A Mind Beside Itself

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"A Mind Beside Itself" is a three-part suite composed of "Erotomania", "Voices" and "The Silent Man". Portnoy stated that the instrumental "Erotomania" was written "off the cuff"[1]as "a bit of a joke and parody".[1] Petrucci penned the lyrics to "Voices", dealing with the subject of mental illness. He researched schizophrenia and similar disorders and used religious terms "to make things more vivid".[2] "When I was writing it, I saw these terms and medical things that were just brilliant," he said. "Like there was a guy who felt that his skin was inside out. I read that and was like 'Oh my God! That's unbelievable; I've got to write about that.'"[2] Petrucci wrote the music and lyrics to the acoustic "The Silent Man". LaBrie described the lyrics as dealing with "communication breakdown, for instance between a father and a son. We feel that we have to play certain roles when around one of our parents, and we never really get to know the real person. I'm lucky that I behave with my own father like I would a friend. We can joke around and go for a beer."[1] A full live performance of the suite can be found on the 2000 Live Scenes from New York album.

Personnel[edit]

Dream Theater[edit]

Parts[edit]

Erotomania[edit]

Erotomania is a fairly progressive piece, with a lot of switching and changes of tone, tempo and style, though this may have to do with the patchwork style writing more than a specific urge to write a varied song. Erotomania is made up of several different parts, many taken from other songs or sources. A prime example of this is the main vocal melody of The Silent Man which is used as a guitar solo. A section that was originally cut from Pull Me Under was also used in shaping the song. As it is part of a suite, the song flows directly into Voices without any sort of pause.

Erotomania is played commonly and almost always segues right into Voices even when the entire suite is not being played. The main riff is also played as part of the "Instrumedley."[3]

Voices[edit]

Voices is the second part of the three part suite A Mind Beside Itself, and the longest of the three. Petrucci wrote Voices about mental illnes, particularly schizophrenia, while using religious themes to make the song more metaphorical and vivid. "...There was a guy who felt that his skin was inside out." Petrucci said. "I read that and was like 'Oh my God! That's unbelievable; I've got to write about that." Voices can be said to follow the theme of "Erotomania" which the first section of the suite was named after, though that section had no lyrics. The song follows this concept as it explores the relationship between sex, religion and insanity. However, this is a smaller part of the song's meaning. Voices is an excellent example of a progressive crescendo, a song that starts off quietly and low-key, but gets increasingly more complex and intense as it goes on, finally building to a climax, where the song then flows into The Silent Man.

Voices is performed live somewhat often, usually preceded by Erotomania, though not exclusively so. It is uncommon for the band to play Voices in its entirety, usually opting for an edited version. Fans have speculated that this may be done to spare James LaBrie's voice due to his vocal injury though even after his recovery the band continues to play the edited version. Although playing the entire suite is common, it is not uncommon for the band to sub out the third part with another song, such as The Spirit Carries On or Solitary Shell.[4]

The Silent Man[edit]

"The Silent Man"
Silent Man Dream Theater.jpg
Single by Dream Theater
Released Early 1995
Recorded May–July 1994
Studio One on One Studios and Devonshire Studios in North Hollywood, Los Angeles
Genre Progressive rock, acoustic rock
Length 3:47
Label East West
Producer(s) John Purdell, Duane Baron

The Silent Man is the sixth song on their third album, Awake. It is also the third part of the three part suite, A Mind Beside Itself. The Silent Man is the second single, EP and video release from the album. LaBrie described the lyrics as dealing with "communication breakdown, for instance between a father and a son. We feel that we have to play certain roles when around one of our parents, and we never really get to know the real person. I'm lucky that I behave with my own father like I would a friend. We can joke around and go for a beer." The song follows the same religious tones as its predecessor, Voices.

The Silent Man is an acoustic ballad, with very little in the way of percussion. The song is a somber epilogue after the climax at the end of Voices. It could be argued that the title of the album, Awake came from the line "Tonight I'm Awake" though the word also appears in Innocence Faded. The music video, directed by Portnoy, includes much of the imagery from the Awake album's artwork.

The band will more often than not play a "full band arrangement" with electric guitar, drums, bass and piano. Oftentimes it will include a piano and a guitar duet towards the end of the song.[5]

Track listing[edit]

  • "The Silent Man" (LP version)
  • "Take the Time" (Demo version)
  • "Eve"[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Wilson 2009, p. 160
  2. ^ a b Wilson 2009, p. 161
  3. ^ "Dream Theater - Live At Budokan 720p Full Concert". YouTube. 2015-12-30. Retrieved 2017-01-18. 
  4. ^ "Erotomania by Dream Theater Song Statistics". Setlist.fm. Retrieved 2017-01-18. 
  5. ^ "Dream Theater - Silent Man (Live scenes from New York)". YouTube. 2011-09-04. Retrieved 2017-01-18. 
  6. ^ "Dream Theater - The Silent Man - Encyclopaedia Metallum". The Metal Archives. Retrieved 2017-01-18.