(Don't Fear) The Reaper

Album: Agents of Fortune (1976)
Charted: 16 12
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  • "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" was written and sung by Blue Öyster Cult's lead guitarist, Donald Roeser, also known as Buck Dharma. It was rumored to be about suicide, but it actually deals with the inevitability of death and the belief that we should not fear it. When Dharma wrote it, he was thinking about what would happen if he died at a young age and if he would be reunited with loved ones in the afterlife.

    Dharma was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat, which got him thinking about his mortality and inspired the song. "I thought I was going to maybe not live that long," he said in a Songfacts interview. "I had been diagnosed with a heart condition, and your mind starts running away with you - especially when you're young-ish. So, that's why I wrote the story. It's imagining you can survive death in terms of your spirit. Your spirit will prevail."
  • Buck Dharma described this as "a love song where the love transcends the actual physical existence of the partners." He was taken aback when he learned that many listeners heard it as a song encouraging suicide; it advocates courage in the face of death but in no way suggests we should actively bring it about. In his Songfacts interview, he explained: "It's not about suicide, although people kind of get that from the Romeo and Juliet reference. But BÖC's lyrics have always been... not obtuse, but deep. They're certainly open to interpretation, and everybody seems to have their own thoughts about what stuff means. We purposely let people do that - draw their own conclusions from the lyric."
  • Blue Öyster Cult was considered a "cult" band, somewhere in the realm of heavy metal with complex and often baffling lyrics dealing with the supernatural. Those inside the cult took the time to understand that like Black Sabbath, BÖC combined outstanding musicianship with fantasy lyrics, and they weren't for everyone. Most music critics appreciated the band, and some worked for them: Their manager/producer Sandy Pearlman wrote for the music magazine Crawdaddy!, as did Richard Meltzer, who contributed some lyrics to the Cult. Patti Smith (yes, that Patti Smith) even wrote some lyrics for the band when she was better known as a music journalist than a musician (she was BÖC keyboard player Allen Lanier's girlfriend).

    Signed to Columbia Records, their first three albums sold a few hundred thousand each, but with no hit singles. "Don't Fear The Reaper" changed all that. Released as the lead single from their fourth album, Agents Of Fortune, it exposed them to a much wider audience, which was good for business but bad for art. On their next album, Spectres, they felt pressure to write another hit, and the results were disappointing. "The Cult is never destined to be successful at a format," Buck Dharma said in a 1980 interview with NME. "To be a singles band you have to win the casual buyer."

    Their resurgence came in 1981 with the MTV hit "Burnin' For You," but "Reaper" will always be their defining song.
  • Some of the lyrics were inspired by Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet. In Shakespeare's play, Romeo swallows poison when he believes Juliet is dead. Juliet responds by taking her own life. This led many people to believe the song was about suicide, but Dharma was using Romeo and Juliet as an example of a couple who had faith that they would be together after their death.
  • Regarding the lyric, "40,000 men and women every day," Dharma was guessing at the number of people who died every day. He underestimated: At the time, about 135,000 people died each day worldwide.
  • An April 8, 2000 Saturday Night Live skit with Christopher Walken made fun of the overreaching cowbell in this song. In the skit, the band would get upset when Will Ferrell would play the bell too loud, but Walken kept calling for "more cowbell."

    In the skit, Walken plays a super-producer named Bruce Dickinson, whom the band respects enough to put up with his cowbell antics. There really is a Bruce Dickinson (besides the Iron Maiden lead singer), but he didn't produce "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" - that was David Lucas, who also brought us the General Electric "we bring good things to life" and the AT&T "reach out and touch someone" jingles. Dickinson is an archivist who works on album reissues, which means gathering master tapes to ensure the best sound quality. He is credited as the reissue producer on a later version of the album, which apparently is how he was named in the sketch.

    When Lucas and Dickinson both appeared on the Just My Show podcast, Lucas explained that the cowbell was his idea, as the song "needed some momentum." He grabbed a cowbell from a nearby recording studio and "just played four on the floor... not hard to do." He found out about the SNL skit when a friend instant messaged him as it was airing.

    Dickinson says he's always felt a little funny about getting the producer role in the famous skit, but it has made life more interesting. Said Dickinson, "I work with Iggy Pop on a lot of stuff and a lot of times when he calls and I pick up the phone, he goes 'More cowbell!'"
  • Is the cowbell in this song really that loud? It depends on how you're listening to the song. On a home stereo system, it's pretty unobtrusive, but radio stations compress their signals, and when cowbell gets compressed, it pops out in the mix.
  • Buck Dharma is very proud of this song and has never tired of playing it over the years. And he laughed just as hard as the rest of us when SNL did their "More Cowbell" send-up. "It's really funny," Dharma told us. "The band had no idea it was coming, either. It was quite a surprise and phenomenal in its endurance and the way it's worked its way into the culture. If the cowbell has been at all an annoyance for Blue Öyster Cult, it's got to be 10 times worse for Christopher Walken! So, I'm riding that horse in the direction it's going."
  • Blue Öyster Cult released their last album in 2001, but continued touring with core members Buck Dharma and Eric Bloom. When Songfacts spoke with Bloom in 2016, he said he still enjoyed performing this song, but he's a little more ambivalent about the "More Cowbell" skit. "I saw it live on my TV in my house, and did not know it was going to be on, so I was more shocked than amused when it was on," he said. "I certainly see the humor after it was on. It certainly has legs - it has become part of Americana at this point. Somebody brings it up to me on a regular basis."
  • This has been used in several horror movies, including Halloween, The Frighteners and Scream (the version used in Scream is an acoustic cover by Gus Black). It was also used in a very non-horror capacity in the party scene of the Disney movie Miracle, which is about the US Hockey team beating the USSR at the 1980 Olympic Games. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jerry - Boston, MA
  • A Long Island band, Blue Öyster Cult got very little attention in the UK until "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" was released as a single there in 1978, earning them a substantial following.
  • Stephen King quoted some of the lyrics to this song in the epigraph of his 1978 novel The Stand, in which 99.9% of the US population is killed by a manmade disease called "Superflu." King got one line wrong, writing "come on Mary" instead of "come on baby."

    It is also used in the 1994 miniseries adaptation during a montage showing the corpses of those who had been killed by the disease.

    King often quotes songs in the beginning of his books - Bruce Springsteen's "Jungleland" and Bob Dylan's "Shelter From the Storm" are also quoted in The Stand. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Eric - Suffern, NY
  • Blue Öyster Cult released a new version of this song on their 1994 album Cult Classics, which contains remakes of some of their most popular songs.
  • The Goo Goo Dolls recorded a punk rock version for their 1987 debut album with bassist Robby Takac on lead vocals. "We like to 'take the piss' out of classic songs," Takac explained. "We thought it was funny to play 'Don't Fear The Reaper' five times as fast, and cut out everything but the three-chord structure. To me, that is hilarious. But it also allowed us to work on cover songs that fit what we did. Then we 'put the piss' back in them, if we will. So instead of making fun of them, we made them our own."
  • This was used on 12 Monkeys in the season 1 episode "Divine Move." Cole, a time traveler trying to undo a deadly plague, plays it on a bar's jukebox as he and his partner discuss their next move.

