Top 20 Albums #20: Deadwing

10 months ago | posted: 06-11-2023 4:43 PM

* There are certain criteria for the picking of my top 20 albums if all time and they are listed in the link here.


I originally stumbled across Porcupine Tree while searching for new music to occupy my time during long early morning drives to work in 2006. The dark lonely drive was a perfect time for me to truly listen and explore new music. I remember those early morning drives as fulfilling experiences. The only company I had with me was a passing set of automobile or semi headlights floating down the opposite side of I-10 every now and then and the accompaniment of the music I was listening to.


While searching the internet one evening, I had found the album Deadwing from a Billboard music chart. This was in a time before Spotify and when Pandora music was just getting underway. Apple iTunes was the biggest place to buy music outside of record stores unless you wanted to steal it from sites like Limewire. Limewire was the post-Napster program that allowed users to share digital versions of music through "peer-to-peer" connections.  Yes, I shamefully admit to using Limewire at the time.


I listened to a sample of the song Lazarus, which was one of two singles released in 2005 from the Deadwing album.



I remember listening to the song and thinking how sentimental the piano was. Steven Wilson's vocals feed into the sentimental journey as the song opens up with strings and Gavin Harrison's drums. The slide on the guitar blends all of the song components together with a warmth that uplifts you throughout the song. It is truly a perfect unification of the Lazarus concept and the sound. The song was rumored to have been written about a mother communicating to her son from the grave.



  1. As the cheerless towns pass my window
  2. I can see a washed out moon through the fog
  3. And then a voice inside my head
  4. Breaks the analogue And says

  5. "Follow me down to the valley below
  6. You know
  7. Moonlight is bleeding
  8. From out of your soul"

  9. I survived against the will
  10. Of my twisted folk
  11. But in the deafness of my world
  12. The silence broke And said

  13. Follow me down to the valley below
  14. You know
  15. Moonlight is bleeding
  16. From out of your soul

  17. Follow me down to the valley below
  18. You know
  19. Moonlight is bleeding
  20. From out of your soul

  21. My David don't you worry

  22. This cold world is not for you
  23. So rest your head upon me
  24. I have strength to carry you
  25. Ghosts of the twenties rising Golden summers just holding you
  26. Follow me down to the valley below
  27. You know
  28. Moonlight is bleeding
  29. From out of your soul
  30. Follow me down to the valley below
  31. You know
  32. Moonlight is bleeding
  33. From out of your soul
  34. Come to us Lazarus
  35. It's time for you to go


This song set the hook in me. I took my loathsome self to Limewire and downloaded the album to my computer then to my 10GB iPod. On my next early morning ride, I listen to the album. I was blown away by the arrangements but realized that the band was a Progressive band.


Progressive rock was something that I was not the biggest fan of despite some of my favorite bands being progressive. Bands like Dream Theater and Tool were in my collection with Pink Floyd topping the list of the Progressive genre. After yearning for new music, I struggled to give up Deadwing. I had to bend a little personally to try something new. After all, these other bands got a hook in me with less progressive songs.


Dream Theater's "Pull me Under" was such a great song that I had heard on late night college radio in 1992. It fed into my enjoyment of heavy metal music like Metallica and Megadeth.


Tool's "Sober" did the same for me after hearing it in a bar while attending LSU in 1993. When hearing it for the first time in an era when Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and Pearl Jam were grinding through the Grunge psyche, I was blown away at its bridge from Grunge back to a metal music.



While Lazarus from Porcupine Tree was not like either of these songs sonically, it was still a hook that eventually pulled me into the Progressive Rock genre making it one of my favorite genres.


What was it about this album that changed my life in experiencing music? If you like rock music and struggle with enjoying Progressive Rock music, it could be its complexity. I believe part of the hook in music is the relatability of the music to memories. We often relate songs to places in time. I also believe the hook is partly due to our ability to predict the next note or chord progressive of the song. It is rooted in our desire to sing or hum along with the song or music.


Music is made up of patterns and the more we can recognize the pattern the more likely we are to enjoy it. Think about it. When you listen to a song you really like, you can pretty much predict when a drum beat or vocal will occur. The more you listen to it, the more you become familiar with the pattern. Sometimes we get burned out on songs or artists because we get bored with the patterns.


Progressive music is not made up of simple patterns. It's Jazz influence creates a huge array of patterns that take you somewhere. In fact, if you get an album like Deadwing and listen to it from front to back, you will experience a journey of complex patterns that are hard to predict. Listening to this type of music takes much more effort than just your typical pop song that comes on the radio that has a cute hook. You have to submit to its complexity to begin to make sense of it.


I know many people that like songs like "Sober" or "Pull Me Under" that have never enjoyed listening to the entire album of either of these two artists. Personally, these are still good songs to me but are nowhere near the best songs produced by them. It took me taking the time to explore their albums and letting them take me on their journey. Tool's "Lateralus" album was the album that really made me appreciate them because it took me on a journey. More to come on this album.


By far my favorite song from this album is "The Start of Something Beautiful". I believe it represents what we are discussing here pretty well. It takes you on a journey.



It starts off the with a step stone like intro between the bass and drums winding through synth affects and a vocal chorus from Steven Wilson. The song seems to stumble out the choruses and down a musical set of steps to the verse and into an ocean of guitar sound and distorted lyric that sits behind it. The song is just very powerful and produced so well. This is the song where I realized how great Gavin Harrison was on drums as he is the life and heartbeat of the song as the guitars run like blood throughout.


The piano around 4:45 minutes into the song soothe and comfort as the song picks complexity and tone to be silenced 6:00 minutes in when at 6:22 the song pushes you back into the ocean of sound that is the verse. It is truly one of my favorite Progressive Rock songs and definitely one of my favorite Porcupine Tree songs. It was the song that helped me decide that Deadwing was one of my favorite albums of all time.






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