"(Don't Fear) The Reaper" has the unique distinction of being one of rock's most misunderstood songs, and spawning a famous Saturday Night Live skit. Written and sung by Blue Oyster Cult's lead guitarist Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser, it was released in 1976, and reached number 12 on the Billboard charts, (that's 42 years ago, for a little perspective), on the band's Agents of Fortune album. The song was the soul reason I bought that album up back in the day, and was instantly pleased at what a great album it is in it's entirety.
Long thought of as a song about suicide, according to "Dharma" the song actually deals with eternal love, the inevitability of death, and the foolishness of fearing it. As recent as 2005, he insisted suicide is not what the song is about... “That was never what I had in mind when I wrote it. It’s more to do with recognizing the inevitability of death, and postulating and celebrating the hope that there is an afterlife.” - http://teamrock.com/feature/2005-08-09/blue-oyster-cult-story-behind-don-t-fear-the-reaper
The very specific lyric "Romeo and Juliet are together in eternity" has led many listeners, including myself, to interpret the song to be about a suicide, but Dharma says he used Romeo and Juliet as motifs to describe a couple believing they would meet again in the afterlife. "I felt that I had just achieved some kind of resonance with the psychology of people when I came up with that, I was actually kind of appalled when I first realized that some people were seeing it as an advertisement for suicide or something that was not my intention at all. It is, like, not to be afraid of [death] (as opposed to actively bring it about). It's basically a love song where the love transcends the actual physical existence of the partners."
— Buck Dharma, lead singer
"Don't Fear The Reaper" was given a second life, in 2000 (that's 18 years ago, more perspective) in what has become one of Saturday Night Live's most famous skits, featuring Christopher Walken. Focusing on the song's prominent use of a cowbell, the skit's popularity even resulted in a few CD compilations of songs with heavy use of a cowbell. You can seek the sketch below. Special note, check out Jimmy Fallon's inability to keep a straight face at the 3:26 mark.
So whether Romeo and Juliet and the seasons don't fear the reaper or not, I am very happy not being like they are. I'm content to keep doodling and find some more musical tidbits to share with you guys.
If there's a song you were wondering about, history, facts or fiction and would like me to try and dig some up about it, and come up with a cartoon sketch for it, let me.
Till next time, if your curtains flow open and he appears, saying don't be afraid.. take my advice... be afraid and get better windows.
The Martytoon Newsletter
The Thoughts, Designs & Process of Marty Qatani aka MartyToons.
Hi and welcome to the first blog post / newsletter of the all new revamped MartyToons website. Where to start ? I suppose a quick intro is in order for those of you who may be unfamiliar with me and what I do. I'm a cartoonist / character designer/ humorous illustrator. That sounds like a lengthy title, but none of those by themselves seems appropriate enough by themselves to describe what I do.
If I call myself a cartoonist, people tend to think I create a comic strip.... not true. If I call myself just a character designer, it seems a little limiting to me. I like to think I do a little bit more... make people think... wake people up, help someone remember a happy thought.... maybe even put a smile on people's faces.... hopefully. Calling myself just a humorous illustrator, just doesn't seem to have any "punch", "pizzazz", "sparkle"... you get the picture. I do like the sound of "Creator of Visual Enhancements for Artistically Challenged and Cartooning Impaired." It has a pretty cool ring to me, but it's a little hard to fit on a business card and still look cool.
What can you expect here ? How's a little doodle sound ? A little peek into what goes on in my working process and maybe even in my thought process ? That's my plan... I hope you enjoy. So let me dig into my archive, maybe shed a little light on happened and then invite you to comment. Sounds good ? Good... then lets get to it.
This is an early sketch of one of my favorite designs I'm working on. It's inspired by one of my favorite music artists, Cat Stevens, who know goes by the name of Yusuf Islam https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_Stevens . Check him out if you get the chance and are a fan of 70's "Soft" Rock, and especially if you're a fan of songs about being positive, hopefullness, and becoming a little wiser.
Music is playing more and more a part in my designs. I love many styles of music and I always have it playing in my studio while I'm creating. Alot of times I let the music direct what I'm going to sketch when I intentionally sit down to sketch, sometimes I'm not planning on sketching at all, but I hear a song and an image will just pop into my head, and I have to get it down on paper. I believe that's what happened here, but to be honest, I came up with this sketch several years ago, and I can't remember the exact circumstances that gave birth to this.
So there you have it. I hope you enjoy it. Got any questions ? Feel free to comment below.