• Elise Chandler

Behind the Lyrics - Hozier: "Angel of Small Death and The Codeine Scene"




Hi Folks! Welcome back to "Behind the Lyrics". In the next few weeks, we're looking at ways to use lyrics as a powerful platform to teach others about real issues in the world today. 

This week, we're looking at Hozier's "Angel of Small Death and The Codeine Scene". Please take a minute to review the lyrics below and perhaps listen to the song too!

 

"I watch the work of my kin bold and boyful

Toying somewhere between love and abuse Calling to join them the wretched and joyful Shaking the wings of their terrible youths Freshly dissolved in some frozen devotion No more alone or myself could I be Looks like a strain to the arms it were open No shortage of sordid, no protest from me

With her sweetened breath, and her tongue so mean She's the angel of small death and the codeine scene With her straw-blonde hair, her arms hard and lean She's the angel of small death and the codeine scene

Feeling more human and hooked on her flesh I Lay my heart down with the rest at her feet Fresh from the fields, all fetor and fertile Bloody and raw, but I swear it is sweet

With her sweetened breath, and her tongue so mean She's the angel of small death and the codeine scene With her straw-blonde hair, her arms hard and lean She's the angel of small death and the codeine scene

And lease this confusion, I'll wander the concrete Wonder if better now having survived Jarring of judgement and reasons defeat The sweet heat of her breath in my mouth I'm alive

With her sweetened breath, and her tongue so mean She's the angel of small death and the codeine scene With her straw-blonde hair, her arms hard and lean She's the angel of small death and the codeine scene

With her sweetened breath, and her tongue so mean She's the angel of small death and the codeine scene With her straw-blonde hair, her arms hard and lean She's the angel of small death and the codeine scene"

I must admit -- I am a huge fan of Hozier's writing and music. The main reason is he writes assuming intelligence in his listeners. I think this is incredibly important. So many times, we underestimate our ability to make a change in the world, but this little nod in our direction as music lovers reminds us that the human race is able to do AMAZING things. 


Lyrics like: "I'll wander the concrete

Wonder if better now having survived

Jarring of judgment and reasons defeat

The sweet heat of her breath in my mouth I'm alive"

These lyrics paint a tragic reality. One where drug users survive addiction only to deal with "jarring" and critical judgment from others who don't understand what users go through, avoiding the passionate call of addiction. 

It just continues to really get us inside users and previous users' minds. They are stalked by this "angel of small death". She is a dreary creature "hard and lean", who continues to whisper harsh and "mean" reminders in users' ears. 

By painting this terrifying reality for listeners with his soulful voice, Hozier is able to put listeners in the mind of people whose experience is this daily. He allows listeners to build empathy with those very different from them. This is amazing because reading is one of those ways we build empathy among people, and lyrics are another way! 

So, in sum, lyrics can be tragic, but be sure to put your listeners in the mindset of the narrator to build empathy. Feel free to be creative with the lyrics. Emotion is key! 

Have fun writing. Until next time. 

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ALL THINGS ALT. ALWAYS.