Published December 16th, 2013 at 10:00 am EST/EDT

“A Flame That Burns in Darkness”, like many of the “Cold September Ground” songs, is something I originally wrote in high school. Unlike those songs, however, this version has not only been completely rewritten, but completely reimagined. The ideas behind “Wet Velvet” and “Jack the Ripper” are still pretty much the same as they used to be. But this song, like “Cold September Ground”, has turned into something altogether different.

“A Flame That Burns in Darkness” was originally my attempt at a poignant, sad spacer song. …you can probably infer how well I pulled it off by the fact that I ripped the title from that concept and stuck it onto something that is not in any way related to space.

Also, fun fact: Back in high school, I made my first attempt at recording my own album. It didn’t work out, but that album was titled “A Flame That Burns in Darkness”, and the original version of this song was to be the title track. The tune for the original was another Deanna Roberts-Blair creation (“Kiss Me, Jak Frost”, “Jack the Ripper”), and part of the cover art is now the Firesong Productions logo. (That was drawn by my good friend Rebecca Appelbaum, by the way. She’s amazing.)

Instead of space, this new song is instead based on Grecian mythology. When I wrote this version, I had no intention for it to bear this name. I was just writing on a bit of an idea I’d had—an idea that came out a bit more freeform than how I usually write, and I was thus not sure it would ever be able to become a song. After playing with things a bit, I was able to write this, and I’m very happy with how it turned out.

And yes, it’s pretty morbid, but it does have a good message: Do all with your life that you could wish, and be kind to one another.

A Flame That Burns in Darkness
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

I am the flame in the lantern
On the boat that ferries you across
The woeful river.
I light the way into the true
Great Unknown.
I glow in the darkness as you all
Huddle on the deck together
And the currents draw you
Farther from home.

I illuminate the gateway
That prevents your passage backward
Through the veil.
I am the note you leave your loved ones
Who follow after,
The only glimmer of hope you can give
That you know will never fail,
That where they find themselves next
Will be filled with light and laughter.

       But don’t seek my compassion,
       It doesn’t work that way.
       I’m only what you make of me.
       That’s just the part I play.

I am witness to your uncertainty,
Your reluctant shuffling off,
Your lacking of choice.
Bound into a plan you can’t control
And have no say in,
Your shock isn’t that it’s over,
But that you suddenly have no voice.
You’re so used to having your say,
But now there’s no way you can weigh in.

No matter your status in life,
All of you are equal on
The River.
Know that I won’t remember you once
You disembark.
Does the thought that you are forgettable
Make your skin crawl, make you shiver?
Well only those with reason to be
Are fearful of the dark.

       So don’t seek my compassion,
       It doesn’t work that way.
       I’m only what you make of me.
       That’s just the part I play.

What was the kind of life you led?
In your agency, were you cruel,
Kind, or devout?
When you had control, what did
You use it for?
You seem to me to be the kind
That used your power and clout
To take your fair share
And much more.

Now on the doorstep of the next world,
You find that for the first time
You must learn
What it’s like to tell something precious
And you seek to warm hands that aren’t cold
Over fire that doesn’t burn,
To assuage your terror now that
You find all your power was a lie.

       Don’t seek my compassion,
       It doesn’t work that way.
       I’m only what you make of me.
       That’s just the part I play.

       That’s just the part I play.

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