Massive Attack’s Teardrop: beyond the meaning of the lyrics

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This story is part of the book:

Mama Mia Let Me Go!
A journey through the most intriguing lyrics and stories in rock music

Buy it on Amazon

If there are any modern lyrics that are able to express the mysticism of a night of rituals, they are definitely found in Massive Attack’s Teardrop, from their album Mezzanine, released in 1998.

It is a song that tells us the story of a woman on a dark and mysterious night of passionate delirium, who seeks the truth about love.

And she gets an answer. From Massive Attack, the pioneers of trip hop, a genre that goes beyond any compartmentalisation, refusing to belong or relate to any other music genre. It is an approach that brings new elements to modern music, while taking its inspiration from a large set of predecessors, from jazz, to electronic music, to rock.

Love, love is a verb
Love is a doing word

The start is like a pulse, similar to a heartbeat. It determines the rhythm and where the melodic line jumps in, metallic and enigmatic, followed by those slow notes. It’s like a pendulum, a clock that introduces a story to us.

The solemnity is palpable, as if time has stopped for a moment, in order to make room for a concept or an explanation.

Massive Attack are trying to tell us what love is.

Teardrop on fire

The beat of the song perfectly represents the fragility of such an ethereal concept as love. It is fragile like the crystal of a teardrop, yet powerful like a droplet falling into a fire.

Love is a doing word. And the song is an act of impulse; the beat comes from our heart and it’s just meant to express the feeling: breath, heartbeat, action, then life.

The teardrop is static; the action is in the beat.

Water is my eye
Most faithful mirror
Fearless on my breath
Teardrop on the fire
Of a confession

This is the night of delirium. In this dreamlike room, we picture scenes of introspective feelings, illuminated by the fire of passion.

A fire that burns, questioning the very beat of the song.

The water-based mirror has nothing to say. It reflects the woman’s face deep in confession, in a melody which is dark and enlightening at the same time. It is a melody which us able to reach our most mysterious depths and bring our feelings to light.

Night, night of matter
Black flowers blossom

Elisabeth Fraser, in her distinctive Scottish voice, echoes the sensations produced by this room of solemn riddles. She backs up the rhythmic syncope that marks the time. And this is the time when Massive Attack have questions for us.

Then the room fades out over the sound of the last notes. The prayer announces the end of the delirium, the physical exhaustion that defines the end of the prophecy.

The time of riddles is over; the myth of Teardrop has fulfilled itself.

The echo of love is inside our chest, in the beat of our breath.

This story is part of the book:

Mama Mia Let Me Go!
A journey through the most intriguing lyrics and stories in rock music

Buy it on Amazon

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