Comments: 221

  • Stephen G from CanadaIt's about a Vampire who is seducing a woman ( baby I'm your man") telling her, be a vampire don't fear the reaper. "And she ran to him and they started to fly She had become like they are. she had taken his hand" (you know take my hand as in be my wife) she had become like they are. and and they started to fly. she had become like they are....hello! Buck Dharma is a total vampire mythology lover the town he grew up in had the famous Vampirologist Dr. Stephen Kaplan as a teacher in it. They have at least a half dozen songs about vampires. "Tatooe Vampire" ..."I love the Night" On his latest album a vampire with a broken heart called "Tainted Blood"
  • Cc Gin from New YorkThe lyrics "seasons don't fear the Reaper, nor do the wind, the sun or the rain. We can be like they are..." could reference the never ending cycle of all these things and how we are part of it. We are all part of the weather around us, as we have always been because of how nutrients and atoms are recycled. The water making up your body right now could have 1000 years ago been in a big thunderstorm. So as all water atoms are on a continuous loop between hosts and the atmosphere, this links up to how the seasons rotate helping to recycle these atoms and molecules. Incidentally, all the iron in our blood, and a few other metals, only exist on earth because of a dead star. That is, they're originally from a dead star otherwise known as a sun. In this way we are also linked to the earth's sun, as our metals, just like the metals in the earth's sun, will soon both be because a star has died (when our sun dies) and will too make up metals on other planets at some point. This all links to the line "Romeo and Juliet are together in eternity" - that is, the ongoing loop of giving and taking energy and recycle of atoms that will exist forever. That's why no one has to ever fear the Reaper, because we all go on and have been going on in some form for infinity.
  • Whodoyouknow from Portland Although it was credited in Stephen King's The Stand, the band's name is not listed. Only the song title and copyright are listed before a long list of record labels. Not even Don Roeser's name is given as writer. This is the only peice of music in the acknowledgements like that. Did they sell their rights to it? I can't find anything about that. Would be a shame, most iconic and well know song they did out of many
  • Marcrott from Modesto, CaI can't believe no one has mentioned the song's use in the movie War Dogs! Great scene with the real person portrayed in the movie, playing guitar and singing this song at a nursing home!
  • Mj-hamilton from HamtownThis song was also in The Stoned Age, really stupid movie, but any movie that starts off with paranoid by Sabbath, then plays don't fear the reaper on a few occasions throughout the movie is ok with me.
  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenI always loved this song. I read somewhere that Donald Roeser was shocked upon hearing that many felt the song endorsed suicide. Considering that Romeo and Juliet is referenced in the second verse, then the line "Came the last night of sadness and it was clear she couldn't go on" in the third verse, it's hard to imagine that the subject hadn't come to his mind at some point during the writing process.
  • Alison from Sandy Hook, MsI love your comment, Stephen from Canada.

    I'm a huge Anne Rice fan. She is making her vampire chronicles into a magical series to be shown on Hulu in the next couple of years.

    I yearn for this song to be involved.
    I think of Lestat every time I hear it.
    I grew up with him and these books starting in high school around 1984.
    I am now 51 and ready for the series.

    Will always adore the song.
    Thanks for your imagery!
  • Jonathan from Mesa, Az.Rolling Stone Magazine's song of the year for 1976. If the purpose of songs and music is to move your heart mind and soul, then this is as good as it gets. The Reaper, and their ultimate masterpiece Astronomy, are among the best songs ever for just that reason. Compare this to the never ending garbage pumped out by today's music industry. Justin Bieber? Childish Gambino? Zero talent and if it wasn't for a greedy music business combined with a completely dumbed--down and idiotic American youth, these nothing punks would be making minimum wage in the fast food industry.
  • Stuart from Dumbarton, Bonnie ScotlandUnfortunately Reaper is used all too often in these crappy driving/ top gear/ fathers day f--king ridiculous compilation style albums...it was a special tune to me growing up.
  • Eric from TexasLiz - Lansdale, Pa

    The Tommy Lee Jones movie is "Executioner's Song."
  • Barrett from Phoenix, AzIn addition to giving credit to the wrong producer, the SNL skit portrayed the wrong band member as the singer of this song, it was Donald Roeser. Eric Bloom had noted in an interview that if Donald wrote a song, Donald sang it. The original tape for the song was in such bad shape that the band re-recorded it for "The Stand."
  • William from Reno, NvI absolutely love this song!! I fell in love with it when it first came out. It was nice when Stephen King used it to kick off "The Stand" mini series. Besides Bob Segar this is another band that I never got to see live. I regret that deeply. K/H D
  • Chris from SomewhereRonert from Akron, Oh could use some more Cowbell...
  • Stephen from CanadaWow

    I can't believe everyone has missed this.

    This is a vampire love song

    Just think of all the vampire imagery and the woman that falls in love with him. Vampires fly etc. The curtains blow and then the vampire is there the candles go out.

    Now go over the song

    Come on baby, don't fear the reaper
    Baby take my hand, don't fear the reaper
    We'll be able to fly, don't fear the reaper
    Baby I'm your man,

    Don't fear death you will live forever if I bite you we will live forever together. We'll be able to fly

    Second verse is about the love they will share and how they will always be together. Death is not the end.

    The third verse says it all

    He 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 then disappeared
    The curtains flew then he appeared, saying don't be afraid

    She can't stand it anymore she loves him he appears like every Vampire in Every vampire story ever told.

    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

    She can't take it she runs to him he bites her now she is like they are she is a vampire and they started to fly. She had become like they are.

