Buttkickin’ Halloween Songs: “Rooks” — Shearwater (2008)

The end of the world is a pretty nutty thing, isn’t it?

Most probably picture this Book of Revelations styled Apocalypse, what with asteroids smashing into the Earth, the planet’s crust opening up and unleashing all sorts of demons and oceans of magma and goblins, the sky turning to fire and the seas steaming into a scalding mist, fire and explosions and tornadoes, Lenny Bruce is not afraid, etc. and what not.

This is your boiler-plate Destruction of the Earth scenario.

And then there are the really terrifying End of the Worlds; those that hold the final stanza of Eliot’s The Hollow Man in high relief. There are no Horsemen to avoid, no volcanic eruptions to flee, no meteors to duck under, no roving gangs of mutant biker gangs to battle. Nope, there are no explanations or reasons why. It just happens, quietly. Everything just stops. Go inside, turn out the lights, probably go to sleep for the last time, and the world goes dark as humanity simply ends “with a whimper”.

That terrifies me more than any Michael Bay-styled apocalypse ever could.

Shearwater’s Rooks vividly paints this haunting nightmare with abundant clarity and simplicity. What do we do when birds by the thousands drop dead from the skies? Or when the surviving falcons abandon humanity overnight, or when those foundations society has established to safeguard our health tell us there’s nothing we can do? There isn’t even anything left at which to curse and scream, no one to blame. There’s literally nothing to do. Except wait for the lights to go out.

A beautiful, haunting melody to accompany such a terrifying thought.

When the swallows fell from the eaves,
And the gulls from the spires,
The starlings, in millions,
Would feed on the ground where they lie.

And the ambulance men said
“There’s nowhere to flee for your life,”
So we stay inside,
And we’ll sleep until
The world of man is paralyzed.

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