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Brave New World – Commentary
 
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Brave New World

30th May 2000

1. The Wicker Man (Smith, Harris, Dickinson)
2. Ghost Of The Navigator (Gers, Dickinson, Harris)
3. Brave New World (Murray, Harris, Dickinson)
4. Blood Brothers (Harris)
5. The Mercenary (Gers, Harris)
6. Dream Of Mirrors (Gers, Harris)
7. The Fallen Angel (Smith, Harris)
8. The Nomad (Murray, Harris)
9. Out Of The Silent Planet (Gers, Dickinson, Harris)
10. The Thin Line Between Love And Hate (Murray, Harris)

Singles:
    First Single
    Second Single

Tour:
    Tour Commentary
    Tour Dates & Venues    

Lyrics
Various Pressings
Picture Disc
Line-up
Other Pictures
Discuss in the Forum


Brave New World is the long-anticipated reunion album featuring the return of Maiden powerhouses Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith. Due to the high emotion surrounding the Maiden's return to their golden-era lineup, this album faced almost impossibly high expectations of the sort that are rarely if ever fully met. But amidst all of this hype, Iron Maiden has exceeded all expectations and produced an album that is the equal of any album since their golden era of the 80s.

At first glance, Brave New World is a progressive album which fits most closely into the same category as Somewhere In Time and Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son. Although the guitar and bass synths have been jettisoned in favour of a real keyboard (played by Steve Harris himself), the overall style and mix of the synthesizers are similar. Likewise, the guitar sound has returned to that of the late 80s and Bruce's vocals are once again in top form. Yet upon further introspection, Brave New World seems to be an amalgamation of many different elements drawn from each of the albums since the late 80s – the occult themes of Seventh Son..., the social awareness and politics of No Prayer For The Dying and Fear Of The Dark, the personal introspection of The X Factor and the emotional depth of Virtual XI.

Brave New World is somewhat of a misnomer in that the album blazes very little new ground, but instead reiterates the brilliant genius which has carried Iron Maiden throughout their career. All of the best elements from the previous 15 years are combined into one amazing album which is sure to please both old and new fans alike, as well as put to shame certain other formerly heavy metal bands who have abandoned the true path. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the album is Janick "underrated" Gers, who has fully arrived into his own golden era and, in my opinion, is fully the equal of Dave and Adrian in both songwriting and musicianship, even in places surpassing them. His songs are beautifully composed and his guitar solos brilliantly inspired in both complexity and emotional depth that was only hinted by The X Factor and Virtual XI.

Taken as a whole, Brave New World has all of the elements of an instant Iron Maiden classic, including the deep intelligent lyrics, nonstandard song structures, masterful musicianship, as well as a return to the complex artistic genius of Derek Riggs. If I could change anything about Brave New World, I would have written more and longer guitar solos and more interplay between the three guitars, as well as improved the quality of the photos in the CD booklet. Yet these are only minor points in the face of this excellent album which has lived up to and surpassed all of my expectations.

Here is what Bruce said about the album's title in an interview with C. Bottomley for VH1.com:

The Huxley thing was simply because I thought Brave New World was a cool title for the record, because it sets up this kind of enigma in your head. Like, 'What's it about?' But having hit on a title, I then went, 'Well, we'll write the song about the book'. And so I re-read the book, and I was pretty scared about how bang-on he was.

I remember reading about the extinction of these beautiful cranes in Japan, where the crane's like a national symbol, and nobody cared. And they asked, 'Do you care about all these cranes dying, 'cause of pollution?' And they went, 'Well, we have pictures of them in the museums, we don't care whether they really exist – just as long as the pictures of them exist in some way.' This is fuckin' Brave New World.

Bruce Dickinson

Bruce Dickinson's comments are extracts taken from an interview by Essi Berelian for Classic Rock Magazine and can also be found as "Bruce's Track By Track Guide To Brave New World" on the official tour programme.

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4.0-star   The Wicker Man (Smith, Harris, Dickinson) Commentary Lyrics Discuss this song in the forum

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The Wicker Man single (Limited Edition) – Commentary The Wicker Man single – Commentary This fast-paced song musically reminiscent of 'Aces High' is an excellent album and concert opener. The opening riff and Nicko's precise hammering are the signs that the Iron Maiden of the Golden Era is back. The song itself has a quick tempo, with heavier parts and rhythm changes typical of Maiden, and Adrian Smith does a great solo.

The lyrics seem to highlight the general apathy of our modern society and our egoistic disinterest in what is happening in the world until something actually happens to us and we get "knocked to our feet". Watching "the world explode every single night" refers probably to those who watch the evening news and who have an overload of grisly images of wars and sufferings, and who become gradually de-sensitised and de-humanised.

This selfishness is further portrayed by the refusal to pay the "ferryman", most probably Charon, who according to the Greek mythology was ferrying the souls of the recently departed across the river Acheron, and not the Styx as many may think, from the land of the living to that of the dead – incidentally, Styx was the name of Bruce's very first band (nothing to do with the famous American rock band, though). The image seems once again to emphasize the fact that the modern world is more and more inhabited by zombies whose feelings are either dead or dying.

The various versions of The Wicker Man
There can be few, if any, film fans in the world who haven't watched, at least once, a low-budget offering from Britain which popped up as a B-movie in 1973 – The Wicker Man. From such lowly beginnings, the film has steadily grown in reputation in the intervening years to become one of the principal cult movies of the last 30 years. Most aficionados are also aware that the film circulates in a number of different versions, but there is much confusion and mis-information about the exact differences between the various cuts. But first, let's find out why more than one version exists in the first place...
The symbol of the new rise of the wickerman, a figure of paganism, might imply that we are slowly going back to ancient "evil" ways. The ritual was once performed as a fertility rite for the land in former Celtic tribes, where a giant wicker man was burned with living beings inside, mostly farm animals but also sometimes humans too, then the ashes were spread on the fields as fertiliser. Technically, the system was good as the ashes would contain a lot of elements beneficial to the crops, mostly a fair amount of nitrogen from the animals, but there are nowadays many very efficient fertilisers on the market that render this method quite fortunately obsolete.