    So not about suicide it is a vampire love song.
  • Mark from Roseville, MiI agree the song is about accepting the inevitability of death. But I always thought this song had a second meaning: "The Reaper" as a symbol for the loss of virginity. At the beginning, the guy is trying to talk his girlfriend into accepting the inevitability of sex. In the last verse she consents and the “Love of two – is one”. It might be unintentional, but I think the lyrics also work for this interpretation.
  • Liz from Lansdale, PaThis song was played in a '70's or early 80's movie w/Tommy Lee Jones. I think he was in prison, he and his girlfriend decided to commit suicide...
    ANYBODY KNOW THE NAME OF THIS FILM???? I need to know!!!!!!
  • Bob from Berkeley, CaWhat happens when the Reaper plays cowbell?
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxI don't fear the reaper, but at some hockey games I definitely fear the cowbell.
  • Robert from Akron, OhThis is a great song and is about love the transcends death. Its not about suicide so says the author so there it is. enough of the cowbell crap please!
  • Ronert from Akron, OhEnough of the freakin cowbell comments already! If the Author of the song says its not about suicide then its not! case closed already. You guys know more than the guy who wrote it? I think not. I saw BOC twice in Akron and they put on a hell of a show and hit on my wife right in front of me like I was not even there and I did not mind because they are freakin cool!
  • Dae from Slc, UtBy no means am I claiming correctness as interpretation of a song is nothing more than your personal view. What the singer/band intended could be entirely different. To me the song initially follows the lines of accepting death as part of life, deal with it. Near the end though, last two chorus(?), you realize its not simply death. It would appear she has become something beyond death. To me the ending is that of vampirism. Not entirely quoted but "The door was opened .. the wind .. she became what they are .. they were able to fly .. looked back and said goodbye .. took his hand .. dont fear the reaper...." of course it could just be peter pan too. =), I doubt it.
  • Breanna from Salem, OhOK PEOPLE WAKE UP!! THE SONG IS NOT ABOUT SUICIDE!!! This song is like the ultimate song of love. There is no other song in the world that can compare to how much love this guy must have held for a women. The whole fact that he dies and returns to her as the reaper himself is amazingly awesome. For love to strecth beyond death itself. I listen to this song constantly. I've even considered using it for my wedding. This song is my all time fav.
  • Joe from Grants Pass, OrAbsolutley one of my all-time favs --Buck Dharma on this unit
  • Joe from Grants Pass, OrSure --ya gotta hafta have tha "COWBELL" , but then you hafta take Christopher Walken with it!
  • Jessi from South Bloomfield, OhAhhh, BOC... "Don't Fear The Reaper" (at least, in my opinion) is all about taking chances. As an individual who is not terribly experienced in life, I always try to live by this song's interpreted message. Is it always a good idea? No. Does it get me into trouble? Oh, yes. But that's half of the fun. "Don't Fear The Reaper" means to me that I should try to live a little. I mean, face it. If we all just keep to ourselves and stay away from things that might end our lives, we don't really have lives to end, do we?
  • Brian from Paris, TxHey Dave, actually the most basic common instruction in the Bible is to love others as you would yourself and to love your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. To paraphrase yourself,maybe you ought to spend more time understanding true Christianity before you go out and and use your misguided understanding of it to bash others.
  • Troy from Ballwin, MoThe 40,000 probably refers to the bible verse from Psalm 68:17 about the 40,000 chariots that are used by god "in which he now fetches the souls of his people to him at death" (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, http://bible.cc/psalms/68-17.htm). The 40,000 number is further explained in the section about that verse in http://clarke.biblecommenter.com/psalms/68.htm
  • Richard Parker from Sheffield, United KingdomTruly great song. The dark nature of the song fits perfectly with the tune and the low harmonies, and that guitar rif, and the bass line at the end, GOD. Just the coolest record ever.
  • Idiot from Boulder, CoI love vampires, therefore I love this song.
  • Robin from Rockville, MdMelanie, I have to give you props for opening MY eyes. I, like many others, had interpreted the song (one of my absolute FAVORITES, I might add) superficially, thinking it was about suicide and the advocacy thereof. But as a Christian, I have to say that re-interpeting the song as a call not to be afraid of death (especially knowing what's on the "other side"!) makes a LOT of sense, and actually makes the song kind of encouraging. It kind of sends the message that one should truly LIVE one's life.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxMelanie, I like your take. Between the R and J line and the â
  • Melanie from Tracy, CaThe lyrics, "Came the last night of sadness" indicates to me a terminally ill woman who is about to die. She has been sad, missing her lover who has gone before her, and fearful of death..wondering what will happen. "And it was clear she couldn't go on" puts her at the very point of her death. "Then the door was open and the wind appeared; The candles blew then disappeared; The curtains flew then he appeared" indicates her lover arriving to escort her to the other side. "...saying don't be afraid, come on, baby" is his reassurance to her that all will be well and that she should have no fear. "...and she had no fear, and she ran to him" indicates her trust in him, and her joy in seeing him again, so much so that she RUNS to embrace death...and him. "...then they started to fly; they looked backward and said goodby" indicates that he is taking her now, flying to the other side, and they look back at the family and friends now gathered around her body, and bid goodbye. "...She had become like they are; She had taken his hand...she had become like they are" indicates that now she is a spirit, free, joyful, and once again reunited with the love of her life, and other joyful spirits who embraced death without fear. "Come on baby...don't fear the reaper." reiterates that there is no reason to fear death. Just my take.
  • Ian from Guelph, OnI always believed the song was about the end of the world, when everybody dies except one man and one woman who are lovers. The musical crescendo building from a few repeating notes is the buildup to the nuclear war that kills us all. It's evolution and the Grim Reaper are the aliens who save two people for the future of humanity. I always hoped I'd be the male that survives. I'm not surprised if the song was originially heard in a dream. The woman, who went first, comes back for the man of her choice. The sexes are reversed because of how they die and are transformed. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but on the back of Godzilla, this theme of nature taking its revenge on humanity for what they have done, is not a theme BOC haven't done before.
  • Stuart from Kountze, TxCome on, guys, does it really matter? The song is about whatever you feel when you hear it. All music is about emotion of the individual in the audience. You cant go around telling other people what YOU think THEY should feel, just because it's what YOU feel. In my opinion, the interps of suicide, were probably thought up in an instant, without any thought of the song.
  • Harry from Tomahawk, WiIt was my wife and my love song in 1980 we were married 27 years and had 2 daughters.Also you can spend hours hearing covers on You Tube.BOC loud is good!
  • Dane from Lima,ohio, FlI've always loved this song.It came out when I was 12 or13.(I'm 46 now)The singer,Buck was the best singer i BOC.For a song about death,it sure has some sweet harmonies.I thought that made BOC better than their comtemporaries.they could harmonize.
  • Dave from Brick, NjI am loathe to add my two cents to this ridiculous argument but here goes. Only the shallowest of interpretations will find this song to be about suicide. These interpreters cannot fathom the depths of Buck's poetic soul. Christians - the most common instruction in the Bible is.. Don't Fear, death or otherwise. Maybe you ought to spend time understanding your own religion before you go out and and use your misguided understanding of it to bash people's art. It is truly one of the greatest works to grace the annals of Rock History and that fact is clear by the number of posts to be found here, and elsewhere on the internet, some 30 plus years after its creation. Rock on, Buck. Your art is greatly appreciated and will be remembered long after you have passed on to that which you have admonished us all to not fear.
  • Boc from Sandy Eggo, CaSomebody way up the chain had it right...then he was criticized. Too bad. This song is about vampires. The entire album is about vampires. Wake up people. Burnin' for you is about vampires. Astronomy is about vampires. Every single Blue Oyster Cult song is about vampires. Challenge me, I'll prove it to you with the lyrics. Even Black Blade. It's Elric meets a vampire. Even Godzilla. You know how history shows again and again the folly of men? It's about vampires.
  • Boc from Sandy Eggo, CaPEOPLE, HELLO! Someone up there had it right. This song is about vampires. Every single BOC song is about vampires, YES, even black blade, even Godzilla. Blue Oyster Cult only sings about vampires. That's what they do. I can't believe you fans are so slow to understand this. wow.
  • Chris from Spijkenisse, NetherlandsThe finnish band HIM did a cover.
  • Mike from Reading, PaClassic great song, so what if it has a cowbell, its just a great song. period.
  • Paul from Kennewick, WaI really relate to Jennifer in CAs story. I,too,believe in the paranormal, and like you, I lost a close loved one (my mom) to cancer. I woke up beside her right as I kind of "knew" she was about to pass, back in 1993. The same happened 6 years later, almost to the day, with my best friend. Both these people,like me,were Christians, and would take comfort in knowing that DRTR comforts me in their memories. It isn't an evil song at all. It's about love,loyalty,and commitment. Kudos from the guys at BOC who gave it to us.
  • Roger from Chicago, Il2 words....... MORE COWBELL !!!!!!!
  • Paul from Washington Dc, DcDefinitely one of the great marijuana songs of the '70's (although, of course, not everybody indulged in the Evil Weed back then).
  • Crow from Disney World, VaInteresting comment by Unity that I can believe. I was a musician for a number of years, never even tried to make it as one professionally, figured I wasn't good enough. However, after I quit playing, songs came to me in dreams, some of which were completely new and unheard of, some of which were very good and probably could have been one hit wonders. I normally forgot most of the song and only remembered the refrain and maybe a few verses. So for me, an amateur musician, it's very believable that a song may have come by way of dream, because that's the only way I have ever composed a song. The difference is, a great musician like Buck can wake up and play it and write it down, and then get his band to do it, and the rest is history. I wouldn't be surprised if many great rock songs or other genres were dreamed up initially by the unconcious mind.
    What the song means, that's a different story. Obviously it pertains to death, but in what way is still up for debate, unless Buck wants to just tell us straight up. It's quite possible he doesn't even know, especially if he dreamed it.
  • Cyberpope from Richmond, CanadaThe Christian theology is based on not fearing death("The Reaper"), too -- you can only go so far in wild-assed interps!
  • Joseph from Lubbock, TxA brilliant but evil song.
  • Unity from Charleston, WvI used to work at a record company in NYC and met a guy who was actually involved in the studio production of this album, he told me a story that I have never seen repeated elsewhere and would love to find out if it is true or not. He said that Donald Rossner dreamed the entire song - had the entire arrangement in his head. He went to his band members, giving instructions to all the various members, and the demo was laid out in one day. I've always thought DFTR sounded very different from most of BOC other songs and because of this gave some merit to the story. This and the guy who told me had no reason to lie - its not like BOC was the most impressive artist he had worked with in his very long and successful career. I cannot find very much about the songs creation or recording online - the quote from Donald about it not being about suicide in the 94 interview is about the most I've found out there. Anyone else know any sites where more details are given to the background of DFTR? Or has anyone else heard a version of the "dream" story?
  • Derek from Shrewsbury, Mawhen you make your opinions dont forget the facts that are in the lyrics (1) romeo and juliet refrences (2) the reaper (3) and the main character meets her lover when she dies take it from there these are the only facts that im asking you to consider before you interpret the rest you can assume consider or leave by the wayside
  • Derek from Shrewsbury, Maim gonna say that interpreting songs is ok just dont over do it i write songs my self some times you just hear something that sounds catchy and you run with it and write stuff as it comes to you and sometimes you put deep thought into what the audience will take away dont over think it too much but do make your own oppinion
  • Derek from Shrewsbury, Maawsome song
  • Lily from Eureka, CaI've often heard that this song was about a young woman whose boyfriend was killed in Vietnam. I'm not sure that was the original intention. But thinking of it that way puts a sort of "To everything there is a season" spin on the song, making it even more poignant.
  • Jack from Mesa, AzCome on, this song is definitely about suicide. But it is so beautiful and tragic. The girl is sad and does the unthinkable. It happens--is it so wrong to write a song about it? I understand why the writer disavows the suicide angle, yet I feel like my life is better for having heard this song.
  • David Paul Surman from Salisbury, United Kingdom(Don't Fear) The Reaper (1)

