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The "Dead Man's Cake" blogs, issue #8

It's time to wrap up this blog series.  My CD Dead Man's Cake was released in early 2012, and it's now nearly 2 years later.  It may seem like I haven't done much with the record but I'm still working on a live act, a kind of "one man band with a laptop" thing where I can render the tunes properly in a live environment.

I think it's a good record and I'd be grateful if you'd buy it; either the physical CD, which is a lovely object, or find it on iTunes, Spotify, etc.  It's essentially a creative work written to deal with a traumatic event, an attempt to create beauty from pain, as I've discussed previously.

Part of the proceeds go to mental health charities including the UK charity Sane.

Please see the previous related posts at the home page of this blog.

This post is about Tracks 5 - 11 of Dead Man's Cake.

"Don't Dwell On It David", track 5, refers to something my Dad used to say, after my Mom committed suicide.  It's an idea that has a number of different meanings.  On the one hand, taken at face value, it means what it says:  get over it, it's time to move on.  But the flip side of that idea is about how people don't want to hear about this stuff.  It's about the stigma of mental illness and how suicide is a taboo subject.  Nobody wants to hear about it.  It's depressing and unpleasant.  But if you think that's true for you, imagine how it feels for the people who were close to the person who committed suicide.  And how they'll go through their lives with this memory, this horror, trapped inside them.  Bottom line:  try to treat people with kindness and compassion, because you never know what they might have gone through.

"Black Hole In My Soul", track 6, expands on that idea.  When your loved one commits suicide, it's a scar that will never really heal.  If you're lucky, this new and terrible knowledge, memory and experience might get easier to live with over time.  But it's never going to go away.  Best try and do some creative work, therapy or whatever else you need to do, to try and survive the trauma.  Seek help, and the support of loved ones.

The second half of the CD is about certain times in my life, relationships, or events that happened subsequent to my Mom's suicide.

"Rock Star Dream", track 7, is about a rock band I played with in Los Angeles during the late 70s and early to mid-80s.  Its theme is the yearning for fame and fortune that many artists experience, and how that not everybody gets to live that dream, but how it changes you in any event.

"South American Girl", track 8, is about a formative relationship I had with a lovely person who is still my friend. Incidentally her brother also happened to have committed suicide in 1990.  That was a traumatic and horrifying event which shattered us both, and which relates to the overall anti-suicide theme of the Dead Man's Cake CD.

"Darkest Before the Dawn", track 9, is about a more problematic relationship I had subsequently, a kind of "love gone wrong" song.

"Can't Love You in Moderation", track 10, is a light musical number about having found the love of my life, and resisting the old British adage, "all things in moderation."

"Dead Man's Cake (reprise)" tries to tie up the narrative of the CD and make sense of the incomprehensible.  I wonder what it all means, and conclude it will remain a mystery.

I have known 3 people directly in my life who have committed suicide.  That seems like a lot.  It was such a significant set of events, so devastating for the families and friends left behind, that I couldn't really think of anything more meaningful to write about.  In this last tune, essentially, one of the things I'm saying is, sorry if this is a bit of a downer for you, but there's plenty of music out there which doesn't raise these issues.  If bubble gum is what you're after, there's no shortage of that in the world.  If you don't like this stuff, friend, well... you don't have to listen to it.  Again, in my humble opinion, it's a pretty good record with good songs and good musicians on it.

Bottom line is, I had something to say, and I said it, and I'm glad I got it off my chest.  I think it turned out well.  I've had a couple years to live with it and a lot of people like the record and seem to have been quite impressed and moved by it.  I'm proud of it and glad I did it.

The End (of the "Dead Man's Cake" blog series).


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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…