Where The Road Parts

 
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Introduction

Act II has just reached a climax with Red Hands and these last four songs deal closely with Hunter and his emotions during the aftermath. Where The Road Parts, Dear Ms. Leading, and Black Sandy Beaches are all very emotionally raw in different ways and serve as a tripartite resolution for Act II.

Where The Road Parts follows Hunter and Ms. Leading right after the inevitably unfortunate revelation. He walked in on Ms. Leading with a client, and learned the true nature of her profession. After both of them began to break down, Ms. Leading’s client kicks Hunter out and leaves him at the bottom of a stairwell.


Into The Lyrics

Lyrics

It’s ironic how I’d fall
Just to get back up again
A fix to cure this ailing bitter agony
Meet me where the road parts
You remember where we first met
So tongue in cheek with stale irony
If if pleases you, it pleases me

Just an innocent call
A telephone call
Just an innocent call

Now, if you were in bloom
I’d pick your petals clean
Although it won’t seem so, I can promise you
My ego’s running me
Then I’ll be cold
You were the only one that didn’t fold
But I just broke right now for you
In an attempt to gain control

Maybe I’m a waste of time
Sacrifice another life

You were the only one that didn’t fold
You were the only one that didn’t fold
You were the only one that didn’t fold
You were the only one that didn’t fold
You were the only one that didn’t fold
You were the only one that didn’t fold

Analysis

I’ve seen a few posts talking about this song being from Ms. Leading’s perspective, but based on the CD booklet it seems that all of the lines are about Hunter, or at the very least a shared meaning between the two.

‘It’s ironic how I’d fall / Just to get back up again’- I believe this is talking about how Hunter goes through a devastating life change with his mother dying, and decides to try and do more for himself and go to the city only to be kicked down again. At this point he’s gone through a few points in his life that made him feel defeated, and every time he gets up it seems to do no good. I think part of what makes Hunter a great protagonist is how over the Acts we can really see how he becomes the person he is. Life is hard, and things happen that aren’t fair, and sometimes we aren’t emotionally prepared to deal with those things when they happen. Unfortunately, at this point in the story we see how this can have a very negative affect on someone who doesn’t have the experience or support to get through those hard times.

The next few lines that reference the title are quoting Ms. Leading. During this time that Hunter spends sulking, Ms. Leading is frantically looking for him in the City. Hunter is wandering the City himself, with the rain pouring down on him, when word gets to him that she is trying to meet him. The meeting point being where they first met, just outside both the Church and the Dime. Irony comes up a few times in the song as a theme, and the CD booklet mentions it as if god was laughing down at the boy’s misfortune. The irony in the title is how their lives part, just like the road where they first met, as if it was written in stone. The last line of this verse is Hunter in turn speaking tongue in cheek, “If that’s what makes you happy”. He doesn’t believe that her request is sincere, and he believes that she played him the fool. He does not meet up with her.

He does, however, have a few words to say to her. He finds his way into a bar, and tries to gain the courage to call Ms. Leading. Although he again decides not to do so, the second verse lyrics are his inner thoughts that he would have said to her. It’s like those imaginary conversations that you have in your head when you’re emotionally worked up and need to get your feelings out and feel like you’ve won. Because in your head the person always responds exactly how you want them to and they don’t have any good arguments. It’s okay, we’ve all done it.

Once again, the theme of Ms. Leading being ‘in bloom’ comes up again. Hunter isn’t a very emotionally mature person, and as such he has ‘toxic’ traits. Especially right now during this episode, he could easily use this to hurt her and ‘pluck her petals clean’. Although the specifics may be more nuanced, Hunter is currently finding himself in a situation that is not all that unusual. He is going through a breakup where he feels hurt and betrayed, and in his narrow perspective lashes out, with or without a just cause. While it may seem that he’s acting entirely out of emotional distress, his ego has been hurt as well. He feels like a pawn and is trying to twist his experiences to gain the upper hand, in an emotionally driven attempt to find any sort of comfort he can. He plays emotionally soft and vulnerable in unintentional manipulation, then plays cold when he gets sympathy. This happens often in unhealthy relationships where partners manipulate each other during fights.

