very image of everyone standing there, entranced by the Music, their mouths wide open… NO, THANK YOU. I’LL PASS. What exactly is the music doing? Why their mouths? Was Dibbler fully aware of this power, so he used cotton wool in his ears to block out the affect? WHAT IS THE GREY SHAPE THAT CIRCLES THE FIRE? Has the Music become corporeal???
I think that on my first read of this book, it’s not been as easy for me to figure out what Buddy is doing all on his own and what is the Music controlling him. The band knew to have a cart waiting for them after the show, but not for Buddy specifically, Yet it’s undeniable that Buddy is being pulled to Quirm for SOMETHING. I think this has to be tied to the theme we’ll see towards the end of this section. Buddy just knew it was time. Time for what? To move on? To be done? To live fast and die young? I suspect that’s the case, especially if the Music is controlling him in a way to make him part of the legend of rock n’ roll.
There are some logistical issues here, though. What the hell are they going to do with all that money? Is it just going to drop into the gorge, never to be seen again? It’s not that important of a plot point, but if Buddy really dies here, what happens to Cliff and Glod? I CARE ABOUT THEM A LOT.
As it turns out, one thing finally snapped Death back into the world as a whole: the near-death of Albert. (Seriously, I totally forgot Death was trying to be one of the beggars.) Death drops everything and rushes to the side of his best friend, and they’re totally in love, you know it. I SHIP IT okay anyway, back on track, totally serious discussion here. Thirty-four seconds. That’s all that Death saves of Albert’s lifetimer, which worries me. That’s a terrifyingly low amount of time, and given that Death doesn’t have all of his powers, WHAT IF ALBERT DOESN’T MAKE IT?
He might just be fine, though, because Death finds a horse. In perhaps one of the most hilariously absurd sequences in this book or any Discworld book, Pratchett follows through with his representation of the rock n’ roll lifestyle by giving Death a horse. Not just any horse, my friends. No, the Librarian’s project? The thing he’s been consumed with since the last time we saw him? I WASN’T READY.
There were two small cart wheels, one behind the other, with a saddle in between them. In front of the saddle was a pipe with a complicated double curve in it, so that someone sitting in the saddle would be able to get a grip.
The rest was junk. Bones and tree branches and a jackdaw’s banquet of geegaws. A horse’s skull was strapped over the front wheel, and feathers and beads hung from every point.
This is the most metal thing in the entire book. I half expected Rob Halford to step out from behind a shelf of books in the Library and sit astride this metal beast. Can we talk about that, though? I grew up on thrash metal, the New Wave of British Heavy metal, a heavy dose of power metal, and branched out to a ton of genres under the metal banner by the time I was in high school. And I totally bought and adored so much of the imagery and the costumes and the motifs and EVERYTHING. I thought Eddie (of Iron Maiden fame) was the coolest mascot ever. Mercyful Fate’s entire get-up – especially the make-up – was the most badass thing I ever saw as a kid. I adored Rob Halford’s (of Judas Preist) style because it was just so hard. (HOW DID I NOT REALIZE WHAT A MASSIVE GAY HE WAS UNTIL I WAS A TEENAGER. I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN. BLESS HIS HEART FOREVER, HE WAS A HUGE INFLUENCE ON ME.) Looking back on a lot of the bands I loved as a kid, some of it seems goofy as hell now. But you know what? I still love it when a band or musician can provide that kind of visual accompaniment to their music. Beyoncé is a fantastic example of that, as is Andrew W.K., whose iconic all-white outfit still thrills me to this day.
Anyway, Death rides a motorcycle to go save the Band and it’s so awesome.
Live Fast, Die Young
It’s such a cliched statement, something I’ve heard a million times from various rock/punk bands over the years. I understand the sentiment, and I’d like to think that it’s affected me positively over the years. I still feel like I’m twenty-one inside my head. I still love live music, I get the butterflies when I hear a really good song, and I play my guitar every single day I can. That excitement has never gone away for me, and I think that makes me feel young even as I’m aging.
And yet, we see the pull of this cyclical legend on Buddy and the others. It’s not a coincidence at all that he’s named Buddy, or that Cliff is named Cliff, or that there’s been a reference to the “day the music died,” either. Immortality is part of the rock n’ roll mythos, and unfortunately, that means many of those that are idolized died way too soon. I grew up in a world where Cliff Burton died, and while I didn’t start listening to Metallica until I was eight, that hole in the world was still there. I was given Master of Puppets for my eighth birthday, and I hid the record from my mother, who I knew would see it all as Satanic nonsense. By the end of 1991, I had listened to all five of their records that had been released up to that point, and any conscious ear could see exactly where Cliff’s influence on the band changed because he was no longer there. (For what it’s worth, my favorite record of theirs was the first one without him on it, …And Justice For All. My favorite song, “Dyers Eve,” closes out that album.)
His death became legendary to me. As I got more and more interested in all things rock n’ roll – sludge, hardcore, punk rock, emo, post-hardcore – I would inevitably come across a band I loved, and I’d discover that someone in that band had died, and their work now lived on beyond their death. Isn’t that the cycle that happens over and over again? Granted, it’s not just a phenomenon within music. But what if that is what Buddy meant by it being “time”? What if the Music is TRYING TO KILL THEM ALL, just so it can live on forever?
Never age. Never die. Live forever in that one last white-hot moment, when the crowd screamed. When every note was a heartbeat. Burn across the sky.
You will never grow old. They will never say you died.
That’s the deal. You will be the greatest musician in the world.
Live fast. Die young.
And if it wasn’t for Susan, that’s exactly what Buddy and his friends would have done.
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