{:title "The Widow Song Interpretation" :layout :post :tags "Music" }

Interpreting The Widow by The Mars Volta

The Mars Volta is one of my favorite bands to listen to. They have a unique style and I love all of their different albums, even if they change styles as the years pass. One of my favorite songs from them has to be the song "The Widow" which is from the "Frances the Mute" album. One of the primary appeals of The Mars Volta are their confusing lyrics that make little sense. I like lyrics like these because they allow you to think about the song, and what it could mean.

The Widow

The Widow begins with a melancholic guitar melody, followed by a beat expediting the pace of the song. As the song progresses, the band adds a bunch of different musical styles and amazing guitar solos. My favorite thing about the song is the fact that it creates a sense of atmosphere and emotion through the music. With how the lead singer, Cedric Bixler-Zavala, sings, he creates a melancholic atmosphere along with a sense of longing throughout the song. Unlike the rest of the songs in the album, "The Widow" is only about 3 minutes long. Which makes it very short compared to the rest of the songs in the album.

Deciphering the Lyrics

The lyrics of this song are very open, and I think we can interpret it in multiple ways. For me, I think the song is about an opioid addiction/drugs, something that the band members have been pretty open about. I also think they dedicated the song to Jeremy Ward, one of the original band members, and a good friend of both Cedric and Omar. He died of a heroin overdose before the release of their first album, which led to Cedric and Omar quitting the use of opioids. They frequently release songs that talk about his passing to honor their good friend. The first stanza starts like this:

He's got fasting black lungs
Made of clove-splintered shards
They're the kind that will talk
Through a wheezing of coughs
And I hear him every night
In every pore
And every time he just makes me warm

I think this is talking about a man that has a serious smoking addiction. While he might try to hide the fact that he smokes, his lungs are the ones that expose his smoking habits by causing him to cough. Afterwards, I think this is where the Opioid thing comes in. You can inject opioids into the bloodstream through a vein, which is below the pores. Once the drug is in, it will cause him to get 'warm,' or give him the feeling of being high. The chorus goes like:

Freeze without an answer
Free from all the shame
Must I hide
'Cause I'll never, never sleep alone

I think this alludes to the fact that he'll die soon. He seems to have no response to Death. He knows he'll be free from this addiction once death takes him. Using anaphora in the last line emphasizes the fact that Death is looming over him. He isn't alone when he sleeps. Death is watching him constantly. For him, dying will be the only way to get salvation and freedom from the shame of being an addict.

Look at how they flock to him
From an isle of open sores
He knows that the taste is such
Is such to die for

The people flock to him (the dealer) because they know he has the drugs. The Isle of open sores refers to the people with sores on their arms because of the needles. Addicts are killing themselves and watching their life crumble, but they can't stop. The dealer knows this, so he continues selling. He knows the people that come to him are addicts and will stop once they're gone.

And I hear him every night
On every street
The scales that do slither
Deliver me from...

I think this could have two meanings. I feel like it’s talking about the drug dealer, and how the protagonist is aware of the drug dealer conducting his business. The scales that slither could be the dealer being compared to a snake, as they're seen as sly creatures. He hates the dealer, because he prevents him from being clean. The second meaning could be about Death, and how Death is slithering throughout his day, ready to strike. Afterwards, the chorus repeats, but with a slight modification to the 3rd line. "Must I hide" -> "Then I'll hide" I think this could mean that once he's gone, he'll be able to hide from his shame.

Oh Lord
Said I'm, said I'm, said I'm,
Said I'm bloodshot for sure
Pale runs the ghost
Swollen on the shore
Freeze without an answer
Free from all the shame
Let me die
'Cause I'll never, never sleep alone

The ghost being pale could mean he's back in his clean state temporarily. However, he’ll always use the drug, because the experience is worth dying for. He won't ever sleep alone. Even if Death no longer lingers, the drug is within him. He’s stuck in a cycle of being clean and using the drug again. Finaly, the protagonist gives up because of the endless cycle. He begs for Death to free him of this cycle, and ultimately dies. This last stanza is the hardest one to decipher, but my interpretation fits in relatively well.


These were my interpretations of "The Widow" from The Mars Volta. I don't think they’re perfect, and there are a few inconsistencies. The song's lyrics being difficult to understand adds charm to the song. I think “The Widow” is an amazing song and one of my favorites.