Blog: Hope for the Heroes – Lost in Translation: Music that Doesn’t Soothe the Savage Beast

Blog: Hope for the Heroes – Lost in Translation: Music that Doesn’t Soothe the Savage Beast    (Published version of this post can be downloaded at the end of this more readable, text-only post.)

Translation ImageCrying the blues—or even a rock song that can evoke the blues—could be cathartic for some, catastrophic for others. For 23-year-old returning Iraq War soldier Jeffrey Lucey, it was clearly the latter, making one wonder if he had ever been warned– post-release–that it would be best to stay away from strong emotional triggers like war films, graphic news stories, violent video games and even super sad suicide-inducing songs like Shinedown’s “45.”*

In these times of doing what you’re told You keep these feelings, no one knows What ever happened to the young man’s heart Swallowed by pain, as he slowly fell apart
And I’m staring down the barrel of a 45, Swimming through the ashes of another life No real reason to accept the way things have changed Staring down the barrel of a 45″ – from the song, 45 by Shinedown.

I read the lyrics to this song and, I have to say, at first read I thought it was about what many people think it’s about: suicide. Yet when Brent Smith, the lead singer of Shinedown, wrote those words he claims he was not thinking about suicide. Rather, he contends it was actually a song about hope, about fighting against the odds. As to the meaning of the title, “45” along with its related lyrics that read “staring down the barrel of a 45?”

Smith says “45” wasn’t meant to be an actual literal term for a gun, but rather a metaphor for the world–and the life we get handed–the good, the bad and the ugly. “It’s a gift to be alive,” says Smith. “And even when you’re in that dark place [like I was]…it’s about understanding that while it’s not always going to be good, still you have no one to blame but yourself if you don’t move forward.”

Unfortunately for Jeff Lucey, Shinedown’s message of life being “a gift” must have been lost in translation. If he did consider life to be a gift, it was one that Lucey made the fateful decision to return. Just a short time after making a point of playing the song “45” for his mother during an afternoon walk, Jeff hung himself in his parent’s cellar with a garden hose.

I’m not sure whether Lucey was ever officially diagnosed during his three-day stint at a VA hospital, but he had all the classic signs of PTSD. Whatever the official diagnosis, clearly, Jeff Lucey couldn’t–or wouldn’t–make the adjustment to a once-familiar world that had become more foreign than the “ashes of the other life” he had just left in Iraq–as cruel and harsh as that life may have seemed.

It’s hard not to think about Jeff’s grieving mother, Joyce Lucey, and how “45” will forever be re-playing in her head–a siren song that she believes lured her son to an even darker place than he already inhabited. Only this place was a far country from which there was no return. We can only hope it was a good one.

“And I’m saying, “It’s about him. He’s was telling me…he was walking beside me and I was listening to these words [lyrics to “45”], and I knew it was describing him. He was falling apart right before our eyes.”- Joyce Lucey


Published version of above: Lost in Translation: Music that Doesn’t Soothe the Savage Beast

About seekandfind

I'm a strategic storyteller/copywriter who is divinely wired to be idea-driven, strategic minded & cause motivated.

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