The 1973 British film The Wickerman, starring Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward, should be mentioned as the original source of inspiration for both the song and the video. This film was made in various versions and remains nowadays a cult film for the fans of the genre.

This song is called 'The Wicker Man' because there's one line in the song which mentions The Wicker Man as in The Wicker Man of the cult 70s movie. And the song is, I think, the best single Maiden have had out in donkeys years. It's a really rocking single. Basically the feel of it is so up in term of the vibe you could almost be listening to an Offspring track during one or two bits of it as far as I was concerned. I was just thinking about when I stand up in front of x thousand people singing, just thinking about the buzz I get out of it; I'm thinking about the buzz I used to get when I was a kid and I used to go to rock festivals you really felt you belonged to something bigger than yourself on that one day. You also felt in some ways that you could change something; you could change the world a weeny bit that day 'cos you're all in that field. And that's what's the song's about, hence the chorus, 'Your time will come'. You suddenly feel you are a part of everything. 

Bruce Dickinson

The Wicker Man [1973]
Sgt. Howie travels to Summerisle to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. He discovers that the locals are weird and unhelpful, and becomes determined to get to the bottom of the disappearance.
The Wicker Man [2006]
A sheriff investigating the disappearance of a young girl from a small island discovers there's a larger mystery to solve among the island's secretive, neo-pagan community.

'The Wicker Man' was one of the first Iron Maiden songs I heard. When I first heard it, it was a bit too heavy for my tastes, especially as the only Maiden stuff I knew back then was the Number Of The Beast album. During the course of time, I grew quite attached to it, however. I am now also able to appreciate the song being something of a renaissance cry for the band after Adrian and Bruce returned. This is by no means meant to be a negative view on the Blaze era; but still, Adrian and Bruce seemed to take something undefinable with them when they left, and brought it back when they returned.

The song kicks in with a strong and wonderful metal riff not only announcing Iron Maiden wanting to resurrect their old glory, but also them wanting to return as the leading lights of a new Heavy Metal movement twenty years after they had already been successful with it. Viewing back on this after four years, one cannot deny the fact that they were successful to a certain extent. Metal is well on its way back, even if its general popularity still leaves to be desired.

Lyrically, the song is a bit obscure. It seems to be about death and afterlife – a reocurring theme in their music – viewed from a mystical to mythological point of view. The mentioning of the ferryman does not need to mean it is about Greek mythology. There are more than enough people who believe in this particular form of descendance into the underworld today.

Perhaps not so clear but also quite obvious is that the song may be about our 'elbow-society' in which the strongest person succeeds in his goals at the cost of the weak. This arrogance goes so far that these people even feel they can defy and escape death. But even their "time will come.".

The prominently featuring wicker man ritual may imply the move from the Christian moral to the wilder and more ruthless days of paganism. Since Christianity does not play such a prominent and positive role in Maiden's discography, this is rather unlikely. The line "Brothers and their fathers joining hands and make a chain" is too positive a picture to be criticism. The rise of Christianity brought very much pain to the people following the pagan cults, and destroyed systems that worked very well for their age. This arrogance of Christianity is just as big as that of the people profiting from today's 'ellbow society', so the wicker man may well be a symbol of a better age.

The song is a brilliant opener, both live and in the studio. Only 'Be Quick Or Be Dead' comes really close to the opening qualities. Bruce's voice does not sound very convincing if it was meant to announce the return of the golden years, but it is nevertheless much better than before he left Maiden. The drums on this song disturb me a little. They sound too much reminiscent of the later atrocities Lars Ulrich would do to his drums, and I'm very glad Maiden did not further maintain this trash can sound. The guitar solo is very dramatic at first, but is disturbed by the horrible drum sound. The middle section was not necessary the way it is, but it becomes good again. The finishing 'woa-oh' is probably a great audience participation number, but not really necessary. It still did manage to annoy my mother so much she started hating Maiden for almost four years!

As is a must for openers, this song is exciting and an absolute treat live. The general excitement it provides just by being fast-paced and loud also prevents listeners from noticing how little depth there is in this song. A very good but not great song, and perfect for a single.

Perun – 11th July 2004


 

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4.5-star   Ghost Of The Navigator (Gers, Dickinson, Harris) Commentary Lyrics Discuss this song in the forum

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Ship in a storm With an acoustic intro building up into a manic crescendo, this is another maritime epic in the same vein as 'The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner'. The instrumental part summons up images of a ship struggling in the middle of a storm. During this particular part, Nicko's fast foot gives the impression of a double-bass drum. This spurred a polemic among the fans, some of them saying that it was the first time that he used double-kick mechanism. In fact, Nicko has never used a double pedal so far. He uses instead a technique called "cradling the pedal", i.e., hitting toe-heel alternately, thus giving this impression of a double-kick. His speed and technique place Nicko among the best rock drummers ever.

The lyrics are a metaphor of life, with the ship sailing West towards the setting sun representing death. The "ghosts of navigators" could be an allusion to all of those who go through life without really realising it, being therefore "lost" and not in control of their navigation. This sentence could also refer to our forebears who have sailed the sames 'seas' as us and whose memory still remains. In any case, "nothing's real until you feel" is probably an advice to experience life to the full, with its ups and downs, or run the risk to have wasted this short time between the cradle and the grave.

I wrote the thing, the verse and the chorus, with Jan and he came up with this riff, and I just got this thing in my head of, like, Vikings! Like smashing through the seas, big boats and pioneers. Then I thought about navigation. So being a vaguely arty bloke on occasions it struck me as a metaphor for life. So suddenly I had a plot for the song. It was a great big epic sea-faring journey and the journey was life and the navigator was us as we were writing it. Steve said, "That's a really cool middle bit, and we can have this bit in it too" and I really liked it. I don't know if he was on the same wavelength as me but it sounds to me like a big storm 'cos I've already got the navigator lashed to the helm as not to be tempted by the sirens on the rocks trying to distract him. Trying not to be distracted by all the ghosts of his subconscious, the ghosts of his failed aspirations, and also his own fears, that it may all be pointless when he gets there and he does it because he must. That's the only answer he can give. 

