Andre Obin was a musician I discovered in 2015. Ways of Escape was the first album of his I bought. I find his music somehow clicks with me. I can read into the whole story of each song he sings. I know from the composition of his layering what he is trying to make me feel. I know from the way he writes his lyrics what secret he is telling me. I know from the way he sings what that song looks like if it were on film or art on the wall. I see all this in my mind as clear as day.
Shortly after listening to that album, I spent what little of the money I had for my private use to buy more of his albums; Endorphin, Premonition, and The Arsonist. You may ask, why to spend the money when I can just stream it on Spotify or Bandcamp. I want to reward Andre Obin for the gift he gave me, his beautiful music.
Over the next few years, as I’m working my way through my mental illness, his music gave me so much insight into some of my thoughts and feelings. Some of it’s dark, some sad, but always insightful and enjoyable. I want to share with you one of his songs, The Arsonist, and what story Andre is telling me.
The song begins with the bright and airy sounds of synth, it brings you into a world that is happy and upbeat. But the low dark bassy tempo underlines everything in the song, it’s a forecast of what’s to come.
You should see yourself
You look like no one else
You caught my eye in a dark room
Dance the night away
Forget all the pain
The song starts from the perspective of the ‘demon of depression’ called ‘The Arsonist’. It’s sulking around looking for another soul to feed on. It happens to come across you at a moment of painful self-doubt, the “in a dark room” reflected in the echoing of Andre’s voice. The demon hungers, it seduces you, that is the enticing disco beat that just kicks in. Just follow and listen to ‘The Arsonist’ and dance to its tune, hide from everything and all will be fine, you’ll “Forget the pain”.
had to ask myself the question
Are you the arsonist
Come to burn my soul
Never asked if you were the right one
The song flashes to the unknowing soul years later…as you look into the mirror. You think back to see if you ever noticed you were getting depressed, knowing it could “burn your soul”. You start to question why ‘The Arsonist’ has led you down this path in life. You never asked him if it “were the right one”.
You are an arsonist
You burn my heart and soul
You take every chance to erase me
Andre drops the upbeat cymbals, with only the pulsing dark rhythm, it gives you the emptiness of the realization that things are getting dangerous.
Another flash and a few years later. Trapped and without hope you lifelessly confront ‘The Arsonist’, rebuking him for what he is doing to you, burning up everything you believe, enjoy or love, destroying your life. The lack of the will to fight back is perfectly carried in Andre’s tone.
The next pattern of music you hear the mournful cries of a person trapped in their private hell.
You hear Obin sing the chorus “It’s the way, the way that you talk to me”. The echoing repeat of the lies you heard, the lies ‘The Arsonist’ is telling you inside your head.
At this point, you hear a subtle abstruse whisper in the background of the music. ‘The Arsonist’ telling you the lies he wants you to believe.
When you speak to me
With your mentality
I never had the soul of a rich man
Another flash, a few more years later down the road. Empty of emotion, empty of life, tired of the non-stop lies you’ve heard repeating in your head, you’re stunned by how much of yourself you have lost. “The soul of a rich man” is the climatic and most important line in the whole song. The symbolism of these words stays with me since my first personal understanding of the meaning of Andre’s song. The ‘soul of a rich‘ man is everything that makes you a person. Your esteem, your self-value, passion, pride, motivation, desire, dreams, your beliefs, your morality, compassion. Everything that makes you, you.
Mix your destiny
With my velocity
Trying to make it perfect
Flashing a few months forward, you and ‘The Arsonist’ are making a deal, the “mixing of destiny”. With the ever-increasing “velocity” of your fall into the darkness of despair, you contemplate suicide. You tell ‘The Arsonist’ you’re “trying to make it perfect”, referring to the mindset that death is the perfect state for your life.
Again, the echoing cries as ‘The Arsonist’ continues his torture and the repeating of the lies you accept as truth, “Its the way, the way that you talk to me“
moved across the line
That you had designed
Trying to make it perfect
Flashing yet again to a few years later, you know ‘The Arsonist’ has won, its drained and taken everything from you. You’ve “moved across the line” your going to commit suicide. Realizing it was ‘The Arsonist’ plan that he had designed from the beginning as you make his plan ‘perfect’.
You are an arsonist
come to burn my soul
Had to ask myself the question
As the music fades away with just the deep bassy tempo echoing your falling into the blackness of death, you ask yourself one last question of how you got here. It dawns on you that there never was ‘The Arsonist’, it was you along. It was you who did this to yourself, who lied to yourself, who willingly walked down this road as the final blackness takes you.
First, I would like to apologize to Andre Obin if I made any mistakes with his lyrics. From what I searched, I only found lyrics I felt sounded wrong. If the commonly posted lyrics from the various sites are the ones that actually represent your song, I am sorry.
In closing, I know this is a very dark and tragic take on this song but it’s what I hear. This story and the moral of it has made a huge impact on me. It was one of the catalysts that gave me energy to keep fighting to avoid ‘The Arsonist’ inside me.
Thank you, Andre Obin.