My Arms, Your Hearse: Explained?


Mar 4, 2005
It has been brought to my attention that this topic has been covered a few times before. I have also become aware that the Search feature on the forum has been removed, hence I am starting a new thread to call forth all of your knowledge. Hopefully we can keep this thread on topic and keep the bullshit about other members to a minimum.

My Arms, Your Hearse:

I have my own version of the story behind the lyrics, but I would like to hear the "real" version of the story. If anyone has any input on this topic, please feel free to fill me in on past threads and Interviews. If you do not have anything to say regaurding MAYH or have no clue what it is about, please keep your comments to yourself. Thanks.

I appreciate all the help you can give me.

Thanks again!

PS. Would like to thank Moonlapse also.
Hey guys, it'd be good if you could link us to any interviews where Mike goes over the story. I'd like to put a 'definitive' version in the FAQ... it's been pending for too many months now :)
Moonlapse, you can use one of these I've found.

This is about the name of this album explained by 'The Almighty'.

'My Arms, Your Hearse' was taken from this band called Comus. They released two albums, I think, and this is taken from their first album called 'First Utterance'. It's taken from a lyric line of theirs and the entire lyric line is: "As I carry you to your grave, my arms, your hearse." That pretty much explains everything.
And this is his explanation about both albums 'My Arms, your Hearse and Still Life' pretty short.

For 'My Arms, Your Hearse' it was like a ghost story. The basic theme was that this person dies. He's kind of reborn as a ghost, and he stays in the same environment. He sees his loved ones, like family members and friends, going on with their lives. It's almost like a film - what's it called? The Sixth Sense - he doesn't understand that he is dead - but I wrote it actually before the Sixth Sense came out. It's almost like a film. 'Still Life' was not Satanic but an anti-Christian theme. It sounds pretty naive when I explain it like this. It kind of takes place a long time ago when Christianity had a bigger importance than it has today. The main character is kind of banished from his hometown because he hasn't got the same faith as the rest of the inhabitants there. The album pretty much starts off when he is returning after several years to hook up with his old "babe." Obviously a lot of bad things start happening with, as I call it on the album, "the council." The big bosses of the town know that he's back. A lot of bad things start happening. They see him as a hypocrite in a way. It's almost like a devil's advocate or whatever it's called.
And this is the long one... I've found it on my thread... muahahaha.