Bruce Dickinson

I definitely get a sense of this one being based on Homer's epic The Odyssey, where Odysseus is trying to sail home to Greece after the Trojan War. He offends Poseidon, who them makes the journey last ten years.

Encountering the Sirens, beautiful women whose voices could lure mariners to their deaths, Odysseus told his crew to tie themselves to their boat –
"I steer between the crashing rocks, the sirens call my name. Lash my hands onto the helm..."

Poseidon placed many obstacles in Odysseus's way, some real and some imagined.
"Nothing's real until you feel..."

The Odyssey is one of the most influential books in the entire history of Western Civillisation (I would place it second to only the Judeo-Christian Bible). It taught Greeks, and by extension the entire West, what it meant to belong to a place. Odysseus spends 10 years trying to get home to his polis, which demonstrated his loyalty to his city (a key element of Greek society). He passed up riches, women, and bliss to simply get home.

It is fitting that Iron Maiden pay homage to a work of such far-reaching influence with an excellent song such as this.

IronDuke – 3rd August 2004

The Odyssey [ca.700 BC]
Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of Troy. Many cities did he visit, and many were the nations with whose manners and customs he was acquainted; moreover he suffered much by sea while trying to save his own life and bring his men safely home; but do what he might he could not save his men, for they perished through their own sheer folly in eating the cattle of the Sun-god Hyperion; so the god prevented them from ever reaching home. Tell me, too, about all these things, O daughter of Jove, from whatsoever source you may know them.
An epic is a long narrative poem in an elevated style that deals with the trials and achievements of a great hero or heroes. The epic celebrates virtues of national, military, religious, political, or historical significance. The word "epic" itself comes from the Greek épos, originally meaning "word" but later "oration" or "song." Like all art, an epic may grow out of a limited context but achieves greatness in relation to its universality. It typically emphasizes heroic action as well as the struggle between the hero’s ethos and his human failings or mortality.


 

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4.0-star   Brave New World (Murray, Harris, Dickinson) Commentary Lyrics Discuss this song in the forum

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Brave New World [1932]
A squat grey building of only thirty-four stories. Over the main entrance the words, CENTRAL LONDON HATCHERY AND CONDITIONING CENTRE, and, in a shield, the World State's motto, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY.
Huxley wrote Brave New World "between the wars"—after the upheaval of the First World War and before World War II. British society was officially at peace, but the social effects of the Great War, as it was then called, were becoming apparent. Huxley and his contemporaries wrote about changes in national feeling, questioning of long-held social and moral assumptions, and the move toward more equality among the classes and between the sexes.
Based on the 1932 novel by Aldous Huxley [1894–1963], this is once again a classic-to-be of Iron Maiden. A soft intro gives way to powerful riffs and singing, and the catchy chorus is ideal for crowd participation à la 'Fear Of The Dark' during the concerts. The song ends as it started in an acoustic and melancholic way.

The story that inspired the lyrics of the song takes place in what was at the time of Huxley's writing a futuristic world state with the motto: "Community, Identity, Stability". Every inhabitant of this state consumes daily doses of an anti-depressive drug called soma, babies are conceived and born in specialised laboratories, and the most popular form of entertainment is the "feelies", a movie that can not only be watched but also felt with the senses of touch and smell. The main character in the book revolts against this system that controls every single aspect of human life and ends up becoming a sort of circus attraction (the "Savage") for the rest of the world. When we take a look at the current state of our planet, it becomes quite obvious that Huxley was disquietingly right and that what he described as Utopia was very close to the world we live in nowadays. Today's Western society with its constant search for entertainment, sometimes to the extreme, and gradual extinction of individuality is the proof that Huxley's imagination in the 1930s was in fact a form of prediction of what was yet to come.

The title itself is taken from Shakespeare's 1612 play TheTempest, in which the character of Miranda exclaims:

O, wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world
That has such people in't!

– Act V, Scene I

Alfred, Lord Tennyson – Tithonus
The woods decay, the woods decay and fall,
The vapours weep their burthen to the ground,
Man comes and tills the field and lies beneath,
And after many a summer dies the swan.
Although there are, as Bruce rightly mentions below, no "dying swans" in Brave New World, Huxley did also write a book published in 1939 and called After Many a Summer Dies the Swan. In this novel, Huxley ironically analyses American culture, mostly what he saw as its narcissism, superficiality, and obsession with youth (already then!). The title originates from a line of Lord Tennyson's poem Tithonus, about a character of the Greek mythology to whom Zeus gave eternal life but not eternal youth. In Huxley's novel, a Californian millionaire hears about an English nobleman who discovered a way to vastly extend the human life span. He then travels to England and finds the nobleman still alive, but he has degenerated into an ape-like creature; the millionaire decides to extend his life anyway. This is another fine example of narcissism, although this one is on an individual scale whereas Brave New World extends it to the entire society.

'Dying swans twisted wings, beauty not needed here'. I don't recall there being any dying swans in Brave New World the book. But I wanted an image that represented the tragedy and sadness of what Brave New World had done. Dying swans, twisted wings, you know, the agony, the death. Brave New World doesn't want to see that. It has no use for either the life or the death. All it has use for is the image because in the book, if you want excitement you go to the viddies; it's Aldous Huxley's premonition of virtual reality and I'm taking that and throwing it out there for discussion. 

Bruce Dickinson

This is one of those songs that instantly resonates with me, and I have hitherto not been able to understand why. Textual analysis, therefore, might be useful in explicating its meaning.

As an environmentalist, the song presents an image of a planet after some kind of holocaust (be it nuclear, environmental, or just old fashioned genocide).
After the disaster chaos reigns, there is nothing in life to strive for except survival.

Dying swans twisted wings, beauty not needed here
Lost my love, lost my life, in this garden of fear

The swans, a traditional symbol of purity and beauty, are not needed in the new world, they serve no purpose and are, by definition, weak. Purity has no use in a land where only the strong survive. The ruthless and grotesque thrive because of their brute strength.

I have seen many things, in a lifetime alone
Mother love is no more, bring this savage back home

The protagonist has, obviously, been able to live through the horrors, but only at the expense of losing the essence of what makes him human. The purest love, from mother to child, is non-existent, and sorely missed. "This savage" wishes to turn back the clock to the way things were (and presumably are now). In short, he misses his mommy and childhood. Innocence is gone, and the cold hard realities of life set in.

