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  • Writer's pictureIan Galipeau

Creation Stories: Devil In The Darkness

Updated: Nov 24, 2022

I've been expecting to run short on blog topics at some point, so I had it in the back of my head that I'd start a series about where my song ideas came from. I actually had a few other songs written up and ready to post when the need arose, but given the events of the last few weeks, I decided the first entry is going to be about an older song called "Devil in the Darkness", which I wrote in December 2012 after Sandy Hook.

It's not a song about school shootings - it's a song in which I'm trying to come to terms with our reaction to them. Every single time, in the midst of profound tragedy, our collective response is fear, anger, and vitriol. And that's it. We fall over again into our entrenched opinions, shouting insults at other side and positioning ourselves as the moral victors. We fundamentally misunderstand the core values and motivations of those who don't agree with us, and we decide they are soulless idiots. It feels redemptive to know that we have the moral high ground... except that nobody is redeemed, because nothing changes. So it happens again. And it will happen again.

I'll get off my soapbox now and talk about the song.

Musically, this piece is relatively simple. Four chords that never change. Five verses, with an "oh" refrain. The one odd thing is that the chords cycle on three 8-counts (instead of the standard four) which makes it feel kind of like it's starting again too soon. This was not an intentional musical metaphor for gun violence, but I appreciated it when I noticed it after the fact.

As far as the lyrics, I feel like they speak for themselves. There's not a lot hidden - the images are as forceful and direct as I could make them, in a song that's an extended metaphor about the dark side of human nature. The fourth verse starts with a reference to Psalm 23, which is often quoted during funerals. That association was very intentional - this song was inspired by profound tragedy, and I wanted to include that image of mourning.

My wife Aly sings backing vocals on the refrain of the recorded version. In addition to having a beautiful voice and a great ear for harmony, she's a music teacher. She's been working in public schools since 2011, so she was just over a year into her career when Sandy Hook happened. Hearing her voice on this song makes it difficult to listen to, for me.

I finished this recording a few years ago, but I've always felt some discomfort with pushing it as a release on its own, for fear that I'd set a date several weeks out, and then it would end up being right after some future horrific tragedy. This song will finally get an official release as part of the album I'm working on now, along with eleven other songs. It's been on YouTube exclusively for a while - I'll embed the video below the lyrics.

I think that's all I have to say about that.

[EDIT: "Devil In The Darkness" is the final track on my album Like We Were Never Here At All. Listen to it here.]

Lyrics: there's a monster in the shadows he's just waiting for his chance to raise his puppet strings like gallows and make the whole world dance there's a devil in the darkness he just hums his quiet tune an ancient siren across the waters singing sparks to light the fuse he is breathing in the hatred and the fear inside us all can't you see him gaining strength as

we load our guns and build our walls as we're walking through the valley and we stand amongst our demons can't you hear them calling loudly out for sweet revenge there's an answer to the violence that is coursing through our veins let your love fill up the silence and watch it fall away

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