The Inquiry of Ms. Terri
The Inquiry of Ms. Terri gives us more insight into the characters that we’ve met so far. This song has a slower pace than City Escape, but there seems to be a lot more going on both musically and lyrically. We get a clear picture of the relationship between Hunter and his mother here, with an ambiance in the music to match the ominous tone of the story here. Ms. Terri has escaped the City with her son and they are living in a cabin removed from society, in a place known simply as The Lake and The Tree.
Into The Lyrics
A home removed, a life resumed right here.
The Priest and the Rosary,
The book and the bond between he and me has long since broken.
A boy who's grown, too short to see,
A tale unfold, too tall to be.
A life once lived behind closed doors,
The irony of the pensive whore
Feel it ripping me down.
Reprise, two times, the Dime.
Burn it to the ground.
The inquiry of Ms. Terri,
The expiry of misery,
The table turns, the sun along,
The riverbed, and he's alone.
Her object of affection,
Conflicted by convictions of indecency, sorority,
Corrupted by impropriety.
The cavalier, she hopes of him,
In dissonance with experience,
The boy who grows, with knife in hand,
To fend for her, becomes a man
While she plays fake affection,
And carefully lacks objection,
To her gentleman caller's twisted desire.
Feel it ripping me down.
Reprise, two times, the Dime.
Burn it to the ground.
We dance around the room,
My love, I'll carry you,
And I'll teach you how to treat that Leading lady that you'll meet.
We dance around the truth, my dear
I lie for you, and when I lie down, I'm simply lying to them too
This song starts off with Ms. Terri saying that she is far removed from her old job at the Dime. Whatever passion may have been there before, she no longer felt it, to the point that she needed to escape. The rosary mentioned here can be seen in the Act I graphic novel, and she states that it was given to her by Hunters father, and that is reminds her of who she is.
The chorus has some more sensory descriptions of her life as a sex worker, similar to City Escape, but adds in mention of the Dime burning. The line hints at the Dime burning once again, reprising the events that started the story will likely end it as well.
The second verse comes back to the idea that she is now happy that she has left the Dime, because she does not want her past habits having any influence on Hunter. She is hoping to raise him to be an exemplary young man, that will take care of her some day. In the graphic novel we see that he hunts for her, and though he is young he is doing what he can to provide for her. She is hoping that by removing him from the corruption of the city, he will remain innocent and caring, unlike those that she saw in her previous line of work.
Except that things have become harder for them living out with no one else in the wilderness, and now that previous line of work is a current line of work again. She reluctantly returns to the Dime when Hunter is a bit older. When Ms. Terri decides to go back to the dime, she tells him to stay near home and not to stray too far, because she wants him to be safe from both the elements and those from the City. She leaves him with a knife for protection and so he can hunt for food. She is met with a carriage as she leaves, later appearing back at the Lake with food and clothing for Hunter. She hates having to do it, but she must once again sacrifice her morals, this time to take care of her son.
In response to Ms. Terri’s comment about the rosary reminding her of who she is, Hunter says “a woman?”. She replies “a mother”. I see Ms. Terri as someone who was in a bad place early in life, and sought out guidance with the Church. She has no intention of living this type of life, but was vulnerable to those in power around her. In seeking guidance, she is recruited by the Pimp to work for him. She reluctantly accepts, wanting employment and a place to live. After having a child though, she can’t accept her affiliation with the Dime and wants to be a good mother, choosing to flee. While I’m fairly certain that the father is NOT the Pimp, or the Priest, the important part of the rosary being mentioned is that it shows her connection to her morals. She is not simply a woman anymore, she is now a mother and has to set the example that she wants for her child. While this doesn’t work out in the long run, she both leaves the Dime and returns to it for the well-being of her son.
This last section of the song reinforces her devotion to her son. Everything she does is for him, and she hopes that he will have the ethics to one day treat a ‘Leading lady’ with respect and kindness. She has seen what the city does to the men there, and wants him to be better. This is really strong foreshadowing, as in Act II Hunter meets a character named Ms. Leading. Looking back at my previous posts I’ve realized that I somehow failed to mention that Ms. Terri is pronounced ‘Mystery’. Another play on words, alluding to Hunter having inquiries about her past and not really knowing much about his mother. That being said, try and guess what Ms. Leading is supposed to be hinting at. Take your time, you have about ten songs until she makes an appearance.
Into The Music
The song starts with a really strong drum beat, with syncopation that adds to the straight 3/4 timing. A soft piano plays between some Gmadd11 and C7add11 chords. Because of the C7add11 being major, we’re in G Dorian for this section of the song. There’s a guitar with some delay on it to add to the atmosphere as well. After a few repeats, we get some added vocals, and after a few more repeats a Dm gets thrown in, borrowing a leading tone from major again. Between City Escpape and this song, I’ve noticed Casey likes to move between parallel modes often. He’ll pick, say G dorian, and throughout the song move between G Dorian and G Minor and he’ll add in raised sixths and sevenths from G major often as well. This adds movement within the song, and gives us strong tension and resolution moments, while staying familiar with a strong key center the entire time.
This beginning section changes pace for a bit before we move into the chorus. All instruments drop out except Casey and the piano, and after a few measures the drums come back with triplet rhythm using side stick. We get a Dbmaj7add#11 chord (wow that’s some jazz) a few times, a chord borrowed using modal interchange from Locrian. This chord gives us a lot of tension wanting to resolve back to the C.
The chorus moves us into G minor, and throws in some overdrive on the guitars. At this point the song goes into a swing feel, and stays there for the rest. We move between Gm and Cm7, giving us a contrast to the C7’s from earlier. After the chorus we move into the section with all of Casey’s fun wordplay. The clean guitars come back and move around some arpeggios and chords. The second half of this verse brings in the backing vocals again, this time to play some arpeggios on top of the rest of the band as they repeat the chords. We get another chorus after this identical to the first one.
After the second chorus most of the instruments drop out and leave us with a buildup from the guitar, piano, and backing vocals. When the band comes back in, the chord start to center around a iv - V - i progression. For this last bridge section, the piano and backing vocals repeat the same lines they did in the buildup, even though the context of the chords change between sections.
The bridge leads us into a riff that acts as a variation on the chorus, repeating parts and further messing with the rhythmic changes. After this the song slows into a smaller section where the guitar mimics the bass riff from the first verse. During this section we also see a reprise of the sound effects we just saw in City Escape. I’ve seen people say it may symbolize Ms. Terri returning to the Dime, and that seems most likely to me also.
I always slept on this song since it came after City Escape, but after taking the time to analyze it I definitely appreciate it more. I spent the time to actually fully transcribe the song this time, which I’ve never done before. I probably won’t do it for future songs, just because it ended up taking so much time, but maybe here and there if there’s a song that doesn’t have any solid transcriptions up I might. I specifically like the bridge in this song, it has a lot of emotion and drive compared to the rest, and paired up with the lyrics it makes for something I’d imagine two people would slow dance to oddly enough.