blue oyster cult’s moment of brilliance

For a while in my youth I was a huge fan of the band Blue ÷yster Cult. Tonight, driving home from working late on an article that will go in the mail tomorrow, I heard their mid-’70s hit “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” and I thought to myself, “Where did this song come from?” I mean, it’s a really good song, both lyrically and musically, far and away better than anything else the band ever recorded, although one might argue that some of the material on the album Fire of Unknown Origin comes close provided one had a taste for that sort of thing. I just learned from the above Allmusic links above that Patti Smith collaborated with them on some of their music. Wow.

Yes, basically this is cheese rock, but … those vague lyrics at once both menacing and seductive. It sounds like a love song but the persona of one of the singers (lyrics on the left) is clearly Death, with the other singer (lyrics on the right) offering encouragment to the would-be lover:

Come on baby… Don’t fear the Reaper
Baby take my hand… Don’t fear the Reaper
We’ll be able to fly… Don’t fear the Reaper
Baby I’m your man…

Then there’s a third persona, a narrator, whom we see in this last verse:

Come on baby… And she had no fear
And she ran to him… Then they started to fly
They looked backward and said goodbye
She had become like they are
She had taken his hand
She had become like they are

Good lord, but that’s brilliantly creepy!

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