The Lake and the River



The Lake and the River is a mammoth of a song and a demonstration of everything good about Act II. This song is over nine minutes and doesn’t drag one bit. Exciting but not overwhelming, The Lake and the River moves through each section seamlessly and gives the impression of a standard song no longer than five minutes. If The Procession was the musical transition from Act I to Act II, then The Lake and the River pulls us straight into Act II with Casey’s refined skills at creating this rock opera.

In the last song Hunter held a personal funeral for his mother and now he moves forward. Ms. Terri lays buried under the Tree near their home after her unexpected death one morning. Hunter has never known a life without his mother, without his home. Now an adult and an orphan, he has to take the next steps of his life alone.

Into The Lyrics


Everything you’d live and die for
Reasons leading you through here
Perished matriarchal bonds,
Failing innocence of love
When the world beckons your approach,
It swallows you whole

You’ll believe what you’re meant to believe
In the hands of ghosts, we’re never responsible
Wait to see what your meant to see
The veil lifts when you expose your soul

Prayed I would leave this place someday
Joined to alarm from long ago, now unconcerned
Euphorically floating upon wax wings, where is the sun?
I still see her face; her beauty, her grace
Transfixed like a light in front of me
It follows my soul,and swallows me whole

You’ll believe what you’re meant to believe
In the hands of ghosts, we’re never responsible
Wait to see what your meant to see
The veil lifts when you expose your soul

Left, right; left, right
Left, right; left, right
Left, right; left, right
(…and a caveat of excuses)

His branches reached so far before
His leaves were bold extremities with great control
Wasted alone; he died alone

You’ll believe what you’re meant to believe
In the hands of ghosts, we’re never responsible
Wait to see what your meant to see
The veil lifts when you expose your soul

She’s inanimate, bloodless elegance
Fatal fascination breeds a bloom of misery
Helpless hiding tongues, bathed in revulsion
Here lies possibility, wilting prematurely

But the right hand hates the left
And the sea’s upset with the sky
So we press on, press on, press on, press on
In spite of the spite

Happiness is a knife
When the world rolls on its side
And you mind’s on fire

Don’t you know that happiness is a knife
When the world rolls on its side
And you mind’s on fire

Transition to ‘The Oracles on the Delphi Express’

Trying to find the trouble with the trouble I’ve found
Begging my god to make the wheels go round
Eat so much but I never get full
Earth opened up and swallowed us whole


This song immediately calls back to Act I, referencing 1878 with the line ‘Everything you’d live and die for’. Although it was altered slightly in this song. Previously when it was mentioned it was ‘Everything you thought you’d live and die for’, and was about Ms. Terri and how she chose to change her life once she had Hunter to think about. Now it refers to Hunter himself, and how the life his mother wanted for him isn’t exactly what the universe has in store for him. Mystery misleads Hunter through life, now that his matriarchal bonds are gone.

The chorus details the naive nature of our protagonist. ‘In the hands of ghosts, we’re never responsible’'; his mother is really the one responsible for his nature. She raised him in solitude and didn’t prepare him for the inevitable. Our surroundings mold us into who we are, and it’s easy for someone to get into a mindset of absolving themselves from responsibility because “That’s just the way I am”. I don’t see Hunter in this mindset currently, but it’s possible he feels this way in later acts.

In the second verse we get a first person perspective from Hunter. He prayed to leave his home, and now he has the opportunity. At this point Hunter has decided to leave his home and go find what lies beyond. We get a nod to Greek mythology as Hunter compares himself to Icarus (pretty apt comparison if you ask me), although he asks where the sun is. In the story, Icarus flies too close to the sun and it melts his wax wings, sending him into the sea where he drowns. ‘Where is the sun?’ is not Hunter himself asking this direct question, but rather an abstract question simply saying that in this story he doesn’t have anything to cause his downfall just yet, since he’s just started rising. The sun also has a few meanings here, but the story hasn’t unfolded enough quite yet to explain how. He then compares his mother to a light in front of him, guiding him forward. The thought of her being gone consumes him, but her memory gives him hope to continue on.