    All our times -- have come, (2)
    Here but now -- they're gone. (3)

    Seasons don't fear the reaper,
    Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain, (4)
    We can be like they are...
    Come on baby, (don't fear the reaper),
    Baby take my hand, (don't fear the reaper),
    We'll be able to fly, (don't fear the reaper),
    Baby I'm your man... (5)

    Valentine -- is done, (6)
    Here but now -- they're gone,
    Romeo and Juliet, (7)
    Are together in eternity, (Romeo and Juliet),
    40,000 men and women everyday, (8)
    Like Romeo and Juliet...
    40,000 men and women everyday,
    Redefine happiness... (9)
    Another 40,000 coming everyday,
    We can be like they are,
    So come on baby (don't fear the reaper),
    Baby take my hand (don't fear the reaper),
    We'll be able to fly (don't fear the reaper),
    Baby I'm your man...

    Guitar Break (10)
    Cymbal/Snare (11)
    Flat-line Feedback (12)

    Love of two -- is one,
    here but now -- they're gone,
    Came a last night of sadness, (13)
    And it was clear that she couldn't go on...
    The door was open (and the wind appeared), (14)
    The candles blew (and then disappeared),
    The curtains flew (and then he appeared),
    Saying don't be afraid, (15)
    Come on baby (and she had no fear),
    And she ran to him... (16)
    And they started to fly,
    They looked back and said goodbye...
    She had become like they are. (17)

    (Music to end)

    Step-by-step Interpretation

    1. Do not be afraid of death.

    2. In the spirit world we are no longer governed by time.

    3. Alive in consciousness but physically decayed.

    4. Nature dies repeatedly.

    5. As narrated by the spirit of a dead lover imploring his desperately sad partner to join him.

    6. Symbolic.

    7. Symbolic.

    8. Grossly underestimated daily suicide rate.

    9. Death is glory

    10. The act of suicide begins.

    11. Slicing of the arteries.

    12. Life-force ebbing into euphoria.

    13. Dead lover sees unhappy partner passing over.

    14. Dead lover reaches for her soul.

    15. Suicide victim becomes aware of his presence.

    16. Self explanatory.

    17. Suicide victim is reunited with dead partner.

    In no way do i condone the tragic act of suicide. It is not the answer. Live your life to the best of your ability. Enjoy the highs and learn from the lows. Seek help and understanding when times are hard. Love is all around. You are never truly alone. Hold dearly this precious gift of life. Love and peace...

  • David Paul Surman from Salisbury, United KingdomI always assumed that this particular song was about suicide but, more significantly, the existence of an afterlife... As a student of the study of Survival Physics (see online: Ronald Pearson), I understand that quantum mechanics seems to allow such a possibility... This is a remarkable song regardless.. I do believe that initially the song was RE suicide.. But I think that it was also about mortality.. Donald Roeser, at the time of writing Reaper, was suffering with a potentially life-threatening heart problem.. Being smart as well as creative, he decided that he'd like to put his thoughts on record but with a little mystique to help it sell... I don't condone suicide but feel that this song is so hauntingly beautiful it could - plausibly, help sell such ideas to impressionable minds.. A truly classic song that will always stand the test of time, as will death!! Love and Peace...
  • Makaladawn from Gold River, Nsthis song is so awsome i especially loved it in the stand!
  • Matt from Houston, Txit means don't be afraid to die. stop overthinking it!
  • Thomas from Somerville, AlI think that anybody who tries to blame a suicide or murder on a song is a weak minded idiot. This is one of the best rock anthems ever written. The parents of these kids need to look into their own lives and find out what they did to make their kids so miserable that they wanted to end their life. The song may have been a catylist but, nothing more. This song rules.
  • Pat from Kirkland, WaThis song is not about murder/suicide. The male lover is already dead. The female joins the male lover in death commiting suicide when his ghost appears to her. How else do you explain the lost love? If they no longer have love between them (lost love) then why commit suicide together? They would find someone else. Besides, the reference to Romeo and Juliet conjures up eternal love. No, the love is there. It isn't dead. The male is and she joins him whem she can no longer stand the pain of his absense. He beckons her to join him. She does.
  • C.j. from Wenatchee, WaAll things aside, the words and illustrations Buck chose in writing this haunting little medley and the way he used them, has left many with the distinct impression that he is glorifying suicide. I know it's up to interpretation, but the glorification of suicide is a popular conclusion regardless of his intentions. The reference to Romeo and Juliet and the reference to the discouraged lady who couldn't go on, refers to suicide as a grand alternative to enduring the pain of living when love has been lost. Of course, Buck doesn't have the slightest idea what happens when one crosses over from life into death. I'll wager dollars to doughnuts that committing the ultimate act of despair will more than likely cause one to forego many pleasantries in the after-life. Sorry guys, there are references to suicide in this song and there is just no way around it.
  • Sean from Seaside, CaCaesars don't fear the reaper. Caesar means shark
  • Peter from Chicago, IlI thought this was about Jonestown back in the 70s. But i guess not
  • Anthony from Cape May, NjDon't fear the reaper, simple, don't fear death or seperation of any short, live life up, a great song..Aesthetically appealing as well
  • Cecile from Châteaubourg, --To Michael from Raleigh, NC, regarding BOC's logo : This symbol, sometimes referred to as the "Cross of questioning," is little more than a logo for the rock band Blue Oyster Cult.

