English Essay Picture

Intelligent Metal

From people in politics, to heroes in history, and mythology and religion, one band brings all of these important factors of our world together in their music. Whether singing about war, peace, myth, legends, ancient events gone by or future events yet to pass, Iron Maiden does it all with a seemingly effortless grace. Spanning their nearly thirty year career (and still going), they have enough songs under their belt to write a full fledged novel. Their lyrics carry important messages and views, and are brimming with knowledge and insight.

One of the most common things Iron Maiden writes about is war and epic struggle, whether it be emotional or physical. The legendary band’s most famous song of war is a song called 2 Minutes to Midnight. In 1953, the Soviet Union and the United States both tested nuclear weapons within 9 months of each other. This was the closest the hands on the symbolic Doomsday Clock, created by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, ever came to striking “midnight”.

The song talks about how unnecessary and terrible war is, and is very much demoting and discouraging war.

“(Adrian smith/Bruce Dickinson)

Kill for gain or shoot to maim
But we don’t need a reason
The golden goose is on the loose
And never out of season
Some blackened pride still burns inside
This shell of bloody treason
Here’s my gun for a barrel of fun
For the love of living death.

Chorus
The killers breed or the demons seed,
The glamour, the fortune, the pain,
Go to war again, blood is freedoms stain,
But don’t you pray for my soul anymore.
2 minutes to midnight
The hands that threaten doom.
2 minutes to midnight
To kill the unborn in the womb.

The blind men shout let the creatures out
Well show the unbelievers
The napalm screams of human flames
Of a prime time belsen feast...yeah!As the reasons for the carnage cut their meat and lick the gravy,
We oil the jaws of the war machine and feed it with our babies.

Chorus

The body bags and little rags of children torn in two
And the jellied brains of those who remain to put the finger right on you.
As the madmen play on words and make us all dance to their song,
To the tune of starving millions to make a better kind of gun.

Chorus

Midnight...all night...”

There are many ideas about what the line “The Golden Goose is on the loose and never out of season.” means. Some believe that “killing the Golden Goose” is a metaphor which means committing any short-sighted action for instant gain but a great consequence, as a result of not looking ahead. Another theory refers to the brief case the President always carries with him when he is away from the White House. It has had several names, but The Golden Goose is one of the more famous. The briefcase holds the ciphers and authentication codes to launch the nuclear weapons from the U.S. This may be referring to the fact that nuclear weapons are always ready to be launched, and catastrophe may be just around the corner.
Another important line is the famous “Go to war again, blood is freedom’s stain,”. The price of freedom is high. This is somewhat ironic in the fact that people fight for peace. Even though the world wants freedom, there will always be wars to be fought, and the price of freedom is blood and life.

In the chorus, the line “To kill the unborn in the womb,” is simply saying that in wartime, not only men die, but children as well, and women. Whole generations may experience a sever decrease in population because of this.

“As the madmen play on words and make us all dance to their song, to the tune of starving millions to make a better kind of gun.” The world is wasting their money on weapons. In fact, millions of starving people could be saved, clothed, fed and homed with the extreme amount of money that goes into making new guns every year. The world as a whole spends more than $100 billion a year on new weapons.
Not all of Iron Maiden’s songs are so sinister (to no fault of their own). The band created a song on the same album as 2 Minutes to Midnight about a very famous poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge written in 1797-1799. The entire poem is about a mariner who stops a guest at a wedding party and recites his tale of a supernatural sailing voyage. This is Iron Maiden’s longest song to date, coming in at 13 minutes and 42 seconds.

“Hear the rime of the ancient mariner
See his eye as he stops one of three
Mesmerizes one of the wedding guests
Stay here and listen to the nightmares of the sea.

And the music plays on, as the bride passes by
Caught by his spell and the mariner tells his tale.

Driven south to the land of the snow and ice
To a place where nobody’s been
Through the snow fog flies on the albatross
Hailed in gods name, hoping good luck it brings.

And the ship sails on, back to the north
Through the fog and ice and the albatross follows on.

The mariner kills the bird of good omen
His shipmates cry against what he’s done
But when the fog clears, they justify him
And make themselves a part of the crime.

Sailing on and on and north across the sea
Sailing on and on and north til all is calm.

The albatross begins with its vengeance
A terrible curse a thirst has begun
His shipmates blame bad luck on the mariner
About his neck, the dead bird is hung.

And the curse goes on and on at sea
And the curse goes on and on for them and me.

day after day, day after day,
We stuck nor breath nor motion
As idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean
Water, water everywhere and
All the boards did shrink
Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink.

There calls the mariner
There comes a ship over the line
But how can she sail with no wind in her sails and no tide.

See...onward she comes
Onward she nears out of the sunSee, she has no crew
She has no life, wait but here’s two.

Death and she life in death,
They throw their dice for the crew
She wins the mariner and he belongs to her now.
Then...crew one by one
They drop down dead, two hundred men
She...she, life in death.
She lets him live, her chosen one.

