Oh my god!

When was this?

In the bathtub?!

That’s so sad.

Did you hear?

Was there a note?

Holy fuck.

So he’s dead?!

Why’d he do it?

That’s so awful!

In his house.

What’s his name?!

With a razor.

Did’ja know him?

What a freak.

He seemed sad.

I sat behind him.

He was quiet.

We were neighbors.

He was weird.

He’d been bullied.

Always distant.

What a shame.

I can’t believe it.

No one helped him.

He seemed normal.

He was awkward.

I just saw him.

Fucking bullies.

Now he’s gone . . .


I’m sorry.

I guess I don’t know what to say.

I’m sorry.

I can’t believe you’re really gone.

I know I caused you pain.

I told you you were odd.

I told you you were stupid.

I threatened you at school.

I said I’d beat you up.

I said you had no friends.

I told you you would

Do the world a favor

If you’d . . .

I never thought you’d do it . . .

But now you’re really gone . . .

And ev’rybody hates me.

(Big surprise.)

I see the accusation

In their eyes.

But what I cannot tell them --

The thing they’ll never see --

Is simply that I’m sorry . . .

I wish I wasn’t me . . .

But I have to be strong.

With me in control.

You make your skin thick.

You learn that real quick

When Dad’s on a roll.

‘Cause Mom won’t protect you.

She won’t even try.

And how much you’re hit

Depends quite a bit

On whether you cry.

But fuck!  I endure it!

I don’t shy away.

For God knows how long,

I’ve tried to be strong

While Dad wailed away.

And injuries heal,

One way or another.

And welts from your dad

Aren’t nearly as bad

As scorn from your mother.

But who’s there to blame

When you do the same

To your own little brother?

It’s sad, but it’s true.

And now I’ve killed you . . .

So who

Could love me?

You have to be strong

If you’re to survive.

If you’d have been stronger,

You might not be happy,

But you’d be alive.

It isn’t your fault.

The blame rests on me.

But all that I’ve done

Is who I must be.

I have to be strong.

I can’t let them see

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry.

This is now a trilogy.  And the trilogy is now complete.

On The Matter Of Bullying (Part 1)

On The Matter Of Bullying (Part 2)

On The Matter Of Bullying (Part 3)

This SpinTunes challenge went up the day after this article was posted at Momastery.  And as I had already thought that I needed to add a song from the point of view of a bully to my other two “Bullying” songs, this seemed far too aligned to consider writing any other song this round.

A couple of interesting notes about this song.  The very beginning, of course, references the plucked piano string notes that ended Part 2.  But the melody that underscores the reactions of the victim’s classmates is actually the inversion of the melody that the bullies sing in Parts 1 and 2.  (Musical inversion means that whenever the original melody goes down, the inversion goes up by the same interval, and vice versa...)  And whereas the melody was (ironically) in a happy, major key for the bullies in Parts 1 and 2, the inversion ends up in a minor key, and provides a suitably somber atmosphere for the victim’s classmates.

In writing this song, I found that I had to retroactively make a couple of specific choices for Part 2.  Back then, I wrote the song so that the victim could be either a boy or a girl.  And, as I imagined the scene, I felt that the plucked piano string notes could either represent blood spilling from the victim’s wrists and imbruing the water in the bathtub or the infiltration of the victim’s consciousness by the drugs on which (s)he overdosed.  But in writing this song, to write the opening dialogue, I ended up making the victim a boy who slit his wrists in the bathtub (even though drugs and cutting are more commonly associated with females -- boys favoring guns, hanging, or jumping to their death instead).

Then, towards the end of the song, my attention to matters of craft (like true rhyme and inflection -- and prosody) helped me out.  Once I introduce the idea of the bully’s little brother, I now have two people that the audience knows have been victimized by this character.  And the younger sibling is now fresh in their minds.  How to make it clear that it’s not the brother that died?  The way those two sentences hang on the underpinning music.  “It’s sad, but it’s true” ends with two pitches that are the same.  “And now I’ve killed you,” however, lifts the last note up a step.  If the emphasis had been on killed, it would imply that the brother died.  But with the emphasis on you, it becomes a list of sins -- i.e. “I’m abusive to my own brother . . . I’ve caused a kid at school to take his own life . . . what the fuck is wrong with me?”

Beyond that, I made some interesting choices in the accompaniment.  The piano switches to a major key when the bully sings that everyone hates him.  And the accompaniment ascends while he’s singing about the abuse he’s endured throughout his young life.  But while those aren’t conventional choices, I did that to musically represent the ownership that this bully is taking over his actions.  Beneath his carefully maintained façade is a pained soul who knows full well what he’s done and regrets it to his core -- even as he is trying his best to survive his own particular circumstances.  As it said in the Momastery article, “All  violence begins with disconnection.”  And not only does this bully not have any positive connection with his family, but he has no reason to believe that he’s going to find any connection with anyone at school now, either . . .

For my money?  The most heart-wrenching lines he sings are, “If you’d have been stronger/You might not be happy/But you’d be alive.”  This character is clearly not happy.  But he counts just being alive as a success -- a victory over the torments in his life.  And he deeply regrets snatching that same victory from his victim at school.

Another horrible weight to carry . . .

Read the “Biography

of this trilogy of songs!

(The tapestry of voices you hear at the beginning of this song was supplied by many -- but nowhere near all! -- of my online songwriting friends . . .)

    Brandi Burns

    Ross Durand

    Tom Giarrosso

    Brian Gray

    Caleb Hines

    Denise Hudson

    Bryce Jensen

    Jenny Katz

    Dave Leigh

    Charlie McCarron

    Mark Meritt

    Travis Norris

    Kevin Savino-Riker

    Jules Sherred

    Tiffany Edna Thompson