36 Days of Adrenaline: Day 4 — “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”

Artist: Blue Öyster Cult

Why this song is an adrenaline rush: If I could narrow a list of my top five favorite rock songs of all time, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” would be on it. Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser busts out the perfect synthesis of guitar pyrotechnics, ethereal lyrics, and silky, seductive vocals. Yes… and cowbell.

Lyric line that’s fun to belt at maximum volume:

Came the last night of sadness
And it was clear that she couldn’t go on
Then the door was open and the wind appeared
The candles blew and then disappeared
The curtains flew and then he appeared
(Saying, “Don’t be afraid”)
Come on baby
(And she had no fear)
And she ran to him
(Then they started to fly)
They looked backward and said goodbye
(She had become like they are)
She had taken his hand
(She had become like they are)
Come on baby
Don’t fear the reaper

Fun factoids:

  • From the time “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” debuted in 1976, controversy has raged over the song’s meaning. People have variously argued that it’s about teen suicide, ritual murder, Satanism, and vampires. All of the above theories are, quite frankly, hogwash. “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” is about facing death without fear. I have always imagined that the girl in the song is nearing the end of a long battle with cancer, and is at last able to let go and find peace.
  • During the final hours of KJ’s life, as I sat by her bedside holding her hand, two songs played on endless loop in the iPod of my mind. The first was “Safe in the Arms of Jesus.” The other: “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.”
  • I was a major Blue Öyster Cult fan back in my misspent youth. I still own a complete set of the BÖC’s first nine LPs, in the original vinyl.
  • I got a fever… and the only prescription… is more cowbell!

Other songs by the same artist that I could have chosen instead: “Cities On Flame With Rock and Roll,” “R.U. Ready 2 Rock?,” “In Thee,” “Burnin’ For You.”

[Late to the party? Here’s an explanation of 36 Days of Adrenaline.]

Explore posts in the same categories: 36 Days of Adrenaline, Soundtrack of My Life, SwanStuff, That's Cool!

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