Dear Ms. Leading

 
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Introduction

If Where The Road Parts was a reflection of Hunter’s depression during the breakup, then Dear Ms. Leading is the portrayal of his anger. Throughout Where The Road Parts we see him become bitter in his sadness, and that bitterness soon takes hold of him as he begins to lash out. Dear Ms. Leading is surprisingly full of energy, maybe beating out the rest of the tracks on the album in that regard. Act II is a good summation of the angst in young love, and this track captures Hunter’s emotions with a burst of force to propel us through this departure.

After wandering the streets in sorrow, Hunter finds himself under the canopy of a bar roof, drinking his tab up until it reaches the same roof. With the new environment around him, alcohol in his veins, and the passing of time, his perspective of the situation shifts slightly. And not for the better. After asking the barkeep for paper, he began to write.


Into The Lyrics

Lyrics

Dear Ms. Leading, I hate to tell you
That I no longer need your services
The bitter fabricating manufacturer of lust
You have been presented as
Doesn’t do a thing for me
I now know your identity
A black widow who tempts her prey
With promises of love
If ignorance is bliss, wish I were blissfully ignorant
But I’m not. I’m enlightened now
A light has been presented to me
In spite of you

Come now Ms. Leading, I regret to inform you
I’ve fallen out of lust
It must be so hard to understand
(Oh no I don’t think so, oh no I don’t think so)
Did you really think me a fool enough
To play along
Make-believing everything everything you said was true
Push your pouting lips lips on other unsuspecting lover
(Oh no I don’t think so, oh no I don’t think so)

Dear Ms. Leading, in response to your response
I’m simply unavailable
I hope you got the message in the message that I sent
(Shame on me for falling for someone so dense)
In different times
I might’ve fooled around for something warm
Something with security
As fleeting as the momentary
Rapture and the pleasure of
Collapsing in arms
So welcoming to others just like me

(Go take another life)

Come now Ms. Leading, I regret to inform you
I’ve fallen out of lust
It must be so hard to understand
(Oh no I don’t think so, oh no I don’t think so)
Did you really think me a fool enough
To play along
Make-believing everything everything you said was true
Push your pouting lips on other unsuspecting lover
(Oh no I don’t think so, oh no I don’t think so)

Analysis

The lyrics here act as an interpretation of letters that Hunter sends to Ms. Leading. I’m saying an interpretation and not exact, because I don’t exactly see Hunter writing his angry breakup letters as poetry. As such, the verses begin with the phrase ‘Dear Ms. Leading,’ which complements the name of the band, ‘The Dear Hunter’. Yet another double entendre, as the title of the song is used to contrast the meaning of the band name. The use of ‘Dear’ in the band name is one of endearment, a mother for her son. The ‘Dear’ in the song title is used by Hunter to address Ms. Leading in anger, someone who has up until recently served as a parallel to his mother. This is a great way to show how Hunter has become the exact thing his mother wanted to avoid. What was once said to him maternally, he now uses to lash out against someone just like his mother. The City has done it’s work.

Hunter begins by completely degrading Ms. Leading. Instead of breaking up their romantic relationship, he instead refers to it as ‘her services’. He’s making it clear that he feels like a client, and that he doesn’t believe she thought of him as anything more. He then calls her ‘The bitter fabricating manufacturer of lust’. Bitter being a call back to their meeting with The Bitter Suite. The rest of the line is how Hunter sees those in her profession. They create a false, or unneeded desire that wasn’t there before. For most of her clients that’s probably not exactly the case, but Hunter met her during a state of innocence, and it created a desire in him that wasn’t present before. He places himself above the rest of the men, saying that subjects of lust mean nothing to him, and has a false sense of superiority over this. The last line in the verse compares his forced epiphany to a light that has been presented to him. He’s trying to say that he is better now, and that this new path before him was his salvation against her clutches.

The world ‘light’ has been used three times now in the Act. First with The Lake And The River, as it represented his late mother, and the image of her guided him forward into the unknown. It was then used in The Bitter Suite III: Embrace when Hunter and Ms. Leading first start their close relationship. I think this is used to emphasize that while his mother used to be his guiding force, his purpose, that the title moved on to Ms. Leading. And now, his guiding force is this spiteful drive he’s gained from the breakup. Now his actions will be guided by his pain and distrust of Ms. Leading.

