“The Great Escape” begins. Humanity is always trying to escape from or to something, and Seventh Wonder has noticed this trend. In the first track, “Wiseman”, the band portrays humanity in grave danger from its own treatment of planet Earth.
“Fallen/ Maid of earth wind of fire/ By the hands of your lies/ Wiseman looks up from his cold crystal ball/ While he cries Utopia dies”. The band believes the earth is dying, We are killing it. And as our children ask about the past and about the golden years, we have to ask ourselves if we are really able to tell them the truth: We are the ones who killed the beauty all around us.
You see, humans try to escape in so many ways, and, often, they forget to care about the things that really matter. When all is said and done, will we leave anything behind for our posterity? Can we escape ourselves? “You know it’s only up to you/ But you don’t want to believe what you know is true/ Still hiding behind your mirrors blue/ What will you do every time your children turn to you/ Wondering ‒ when the world is gone, will we go too?”
2. Alley Cat
The second track of “The Great Escape” is something of an oddity. It is a technically proficient track, but it’s also a sappy love song. And, yet, it fits the theme of this album purrrrfectly (sorry).
“Some days I will stay inside to cover that I’ve cried.” This track presents us with a nomad, or a wanderer. This guy is completely lost in his world of fear, shame, and guilt. Honestly, he wants nothing more than to escape himself. And, so, that’s what he does. He wanders the metaphorical alleys of life, trying to avoid anything real. Yet, there’s someone so real that he can’t help but see her. There is a woman that causes him to desire to escape into love. She is a touchstone in the mess of this world.
“Oh baby let me stay your alley cat/ You’re my wire to the light/ And my spark here in the still of the night/ So baby let me stay where I’m at/ In your sight I always feel alright”. Yes, in this guy’s upside down world, this woman has become an anchor to reality. Just seeing her, he can’t help but feel real again. She is a spark within him, a true escape from all his problems. Indeed, he is merely happy with being around her. As long as she accepts his presence, he will stay forever.
3. The Angelmaker
So, here we are at the third track on “The Great Escape”. This track, “The Angelmaker”, is confusing as they come. The lyrics include lines like “Goodnight Ofelia! By the rope you will hang for/ carving nightmares out of dreams” and “I damn you mothers for the children left behind/ And all the guilt I have to carry”. Honestly, this left me a little confused at first, but I think I have a take on it now.
I believe this song is a tribute to Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, wherein a female character Ofelia falls from a tree and drowns in a river. Some accuse her of killing herself. I think it’s pretty clear, then, that lines like “Another star on the night sky/ A set of white wings to fly/ And travel to a holy land” are referring to her in some way, as she becomes an angel, which is referred to in the play itself. I believe much of this track is Hamlet’s agony.
I think this track gives us a little insight into the fact that there is more going on in this album than just an “escape” theme. There is a philosophical foundation here, asking questions about existence and fate. We will certainly see more of this as the album closes.
4. King of Whitewater
“Stay away from the dark river/ It’s cold outside tonight/ And his name feels like a shiver down my spine”. Okay, everyone, the next track on “The Great Escape” is “King of Whitewater”, and it happens to be my favorite on the album. However, it also the strangest lyrically.
Yes, this song is based on Swedish folklore. In their stories, there is a being call a “neck”, “nicor”, or “nixie” that basically is a water spirit that can appear as a man playing a violin in the rivers and woods. What he does, then, is play his violin to lure people to his beautiful song, and then he drowns them in the river. Yes, that is what this song is about, and, yes, that’s a really strange topic.
Yet, I can’t help but think about this song’s inclusion. In a way, this spirit is helping people escape this life. They are dying with beautiful music in their ears. Also, his entire existence revolves around luring others. Some escapes in this life are not desired. There’s a tangent here somewhere about fate and being. I’ll think of it.
5. Long Way Home
“I am taking the long way home/ I really messed up and I’m late again/ And my belly aches from fear/ How, when and where?” This fifth song on “The Great Escape” is simply heartbreaking. “Long Way Home” shows us a moment of terror, regret, and sorrow all bowled up into one heck of a melancholy song. But, what’s it all about?
From reading the lyrics carefully, I think that this track has to do with a young couple, specifically the women (though it could apply to either sex). Her “belly aches from fear” as they get ready “to build this perfect family”. She’s pregnant. But she knows herself. She knows that she has done some terrible things. She doesn’t think she is strong enough for the challenge, or that she can be forgiven for the past.
When children come into the picture, I can personally vouch that it changes your life. All of a sudden, you have other humans to care for, and it initiates a kind of soul-searching in yourself. Can I stop being selfish? Will I love this child like it deserves? She worries not only about the child, but about her spouse, too. She’s worried about the fights about stupid things (like lost keys). All of this worry is only natural, but the band has captured the introspection perfectly. The final question, then, is whether or not you will try to escape from this blessing, or escape into it.
6. Move On Through
This next to last track on Seventh Wonder’s “The Great Escape” explores human nature a bit. “Can’t get enough of this sensation/ So pure in every way, giving this man his/ Everyday reincarnation”. This track, I believe, is an exploration of two very different people and how they escape into music for rejuvenation.
First off, we have a homeless man playing music for spare change. No one gives him any money; but, deep inside, he is perfectly happy as he understands, through his music, that happiness doesn’t involve money or material things.
Secondly, we see a rich girl that just wants to save the world, but her future is already set, as she must inherit the company. This unhappiness drives her to run to her headphones, diving into music for relief.
“While time is slipping through the hourglass/ Let’s sing at the top of our lungs:/ We’re are all the same!” What’s the point of all this? The idea is that we are all the same! We are all human beings: soul, spirit, and body. Despite our religious, economic, geographical, or political differences, we are all people that need helping in moving on through, and music connects all of us in that way.
7. The Great Escape
“And the Earth wept”. We now come to this incredibly epic half-hour title song on “The Great Escape”. There is a huge, bewildering theme here involving the people of Earth leaving the home that they have poisoned beyond repair. They wait in line to board a ship to another world and another life.
“We all were too bold, now we all can see/ How the lifegiver’s bleeding to death before me”. Yet, after getting on this ship to the stars, they are met with tragedy and despair. Though it’s a bit vague, it seems like they lose their way, meet strange beings that help them in some way, but they are still lost. Eventually, though, they fall madly into depravity, especially the sexual kind. Finally, they begin to die out, and, soon, the ship is “void of all but death”. Mankind’s time runs out as they destroy everything to which they put their hands.
There has been some postulation that the whole album is about the people that eventually go on this voyage or the people that are poisoned by the dying world. From the broken lover in “Alley Cat” to the homeless man in “Move on Through”, I don’t really see much connection with this track. However, I think the major point of these tracks is the same: We are all looking for something else: something deeper. Sometimes, in search for this meaningful experience, we become fixated on other peoples, lusts, arts, or material things. In the end, though, we aren’t going to find happiness in trying to fulfill ourselves. It only leads to decay.
We have a different purpose, and we can only truly be satisfied by pursuing love, peace, and our purpose. For me, that means living in true fellowship with Jesus Christ and mankind. These travelers tried to escape the consequences of their apathy and became fixated on their lusts, but those things followed them all the way to destruction. The more we try to run, the worse it will be in the end. The more we try to ignore the truth, the sooner our ruin will appear.