Wilderness house of pain, makes no sense of it all
Close this mind dull this brain, Messiah before his fall
What you see is not real, those who know will not tell
All is lost, sold your souls to this brave new world

The key lines in this stanza are 2 and 4. In the chaos, people have turned away from religion (the Messiah about to fall). By religion I don't mean Christianity or Islam or Buddhism, I mean they have stopped believing in a better future. There is no hope, as indicated by the fourth line, for those people who have bought in to this brave new world.

Dragon kings, dying queens, where is salvation now
Lost my life lost my dreams, rip the bones from my flesh
Silent screams laughing here, dying to tell you the truth
You are planned and you are damned in this brave new world

The dragon can have multiple meanings – it could be a reference to the serpent of the Bible (in medieval literature snakes and dragons were often interchangeable). If this is to be believed, then the "king dragon" is Satan, and the "dying queen" could be Eve after she ate the forbidden fruit. She did not physically expire, but her soul died a little inside for disobeying God. Eve and Adam lost their (and humanity's) chance at salvation, casting humanity into a brave new world in which we are all "planned and damned".
If this is indeed the case, then the "brave new world" is Earth and the Apocalyptic event I wrote of earlier is that of the expulsion from Eden – a subtle biblical allusion which demonstrates the complexity and depth of Iron Maiden's lyrics.

Alternatively, the dragon could just be a beastification (if that's a word) of the evils which plague the new society. If biblical allusions are discounted, it does allow for an interesting hypothesis about the album Brave New World – the argument for a recurrent theme in at least four songs, almost creating a tetrarchy of plot.

'The Mercenary' could be viewed as the beginning of the apocalypse, with a small number of people triggering the series of events which would lead to the ultimate disaster in 'Out of the Silent Planet.' 'Brave New World' shows the post-apocalypse era in which all that makes humans good and pure is gone. Finally, hope for the future is restored in 'The Fallen Angel;' the chosen one, whoever that might be, has been sent by God to act as a scourge – he will purify the world of its evils so that it may be saved. I’m not suggesting Brave New World is a theme album, I just think there is a continuity of though among at least four of the songs.

Dying swans twisted wings, bring this savage back home

Let us pray we never experience a complete end of civilization such as depicted, because once the "savage" is gone, we can never bring him back home. We have the ability to destroy the planet – let’s be sure it is never used.

IronDuke – 23rd October 2003

Brave New World [1932]
Brave New World is a 1932 dystopian novel by Aldous Huxley, set in London in the 26th century. The novel anticipates developments in reproductive technology, eugenics and hypnopædia that combine to change society. The world it describes could in fact also be a utopia, albeit an ironic one: Humanity is carefree, healthy, and technologically advanced. Warfare and poverty have been eliminated, all races are equal, and everyone is permanently happy. The irony is, however, that all of these things have been achieved by eliminating many things — family, cultural diversity, art, literature, religion and philosophy.
Aldous Huxley [1894–1963]
Aldous Leonard Huxley (July 26, 1894 – November 22, 1963) was a British writer who emigrated to the United States. He was a member of the famous Huxley family who produced a number of brilliant scientific minds. Best known for his novels and wide-ranging output of essays, he also published short stories, poetry, travel writing, and film stories and scripts. Through his novels and essays Huxley functioned as an examiner and sometimes critic of social mores, societal norms and ideals, and possible misapplications of science in human life.

1984 [1949]
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him.
In 1984, Orwell creates a technologically advanced world in which fear is used as a tool for manipulating and controlling individuals who do not conform to the prevailing political orthodoxy. In his attempt to educate the reader about the consequences of certain political philosophies and the defects of human nature, Orwell manipulates and usurps the utopian tradition and creates a dystopia, a fictional setting in which life is extremely bad from deprivation, oppression, or terror. Orwell’s dystopia is a place where humans have no control over their own lives, where nearly every positive feeling is squelched, and where people live in misery, fear, and repression.


 

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5.0-star   Blood Brothers (Harris) Commentary Lyrics Discuss this song in the forum

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Although he is mentioned in the lyrics, this song is not quite only about Steve's father, but mainly about life and what might eventually be beyond it. The image of the departed father is mostly there to highlight that the main thread between life and life after death is the memories of those who left ("And in a moment the memories are all that remain, And all the wounds are reopening again"). After all, there is no certainty of any kind of survival of the conscious self – or soul for those who are religious – but what is sure is that the departed ones that we have loved still live in our memory.

The song is also about being ashamed of what is going on in the world ("And as you look all around at the world in dismay"). History repeats itself seemingly endlessly and horrors still happen regardless of the lessons of past events ("...do you think we have learned? Not if you look at the war-torn affray"). This seems to follow what was hinted at in 'The Wicker Man', that no one seems to care anymore and that the ones who do care haven't got much weight in front of all this adversity.

Once again, like in 'No Prayer For The Dying', the question of the meaning for life arises ("Will we ever know what the answer to life really is?"). Only this time, it is not asked to some god who is very unlikely to answer anyway but in a more general way ("Can you really tell me what life is?").

Steve Harris summed up perfectly the meaning of this song in an interview with Johnny B. soon after the album was released:

"Basically it is saying that we are all made up of blood and tissue and there is good and bad in the world, some people are unlucky in life... things like that all rolled into one."

The music gives this excellent brooding feel of the one who reflects on the ways of the world, and the Celtic touches here and there add to this almost magical atmosphere. The chorus is perfect during the concerts, creating a bond between the band and the audience... like "Blood Brothers".

'Blood Brothers' is a little masterpiece that's Steve's song 100 per cent. In singing it I can tell you what I think it's about. It's about Steve's relationship with his father who died; it's a very personal song so this song is about Steve and his father being blood brothers, like, forever the lines go. 'Just for a second a glimpse of my father I see, and in a movement he beckons to me, and in a moment the memories are all that remain, and all the wounds are reopening again, we're blood brothers'. So it's kind of bitter sweet and very loving and at the same time very melancholic. It's a lot of very, very mixed emotions and musically there's a few Celtic nods. 

