Open Fire

art by: Lamotta

Because it bleeds thick with meaning in every possible way.

In 2015, I had the thrill of writing Reflections of a Sound — 20 Years of Silverchair, of all the great sentiments shared, there were two lines that really stuck with me.

The first was Seether frontman, Shaun Morgan saying, “I think “Ana’s Song” is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever created.”

The second was a reader comment buried deep within collection. It simply said — “‘Ana’s Song’ still gets me all the way thru.”

Recently, I was on a boat ride by myself on a perfect late afternoon. I had my headphones on and a shuffled 600 song playlist blasting as I stood towards the back of the open boat; just wandering aimlessly as I stared out to sea. All of a sudden “Ana’s Song” came on. I didn’t think much of it until the first, “Open Fire.” Boom. I felt like the wake that laid before me just crashed upon my back. Like a crisp breaking wave. I snapped this picture at the second “Open Fire” line.

I’ve thought about those two lines from the aforementioned Reflections of a Sound piece ever since. I realized that I wholeheartedly agree and connect deeply with both of them. Here is why:

The History:

Daniel Johns has always been very forthright about his struggle with anorexia and anxiety in the late 90’s. Quite simply, this is song is about that. Johns wrote and delivered “Ana’s Song” at just 19 years old. After four years of being thrust into the spotlight, he boldly rips down the curtain and proudly inserts himself as a solider taking on a serious issue. Upon the release of “Ana’s Song” Johns said,“I’ve always just written songs according to how I felt, just wrote exactly how I felt. I’ve never really compromised any of my integrity for the sake of not being so targeted by a certain group of people. That song, I was kind of warned by people, this could be a mistake lyrically. I’ve never really compromised and I’m not prepared to do so on this song either. I think it will really help people more than people realize.”

The Journey:

“And I need you now somehow.”

That line packs a punch with immeasurable impact. It’s so basic, but yet so honest, confessional and brilliant in its positioning. How it butts up against, the words “Open Fire” make it that much more potent.

“Ana’s Song” is three minutes and thirty eight seconds of a stunningly tumultuous journey. One that sees John’s through, where he comes out the other end strong enough to overcome the battle. As a result, he’s standing up in front of you singing about it. Pouring his heart out.

The Arrangement:

Sometimes in music, art and life; less is more. Johns, who has off-the-charts ability when it comes to playing instruments, in addition to evidently having natural in-depth knowledge of music theory, takes a step back here and plays simple chords that serve as a complimentary foundation. There’s no need for excessive playing in “Ana’s Song.” The words and the melodies do that. And it’s all accented by perfectly placed C to G chord lightning bolts. To have the ability to recognize that the musical components should be simple and not get in the way of the vibe is very admirable. Especially, when you feel you have something to prove and deep inside, you know can light it up if you wanted to.

The pre-chorus buildup is another great example. The verses are fragile and gentle before the song rips into a thunderous chorus. The buildup brings you there with this slow rollercoaster climb before the enthralling drop — where you ultimately let go into, “Open Fire.” Chilling. The way Johns roars “Open Fire,” may be pound for pound, the two heaviest delivered words in song.

The Art:

Art is expressive. It’s best as an outlet that is a result of an emotion that in turn, evokes an emotion. “Ana’s Song,” is like going to a museum and staring at one mesmerizing painting for hours. Unable to move from that single spot because you are dissecting the imagery in front of you and its reaching out untangling headwires while the other hand is pulling on your heartstrings. It is obvious what “Ana’s Song” is about, but it’s also open for interpretation. The battle with anorexia and health is what it means for Daniel Johns. What it means to you is up to you. It’s strong enough to be agile where it can bend into any purposeful direction you take it in.

Lyrically, the words are rich. Many phrases are in metaphors and the play on words with “Ana’s Song” is very artistic. You are not directly spoon-fed the message here, but you don’t have to go searching for it either.

“…And you’re my obsession. I love you to the bone…” but you’re fuckin’ ruining my life.

The Takeaway:

Everybody struggles. Everybody has their vices. Everybody has something internally, externally or both — that drags them down. “Ana’s Song” can serve as your greatest companion within any time where the emotions amount. The most unique part is that it is right there beside you when there’s comfort in the “down.” Ultimately, it helps you overcome.

Johns and Silverchair courageously led by example here. The longevity of a song like this is infinite. Just watch the eyes in the live video below. All of them…

“Open fire on my knees desires

What I need from you”

Jeff Gorra’s Silverchair catalog:
Silverchair Roundtable: ‘Young Modern’ — 10 Years Later
Emotionally and Sonically, Silverchair’s ‘Diorama’ is Still a Masterpiece
Reflections of a Sound: 20 Years of Silverchair
Silverchair’s ‘Freak Show’ Turns 20. Artists, Producers & More Reflect

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