    Created by artist Bill Gawlick for the band's first album, the symbol is patterned after the astrological symbol of Saturn/Cronos, in the shape of a sickle. (it is the image of the God of time with his sickle that gives us the modern concept of the Grim reaper)

    It is not a question mark, an upside down cross, or a Satanic symbol.

    Contrary to Urban Legend and tract writers, there is no corresponding "anti-Christian" symbol.

    Found on : http://altreligion.about.com/library/glossary/symbols/bldefsboccross.htm
  • Trey from Kalamazoo, MtI no longer fear the reaper do to this song. Although I still "feel the peeper" if you know what I mean. I'm sorry. That was uncalled for.
  • Skip from Honesdale Pa, NcMy dad was in the jukebox business when this song came out - I remember we were at a convention introducing one of the new "digital" jukeboxes, and this was one of the 45s - I was curious, so I punched it up --- and afterwards, I immediately punched it up again... and AGAIN... I was transfixed. I must have played that song a dozen or more times before someone came over suggested I do something else for a while!

    Later (1978) I wrote and directed a mime show at the Loeb Ex at Harvard - the theme was the Seven Ages of Man, and the finale was a piece set to this song. I wrote the mime piece over several weeks, while in a smoky haze in my friend Nick's room, watching it all in my head. It was a straightforward interpretation, following the lyrics for the most part. For the instrumental break, we came up with four people - a rich man, a beautiful woman, a soldier, and a cleric - each of whom thinks they will somehow avoid death because of who they are. (Needless to say, they don't - the Reaper harvests them all.)
  • Mark from Calgary, AbOn a less serious note, it may also be about letting go.
  • Jason from Tampa, FlJake, the song came out in 1976. How can it be about something that hadn't happened yet?
  • Kassidy from Ephraim, Utthis song is a big part of the movie "The Stoned Age" a 1994 comedy about two guys driving around and one is obsessed with this song because he was hit by a laser at a Blue Öyster Cult show and saw a "huge gnarly eyeball". wile this song was playing
  • Matt from Houston, TxI actually think that jeremy from martin, TN is right
  • Mik from Sun City, CaI think they sing Dont fear Kelly Ripa, and that is really worrisome, considering she was only 5 years old when they wrote it. How could they know?? And what else do they know............
  • Molly from New Albany, InWasn't this song played a lot on the HBO series "Six Feet Under"? I loved that series!
  • Jimmy from Gainesboro, TnBack in 76' was when this song was recorded, but it didn't get real popular until around 78'. As the CD "The Best of Blue Öyster Cult - Don't Fear the Reaper" states in the biography, "Blue Öyster Cult is one of the most misunderstood bands of all time." I can understand them 100%, because they are one of my favorite bands. Donald "Buck "Dharma" Roeser, lead guitarist of Blue Öyster Cult, wrote this song when he was open to the fact that anyone can die at any time. It is not about commiting suicide, it is a song that is trying to send a message, "LIVE LIFE WHILE YOU CAN!!!."
  • Jim from Dallas, TxWhen I die, I hope they play this song with "MORE COW BELL" really loud!
  • Bender from East West Virginia, Va21 mentions of the cowbell skit I thougght there would be more than that.
  • Paul from Beaverton, OrHey people, if Buck Dharma says this song is not about suicide, then we should take him at his word. After all, which one of you is more qualified to say what the song is about than Buck? About some of the interpretations, I think the lyrics can be interpreted as being about dying, but not necessarily suicide. Think about the ending: "She ran to him and they began to fly" could be about a terminally ill woman who has just succumbed to death, and she is now in the spirit world and is therefore able to fly. Additionally, the "him" in the lyrics could be her husband who passed away many years ago, whom she misses very much, and is finally able to join because she has died of a disease. There are so many ways to interpret a song. And I just want to add one more thing. Have you ever heard the theme song from M*A*S*H being sung? Most people haven't. They just hear the instrumental version on TV. But the title of the song is "Suicide is painless", and if you heard the lyrics, it's definitely about suicide. Funny how nobody is up in arms about that!
  • Moosi from Phoenix, AzDaYou people read toomuch into the lyrics. The lyrics have no meaning, except to sell. GREAT guitar, good sound. And the lyrics are wrong. It is "Come on Mary, don't fear the Reaper, Baby take my hand." Ask Bruce Sprinsteen about "Blinded By The Light"..........it has no meaning but it SOLD because everybody thought it meant something.
  • Jake from Denver, Cothis song is obviously about the jim jones cult in guyana in 1978 when he convinced 900 people to commit suicide on one day. he had told them dont fear the reaper
  • Tadaia from Atlanta, GaBuck D is full of it. LMAO
    I'm in my late 40's and attended a few of BOC shows in the day. This is a GREAT song, an absolute rock classic and should be remembered as such, but stop fooling yourselves. LOL It was written to titillate, fascinate and sell records... it was most DEFINITELY about suicide. BOC played the "demonic cult card" as well as any band of the day, and sold a lot of records as a result.
  • Carter from Lincoln, NeThis song is written about how you shouldn't fear death in yourself or in other people because in time it will come and should be ready at any moment. Romeo and Juliet never feared death because they didn't enjoy life as it was. In the line 40000 men and women every day it means that there are that many people dying every day and that we will be with the ones we care about.
  • Craig from New Braunfels, TxI had the pleasure of seeing these guys up at Copper Mountain, CO back in '06. There are three original members: Donald (Buck Dharma) Roeser, Eric Bloom and Alan Lanier. They put on a helluva show and at a bar later that night, Buck asked my wife to dance. She had no idea who he was and flipped out when I told her who she had just danced with. He and I had a nice chat afterwards. I told him we used to call "Don't Fear the Reaper", "Don't Fear the Reefer" in high school. He said "...oh yeah, that's the first time I've heard that" with a sarcastic bite.
    He is really friendly and approachable in person.
    The next day, The Smithereens were scheduled to play at the outside venue, but it was snowing too hard, so the show was moved into the ski lodge cafeteria. During their set, Pat Dinizio broke a string on his guitar and Buck was watching the show from the side of the stage. Buck took Pat,s guitar, re-strung and tuned it while they played another song and then gave it back to Pat. When Pat got his guitar back, he told the crowd, "Now how many bands can say they had Buck Dharma as their guitar tech!" The audience got a good laugh. Later in the show, Buck joined The Smithereens and did a blistering version of "E.T.I." and then went into a 10 minute unbelievable version of "Don't Fear the Reaper".
    This was, hands down, my favorite rock and roll moment!
  • Kayla from N. Lauderdale, FlThis is a great song. It's very deep and SNL made me like it even more.
  • Allie from Pine Knob, MiThis song is very symbolic.
    Don't fear the reaper!!!
    Makes me think about trust!
    Awesome guitar!!!! The singing is the best very soft and melodic!
  • Mark from Byrdstown, TnIf you are a BOC fan check out a little movie called 'The Stoned Age'......its a killer movie with all sorts of BOC stuff in it.
  • Kara from Cadillac, MiThe following information is per Don Roeser aka Buck Dharma, himself:

