Perhaps in preparation for upcoming album Goodbye to the Machine, I’ve decided to take some time to look at the band HURT. Though released separately, the albums Vol. I and Vol. II really are a single, cohesive idea. Many of the songs were written in the same time frame and there is also definitely a lot of cross-referencing of ideas between songs on both albums. Singer/lyricist J. Loren Wince tells stories that are painfully tragic and angry, clearly illustrating that he has seen some ‘deep shit’ in his time. Many, if not all of these songs are an amateur lyrical interpreter’s wet dream, just so incredibly powerful and meaningful as they deal with topics from lost love to abuse, drugs, even death. This is a band that would definitely make my list of all-time best lyrics. Let’s dive in shall we?
Shallow – “You’re watching the cars, movies and stars, they are your lifetime.” We begin with a song about rejection. Someone who feels that no matter how hard he tries or how much he wants to make things work, he’s never good enough.
Rapture – “She walked in the baby’s room, knowing what she would do leaves me in absolute horror.” This is an incredibly tragic story about a woman who murders her own child out of religious fanaticism. The narrator/husband begs her to have faith in him instead of her God, tries to convince her not to do it, but fails and is very, very angry.
Overdose – “Maybe I’ll take two or three, until I believe that what I have seen is really happening.” As the title suggests, a song about drugs. But this is far from your typical rock ‘n roll have some fun drug song. Here our narrator is self-medicating, he’s in incredible pain and taking more and more trying to do anything to ease that pain.
Falls Apart – “I had things I needed to say, but now it’s like a swallowed tape, that holds up my face from inside.” A song about depression, feelings that nothing ever goes right, that everything just falls apart.
Forever – “It always hurts when it’s someone you love, won’t you rise above, there’s a price in blood.” This one seems a bit tricky, to me though I think it could be a song about abuse. Seeing it and experiencing it for himself and the pain that it’s brought his life.
Losing – “We can try to laugh it off I guess, claiming blissful listlessness, but I miss how it used to be.” Here we have a song about a relationship going bad. There’s again a feeling of not being good enough to keep it together, he hasn’t lost this girl yet but he’s definitely feeling a growing distance between them.
Unkind – “You gave your body to all who were willing and took these pleasures that I wasn’t filling.” A continuation perhaps of the ‘Losing’ story. Here he finds out that she has been cheating on him despite the fact that he stayed true to her but was hesitant to open himself up more and just wanted more time to do so.
Danse Russe – “When my emotions are wounded, her motions and movements chase the ghosts from me.” A bit of a turn here, a story about love, a woman who helped ‘chase his ghosts’ and who gave him hope and love again.
Dirty – “All of my life I’ve tried to be like the man in the pictures with outstretched hands.” Back to religion and rejection. A song about never being good enough no matter how hard he tries, perhaps in the eyes of an overly religious woman.
Cold Inside – “Cold on the inside, in phases my lights die, staring through ardent eyes.” Back to depression again, feeling dead inside. People try to tell him that things will be fine, that he should just move on and everything will be ok, but whatever happened to him has killed him inside, left him as nothing more than an empty shell.
House Carpenter – “There’s a sad and lonely comfort in the hollow of your eyes.” This is a song about the death of someone very close to him, and trying to deal with the pain from that.
Summers Lost – “To feel the weight of summers lost, I’d love to have you here.” Where Vol. I ends, Vol. II picks right up, with a song that is both a musical and lyrical sequel to ‘House Carpenter.’ A song about missing the one he’s lost, wishing to be reunited again.
Ten Ton Brick – “I’m finally done with the decisions of my former thoughts and all that I may have lost.” A song about a relationship gone bad, with an angry, violent ending.
Aftermath – “I still dream of your perfume, I would do anything to be with you.” He’s regretting what happened, wishing to be back with the woman he loves.
Abuse of SID – “When holes in your face can’t be covered with makeup you’ll still stay there.” A very angry song about abuse. In particular a woman he loves is being abused but refuses to stand up for herself or to leave. He can’t believe that she would just take it from her abuser over and over again.
Alone With the Sea – “I have strangely become immune to the thought of seeing you.” To me this is a song about being alone. About making a decision that forces you away from your loved ones, somewhere out on your own for such long times that you lose permanently those you loved and are left alone.
Talking to God – “How can you talk to God when you won’t talk to me?” Similarly to ‘Dirty’ this is a song about an overly religious mother. She is abusive, and fanatical in her religion, and he (the child) is angry and doesn’t understand how she can do the things she does to him.
Loded – “If you want to hate me fine, have a superficial time, as the center in you dies.” A song about dealing with someone who is addicted to some kind of drug. An addict who goes through programs, courts, gets released and goes right back to his habit, and the narrator is angry and trying to get him to stop.
Better – “Did it make you feel better, right before it got worse?” The album notes claim that this song is a direct tie to ‘Losing’ and I can certainly see the connection. This is a song about a girl who prostitutes herself to get money for drugs, but our narrator is in love with her. It’s killing him to watch her do this to herself, and to see that she cares more about the drugs than him, but he still loves her and wants to be with her (the reference to ‘Losing’ being that he’s losing her to the drugs and the men she sleeps with to get them, aka ‘Unkind’).
Assurance – “You need assurance that everything’s gonna be fine, cause you’re just the woman who’s everything good in my life.” Similar to Danse Russe, though not quite as sweet. I get the impression from this song of a very volatile relationship, but one he’s committed to just the same. Despite whatever problems and arguments they have, he loves this woman and is trying to hold it together.
On the Radio – “Somewhere on the radio, can you hear me? Cause I’m screaming!” Again the album notes claim that this song ties in with ‘Unkind’ and again I would agree (you can tell how many of these songs are interrelated). He’s lost the one he loves to someone else and he’s angry and using his music to vent that anger.
Et Al – “Show them the joy and the pain and the ending then do it again and we’ll all start pretending.” I believe this is a song about the music business, and mindless crowds. He’s expressing how people listen to the music and move and pretend like they know but really have no idea what he’s talking about (is this me? I like to think I understand better but who knows) and begging them to ‘feel,’ to see how he’s pouring his heart and soul into his music.
Thank You for Listening – “I thank you for listening to how I feel, cause it’s just what I needed like the pain that made it real.” We conclude with a sincere thank you note to the people who truly do listen and appreciate the feelings and emotions being expressed through the music. An excellent way to end this collection of stories.