11 Most Bone-Chilling Reprises By 'The Dear Hunter'

11 Most Bone-Chilling Reprises By 'The Dear Hunter'

Songwriter Casey Crescenzo has a knack for dropping bombshells in songs you've heard before.
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If there is one word to describe The Dear Hunter's concept albums that I've heard most used by first-time listeners, it's "theatrical." And it's hard to deny, especially considering over forty-three minutes of the band's albums are made up of reprises of their previous songs. The band is known for using this musical technique to unite the Acts albums, a series which, when listened to in order, describes the full life and death of a boy (known from here out as "the Boy," though his name is more or less accepted to be Hunter) as he ventures to the City, falls in love, is shipped off to World War I, and returns in the guise of the brother he lost in battle to free the city from the hands of the corrupt Pimp and the Priest. Though some of that comes across through lyrics, a good portion of the story's plot twists and major moments are told through dozens of carefully placed reprises. Out of those forty-three minutes, though, there are a few reprises that stand out.

Warning: This list contains major spoilers for the plot of the Acts albums. If you'd like to figure the story out on your own, enjoy the reprises linked below with your hand covering the paragraphs beneath them.

11. "The Pimp and the Priest" in "Rebirth"

There were nearly six years between the release of Act IV (2015) and the cliffhanger left behind by Act III (2009), when the Boy left the war and took the identity of the Son with him, so when Act IV was finally released, it needed to open with a bang. The first song in Act IV, "Rebirth," began with the same a capella that kicked off previous albums, was swiftly joined by the band's signature instruments and, eventually, the orchestra that had gone from a small treat in Act I to a key element of the band's music in the last few albums. Once the band's voices dropped out and "Rebirth" became purely orchestral, though, it was clear that this album would be on an entirely different level from the past three acts. The orchestra crescendos into a chaotic reprise of "The Pimp and the Priest" from Act II, fading in and out of the song's quiet, "Sing softly, sing/bring me to the lake" tune and accompanied by the same drums that carry the majority of the villain's introductory song. Since the Acts albums had not returned to the City and the Pimp and the Priest's storyline since the end of Act II, the return of his song as a marker of the return of the Acts and of this story is a fitting and exciting invitation back to the land of the river and the lake.

10. "Father" in "If All Goes Well"

You might want to get your headphones out for this one, because it's a little hard to catch. In "Father," the Boy uses the poison he was given in "The Poison Woman" to kill his father in one of his lowest moments, singing, "I knew that I kept this for a reason." An album later, in "If All Goes Well," the Boy meets a rare high moment and takes power as the city's new mayor, this time singing, "I knew that I did this for a reason." On one hand, the songs pair well together, since the Boy sings the first as he kills the Father and the second as he takes his first steps toward destroying the Pimp & the Priest (the Father, in a religious sense) and his hold on the city. In the other, the reprise carries particularly haunting connotations both in the fact that the original song was surrounded by so much emotional turmoil and the fact that the Boy's belief that he did all of this for a reason is lost in the voices of the City's people, who ask the Boy to "love us all in spite of what we'll do to you," heavily foreshadowing the fact that all is not, in fact, going to go well.

9. "Son" in "Bitter Suite VI: Abandon"

Though the tune of the song is changed, the opening lyrics of "Abandon" mirror "Son" so closely that I often find myself mixing them up. This flashback to the Boy burying his brother and taking his identity appearing the first time that he finds that identity threatened since his return to the City invokes the Son in the moment it is most important his presence be felt and carries a dread that makes the Boy's disguise feel completely transparent. As soft as both songs are, the Pimp and the Priest's brief words with the Boy in "Abandon" feel sour and ominous even before he reveals that he knows the Boy's identity.

8. "The Pimp and the Priest" in "Mr. Usher (On His Way To Town)"

This one is shocking mainly because it's completely unexpected. "Mr. Usher" is unique among The Dear Hunter's discography in that no other song has been written in the same style. You wouldn't expect a reprise from their usual work to be adapted to match the swing of "Mr. Usher." Think "King of Swords (Reversed)," a disco track that only includes a reprise once the song is basically over. In "Mr. Usher," the Pimp and the Priest's leitmotif is dropped directly in the middle of the song, suddenly pairing the newly introduced Mr. Usher with the Pimp and the Priest and providing new malice to the already villainous description of Mr. Usher imagined in the first half of the song.

7. "Bitter Suite 2: Through the Dime" in "Bitter Suite V: The Sermon in the Silt"

In retrospect, the intro to "Bitter Suite V" isn't all that subtle about who is about to re-enter the story. Upon first listening to Act IV, though, the process of putting together the opening lyrics and hearing the Pimp and the Priest reveal himself through a reprise of the "Hey, kid!" tune from "Bitter Suite 2" directly after a reprise of the Oracles leitmotif is so rewarding, especially after that long wait for the return to the City arc. While I'm personally partial to the reprise in Evicted (simply because of my love for Ms. Leading), this reprise is incredibly well placed. This is also the first time we really get to see the Pimp and the Priest in his role as a priest, and the slight change in the lyrics in "Bitter Suite V" lyrics from "get a job" to "get a god" feels so delightfully wrong that it's impossible not to smile upon first hearing it.

