Black Sandy Beaches



With the damage done, we move onto a song that gives us retrospect. Hunter and Ms. Leading spent a year together, only for it to end in hurtful words said behind the safety of letters. Black Sandy Beaches is a song that shows us a character removed from the story, reacting to these letters of severance.

This song takes a break from the overwhelming emotions in the last few songs. The Act is almost over, and all of the story is over with, kind of. While this song doesn’t have any events, it presents many questions. Some of which maybe meant to be answered, while others maybe not.

Into The Lyrics


Messages from broken bottles fall
On black sandy beaches
Ink in vein across the page now run
From morning dew
Hands which chance upon it lead to eyes which strain to read
Hearts which pound from love long overdue
Lips which press together, stifle, rhythmic, heavy breaths

Oh how she smiles from vicarious love
From the one he writes about
She must have been so glad for him to throw it out

Further steps lead to yet another broken bottle
Again, the words contained have bled the page
Who’s tears were these, which ran the ink?
From whom they poured, to make the streak?
Were they his, by chance, from telling her?
Or hers, by chance, from reading it?
It could have been collective
It could have been from someone else
Why don’t we see what’s at the bottom?
Why don’t we see what comes next?

Oh how she cries from vicarious pain
From the one he writes about
She must have been so sad for him to throw her out

Let’s just say she is better
Better off somehow
Let’s just say she has never been
Happier than she is now

We couldn’t fake it, so why even try?

Let’s just say she is better
Better off somehow
Let’s just say she has never been
Happier than she is now


The edge of the City, away from the railroad, the Lake, and the Tree; a black sandy beach stretches out into a black foreboding ocean. The sound of collective conversation from the City fades behind as the waves and steamboats overtake the atmosphere. A lone woman walks the beach, and stumbles upon bottles stuffed with rolled up paper, along the shore. Some of the bottles are shattered in places, mixing the black sand with glass. This is an abstract scenario, as an unrelated character reads the messages exchanged between Ms. Leading and Hunter. This could be immediately following the events of Act II, far in the future after the messages have drifted for miles, or even long before Hunter ever stepped foot in the City. These messages, while meant to represent those exchanged between the two characters from The Dear Hunter, could be from anyone along this timeline. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and it probably won’t be the last. It’s implied that this may take place long after Act II, as the ink is hard to read and the love is ‘long overdue’.

A specific word that sticks out in the first stanza is ‘stifle’. ‘Make (someone) unable to breathe properly; suffocate’. Sounds a little familiar. The characters have been defeated, by each other. They are no longer living in joy despite the harshness around them. They are now living in pain despite the companion they made. This love has left scars on the both of them.

The woman reading the messages feels the emotions in the words as the man writes to his lover. At this point, the two lovers are happy together, and he writes in tribute to the girl he thinks so much about. ‘She must have been so glad for him to throw it out’, the woman on the beach must have been glad that the message came her way. They make her happy, as if reading a romantic novel.

But then she moves to the next bottle. The words are still hard to read, and now she wonders, who’s tears caused this? Was he sad to have written it? Was the girl moved when it was first read? It could have been both, or from another reader much like herself on the beach. She wants to know the rest. How does this end? She begins to make the words out, only to find that now their love is over. He is voicing his anger, while she tries to understand and repair the damage. The woman is heartbroken from her discovery, and wonders that the girl in the letters must have been devastated that he left her.

The last refrain comes from another removed voice, although possibly from the Oracles. They know about the whole situation, and they know that it’s for the best. Hunter was not one to listen to reason, and the Oracles knew that first hand. Ms. Leading is better off going back to her life as it was before. And this time, she will have ‘learned her lesson’, not to let love get in the way of her lifestyle.

Into The Music

The beach is introduced to us with an acoustic guitar, plucking notes on an Am7 chord in 3/4 time in the key of C. Casey sings along, with a clean electric guitar in the background tremolo picking high notes with some delay and other effects. The chord shifts to a C for a measure, then rests on a pretty Fmaj7sus2. Chord progression repeats, and then when Casey goes to the first refrain a piano and shaker come in.

The second verse drops the extra instruments and features Casey singing with cellos. The acoustic guitar can still be faintly heard behind the cellos on the right pan. The extra instruments come back in at the halfway mark of the verse. The cellos here are playing a waltz pattern, from the root to the fifth. This is the same pattern from The Lake South, and while it’s a fairly common melody, I think Casey placed it here intentionally. Instead of going up a third like The Lake South does to it’s next section, Black Sandy Beaches goes down a third for the second half of the same phrase. This melody is a symbol of new beginnings throughout the story. The jump up in The Lake South was about Ms. Terri leaving her past behind and getting a better life for her son. Black Sandy Beaches jumps down as that same son goes through a devastating loss and leaves the same city, for more negative reasons.

The second chorus brings in drums, and the acoustic guitars begin to strum their chords. This leads into the ending of the song, where a refrain is repeated a few times. Backing vocals come in on the second time but the rest of the arrangement stays the same for the most part. After a few repeats, Casey begins to sing the melody differently. ‘She’ is sung differently here, and while the melody is new, it is the main melody of the next song, Vital Vessels Vindicate. This, paired with the song trailing off to the sounds of ocean waves and seagulls, will lead us into Hunters final moments before the Act comes to an end.

Closing Thoughts

The instrumentation in this song feels very minimal, and while that isn’t unique to this song for the Act, it was something I didn’t realize until now. This song also had a few secrets, like the word ‘stifle’ and the melody from The Lake South that I didn’t notice until I sat down to write this entry. It’s small things like that, that others may have noticed long before I did, that make me glad I’m doing this project. There are so many secrets to uncover, some that we may never find, but having a compendium of sorts helps me organize my thoughts on this story so much better.

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