Skip to main content

The "Dead Man's Cake" blogs, issue #7

"Dead Man's Cake" is the title track (track 4) from my 2012 CD "Dead Man's Cake".  It describes the tragic event of my mother Judy's suicide, but unlike track 3, "Judy's Mind", the song Dead Man's Cake presents a different sort of perspective.

The basic facts are that my mother, Judith Friedman Barrows, who, like my father, wrote for Hollywood television shows in the 1960s, on the night of August 19th, 1970, drove to Mt. Sinai Cemetery in North Hollywood where her father was buried, and committed suicide by taking an overdose of pills.

"Dead Man's Cake" is a metaphor for the pills, but it's also a metaphor for suicide generally.  I wrote the piece as a cautionary tale against suicide.  The chorus of the song says, "Don't you eat that Dead Man's Cake.  If you're thinking about taking your life, don't do it."

(Incidentally, if you are thinking about it, I say, don't do it.  Instead, contact suicide prevention now.)

The song looks at the events of that night from a poetic and surrealistic standpoint.  I imagine her meeting her father's ghost, as well as a kind of watchman figure who acts as the gatekeeper to the afterlife, similar to the Greek myth of Charon, the boatman who takes the souls of the dead across the river Styx to the underworld.  Judy has cake and tea with the watchman.  All the while the song admonishes her, "don't you eat that Dead Man's Cake.  Don't you drink that Dead Man's Tea."  But it's too late.  She's shaken her father's hand.  She's eaten the cake, and drunk the tea.

Suicide is a complex issue.

My personal belief is that in cases of terminal illness, assisted suicide should be made legal.  I think it's unethical to force someone to prolong their life if they are suffering terribly and there is no hope for a better quality of life.

But I think for people who are not terminally ill, where mental illness, despair, or some intractable set of circumstances is the reason for contemplating suicide, then I'm strongly against it.  It's utterly devastating to the people left behind, and it's an act no less violent than murder.  There's got to be a better solution.

There are so many reasons to live, and despite all its problems, so many great and beautiful things in the world that make life worth living, I just think suicide is a cop out.  It's running away from your problems.  It's trying to effect some dramatic response to whatever set of issues you're confronted with.

Why not just simply make a change in your life?  Why not pack a bag, take a trip, take some time off, or maybe check into a clinic if things are really bad?  If you're in a bad relationship, why not just leave the relationship, rather than commit suicide?  Surely there must be some better way to deal with your problems.  Surely, although this day seems bad, tomorrow's another day, and things might be entirely different.

Don't you eat that Dead Man's Cake.


Popular posts from this blog

On Gun Violence in America - #guncontrol NOW

Hi.  It's been awhile (a couple years in fact) since I last posted to this blog.  The latest mass shooting in the U.S. made me want to speak out.

If you look at the U.S. defense budget for 2017, it shows a figure of over $500 billion.  Do you feel safe?  How does all that money protect American citizens, when they can be mowed down by a lone gunman at a country music gig?  Maybe it's not really the citizens that money is meant to protect.  Maybe it's the system.

It's quick and easy to find articles such as this and this, following such an event, about how Democrats' efforts to enact common sense gun control laws are thwarted by the NRA and the Republicans who are beholden to them.

But that is symptomatic of a more general problem - things are the way they are, we're told, and this is the way it's always going to be.  And we, the average citizens, can't do much about it, because after all, we're just average citizens.  We're busy.  We've got …

The "Dead Man's Cake" blogs, issue #4

Dead Man’s Cake:The Songs.
The album “Dead Man’s Cake” (2012, by David Barrows) is my autobiographical narrative consisting of 11 songs which generally proceed chronologically from my childhood to the present day.The first half of the record is about the story of my parents, my Mom’s suicide and how it affected me.Most of the second half of the record is about how I went on to live my life afterwards.
Track 1:  Hollywood Sixties
Hollywood Sixties is about those years in the mid- to late 1960s when my parents, Robert Guy Barrows and Judith Friedman Barrows, enjoyed a few years of success as Hollywood television writers.They wrote individually and as a husband and wife team, for a number of famous television shows, including series like Mission Impossible, Bonanza, the Green Hornet, Daniel Boone, etc.Many of these episodes are available as part of boxed sets of those series, and there are even some complete episodes that exist on YouTube etc.
You can find references to their TV career by s…

The Dead Man's Cake blogs - index

Hi.  My name is David Barrows, an American musician and computer geek, living in London.

When I was six years old, my mother committed suicide.  Many years later I made a music CD where I try to come to terms with this tragic event, and the issue of suicide in general, which I entitled Dead Man's Cake.  I also later blogged about it on this blog site, in a series of posts I call the "Dead Man's Cake blogs."

This page is an index to the entire series:

The "Dead Man's Cake" blogs, issue #1.
The "Dead Man's Cake" Blogs, issue #2.
The "Dead Man's Cake" blogs, issue #3.
The "Dead Man's Cake" blogs, issue #4.
The "Dead Man's Cake" blogs, issue #5.
The "Dead Man's Cake" blogs, issue #6.
The "Dead Man's Cake" blogs, issue #7.
The "Dead Man's Cake" blogs, issue #8.

Incidentally I was moved today to create this page and recap my blog series by a BBC documentary that came ou…