Left, right’ being repeated is probably Hunter focusing on his footsteps as he forces himself to continue on. He reaches the Tree now, where his mother is buried. The Tree always acted as the father figure in Hunter’s life. When he was younger the Tree seemed larger than life, but now that he is older it shows aging, and the branches don’t seem like the furthest reaching arms in the world. There’s more to the world, and now Hunter faces that knowledge.

The Procession’s chorus reprises here, as Hunter proceeds past the resting place of his parents. It’s here that Hunter faces the long walk back to where he was born. The walk is actually only an hour but to Hunter it feels like eternity. During this walk he’s left alone with his thoughts, and the last bit of the main song shows Hunter becoming bitter with his outlook on life after dealing with loss. The Act II CD booklet shows Hunter arriving at the train station looking at the sign there. He doesn’t know where he is, or that it’s a train station, but because of the excerpt in the booklet we know that the sign here was also referred to in 1878. ‘Hands conflicting clearly point their way’ is the directional signs pointing “To Town” and “To Country”.

After the main part of the song we get an interlude leading into the next song The Oracles on the Delphi Express. This section dedicated to leading into the next song happens with basically every song up until The Church and the Dime. This interlude sounds like it comes from the perspective of the characters introduced in the next song, the Oracles. They’re talking about ambition, and the consequences that come with it when paired with naivete. This once again parallels the story of Icarus. It also references a perspective on how some people use religion to absolve themselves of responsibility, like referenced earlier in the song. They act in sin, saying “How can this be my fault, I was designed this way”, and then turn and ask their deity to make things work out for them, asking for forgiveness and a lack of consequence. I think this is a comparison of the people of the City and Hunter. While Hunter is not like this now, his inexperience and his soon to have experiences in the City will have an effect on him.

Into The Music

Most of the things to note in this song are setting up for themes in the future. What surprises me most about this song is that for it’s length, the song has a very straightforward composition. Intro, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Verse, Chorus, Outro. Around the 5:40 mark the song changes though, and it’s almost like there’s two smaller songs at the end. The first one starts with the reprise of The Procession, and goes into what’s almost like a second bridge, completely new from the rest of the song. Casey does this with quite a few songs and I think it helps a lot with adding room between songs and also helps with story telling, acting as a transition between scenes or characters or events. After that we get another small song at the end which sounds more like it’s a part of the next song than this one. Casey also does this a lot, blending pieces together creating a cohesion in the story while also separating them enough to seem distinct. Using both of these sections at the end in The Lake and the River, Casey ended up with a really long song that acts like a normal length song that kind of has a bridge just for the sake of leading into the interlude that acts as an introduction for the next song. Convoluted but excellent for the purpose of storytelling.

The very end, as the Oracles stop singing and the beat accelerates into the sound of the oncoming train, we get a horn crescendo very similar to the one transitioning The Death and the Berth into The Procession. This was probably placed in the earlier song as foreshadowing, and the actual sound is probably representative of the train horn as the rest of the instruments also mimic the oncoming machine. The whole idea of the instrumentation acting out the train is brilliant to me, and I think this is one of the moments that really defines Casey as a fantastic and creative composer.

Personal Thoughts

Honestly when I first got into the band, I just played the first three acts on repeat and had no idea the song was this long. I probably couldn’t have even named any of the songs on the album by listening to them. I just knew I really liked Act II for the versatility it has overall, and it took a while for me to actually look at the track titles and see which ones were which. When people on forums started praising this song I finally looked at it and realized just how much this one song has. I’ve anxiously awaited this song for a while because I knew I would have quite a bit to say about it from the story aspect.

If you enjoyed this be sure to subscribe in the footer, I’ll be doing weekly updates of all my posts. Also consider donating to help me keep this blog running. Thank you for reading!