One after one by the star dogged moon,
Too quick for groan or sigh
Each turned his face with a ghastly pang
And cursed me with his eye
Four times fifty living men
(and I heard nor sigh nor groan)
With heavy thump, a lifeless lump,
They dropped down one by one.

The curse it lives on in their eyes
The mariner wished he’d die
Along with the sea creatures
But they lived on, so did he.

And by the light of the moon
He prays for their beauty not doom
With heart he blesses them
Gods creatures all of them too.

Then the spell starts to break
The albatross falls from his neck
Sinks down like lead into the sea
Then down in falls comes the rain.

Hear the groans of the long dead seamen
See them stir and they start to rise
Bodies lifted by good spirits
None of them speak and they’re lifeless in their eyes

And revenge is still sought, penance starts again
Cast into a trance and the nightmare carries on.

Now the curse is finally lifted
And the mariner sights his homeSpirits go from the long dead bodies
Form their own light and the mariners left alone.

And then a boat came sailing towards him
It was a joy he could not believe
The pilots boat, his son and the hermit,
Penance of life will fall onto him.

And the ship sinks like lead into the sea
And the hermit shrives the mariner of his sins.

The mariners bound to tell of his story
To tell this tale wherever he goes
To teach gods word by his own example
That we must love all things that God made.

And the wedding guests a sad and wiser man
And the tale goes on and on and on.”

Despite being incredibly long, it is a beautifully compose song, and tells the tale in a much shorter time than actually reading the poem, and is very enjoyable accompanied by the music. The interlude in the middle is completely true to the poem, reciting a famous section of the poem with some soft and eerie music.

There is a message to be found within the song, and the poem of course, as the song is based on the poem. In the story, the mariner is cursed for killing the fabled albatross, and he does not beg forgiveness. His crew justifies him and the entire ship is cursed. It is a lesson of respect and care for other creatures, and reveals the truth to the mariner. Now he must tell his tale wherever he goes, to make him understand his wrong and help others to understand the lesson within the story.

The most famous person in history that the band sings about is a legendary man, born in ancient Macedonia. Becoming king at only 19, he conquered most of the world in his campaign, and no one has accomplished as much yet. Alexander the Great is name that will live on forever.

My son ask for thyself another
Kingdom for that which I leave
Is too small for thee
(King Philip of Macedonia - 339 B.C.)

Near to the east
In a part of ancient Greece
In an ancient land called Macedonia
Was born a son
To Philip of MacedonThe legend his name was Alexander

At the age of nineteen
He became the Macedon king
And he swore to free all of Asia minor
By the Aegian sea
In 334 B.C.
He utterly beat the armies of Persia

Alexander the great
His name struck fear into hearts of men
Alexander the great
Became a legend mongst mortal men

King Darius the third
Defeated fled Persia
The Scythians fell by the river of Jaxartes
Then Egypt fell to the Macedon king as well
And he founded the city called Alexandria

By the Tigris river
He met king Darius again
And crushed him again at the battle of Arbela
Entering Babylon
And Susa treasures he found
Took Persepolis the capital of Persia

Alexander the great
His name struck fear into hearts of men
Alexander the great
Became a God mongst mortal men

A Phrygian king had bound a chariot yoke
And Alexander cut the Gordian Knot
And the legend said that who untied the knot
He would become the master of Asia

Helonism he spread far and wide
The Macedonian learned mind
Their culture was a western way of life
He paved the way for Christianity

Marching on marching on

The battle weary marching side by sideAlexanders army line by line
They wouldn’t follow him to India
Tired of the combat, pain and the glory

Alexander the great
His name struck fear into hearts of men
Alexander the great
He died of fever in Babylon

Ultimately very accurate, the song tells the tale of the victories of Alexander and the empire he built. He changed the map forever. One of the most interesting tale from his conquests was the legend of the Gordian Knot. It was the most complex knot in all of the world at that time, with many cross overs and knots within knots and other such intricacies. The knot was first created by King Midas, and it was passed down among the generations. Only very few people actually knew how to untie the knot. The legend of the knot was that whoever could untie would conquer all of Asia. After trying to untie the knot, Alexander could not find a way to untie it, and so he drew forth his sword and cut the knot. He in fact went on to fulfill the prophecy, and conquer Asia. In the end, his men grew weary of the constant war and battle, and so they would follow him no further to India. Alexander died of fever in Babylon thereafter.

The lyrics Iron Maiden uses to describe stories is masterful at their core, and much more as a whole. Without listening to the music, one cannot understand the drama and sheer epic of one such song as Alexander the Great or others like it. Other songs explain history, such as Quest for Fire, a song about the rise of man from apes, or myth, such as the song Flight of Icarus. Their songs even encompass books, as heard in the song To Tame a Land, about the grand science fiction series by Frank Herbert, Dune. Nameless others dot their albums, and each song is filled with great knowledge and can give one much understanding and help to grasp the concept of many stories from our world.
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