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Saturday, June 2, 2018

An Exegesis of "Tourniquet"

Evanescence's Tourniquet is a crucifixional experience in musical form.

By this I mean "When Jesus Christ was dying on the cross, He was in agony, was probably regretting all of His choices, and called out to God asking why He had been forsaken, and this song captures all of that emotional intensity in an incredibly personal way."

The song starts with roughly 20 seconds of instrumental music that sounds like a wind through a foggy forest, and then suddenly there is a blast of guitar and percussion. I cannot help but feel this represents someone whose mind is drifting off, and then is suddenly, shockingly awake. Given what is said in the first verse, it's a pretty good musical metaphor for blood loss followed by panicked wakefulness.

[Verse 1]
I tried to kill the pain
But only brought more
(So much more)
I lay dying
And I'm pouring crimson regret and betrayal
I'm dying, praying, bleeding and screaming
Am I too lost to be saved?
Am I too lost?

This paints an incredibly evocative picture of a woman who has committed suicide by slashing her wrists and, as she lies dying, has a change of heart. She now wants to live, but is too weak to take action to save herself. Her only option is to pray to God and ask to be saved.

My God, my tourniquet
Return to me salvation
My God, my tourniquet
Return to me salvation

The phrase "My God, my tourniquet" is what convinces me that this is not a song about someone who has died but rather a song about someone who is dying and now desperately wants to live. "God, please staunch my bleeding" is how I read it. "God, please be my tourniquet. God, please save my life. I'm sorry I tried to kill myself. I no longer want to die. I want to live!"

[Verse 2]
Do you remember me?
Lost for so long
Will you be on the other side
Or will you forget me?
I'm dying, praying, bleeding and screaming
Am I too lost to be saved?
Am I too lost?

I too have struggled with feelings of divine rejection and a desire for death, and so this verse hits very close to home for me. "God, I know you and I haven't been on the best of terms lately. I don't know if I rejected you first or not, but I haven't felt your love in a very long time. Do you even care if I die? If I do, will you damn me to hell for suicide? Or will you know that I've been in a lot of pain and in a very dark place for such a long time, and that this seemed like the only way out for me?"

The phrase "Am I too lost to be saved?" is a plaintive cry for both physical and spiritual salvation.

My God, my tourniquet
Return to me salvation
My God, my tourniquet
Return to me salvation

{Screams: I WANT TO DIE!!!}

What's odd is that every time I listen to this song, I hear "DON'T WANT TO DIE!" instead, and it's gut-wrenchingly heartfelt. But even if you take it at face value it still doesn't damage my interpretation of the song, because there is always that self-destructive voice at the back of our heads who always wants to ruin things, who wonders what it would be like to destroy something irreplaceable or damage a friendship irrevocably.

Or maybe that's just my head? I sure hope not.

My God, my tourniquet
Return to me salvation
My God, my tourniquet
Return to me salvation

[Verse 3]
My wounds cry for the grave
My soul cries for deliverance
Will I be denied?
My suicide

"I know I'm dying, lord. My body is done for. But I'm still hurting inside. I was taught that you're a God of love. Please love me despite all this. I just want to be loved!"

And there is SO much meaning packed into the last four lines of the verse.
Meaning 1: "Will I be denied salvation? I'm dying, Jesus! Save me please!"
Meaning 2: "Will my pain be ignored once again? Or will Christ finally show me the love I crave by being the tourniquet that halts my suicide?"
Meaning 3: "Will I be denied Christ? Will I be denied a tourniquet? Will I be denied suicide? What will happen to me? I'm scared!"
The fact that it can mean all of these things at once and not distort the message of the song is very powerful to me.

The last minute of the song is a different instrumental piece, this time strings playing a somber passage that reminds me of a funeral mass. Obviously the singer has died.. but what of her soul? The music is not particularly bright nor dark, and so we must draw our own conclusions.

I favor the interpretation that, whatever your feelings are about suicide being a mortal sin, the fact that the singer displayed genuine remorse and repentance is sufficient to earn her forgiveness, salvation, and the peace and love she has been craving.

In short: the entire piece is a powerful musical rendition of "Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthani", made all the more gun-wrenching because I've been where the singer is and I can identify with her pain and loss and need.

1 comment:

  1. He does love you. This flesh is temporary. We will undergo our trials, but God still loves us. Don't let the Enemy tell you different.


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