Bruce Dickinson


 

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3.5-star   The Mercenary (Gers, Harris) Commentary Lyrics Discuss this song in the forum

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This fast song brings the tempo back up again after the quiet ending of 'Blood Brothers'. There is not much to say about the music, except that it's a traditional Maiden fast track.

Predator [1987]
A team of commandos, on a mission in a Central American jungle, find themselves hunted by an extra-terrestrial warrior.
According to Bruce, the song is basically about a bounty hunter, but they apparently didn't want to call it 'The Bounty Hunter', probably because 'The Mercenary' sounded better as a title for this song. The lyric are in the same vein as those of 'The Assassin', about somebody who hunts and kills for a living.

It was brought to my attention that the lyrics were maybe based on the 1987 film Predator, with Arnold Schwarzenegger. In this film, a creature called "Diablo" by the natives is hunting down humans in some South American jungle to "make trophies out out of men". All this seems to make sense, but as none of the band members has mentioned this in any interview I've read, I doubt that the film actually inspired the song.

That's a good solid track not a huge amount to say except that they're mercenaries and they're generally a bad thing; they're generally cruel and heartless fiends who cynically kill people for money. A fairly conventional tuneful Maiden rocker comparable to a sort of 'Die With Your Boots On' type thing. 

Bruce Dickinson


 

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5.0-star   Dream Of Mirrors (Gers, Harris) Commentary Lyrics Discuss this song in the forum

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This is yet another song based on reoccurring and maybe premonitory dreams, pretty much like in 'Infinite Dreams'. The similarity between the two songs is striking when you examine the following lyrics:

"...scared to fall asleep again, In case the dream begins again"
– 'Infinite Dreams'

"Scared to fall asleep and dream the dream again"
– 'Dreams Of Mirrors'

Steve Harris is known for having these dreams which, without being particularly premonitory, inspired many Iron Maiden songs ('The Number Of The Beast' comes to mind). He actually said himself in an interview with Johnny B. that the song was about the dark side of things, about people's thoughts and the suffering that may result from them, mostly at night.

Musically, it is a brilliant piece with a manic semi-instrumental part in the middle. The music matches the lyrics to perfection, giving the soft and disquieting tones of the one who is plagued by his dreams and who wonders about their meaning.

I think it's a cracking song. It's pretty lengthy. The chorus is fuckin' blinding! One of the best choruses I think Steve has ever written, and one of the best lyrics he's ever written too. 'I only dream in black and white'. I mean straight away, fucking great! Shit, who dreams in black and white? Wow, do I? Is that weird? 'I only dream in black and white, I only dream because I'm alive, I only dream in black and white, to save me from myself!' I was like, 'Oh man he's a tortured motherfucker, Steve is sometimes', and he does have these dreams and deja-vu things and out of body things going on for him. 

Bruce Dickinson


 

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3.5-star   The Fallen Angel (Smith, Harris) Commentary Lyrics Discuss this song in the forum

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Azazel
Azazel is an enigmatic name from the Hebrew scriptures, possibly referring to a fallen angel or Satan. The word's first appearances are in Leviticus 16, when in the ritual for Yom Kippur the scapegoat is to be taken to Azazel and cast into the wilderness, but this text by itself is unclear as to the actual identity of Azazel.
Inspired by the age-old theme of Good versus Evil, this fast track has a brilliant Thin Lizzy-like intro followed by a powerful verse and a very catchy chorus. Azazel, the fallen angel mentioned in the song, refers to the scapegoat that was sent to the desert by the ancient Hebrews. This goat was symbolically carrying all their sins and was given to the demon Azazel in a gesture of atonement. The name comes from the Hebrew "azazel" which literally means "goat of departure". It is formed from the words "ez" meaning goat and "azal" meaning "to go away", hence the "escape goat". This ceremony is described in the bible (Leviticus 16). Some think that the name of Azazel also refers to Satan himself and according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Azazel was the personification of uncleanness and in later rabbinic writings was sometimes described as a fallen angel.

That one, I assume, is about sort of being chosen as a human sacrifice, so it's deep and dark. I think Steve was having a dark patch when he wrote the lyrics to that one. Steve's got a lot of dark patches on this record! Adrian wrote the basic song and it's got a pretty catchy little chorus. But I hope we don't have too many people flying out of windows if it's a single because the chorus is 'Could it be the end of my world, all the things that we cherish, there's nothing left, but to face this all on my own, because I am the chosen one!' Aaaaaaaah! People chucking themselves out of windows! Like in The Omen people hurling themselves out of windows. Damiaa-a-a-an! 

Bruce Dickinson

Fallen [1998]
Det. John Hobbes is convinced that when killer Edgar Reese is executed, all of his troubles are over. But when people he knows and people on the street start to sing the same tune that Reese sang in the gas chamber, and those same people taunt him, he is told that maybe the cursed fallen angel Azazel is behind it all. Azazel is cursed to roam the Earth without a form, and he can switch bodies by any contact, making him hard to track. When Hobbes is forced to kill a man possessed by Azazel, he must clear his name while protecting his family and others from the evil, vengeful Azazel.
Azazel
Azazel is the chief of the Se'irim, or goat-demons, who haunted the desert and to whom most primitive Semitic (most likely non-Hebrew) tribes offered sacrifices. The Old Testament states that Jeroboam appointed priests for the Se'irim. But Josiah destroyed the places of their worship, as the practices accompanying this worship involved copulation of women with goats.


 

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5.0-star   The Nomad (Murray, Harris) Commentary Lyrics Discuss this song in the forum

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Lawrence of Arabia With an atmosphere reminiscent of Lawrence Of Arabia, the 1962 film with Peter O'Toole, this song is probably one of the best on the whole album. Although the lyrics are pretty straightforward and just deal with the people of the desert, it is an epic quite similar to 'To Tame A Land'. The music brings up images of the desert and of its immense wastelands of sand, and the arrangements are fantastic, mostly during the quiet instrumental part where the keyboards sound like a whole orchestra playing (it never fails to send some shivers down my spine). This is a real masterpiece!

