Thrice and the Myth of Icarus

(Imported from: [link])

In their 2003 album The Artist in the Ambulancethe band Thrice wrote a song called “The Melting Point of Wax” [link] about the fall of Icarus, from his point of view.  Five years later, the band released “Daedalus” [link] on The Alchemy Index Vols. III-IV, which told the same story from the father’s perspective.  These two songs are examples of when lyrics can be considered poems.

To refresh your memory, the Greek myth has it that Daedalus and his son Icarus build wings out of wax to fly off the island they’ve been imprisoned on, but Icarus flies too close to the sun and as a result, his wings melt and he falls into the ocean.

Just the fact that these two songs are written from the Greek gods’ perspectives makes them poetic.  Often what a poet would do is write a poem using a persona, a voice that isn’t the writer’s own.  Instead of saying directly what the myth means to them, the band implies it through developing persona.

But why exactly write about an ancient myth in the 21sth century, what could it possibly have to do with their lives?  That’s where the metaphors come in.  Here’s my interpretation:

In 2003, Thrice was barely beginning to find their popularity in the mainstream scene, with radio-play of some songs off Artist.  They were young, ambitious, and felt like they were able to pull off anything, and they reflected that in their song.  Icarus keeps flying higher, despite knowing it could possibly kill him.

Five years later, the band grew older, had kids, and realized that if they took too many risks, they would put lives other than their own in jeopardy.  They took on the role of the father, who encourages the son to go all out guns blazing, but then realizes his mistake.  The myth of Daedalus becomes a cautionary tale.

(The Alchemy Index, of which “Daedalus” is from, is a series of four EPs, each containing six songs that tell of how each of the four classic elements–water, fire, air, and earth–can be abused by the people who use them.  If that’s not metaphoric enough to be poetic, I’m not sure what is.)

I can’t know for sure what the song means to the band.  But I do know that I’m able to interpret these song lyrics as I would a poem.

One way of understanding poetry or even mythology is by making it your own, and lyrics can help you do just that.  In a classroom, I would share these songs to students, then get them to choose a Greek myth to reinterpret and write a poem or short story about in a way that relates to their own lives.


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