The bridge starts with two lines that aren’t as drawn to the front of your attention as the rest. The lines ‘Maybe I’m a waste of time / Sacrifice another life’ seem to me like they are serving a dual purpose. Hunter is dealing with an event that is throwing him into a depression, and one of the things that happens during depression is a duality of egoism and self loathing. The juxtaposition of the bridge next to the second verse really shows how these two trains of thought can coincide during a depressive episode. The other purpose these lyrics serve is to foreshadow Act III, as we approach the end of Act II. These last four songs serve as a great way to propel the story from a tragic love story into an album titled Life and Death, where the value of life and one’s self importance seem trivial.

The song ends with the repeated line ‘You were the only one that didn’t fold’, going back to The Church And The Dime. Ms. Leading always lived her lifestyle for herself, and didn’t do so out of manipulation by the Pimp/Priest. I think this line could be shared between them, as Ms. Leading could also be saying this about Hunter. Hunter was the first guy at the Dime that Ms. Leading met that didn’t go there for self satisfaction, and that was something she really liked about him.


Into The Music

The song starts with with drums and guitar, along with some ambient sound effects. The guitar here in the beginning seems to be noodling and playing random notes, and it actually a clip played in reverse. I don’t know if there’s any significance to the piece as far as melody in the original forward playing track, but I included a clip of it for you to hear in case I’m missing something. One thing I do notice, is the piano at the end of this intro is eerily similar to the one that transitions The Moon / Awake into Cascade in Act V. Different intervals, but one of the notes is the same and the tempo and dropout of surrounding instruments is too similar for me to dismiss it. If played backwards like the solo, it would be even more similar.

The song stays at home in it’s key of B minor, choosing to rest most often on it’s tonic and subdominant chords. Due to this, it feels somber and calm staying mostly on minor chords, with the passing mediant to move between them. The calm piano and guitar in the song add to it’s steady movement without adding too much. The ambiance from the intro comes back in during transitions in a more melodic way. Casey ramps up the emotion during the second verse with his higher melodies that add a small amount of tension in his voice, with the rest of the band staying mostly the same as the first verse.

The bridge moves into ambiance and slower chord changes. The vocals here are modified with effects, which put them more in the background than before. I think this is done intentionally to serve the story, as the lyrics in this section are mostly foreshadowing the future and aren’t meant to be as present in the story where it is now. The higher guitar part that fades in around 2:08 is another piece to note, although it won’t matter until much later in the story.

The ending slowly builds up with backing vocals and Casey singing the melody in falsetto before it goes into his full voice. For a brief moment at 3:08 I hear what could be words in the backing melody, but I’m not able to tell for sure and I don’t know enough about audio editing to try and bring it out more. The guitar mimics the piano that happens during the bridge here, although with some delay effects slight variations. The song tails off in a vamp between the tonic and the introduction of a G major, which adds an enormous amount of emotion as it brings a strong major sound to the song during the climax. This is personally one of my favorite moments of any song from the Acts. The song ends with the guitar playing the piano melody from the verses.


Closing Thoughts

Where The Road Parts, for me, is a musical high point in the Acts. The song reminds me a lot of the raw writing style from Act I, which makes a lot of sense as it draws a lot from some of the original demos written before Act I. The ending of the song has an emotional power to it that seems very akin to the bridge of The Inquiry of Ms. Terri, which is another personal high point of mine from Act I. The lyrics ‘in bloom’ reminded me of the Nirvana song of the same name while writing this, and I found it very interesting. Although I’m sure it wasn’t intended in any way, both songs seem to be talking about someone in the middle of a situation that they don’t fully understand, and touch on the concept of maturity. Although they seem to be coming from different perspectives and reaching different types of implications in both.

Some of the emotions that Hunter goes through during this later part in the act are ones that a lot of people may have experienced, or received, in some way. Not to take away from my intention of objectivity in these posts, I want to make a note that the mindsets reflected in some of these lyrics are not healthy. I want to just take a small section here to emphasize that this isn’t a healthy way to process your feelings, and while these songs are very cathartic in a lot of ways, they aren’t a good example to follow in your personal life. Casey has stated himself that a lot of these songs were written with a different mindset than he holds currently, and that he doesn’t believe Hunter should be looked at in the light of a role model. Hopefully this didn’t come completely out of left field for everyone and didn’t break your story immersion.

This post ended up significantly longer than I intended, but I’m very glad with the results! If you have any comments, corrections, questions, or just want to talk, be sure to reach out on social media! If you want to stay updated or support the site, subscribe or donate in the site footer, and thank you for reading.