When Demaratus was asked whether he held his tongue because he was a fool or for want of words, he replied, “A fool cannot hold his tongue.” - Plutarch
Demons Dance Alone is the most recent album of all new material by avant-garde art punks The Residents. Two tracks (Betty's Body and Wolverines), however, appeared before the album's official release on the "greatest hits" collection Petting Zoo. It was released to celebrate the band's thirtieth anniversary. Demons Dance Alone was a marked change for The Residents, completely unlike anything that came before, though some parts of the album are similar to the more mellow cuts on Wormwood: Curious Stories From The Bible. The concepts behind the album ars that of loss, denial, and a trio of metaphors for life.
Demons Dance Alone was written and composed in the days following the tragedy of September 11th, 2001. The Residents music does not deal with the tragedy directly, but instead with the human elements of tragedy. The band put it best themselves with the statement "...the album captures a quite different side of The Residents, a vulnerable uncertain Eyeball asks questions which have no answers." While the album is, for the most part, serious, the unique Residential sense of dark humor rears its eyeball masked head from time to time on tracks like Caring and Mickey Macaroni.
The album itself is divided into two parts, part I taking up the bulk of the album. Part I is further subdivided into the segments Loss, Denial and Three Metaphors. The segment of Loss contains the most songs, beginning with the track Life Would Be Wonderful (also known as Mr. Wonderful on the Demons Dance Alone Special Edition). On Denial. The Denial segment contains some of the Residents best works since Mark Of The Mole, such as the manic Betty's Body and the excellent instrumental Baja?. On Three Metaphors, between a series of brief instrumental bits, three songs Beekeeper's Daughter, Wolverines and Make Me Moo create illustrative musical stories on the human condition. In addition, throughout part I of the album, short clips tell the story of a man known as "Tongue". Tongue's story is simple - every time he falls in love with a woman, she wastes away and dies.
Part II of the album is devoted entirely to the nearly four minute title track. The lyrics are as follows:
You can know a needle's eye
Or a hungry baby's cry
But no one knows that demons dance alone
Silver linings came and went
When I was an innocent
Never knowing demons dance alone
But somehow I was seduced
And my innocence reduced
By a demon that became my own
Knowingly I followed it
Took the hook and swallowed it
But then I found it dancing in my home
Terrified I tried to quit
But now I need the taste of shit
Like a dancing demon needs a home
I had hoped to fill my years with
More than melancholy tears
But the demon makes me dance alone
This song sums up the album concisely. The demons of pain and suffering are part of the human condition. They cannot be escaped, but they can be dealt with. One should not let them rule your life.
Demons Dance Alone made up the bulk of The Residents 30th Anniversary tour. A unique DVD of the tour has been released by Ralph America, and can be purchased (along with the album itself) via their website (http://www.ralphamerica.com), amazon.com, and at local music stores with some taste. The album of Demons Dance Alone was released in two version as well. The Special Edition version contains a bonus disc of demos and unused songs from the album sessions, and is packaged in an attractive black faux-suede sleeve with a hardcover book.
With Demons Dance Alone, The Residents have created a modern masterpiece, their best since the landmark God In Three Persons. It is a mature, intelligent work, that will leave you satisfied. It is a great album to put on when you're depressed and confused about life.
2. Life Would Be Wonderful
3. The Weatherman
4. Ghost Child
6. Honey Bear
12. Thundering Skies (instrumental)
13. Mickey Macaroni
14. Betty's Body
15. My Brother Paul
17. Baja? (instrumental)
21. Beekeeper's Daughter
25. Make Me Moo
28. Demons Dance Alone
(Untitled tracks not listed.)