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".


    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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