Finding Hidden Clues In the 'True Detective' Soundtrack Part 2
  • MONDAY, MARCH 03, 2014

  • Posted by: Matt Howard

Last week I wrote an article speculating that T Bone Burnett, the music supervisor on True Detective, was using songs to foreshadow the cult-followed series' highly hypothesized plot. In last night's episode—number 7, "After You've Gone"—we saw the show's unacknowledged hero once again using incredible music to keep the plot afloat.

Although no one can be certain if there are underlying messages living in the songs' lyrics, it's become evident that when selecting the series' music, Burnett was looking for more than a fitting mood and melody. The two most prominent songs featured on "After You've Gone" were Townes Van Zandt's "LUNGS" and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's "Fault Line".

SPOILERS WARNING

The first, "LUNGS", is a radiant example of Van Zandt's allegorical songwriting, and it contains many phrases that could easily resonate in the mind of a True Detective fan. There is, however, one reference in the song that stands out as a possible plot indicator. It's become clear that Louisiana's Gulf Coast and waterways are playing an integral role in the antagonist(s)' game. Some even speculate that the heralded Yellow King and Carcosa are actually the names of boats. In such a case, the verse from "LUNGS" (in bold) could be a harbinger for the episode 8 finale.

Well, won't you lend your lungs to me?
Mine are collapsing
Plant my feet and bitterly breathe
Up the time that's passing.
Breath I'll take and breath I'll give
Pray the day ain't poison
Stand among the ones that live
In lonely indecision.

Fingers walk the darkness down
Mind is on the midnight
Gather up the gold you've found
You fool, it's only moonlight.
If you try to take it home
Your hands will turn to butter
You better leave this dream alone
Try to find another.

Salvation sat and crossed herself
Called the devil partner
Wisdom burned upon a shelf
Who'll kill the raging cancer
Seal the river at its mouth
Take the water prisoner
Fill the sky with screams and cries
Bathe in fiery answers


Jesus was an only son
And love his only concept
Strangers cry in foreign tongues
And dirty up the doorstep
And I for one, and you for two
Ain't got the time for outside
Just keep your injured looks to you
We'll tell the world we tried


Listen to "LUNGS":




This "aquatic" theme was also present in Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's "Fault Line". The song's reference to a "rising tide" was undoubtedly used in True Detective as a nod to Hurricane Katrina, which Rust Cohle mentioned in episode seven as a period when the killer(s) reigned with the ease of making people disappear. There's also repetitive implications about a failed relationship with a father and a race to make amends before the tide rises; a paternal theme that's been consistent throughout the series.


I've been waiting on the fault line
Living evil take me on
I'll be standing with my dying bed
If you care to come along

Racing with the rising tide
To my father's door

I been lying in the bright light
See my shadow from below
Never wanted from another man
Never wanted for my own

Drowning in the rising tide
At my father's door

Through a window to the last mile
My living picture on a wall
From the banks of the far side
I see the lights come ashore

Racing from the rising tide
To my father's door
Racing from the rising tide
To my father's door
Racing with the rising tide
To my father's door


Listen to "Fault Line":


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