The chorus of the song highlights the dissonance between Hunter’s perception, and reality. He continues to paint an image of Ms. Leading as emotionless, unable to comprehend why he’s not entranced like the rest of her clients. The second half is him trying to convince her that he knew all along, that OF COURSE he didn’t actually believe they were in love! That the entire time he was pretending. Which is obviously not true, and everyone in the situation knows that. The only time he was pretending is now, as he tries to change the past to fit his narrative of being the main protagonist, unflawed, without any imperfections.

With the second verse, it’s implied that the first letter was sent and he has also received a response. This response is her asking to meet up again, to which Hunter replies that he’s ‘unavailable’. In her letter, she doesn’t understand why he’s so blatantly lying about not having any love for her, and continues to talk about their connection, wanting to save it. Hunter twists this in his new letter, calling her dense for truly believing that they had something. ‘I hope you got the message in the message that I sent’, is a pretty literal interpretation as he’s trying to say “take a hint”, in his attempt to rewrite the story without blatantly saying it. Obviously everyone knows what really happened, but he’s convinced to force his denial on to her. The rest of the verse continues on the idea that he believes her profession to be barbaric, he’s above these practices and all these other men are stuck in the past, ‘In different times’, victim to their animalistic nature.

In the bridge leading to the solo, there’s distorted vocals in the back that repeat ‘Go take another life’. In Where The Road Parts, there were vocals backing the bridge section saying ‘Sacrifice another life’. I interpreted it there to be a dual meaning, one of Hunter’s self loathing, and the other to be foreshadowing Act III. Here we get another interpretation of the line, as it’s slightly shifted to ‘Go take another life’. Hunter sees Ms. Leading as this succubus, eating away at the lives of unsuspecting men, wasting their life as they live a lie.


Into The Music

Starting with a hard hitting full band, this song begins in E minor. After the first riff repeats for a few bars, we get a chord on the b5 of the scale, borrowed from E locrian. This chord is played by a single string instrument as it ascends through the lydian phrase. These two sections repeat a few times until a variation drops the string section for some delay on the guitar, and repeats the full band section.

The verse consists mostly of Casey’s vocals and the accompanying drums and bass, with a faint piano playing chords. The guitar will occasionally include a staccato chord with the piano, with the delay effect on it. Halfway through the verse, backing vocals come in to help Casey. The verse ends with the drums and bass playing quick hits with large spaces between, as Casey takes one word at a time and descends into the bottom of his range.

The chorus is prefaced with a guitar strumming with effects over it as the band drops out. The chorus itself is a pretty standard one for the band, fit with Casey shouting, guitars playing distorted chords, and backing vocals shouting snarky remarks. The chorus trails off with the decaying guitars, and we get a familiar sound in the transition here. The percussion section that leads The Procession into The Lake And The River features here, to show that Hunter is once again walking away from his home, from a place that could hold salvation if he stayed and came to terms with his loss.

The second verse mostly matches the first, with the guitars now playing soft melodies with the rest of the band. The verse also ends differently, transitioning into the bridge. It ends with Casey holding a note out, bringing tension in the melody with the aggressive guitars behind it. The bridge itself alternates between this and a few measures of the band alternating between D5 and E5 chords, with some rhythmic syncopation in the repeated chords. There’s also some distorted vocals behind this section, as Casey throws some good old screams in.

The solo of the song is one that I hadn’t seen a good quality transcription for yet, so I decided to tab it out and create a video of me playing it so I could show off. The tabs are included in the video, and I have a folder here with the .gp files (including .gpx and .gp5) as well as a PDF. A little secret in the solo, is the Oracle melody played at 3:26 in the song. I don’t think there’s much significance to this reprise other than maybe the oracles saying “Hey, we told you so”. The song ends with the chorus again, and fades with the guitar holding out it’s last chord.


Closing Thoughts

This song to me is the turning point for Hunter. Up until this point I could hold sympathy for him, but being misguided as he is this is where he becomes an anti-hero. He didn’t really have a lot going for himself honestly, but we root for him anyways because that’s how stories are meant to be heard. Don’t worry, it only gets worse from here.

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