6. "Mustard Gas" in "He Said He Had A Story"

This reprise comes just two songs after the original tune is played, but it remains one of the band's most effective. Where "Mustard Gas" illustrates the horrors of war as the soldiers question how God could allow the pain of WWI's introduction of mustard gas, "He Said He Had a Story" takes a piece of "Mustard Gas" and makes it the basis for the Father's story about raping Ms. Terri. The entirety of "He Said He Had a Story" ends up carrying all of the anger and emotion of "Mustard Gas" as a result, equating the two scenarios and making "He Said He Had a Story" one of the band's most successful villain songs. So successful, in fact, that most fans associate the tune with "He Said He Had a story" rather than "Mustard Gas," and turned straight to the former upon hearing it reprised in "The Most Cursed of Hands."

5. "The Bitter Suite 1: Meeting Ms. Leading" in "A Night on the Town"

The sudden transition from the upbeat tone of "A Night on the Town" into a reprise of "Bitter Suite 1," the song that first introduced us to the Acts' leading lady, Ms. Leading, is easily one of the most exciting reprises to stumble upon. You can just picture the Boy noticing her so clearly, and the reprise's abrupt appearance delivers the same shock as that moment likely does for the two of them. With a few piano notes, the band manages to send its audience into the same turmoil of emotions that their main character experiences, and then continues to let those emotions play out until the reprise ends near the end of the song. When "A Night on the Town" was released as a single before Act IV came out, it was no surprise that a good number of fans confessed they'd been brought to tears by the song's final three minutes.

4. "Melpomene" in "The Flame (Is Gone)"

While the nearly hidden reprise of "Where The Road Parts" in "The Flame (Is Gone)" is the first hint that Mr. Usher and the Pimp and the Priest are going after Ms. Leading, the minor reprise of "Melpomene" at the end of the song is truly evil. "Melpomene" is such a sweet, uplifting love song, all gentle hope as the Boy regains some of the optimism of his youth, that hearing it used to convey the presumed death of Ms. Leading feels like a knife in the back. The ancient Greek muse Melpomene transformed from the Muse of Chorus to the Muse of Tragedy over time, though, so the reprise only makes too much sense. Still, I am continually in denial and foolheartedly believe Ms. Leading survives to take down Mr. Usher in the end. Don't try to fight me on this.

3. "The Old Haunt" in "The March"

The entirety of "The March" could be on this list, to be honest, since it manages to fit at least ten reprises into a four minute package and every one kills me. However, though the use of the chorus of "The Old Haunt" as the bridge of "The March" may be the most obvious reprise, it is still one of the song's most poignant. The boy's thoughts in "The Old Haunt" echo his mother's as he re-enters the city knowing the danger that lies there. "The March" takes those thoughts and throws them back in the Boy's face, taunting him with the fact that all of his and his mother's fears have been made a reality as the Pimp and the Priest reveals the Boy's secrets and turns the City against him. (If you were wondering, a few of the other reprises are: "Ouroboros," "Smiling Swine," "The Oracles on the Delphi Express," "Wait," and "King of Swords (Reversed)"/"The Most Cursed of Hands.")

2. "The Oracles on the Delphi Express" in "Blood"

The Oracles' leitmotif is one of the most commonly reprised in the Acts, coming back every time something the Oracles predicted, either in the songs they sing to kick off each album or in the actual song "The Oracles on the Delphi Express," comes true or is set into motion. Consequently, every time the Oracles' leitmotif makes an appearance, it is upsetting, painful, and/or worrisome. Their tune somehow manages to be all of those things as well as completely satisfying the last time it is heard, as the Boy kills the Pimp and the Priest and seals his fate in Act V's penultimate song, "Blood." The Boy's line, "For you, I am a killer," followed directly by this reprise is both triumphant and slightly sorrowful, harkening back to the first time we heard it as the Oracles warned the Boy of his future so that he might take a different path. While the moment should be a release after years of waiting for this conclusion, the reprise ends up feeling like the final nail in the Boy's coffin.

1. "The Moon/Awake" and "The Lake South" in "A Beginning"

I'm sorry, the final track on Act V melds these two together too perfectly and I couldn't choose just one. Back in "What It Means To Be Alone" in Act III, the Oracles warned that the Boy would "die with the moon," so when the tracklist for Act V featured "The Moon" as its second song, fans were understandably concerned. Rather than use that title for the album's finale, though, the album's final track transitions into a reprise of "The Moon" as the Boy dies in "A Beginning" and transitions from that reprise into a reprise of "The Lake South" (a reprise commonly associated with "City Escape," since it appears whenever someone manages to flee the City, whether that be through setting their room on fire, going to war, or dying). Even though there is going to be an Act VI, "A Beginning" closes out the Boy's story on Earth, and the combination of these two songs to create such a bittersweet finale that it's hard not to feel stunned when it kicks into gear in the final two minutes.