    The reaper is a reference to the Grim Reaper, a traditional personification of death in European-based folklore. Lyrics such as "Romeo and Juliet are together in eternity" have led many listeners to interpret the song to be about a murder-suicide pact, but Dharma says the song is about eternal love:[3] (as quoted folks):
    ? I felt that I had just achieved some kind of resonance with the psychology of people when I came up with that, I was actually kind of appalled when I first realized that some people were seeing it as an advertisement for suicide or something that was not my intention at all. It is, like, not to be afraid of it (as opposed to actively bring it about). It's basically a love song where the love transcends the actual physical existence of the partners. ?
  • Kris from Wichita, KsThis song really isn't about suicide or killing someone it's really grasping and accepting the concept of death and that we shouldn't "Fear" it
  • Jeff from Austin, Txanother 40,000 cowbells everyday
  • Michelle from S, Pawhat about, 'Baby take my hand, Don't fear the Reaper, We'll be able to fly' it is about suicide, but the song isn't suicidal. he's telling a story if you look at the lyrics. i think its a story about a couple that jumped out of a window.

    'Then the door was open and the wind appeared
    The candles blew then disappeared
    The curtains flew 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'

    'they' is referring to romeo and juliet, the 40,000 men and women everyday, and the seasons.
    i think it's a great song and is correct,about not fearing the reaper.
  • Richard from Talladega, AlWe used to call this "don't you feel the reefer".
  • Josh from Sumner, WaAnother 40,000 coming everyday...We can be like they are.....WE CAN BE LIKE THEY ARE..very clearly a reference to suicide
    - Troy, Niagara Falls, Canada

    not so nice person...okay then, explain this:

    The Seasons don't fear the reaper, nor do the wind or the sun or the rain...We can be like they are...
    (Key phrase: WE CAN BE LIKE THEY ARE!! which you so clearly said was a refrence to death.)

    so...explain that as suicidal.It simply means not to fear death...
  • Ed from Incognito, IlBuck Dharma - probably THE most under-rated performer in music, past or present. The same can be said about the band, as a whole.
  • Erik from Brownwood , Txthis song was also in bill and teds bogus journey when they beat the grim reaper at board games and won their way to live again.
  • Christopher from Colorado Springs, CoThis is without a doubt one of the greatest songs ever.
  • Matthew from Milford, MaGeez, it just means that love is ultimately more powerful than death. Indeed, I like to visualize the last verse as the knight in shining armor saving the life of the fair maiden...
  • Hunter from Los Angeles!, CaThis song is not purely about "Let's kill each other.". But, It is about to not fear death, it means that after death, we will be united with our passed love ones, I'm sure it goes deeper. This song is very beautiful.
  • Adam from Calgary, CanadaThe song I want played at my graveside service. I plan to make it 'til at least 90, so it'll be a real oldy by then... ;) Not mournfull, not overly sombre, just contemplative. If BOC only did one song, this would be good enough!

  • Steph from Takoma Park, MdThis song was featured in an episode of Six Feet Under. I believe it was one in which Nate finds out he has a potentially fatal condition.
  • Alex from New York, NyThis song is about a man convincing his girlfriend to commit suicide with him.
  • Liquid Len from Ottawa, CanadaThe song is not 'blatantly about suicide', no matter what some desperate brainwashed dingaling says. I think some people just WANT to believe stuff like that. And if songs made people do things, well there are more love songs than anything else, and they don't seem to make us love each other, do they?

    No doubt the current lineup touring today doesn't have the same snap - I think there's just one original player.
  • Alan from Chesterfield, MiThe flip side of this was supposed to "Suicide is Painless" but they were never happy with the track because it didn't have enough cowbell.
  • Troy from Niagara Falls, CanadaAnother 40,000 coming everyday...We can be like they are.....WE CAN BE LIKE THEY ARE..very clearly a reference to suicide
  • Echo from Normalville, MaThis is a beautiful song (not to mention, the guitar riff sounds a little bit like the Holiday Song by the Pixies)
  • Chris from Pasadena, MdI think the songs about saying that Death can happen at any time. Dont fear death, its natural. For a while i thought it was about suicide
  • Matthew from Milford, MaThe song is basically about how love is stronger than death. Where did that satanist crap come from?!?
  • Keri from Claxton, GaThis song has a very strong meaning behind it. I always thought it was about not fearing death because it's gonna happen sooner or later. This song was perfect for being in The Stand.Stephen King rocks!!!
    -Keri, Columbus,Ga.
  • Joe from Bellingham, WaI just recently saw the BOC play at a casino. They seem to have lost what made them kick ass. They are still good though.
  • Federica from Taranto, ItalyOingo Boingo, also covered this song in the early 80's. The singer of this group were Danny Elfman, the famous musician who writes movie soundtracks (for example for Tim Burton). Danny also composed the theme for The Simpson and for Futurama.
  • Matthew from Fairview, Njsmall correction to bill in WI: time, not timetit (time is a command, timetit can be translated the same, but it is technically wrong.) Or possibly timete if you're talking to everybody. Also, i don't know the declension or gender for messer (probably 2nd declension masculine but I could be wrong) but you want the accusative singular, not nominative (ending "-er"). My guess is "non timete messum". I could be wrong, but I know that you are wrong. No offense, but Latin class sticks with you when you do it every day for 2 years.
  • Matthew from Fairview, Nj"I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell!"
    This is probably the most true statement of all time. I have asked many other musicians, and they all say that the cowbell is the best instrument ever. Every song could use more cowbell.
  • Griffin from Perth, AustraliaI am seriously considering using lyrics from this song in my new novel.
    The song inspires greater imagary in my mind than just accepting death, or more the commonly preceived notion that it is about suicide.

    More vivid is the sense of not fearing what comes next, good or bad, we will go through it together, take my hand. Dont fear the Reaper.
    If we meet the reaper, I will meet him with you, holding your hand, I'm your man.
    Thats just my take.
    And it fits well into the story I am writing :)
  • Ben from Menomonie, Wiawesome song, will ferrels versions almost as good, ha. i think its just like about couples seperated by dieing. well its at least about dieing and not to be afraid of dieing.
  • Daisya from Orlando, FlThe beginning,
    seasons dont fear the reaper, nor do the wind or the sun and the rain, we can be like they are. That, I beleave is a literal reference to reapers [people that cut down wheat with scythes a long time ago, and still in some undeveloped contries] The seasons arent afraid to be killed because they know they come back in the next year, which is sort of not literate because its personification, but he literally means reapers, not like a grim reaper. This relates to the rest of it where he continues with metaphors about life after death. its not about suicide, its about not living you life in fear of death. whey she "began to fly" that could be her after she died, or it could be her feelings of freedom when she let go of her fear of dying and began to live her life.
  • Rosi from Costa Rica, United Statesi don't give a sh*t! whatever, there's something evil about this song, that's why it's so good!!!
  • Eric from Lake Fores, CaI love this song. I taught it to beginning guitar students for years because it's an excellent tutorial on how to integrate barre chords and riffs. It went away for years, but now the kids' parents are showing it to them, so it's back.