Beckett The instrumental part of 'The Nomad' has been borrowed from Beckett's 'Life's Shadow', a song featured on their one and only self-titled 1974 album. Obviously, it has been re-arranged to fit Iron Maiden's style and sound, but the similarity is absolutely unmistakable. Incidentally, 'Life's Shadow' also contains lyrics that Steve Harris used for 'Hallowed Be Thy Name'. Some may consider this plagiarism, but I doubt that Maiden would have used this material without prior consent of the original artists. Besides, there's nothing wrong with a little inspiration from another band when you write such a great piece of music. In any case, Beckett may have released only one album, but they sure influenced Steve a lot!

It's 'Carry On Follow That Camel' is what Nomad is! It is about the bedouin, the warrior tribes of the desert. I don't think there are any great layers of hidden meaning to this other than what it's about. I mean when Steve wrote songs about Alexander The Great they were basically about Alexander The Great and that's it! The lyrics are there to basically tell you about nomads and about how mysterious and strange they were, how they were pretty nifty and jolly fearful people and that's what it is. The big picture is the effect the song has. Well, it's not really a song, it's a nine-minute piece. So you don't view it in terms of a five-minute rock song. 

Bruce Dickinson

Lawrence of Arabia [1962]
Epic rumination on a flamboyant and controversial British military figure and his conflicted loyalties during wartime service.
T. E. Lawrence [1888–1935]
Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, CB, DSO, Legion of Honour, professionally known as T.E. Lawrence and, later, T.E. Shaw, but most famously known as Lawrence of Arabia, gained international renown for his role as a British liaison officer during the Arab Revolt of 1916 to 1918.
Tuaregs
"Tuareg" is an Arabic word widely used by the French, meaning "abandoned by the gods". According to other sources, it could be derived from Targa, the name of a city in south Libya (it belongs to the south Libyan region called Fezzan). Targa could be the old name of Fezzan too (there are different opinions).


 

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3.5-star   Out Of The Silent Planet (Gers, Dickinson, Harris) Commentary Lyrics Discuss this song in the forum

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‘Out Of The Silent Planet’











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Out Of The Silent Planet single (Limited Edition) – Commentary Out Of The Silent Planet single – Commentary Supposedly inspired by the 1956 science-fiction film Forbidden Planet with Leslie Nielsen, this is another great Maiden song that starts quietly to build up into a powerful track. There's a very nice Celtic-sounding intro then the song starts in a musical explosion. It ends like it started in softer tones, with the little Celtic melody of the beginning.

It is interesting to note that the film Forbidden Planet, mentioned by Bruce as the basis for the song, is itself an adaptation of The Tempest, the play written by Williams Shakespeare and in which appears the "Brave New World" quote. However, I have seen this film several times and I find it hard to make a link with the song. This song is lyrically reminiscent of 'Public Enema Number One' in its apparent political meaning, and the lyrics seem to me to deal with the current state of our planet and can be analysed almost line-by-line.

Forbidden Planet [1956]
A starship crew goes to investigate the silence of a planet's colony only to find two survivors and a deadly secret that one of them has.
 

The Silent Planet?
The Silent Planet?
"Withered hands, withered bodies begging for salvation" is a phrase that summons pictures of famines and death-camps, the awful images that are shown in their almost unbearable uglyness on the news and various other TV programmes. It highlights the misery of too many people on the planet.

These people are "Deserted by the hand of gods of their own creation", which could be that of their "worshipped" leaders. In many under-developped countries, the governments take power through violence, and usually also end in violence, the period in-between being spent in luxury for the few at the top, while the people still struggle to survive. Another meaning of this sentence could be that whatever god we may worship, it is only an illusion, and that any religion is a fallacy. Action is always better than prayer, although religion is also an excellent way to manipulate the masses and make them forget about their poor living conditions.

"Nations cry underneath decaying skies above" could refer to atmospheric pollution or even to the infamous hole in the ozone layer, or could be also a "poetic" view that the heavens above are in a no better condition than the earth below.

"You are guilty, the punishment is death for all who live". Well, doesn't anything that lives die one day? Maybe the "punishment" for not looking after our environment is increasing pollution and natural disasters that will eventually lead to the complete extinction of the human species.

"The killing fields, the grinding wheels crushed by equilibrium". This is yet another vision of war, wherever it happens and whoever is involved. I am not sure about what the "equilibrium" referred to may be. Could it be the second law of thermodynamics, which states more or less that order tends towards chaos? In other words, that "what is will eventually cease to be". Anyway, this particular sentence is not clear to me and remains open to interpretation.

"Separate lives no more disguise, no more second chances" could be a warning that we'd better "get our act together" before it's too late and we reach the point of no return to extinction.

"Haggard wisdom spitting out the bitter taste of hate" refers probably to all those who encourage hatred against whoever looks or thinks differently. This "haggard wisdom" makes me think of religious leaders who fuel the disdain against those who do not share their religion. May they be Jews, Christians, or Muslims, the fanatical extremists are the ones who spread hate by giving words of "wisdom" they claim to hold from some dubious god.

"I accuse you before you know the crime it's all too late" may be directed at the human species in general, who is in its vast majority unaware of the depredations it is doing on the planet. The crime is the destruction of the planet, and it will be too late to turn back by the time the Earth becomes a "silent planet".

Although there probably isn't any relation with the song, Out Of The Silent Planet is also the title of a a book written by C. S. Lewis (1898–1963), who is mostly known for The Chronicles Of Narnia. In this particular book, the Earth is known as the "Silent Planet" because no communication can pass between it and the rest of the universe. The lyrics "out of the silent planet we are" would also make sense within this context.

That's a fairly straightforward romp through sci-fi territory and a sort of 'Run To The Hills' revisited vibe. Certainly by halfway throught the song 'cos I certainly wanted to get into the old gallop bit from the get go and Steve was like "Let's not give it to 'em straight away". It's based on the sci-fi classic The Forbidden Planet which is monsters from the id and this is basically monsters from the id. Again that was the inspiration for it anyway, a bunch of aliens who have destroyed their planet and now they've left their silent planet and they're coming to get us. 