The 42 minutes of reprises that exist outside of this list are just as thought out and exciting to spot, from "The Lake and the River" reprise in "The Old Haunt" becoming "Waves" to the sweet piano reprise of "Mustard Gas" at the end of "A Night on the Town," so which reprise gave you chills the first time you heard it?

Cover Image Credit: The Dear Hunter

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The Key To Ending Your First Draft Blues

Or at least getting through the next chapter with your hair intact
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Ah, the first draft. We’ve all been there as writers. The day we decide to turn a blank word document into a 70,000 word (or more) masterpiece. Or, at least, that’s always the aim. Often as first-time writers, we go into the experience blind, learning as we go, and never really knowing whether what we’re doing is right or wrong.

It can be frustrating at times, as most first drafts are a test of sanity. As somebody who had written ten first draft books (nearing eleven) in six years, I have had my fair share of ups and downs when it comes to first drafts.

My first book ever took me four years just to write it, I started at the age of sixteen and finished by the time I was twenty. A year later I had written another. I then wrote one in thirty days, and nowadays I write about three to four books a year.

My point is, there is no science to writing. It is all about learning how to do it, and finding the methods that suit you best. I just wish I could have had someone to tell me all of that when I started.

With that in mind, here are my five pieces of advice on how to write your first draft:

#5 Embrace the Terribleness

The first draft is always the worst version of any story. The sooner you accept it, the easier it is to move forward with your work. So you misspell a few words so bad that even Word can't help you. That shouldn't stop you from going with the flow. Your dialogue will feel hammier than a "Star Wars" film, but you'll clean it up the second time around. You're not expected to create a masterpiece on the first go, so just enjoy the ride.

#4 Suffer for your Art

Writing can be hard. I've said it enough times already, but it's true. You have to be prepared to suffer for it. The reason my first book took four years to write was because I didn't commit to it. The reason I wrote 80,000 words in thirty days was because I committed myself to write at least 1,000 words a day. Now I average 3,000 daily. Is it painful to force 3,000 words to the page every day? Yes, but that's what you have to do to get the draft finished.

#3 Take your Time

Now I know this goes against what I just said, but it's important that you go at the pace you want to. I was happier writing 1,000 words a day, but I was eighteen then. At twenty-three, I'll never get everything done going at 1,000 words a day. Commit yourself to writing every day, even if its only 200 words. Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. You'll get to the finishing line quicker if you jog a steady pace rather than adopting a sprint and rest mentality.

#2 Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Yes, it's important to remember what colour your character's hair is, which one is taller, and what weapon they are carrying. Although with that said, it is important to keep going forward. In my editing, I go over everything with a fine comb, often with a character profile at my side. Don't get bogged down giving every little detail the first time around, you'll have time for that later. The hardest thing is getting it down the first time.

#1 Keep the Story Going at All Costs

This kind of goes without saying, but it is by far the most important step for me. You have to keep moving forward. It doesn't matter if you have to use the biggest Deus ex machina to get your plot going again, you can always edit it away in the re-draft. I use a technique called automatic writing, which means that I don't plan every detail of a chapter. I simply write it as I go. This allows me to give my characters natural reactions as events often come as a surprise to me too.

Obviously it is good to have a rough idea of what is meant to happen, but as long as you can get your characters from A to B, then you are half way there. The other half will be polishing it to the point you can see your reflection.

Good luck, and happy writing.

Cover Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Writer%27s_Block_I.jpg

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4 Steps To Writing a Haiku

It's Fun I Promise
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You've probably had to write a haiku for English sometime in your school career. You most likely found it boring, or difficult, or just plain stupid. I am going to try and show you a more fun way to write a haiku.

1. The Basics: What You Should Know

In case you don't know, a haiku is a Japanese poem that is only three lines long. It is usually taught that the syllables in each line should go 5-7-5. But really, as long as there are 17 syllables or less in the three lines, it's a haiku.

2. Write to Get a Reaction

When you write a haiku, you are aiming to get one of three reactions: Aaaahhh, aha!, or ha ha! For example...

Aaahhh: Laying in bed/dog next to me under blanket/my furry heater

Aha!: Life is too short to love people/who do not deserve/your whole heart

Ha ha!: I'm on the toilet/and my stomach drops/the roll is empty

3. Create an Image

In your writing, you want to create a new image in your readers mind with each line. Take my first haiku for example. I first talk about laying in bed. Then, I say there is a dog next to me under the blanket, so you picture a lump under the covers. In my last line, I call him a furry heater so you imagine a heater covered in fur. The image you create is more important than the syllables.

4. Performing

Lastly, you need to think about performing your haiku. As always, when you're speaking in front of a room of people, you need to project so the whole room can hear you and you need to make eye contact. Another thing to remember is the tone of your voice while you are saying your poem. Dramatic pauses can keep people on the edge of their seat, waiting for what you're going to say next. You also have to remember to be confident! And if you're not confident, fake it till you make it!

Cover Image Credit: Imgur

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