Int.: My Arms, Your Hearse... Why are there some songs with lyrics but no vocals?
The Almighty: I wanted it to be a flowing concept, with lyrics to every minute of music basically. The instrumental tracks are enhancing the mood of the lyrics unsung. It's like a mute narration, really!
Int.: I'm wondering if you've seen the movie Ghost, with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore? This work seems to be a bastardization of it. The man dies, comes back, but instead of this emotional climax, in this album, the love was a lie all along and this man who by force of love for this woman was able to manifest as a ghost, now has to exist in this state knowing she'd lied and betrayed him. How close am I to the story?
The Almighty: You're basically telling it! It's a ghost story, but with no connection to the movie. In fact, it dawned upon me now, that the movie is based on a similar story. The character dies, becoming a ghost upon earth. His funeral being described in the prologue. He comes to spiritual life in Apri" and the rest of the album covers the struggle for recognition of his foggy state. He gets to see the days of the ones left behind. He tries to affect people in any way possible. The woman is not necessarily betraying him physically, but her grief is not enough for his ego. He expected her to suffer his demise for ages. When this is not the case, frustration creeps in making him an invisible stalker, and eventually a spiritual mare thrown unto the faces of the ones left on earth.
Int.: The way everything goes in a circle, it reminds me of this one ghost story I once read, I forget the title and the author, but it begins "So this is death." Its about a man who hangs himself, but his awareness never leaves the room. He can see himself hanging there, he sees his wife and her lover walk in on the body, he can see when the police inspectors come, and he's horrified by all of it, because he decides he doesn't want her to see him dead after all, but its too late. But every sunrise, history repeats. He can see himself come into the room, prepare the noose, and he wants to stop himself, but he can't. He relives his death and the aftermath over and over every day. The last words of the story are "So this is death..."
His ability to observe is the same, but as far as the "circle" goes, I more or less gave a hint to put the album back on. My character doesn't relive his death; in fact, it's never told exactly how he died. However, he lives on in mind, his soul lives on, and he experiences the days in a similar way to the living. Although being a ghost has its advantages, being able to appear in several shapes and so on.
As the titles form a continuing circle, might the spirit in question also be doomed to repeat the cycle forever? But losing memory of the year each time, so the betrayal is fresh each time out?
The Almighty: The story itself isn't repeated, but the fate of the character might happen to others. I wasn't so interesting in having a good reason for the circle-connection. I made the concept click, and it looked cool in the booklet. That's it!
Int.:How would a spirit break this cycle?
The Almighty: The only way to break such a circle is to be given the opportunity to walk into the afterglow. Ghosts are basically restless spirits, but eventually this rest might set in, and access to the other side may be granted.
Int.: As an aside while I'm nitpicking and dissecting your art. You DO realize this kicks the ass out of anything KING DIAMOND has ever done, don't you?
The Almighty: I am not the one to agree, but thanks a lot! I did certainly not expect anyone to have this opinion, but it makes me glad that you think so.
Int.:What killed the principle in the story to begin with? Just something that happened, or was it the result of something the woman did?
The Almighty: It's not important, so I didn't bother to tell. I don't know really, but his death has to be anything else but natural. I wanted the character to be suspicious and restless, so that's why he's sneaking up on his beloved ones.
Int.: I can't figure out whether the first recognized meeting of the ghost and his former lover were in April Ethereal or Demon of the Fall. Demon of the Fall clearly states "She turned around and faced me for the first time", yet in April Ethereal, "Within ghostlike rapture... she faced me in awe." Was it that the ghost had seen her for the first time in April Ethereal, but she didn't yet see him back? Clear this one up for me...
The Almighty: April is his reincarnation so to speak. She faces him, but looks right through him, unaware of his presence, yet she feels great sadness, as his death came to soon, unwilling to accept his death. The line "ghostlike rapture" is his own feeling, seeing his bride. In Demon there is a first meeting. She's being confronted with his spirit, by this time being in rage due to frustration.
Int.: Wait a second. If the woman did not love the ghost, why is she in mourning in April Ethereal?
The Almighty: She did indeed love him. Anything saying she didn't comes from the thoughts of the main character, as he's being so lost into negative feelings about most things.
Int.: And then in When, "The gilded faces grin...", presumably we're to assume that she and someone else (a secret lover on the side?) are happy about the death. How can both the grieving and the joy be correct?
The Almighty: It's not totally right. He never has any proof of her being an infidel, he only suspects her to be. The gilded faces are a description of statues coming alive in the mansion in which he used to live. Her grieving is complete, but not to his satisfaction. He hears voices from somebody else than her. Unable to figure out if it's imagination or not, he expects the worst, and the story unfolds.
Int.: Perhaps the entire epic is a misunderstanding on the ghost's part? All of his post-death grief and anguish are for nothing because he misinterpreted a situation. She DID love him after all? It is a brief encounter in When that sets the stage for all of the shit going down. Did the ghost get it wrong?
The Almighty: Exactly, he only suspects her to be doing all these things. Actually the whole story only deals with his own understandings and misunderstandings. She doesn't really take part in any important events concerning his state of mind. He is restless in the very sense of the word, and he feels that every one is against him. But there's really nothing for the living to be against; he's not there anymore in body. The problem is, as he's a ghost trapped on earth, he does take part in all the events happening, but the remaining people doesn't take part in him in any way. Apart from his woman, they don't even know he's there.
Int.: Can this entire thing not also be a real life analogy? Experience a life changing situation, wanting to share it with your loved one, and having them reject your change. Could that not also be the story? How "open" was this in your mind when you wrote it?
The Almighty: I am still alive, and I've most certainly had my share of shit from people already. But for the album I wanted to be able to write a made-up story as well. I can personally only relate to being alive. What happens when you die is not within your grasp to experience. Hence, I can write whatever I want concerning death and what happens when you're gone.
Luz said:
"As I carry you to your grave, my arms, your hearse." That pretty much explains everything.

That and other things leave me to believe that it is the girl who actually dies. But I have not read it closely enough to say that for sure. Ill get back to that later. Maybe im an idiot.
Luz said:
Bwahahahaha! *bows modestly*
Actually not so much, those are in the Opeth Interviews's Thread, but looks like nobody read those...

I read them all, but I figured you would take the deserved credit for pointing the thread in the right direction.
I have to say that although the title MAYH is not from Mike's own mind, I absolutely love it (along with the album's music itself). Usually album titles don't mean too much to me, but this one just sounds right and really perfect.
Alternative 3 said:
The sixth sence sucks, watch carnival of souls instead

Are you talking about the original COS, I recently got it on dvd it is very very good
Yeh, the concept of MAYH is great. I think the male character ghost comes back to nearly kill his ex in "Demon of The Fall". Everything ties together pretty well with that CD, one of my fave releases by Opeth.