Bruce Dickinson

The Tempest [1611]
Act I, Scene 1 – On a ship at sea; a tempestuous noise of thunder and lightning heard.
    Enter a Ship-master and a Boatswain.
Master
    Boatswain!
Boatswain
    Here, master; what cheer?
Master
    Good! Speak to the mariners; fall to't, yarely, or we run ourselves aground; bestir, bestir.
    [Exit.
With The Tempest, Shakespeare turns to fantasy and magic as a way to explore romantic love, sibling hatred, and the love of a father for his child. In addition, The Tempest examines many of the topics that Shakespeare had focused on in his earlier plays, topics such as the attempts to overthrow a king (Macbeth, Richard II, and Julius Cæsar), nature versus nurture (The Winter’s Tale and King Lear), and innocence (Twelfth Night).

Hi everyone, If you are a constant visitor of this site you may have noticed that on the commentary on 'Out of the Silent Planet', Maverick states that the line "The killing fields, the grinding wheels crushed by equilibrium" is open for interpretation. Well, here goes a minor take on the entire song and a long explanation for this one particular line.

I think the only "sci-fi" element in the song is the fact that they say "out of the silent planet we are". Aside from that they seem to describe very human topics and problems. The song seems to describe a war... pure and simple. "The killing fields" are a clear picture of that. Even clear is the first stanza "withered hands and withered bodies begging for salvation." Who in agony doesn't cry out for help (supernatural or otherwise)? "Nations cry under decaying skies above" – I agree that this may refer to pollution, yet keeping it in the context of war it could mean darkened skies from bomb explosions and/or rubble. Now to explain what "equilibrium" they are talking about... There are three major Sociological theories but pertaining to the quote we will only use two: Functionalism and Conflict theory. Functionalism sees society as this huge "body" that is able to function thanks to its "organs" or institutions and citizens working harmoniously. It keeps the status quo. Conflict Theory obviously says that the powerful are powerful at the expense of the weak. So... The grinding wheels are "society" seen as a well oiled machine through functionalism, however they are crushed by equilibrium... A revolution brought forth by those who believe in conflict theory, that there is huge inequality and are asking for their piece of the pie. And it fits the theme of war potrayed throughout the song.

Onhell – 2nd October 2003

Hey Onhell. You present an interesting turn on the lyrics of 'Out of the Silent Planet'. However I disagree. I see this song as a continuation of '2 Minutes to Midnight'. In a post-nuclear conflict world we would see the skies darkened by nuclear fallout. The line "no more second chances" suggests that our nuclear holocaust has eliminated mankind almost totally. Silent planet would then suggest that our race has fallen silent.

Other lines such as "killing fields" describe the actual war, while "I accuse you" may refer to the beginning of the war, or perhaps it is the remnants of humanity unable to resolve their differences even after we have been pushed to the brink of extinction.

Not that I'm saying your interpretation is wrong. Just not the way I see it. I think my political science prof would love you, though.

LooseCannon – 2nd October 2003

'Out of the Silent Planet' was not about aliens invading our planet. The silent planet was Earth, the three earthlings journeyed to Mars. We were the silent planet because the evil one had entered our planet and thus earth was no longer in communication with the good dieties of the other planets.

The divine goodness differentiated between the two "evil" earthlings, one was broken, and thus was eliminated, the other was bent, and thus not eliminated because there was salvation available to him.

Of course, if Bruce said this song was based on the Forbidden Planet then we might as well be discussing The Witch, The Lion, And The Wardrobe for all the C.S. Lewis books. I had wondered if the song was based on C.S. Lewis's book Out of the Silent Planet. For me it is, I really don't worry about the literal meanings of the lyrics as it is such a kick ass song!!

TMANMERLIN – 6th January 2004

I just read the commentary on this song, and I think it's really well-done – to me it spells out quite well what issues the song is digging at (as I see it). The one line in particular that I read differently, though is the "I accuse you..." bit. I've always thought of this as being in the voice of that "haggard wisdom spitting out the bitter taste of hate." I imagine the "haggard wisdom" being in control – say in the form of a council of elders, or the US Senate, for instance – and here accusing some decent person of some heresy against the state. It's a moment straight out of Kafka's The Trial, as I see it: you don't know what you've done wrong, and no one will tell you or bother with any evidence against you, but you're going to suffer for it anyway...

zgodt – 9th February 2004

I must agree here with the 'War' interpretation, specifically that of a nuclear war.

When Oppenheimer heard of the first successful use of the Atomic Bomb, he is reported to have quoted from the Vedas (Hindu Holy Texts) "Lo, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." The power unleashed by the splitting of atoms is so great that a less secular civilisation would believe them to be Gods. All life on Earth is in danger of being "deserted by the hands of Gods of our own creation." Indeed, all peoples of all nations would "cry underneath decaying skies" in the event of such an awe- and fearsome force.

The second verse only reaffirms this view. During the Cold War the only thing keeping the USSR and America from bombing each other into oblivion was the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD – a fitting acronym). Under this principle, neither side was willing to strike the other first, the reason being that while they could easily destroy the enemy, it could not be done before the enemy had launched a counter-attack equal in scale. There were no "second chances", and "before you know the crime it's all too late", that is to say that once the bombers were in the air (or, later, missiles launched) there was no recalling them.

Scared yet?

Our planet will be silent (dead, burnt, nuked, use whatever word you like) in the event of a conflict of this scale, and these "demons of creation" are responsible.

As I opened this post with Oppenheimer, it is fitting that I close with Einstein, his comrade in the Manhattan Project:
"I know not with what weapons World War III shall be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."

IronDuke – 24th February 2004

These are powerful lyrics. Nuclear warfare is one of possible interpretations. But I see several unlikely lines.
Demons of creation could refer both to human inventions misused, but paralleled by feelings of disillusionment with religion. More in this line – and the strongest verse in my opinion: "I accuse you, before you know the crime it's all too late." A clear accusation of God.

God is like a prosecutor and judge in one in a Kafkian courtroom – man is predestined to commit crimes and be punished. That seems to me like a clear criticism aimed at a religious dogma – the original sin.

charlotte – 4th/6th July 2005


 

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3.5-star   The Thin Line Between Love And Hate (Murray, Harris) Commentary Lyrics Discuss this song in the forum

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A heavy intro rhythm opens a pretty lengthy standard Maiden song, with a long instrumental before a quiet end. Right at the end, Nicko can be heard saying: "Awww... I fucking missed it!", as he thought he'd messed the end of the song, although he hadn't.

