“Play Dead” by Björk is one of those songs I love too much to stay silent about, so I’m going to write a minor piece on it. I’ve yet to come across anyone who appreciates this song as much as me, which is a tad disappointing, but I suppose nobody can be blamed. You appreciate in music what you can relate to, and I daresay this is a hard song to feel a connection with if you lead a normal happy life. I feel that people who suffer from depression would be more likely to gravitate toward it, but I could be wrong.
“Darling…stop confusing me with your wishful thinking.”
What’s interesting to me about the lyrics here is that she could be talking to someone else, or she could be talking to herself. I like to interpret it as the latter, personally. Her words hint at this sort of duality within, and an inner struggle taking place wherein she desires to be held and loved but knows it’s not possible, so she tells herself that she belongs in a different mindset to deal with the pain. Not only deal with the pain, but as the song goes on, completely accept and even embrace it.
“I nestle into pain
caress every ache.”
This song has a darker tone to it, which I’m often a fan of. It’s not only dark though, in a way I feel it’s also triumphant, in the sense that she conquers her pain. The orchestral music that makes up the bulk of the instrumental helps to accentuate that feeling of triumph.
The way she sings this though is something that could only be done by Björk and is what elevates the song to another level. “Play Dead”, for me, justifies why she’s considered one of the greatest singers ever. Her voice is just dripping with emotion the entire song, and goes far beyond that in some parts. Around the 1:37 mark in particular is the peak of the emotional content I feel, also repeated around 2:52, where she abandons words completely to convey emotion that simply cannot be explained, only expressed in her own way or felt by the listener.
It is visceral. It is pure. It is sublime.
And if you’re one of the souls lucky enough to feel what is expressed here, it can bring you to tears.