The vocal line on:

I will hope, my soul will fly, so I will live forever
Heart will die, my soul will fly, and I will live forever

is reminiscent of:

All my life ... I've run astray, let my faith ... slip away
All my life ... I've run astray, allowed my faith ... to drift away

from 'The Unbeliever' on The X Factor album. Is it coincidental? Probably.

The lyrics deal essentially with the free will of a person to turn good or bad, and that, although "we all like to put the blame on society these days", it is everyone's choice to decide on how to lead his life. The question of when the path is determined arises ("At what age begin to learn of which way out we will turn"), along with that about what determines how things will turn out ("But what makes a man decide, take the wrong or righteous road"), but the final decision, conscious or not, belongs to each individual and "the trail is there to burn".

Somehow, this song seems to be related to 'Judgement Day', on the Man On The Edge single. As it goes, it indicates that our deeds during our present lives will influence our "after life". This concept appears in the three main monotheistic religions of the world, where there is the punishment of Hell for those who misbehaved and the reward of Heaven for those who had a "virtuous" life. This particular notion can also be found in Buddhism, where it is believed that the next reincarnation is influenced by the way the former life was led. Obviously, Steve is convinced that he behaved like a decent human being, as his "soul will fly" (reminiscent of 'Hallowed Be Thy Name''s "Catch my soul it's willing to fly away") and he "will live forever". If there is any such this as an "after life", I'd agree with him, although he is most likely to "live forever" through his work, and I am sure that his compositions will still be played long after his demise.

Another Steve lyric. It almost sounds like a UFO track in places. It was quite an unusual thing we did on the vocal on this 'cos it's more of a rock'n'roll/hard rock rythm going down and we actually put a harmony on the entire verse. So it's quite an unusual sound for Maiden. It's basically about karma. In other words what goes around comes around and you reap what you sow and only you take the responsibility for it. There's the hope if you've done the right stuff, otherwise down you go to the pit of hell! 

Bruce Dickinson

The verses seem to discuss the age old argument in psychology of Nature vs. Nurture. Nature theorist claim you are born good or evil. Nurture people claim a loving family will curve the most evil of desires or a dysfunctional, abusive family would corrupt the best of people. Though now most shrinks agree that we are a little bit of both. Only in rare cases does a person from the projects with a crackwhore mother and alcoholic father break the cycle and end up being good doctors or counselors and someone from a "good" family end up a homeless drug-addict. They also discuss the pressures of society such as peer pressure to do drugs or drink alcohol before the legal age. "When a person turns to wrong is it a want to be, belong?". There seems to be a pondering on the mystery of the self "what makes a man decide between the wrong or rightous road?" What does motivate us? Only we know. There is a respect for choice and individuality as they claim that we all have the right to choose the path that we want. And hence we can't blame society for we are responsible for our own actions. "We all like to put the blame on society these days".

The chorus is of a more religious nature, as Maverick posted on the commentary of this song, Harris seems to be depicting what happens when you lead a "good" life, your heart dies but your soul lives forever and that he will get there through making his own choices.

Onhell – 3rd October 2003

There is one thing that puzzles me about this song. What exactly does the expression "The Thin Line Between Love And Hate" itself mean?
Is it a reference to the fact that there really is such a thin line, or does it refer to the fact that this line is very thin?

If the former is the case, then what is that thin line, what is its nature and in what relation do we stand to it?

We are all seeking for balance in our life. If we tend too much to an extreme of any sort, it is likely that we will never be able to find full happiness. To keep it in this context, feeling only one of two extremes (love or hate) is very unlikely to bring us anywhere.

Being a hateful person is a bad thing. If you hate everything and everyone, you tend to see everything in a negative way and you will feel uncomfortable with everything. Hatred veils our views of the world in a way that we are unable to see the good things in life, and unable to enjoy anything.

On the other hand, if we simply "love" everything, this is very likely to make us unhappy as well. If we see everything in a pink light, we will consciously or unconsciously ignore everything that is bad. This way, the problems in the world will go unsolved and grow bigger, and might eventually destroy us all.

The song points out that we must find a balance between both, that we need to find this "Thin Line", the "Grey space between black and white". There are not two paths, as we might be inclined to think, but three. There is nothing wrong with a bit of hate towards the bad things in this world, but we need enough love to counterbalance it. Likewise, too much love will likely make us lose touch with reality, and we will need some negative feelings to properly fight all the bad in the world. Love is not synonymous with happiness. Often enough, love can make us very unhappy. If we love someone, or something, we are very vulnerable, and if this loved someone or something dies or gets destroyed, this can have terrible consequences to ourselves.

We are very tempted to go into one extreme, however, as it is much easier than to find the balance, which is a quest we are undergoing all our life, and more often than not, it seems that we are unable to win that struggle.

 

On the other hand, this line between love and hate is very thin, indicating that love and hate lie very close together – thus it is very easy to lose the balanced, grey path. Likewise, love can often turn to hate and vice versa. If a loved someone disappoints you in a hurtful manner, it can happen that your deep, positive emotions can turn into deep negative emotions. This can go so far that we are ready to kill someone who we have once loved.

It gets a bit more complicated the other way around. If we really hate someone, we would never, ever admit that we love them. But it is often the case that once this hated person dies, we feel something missing in ourselves. We "loved to hate" them, and our feelings were very strong. We just never admit, not even to ourselves, that exactly this hatred could actually have been a twisted sort of love.

On the other hand, this might also be the case with love. The more you love someone, the more you hate some things they do, because they don't comform with the image you have of them, or what you might want them to do.

Human emotions are a very complicated subject, and I think none of us are even close to comprehend their entire nature.

Perun – 24th July 2005

The more you love someone, the more you hate some things they do, because they don't comform with the image you have of them, or what you might want them to do. 

Perun

True, with the exception of the premise. Sometimes, when you lose someone you love deeply, you discover how you miss even those little things that you hated before.

charlotte – 24th July 2005


 

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