    I always thought the song was about a boy trying to convince his lover to commit suicide because of Romeo and Juliet. If Tony is correct, and why wouldn't he be, I misinterpeted the lyrics. Fair enough. What Buck says the song is about is what the song is about. However, lyrics and poetry, all literature, really, by their very nature are open to subjective interpetation. I, myself, wrote a poem about an incident and it turned out to really be about my father's death. It happens, but more likely lyrics are misinterpeted, or are so vague that a direct reference can't be achieved, which is often the writer's intention anyway.

    Michael, while I respec your passion, please remember that writers enjoy using their metaphors. When you hear about what "Highway to Hell" is about, that makes perfect sense and it's baseless to hammer your interpretation. Same for this song, or the BOC symbol. If they say their intention was Saturn, heavy metal, that's just the sort of boderline stupid/clever thing that people were coming up with in the 70's.
  • Jeremy from Martin, TnThis song most undoubtly is about drugs! This was written about the time that Nixon put a ban on all songs with refferences to drugs! It repeats the lyric "don't fear the reaper" over and over and when you listen over and over and your brain gets used to it, it begins to slow down and then say "don't fear the reefer!" "reefer" is of course slang for marajuana! Also it begins to say "come on take a drag!" at the end of the chorus. "just like Romeo and Juliet" remember Juliet took drugs to make people think she was dead!!!! The song's all about smoking marajuana and using other drugs!!! Which of course matches the times in which it was recorded!!! Peace,love,dope!!
  • Sarah from Usa, IaAh, one of the best 70's rock songs!
  • Edward from Detroit, MiIs this song about suicide? Let's analyze the lyrics:

    "All of times have come
    Here but now they're gone
    Seasons don't fear the reaper
    Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain
    We can be like they are
    Come on baby... Don't fear the Reaper
    Baby take my hand... Don't fear the Reaper
    We'll be able to fly... Don't fear the Reaper
    Baby I'm your man..."

    Question: Who is singing this verse? When I first heard this song, I immediately thought that this was the girl's boyfriend. He died (whether by suicide or not is unclear) and is appearing to her (as a ghost or in her dreams)

    "Valentine is done
    Here but now they're gone
    Romeo and Juliet
    Are together in eternity...
    Romeo and Juliet "

    Valentine's day can be especially depressing if the one you love is dead. Now, the romatic notion of "being together in eternity" may help to ease that pain. Romeo and Juliet are the icons of this ideal, as they would rather die than live without the one they loved. My interpretation is that the girl is now contemplating the idea.

    "40,000 men and women everyday... Like Romeo and Juliet
    40,000 men and women everyday... Redefine happiness
    Another 40,000 coming everyday...We can be like they are "

    Assuming 40,000 people die each day (a very low estimate)., the message is that people die every day- do it's no big deal.

    "Come on baby... Don't fear the Reaper
    Baby take my hand... Don't fear the Reaper
    We'll be able to fly... Don't fear the Reaper
    Baby I'm your man... "

    Again, her dead lover calls to her. Human bodies can't fly, so it's clear she would need to take spirit form.

    "Half of two is one
    Here but now they're gone"

    This is where I got the idea that she had lost her lover to Death.

    "Came the last night of sadness
    And it was clear she couldn't go on"

    My interpretation is that she is overcome by dispair.

    "Then the door was open and the wind appeared
    The candles blew then disappeared
    The curtains flew then he appeared
    Saying don't be afraid "

    The wind blows the window open, and she sees the ghost of her boyfriend, who encourages her to jump out of it.

    "Come on baby... And she had no fear
    And she ran to him..."

    So, she runs out the window

    " 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 "

    She turned into a spirit (read "died")

    Come on baby...don't fear the reaper

    I still don't see any references to Vampires!

    My conclusion: It's a song! The words tell the story of a young girl who, overcome by the pain of having her true love die, decides to join him in Death by jumping out a window.

    Even if her boyfriend encouraged her to commit suicide, that isn't an endorsement that the listener should do the same. No more than "Let's Get This Party Started" endorses starting a party.
  • Gena from Prestonsburg, KyDefinitely not a song about or glorifying in any way suicide. It is a song about the inevitability of death and how we can have hope and know that there is something beautiful beyond death. How people get that this is Satanic is beyond me...it is more Christian in its message than it is Satanic.
  • Gordie from Philadelphia, PaMaybe I'm reading too much into this song, but there seems to be a lot here. The reference to Romeo and Juliet willing to die than to conform definitely fits. I think it is about death, but more death of spirit than of the body.
  • Alex from Colebrook, CtThis song has as much to do with vampires as it has to do with that piece of Evander Holyfield's ear that Tyson bit off. God I hope you're tripping while you write this, your grammar reflects it. Anyway, this song is clearly about death and you could easily read it as being about suicide, but it would be a tough case to say it encourages it. It's message is that Death isn't something to be feared and everybody has their time, but it doesn't mean you should off yourself. But it does show death, and by default suicide, in a little better light than it is usually shown in, which I guess is why people say it advocates suicide. But then people are also stupid.
  • Alice from Not Telling, NvThis song is about vampires , thank you very much! vampires take there vitims by luring them and say " dont be afraid!" so there. im right. and so what if the song is really about suicide? people who kill themselves are just sad , needed some help they didnt get. dont blame teenagers killing themselves on songs please. i am 15 years old and have thought about killing myself , but not because of a song!
  • Linda from Omaha, NeSo what if the song is about suicide. That doesn't make the band satanic. Couldn't Dharma just have been writing from another person's perspective? Like Johny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues song. He's never been a prisoner there but he wrote the song as if he were one of the people imprissoned at Folsom. It's no different then a novelist writing a character who, say, in the end of the book commits suicide. Does any of this make sense?
  • Stephan from Pw, NyMichael of Raleigh is wrong with the symbolism though it may look like something that is claimed to be anti-christian the name does not at all seem like a midevil name for something of that sort, the symbol is most likely inverted, though when looking at the CD cover for Scret Treaties the symbol is almost exactly like the Luftwaffte symbol from WWII, on the internet it is easy to fake such things and because BOC is considered anti-christion I wouldnt doubt that that was put up falsely and for the last time the song isnot about suicide thesong is about eternal love as that which is apparent or i thought was apparent in the lines refering to Romeo and Juliett
  • Jennifer from North Hollywood, CaThis song was playing on the radio during the hour my brother passed away. He had Pancreatic Cancer and I had a feeling he would go that day. I heard it on the radio and cried. I got home and the phone rang. It was the hospital saying he had just died. I do feel like something paranormal was going on, like he wanted me to hear that to comfort me. I love that song and I know he did too.
  • Barbara from Waukegan, IlI am a Christian and I love this song. I think it's beautiful. I don't fear death at all, and so this song, to me, only strengthens my faith. I feel sorry that kids used this song as an excuse to commit suicide, but people who are in so much despair are affected by something WAY more serious than a mere song.
    People shouldn't blame songs, TV shows, or anyone else for the choices they make.
    This is a beautiful song. I think the band is very talented, and I don't think they're satanists. I've met satanists and they really are the most depressed people. They are no fun at all.
  • Mike from Long Island, NyThe song is not about suicide. The basic theme is that "Love Transcends Death." Even though the woman described in the song dies, the love she has lasts on "in eternity."
  • James from Harrisburg, Paok, my uncle was in this band, Jon Rogers, he played bass from 1986-1996, this song is about a man and a woman , the woman is dying and there is nothing they can do to save her. The man is telling the the woman not to be afraid of death, and that it is just another part of life and that nothing else fears death hence:

    All of times have come
    Here but now they're gone
    Seasons don't fear the reaper
    Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain
    We can be like they are

    The middle section is giving examples of how natural death is. The last section is when the woman dies:

    Half of two is one
    Here but now they're gone
    Came the last night of sadness
    And it was clear she couldn't go on
    Then the door was open and the wind appeared
    The candles blew then disappeared
    The curtains flew then he appeared
    Saying don't be afraid

    and the very last part is how she acepted death:

    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

    I'll still have to check with my uncle though just to make shure. It is a very good song.. that isn't about suicide, and if it was it still would be really good

  • Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesDon't fall for the Christian Right's brain-dead spew. Deborah in Chicago is spot-on; before you decide that this is about suicide, watch the original "Death Takes A Holiday" with Fredric March, circa 1932. It's occasionally shown on TCM. The verse beginning "the door was open and the wind appeared...." is straight out of the finale to this lovely film. The theme is not suicide, but exactly what the lyricist said: death comes to everyone, and is not to be feared. As for the symbol the band used, perhaps its meaning is: controversy, publicity and sales!
  • Rob from Vancouver, CanadaBOC did some shows in small venues in the early-mid eighties billed as Soft White Underbelly. BTW, who gives a !@#$ if the song is about suicide. Its a great song.
  • Joe from Chicago, Arthis was used in alot of movies but i thought it went pefect with the stpephen king tv movie the stand this is defintly a great song and i don't think it's sinactic
  • Russ from Greensboro, Mdi have a sickness and the only cure is more cowbell
  • Jonathan from TorontoNeeds a little more cowbell.
  • Vampire from Cary, NcMichael in Raleigh is dead WRONG on the BOC Logo. The logo was created by artist Bill Gawlick. Some pieces of metal were on his work desk and it reminded him of an astrological symbol most likely the astronomical symbol for Saturn. He arranged the pieces and the rest is history. The "Cross of Confusion" story was something invented by Bob Larson and his odd Xian ministry. It never existed before Galwik design.

    Read it and weep:


  • C.j. from Wenatchee, Wa"Don't Fear the Reaper" is truly one of the most haunting songs I have ever heard. I heard it once and couldn't get it out of my head. I love how the verses ebb and flow, come in strong then fade away. A remarkable song performed to perfection. I am drawn to this song unlike any other which is somewhat of a concern because the words and imagery used in this song are so dark and tragic. Though my ears and heart say "yes", my intellect tells me this song should be handled with caution. I have tried so hard to take Dharma at his word and tried to rationalize every phrase to the point of making up my own scenarios, but in the end I cannot make peace with the dark imagery. No matter how you slice it - the messages rendered in this song are misguided at best and like the Pied Piper this haunting and memorable tune have led some of the more susceptible listeners to their demise. Regardless if Dharma intended this song to glorify suicide or not, the imagery and words can easily lead a person to a cold and dark place of no return. If the music and lyrics lead a person to romanticize the act of suicide then Dharma has done a great disservice to society. All great authors, movie directors and musicians know how to lead their audiences to a desired end - Dharma is no different, I just think he's in denial or does not want to accept any responsibility for such a disturbing and irresponsible message.
    - C.J., Wenatchee, WA
  • John from Birmingham, EnglandI love how everyone is so sure that a song that mentions death is about suicide. I have news for everyone, we are all gonna die. So does that mean we are all going to kill ourselves?
    Certainly this song could be interpretted as about suicide, but to say it is without a doubt about suicide is going far. ..Hope you folks dont end up on a jury.
  • James from Millersville, PaSuch a GREAT song. I was but a wee lad when this album came out but I remember the first time I heard it well. Even as a kid, to me, it was pretty clear that the song was about death and not to fear it. Keep on rockin' in the free world!
  • Tom from East Lyme, CtI mean...come on, the cowbell isn't THAT loud, I could barley hear it the first time I heard it...of maybe I'm just deaf
  • Richard from Havre, MtDo You really want to know what the song Highway to Hell was really about? Because I'll tell you! It was about a really bad tour they had. They were on a highway and it took them on a Hell-ish tour okay. And please tell me how Burnin' For You, and all the rest of BOC's music was satanic, because I don't think it was. Just because they have a Satanic logo does not mean that every song they wright was satanic. I thank you.
  • Kim from Yorktown, WvI listened to this song a lot cruising in the car with party friends in my small town in Ohio. We thought it was a way cool song, but we were divided on whether it was about death in general, suicide, or vampires. I always voted for the vampire theory because of the lines:
    "The door was open and the wind appeared
    The candles blew and then disappeared
    The curtains flew then he appeared
    Saying don't be afraid
    Come on baby... And we had no fear
    And we ran to him... Then they started to fly"
    This sounds like something straight out of an old Dracula flick. I always thought of it as a vampire telling his next victims not to fear death, because they were trading it for immortality and eternal love. This is classically how vampires won over the prey they wanted next - ala, "The Lost Boys" and "Interview with the Vampire"
  • Kendra from Fort Stockton, TxThe show Supernatural on the WB used this song in an episode where this preacher was believed to have the power to heal people. In reality it was his wife and her satanic beliefs that had summoned a reaper somehow and was "switching souls" of the people who went to him, with people she disliked from the newspaper clippings she recieved. Pretty cool show actually.
  • Phil from Borrego Springs, CaEverybody, please lighten up, it's just a song. When I was a kid I thought they were saying "Please Don't steal my reefer".
    Phil, San Bernardino
  • Mike from Warwick, Ri25 years later.....According to the CIA World Fact book, the average death rate for the world is 8.68 deaths per 1,000 people; with a population (estimated) of 6.4 billion, that gives us 155,000 deaths per day by all causes, and almost 57 million per year.
  • James from Vidalia, GaThe 1996 PC game called "Ripper" uses this song during it's title sequence. It may be used throughout the game...not sure since I only remember playing the demo version which allowed you to manipulate some broken evidence on the floor. I remember being amazed when the song cranked up during the opening titles. That was something kind of new in 1996. In the game you played a detective who must solve the case of a murder who is copying Jack the Ripper. I understand the game was nearly impossible to beat. The video sequences (FMV, heh!) starred Christopher Walken, Burgess Meredith (his last project), Karen Allen, Ossie Davis, John Ryes-Davies and Jimmie Walker.
  • Bobbie from Central, NmDebbie in TN has a better grip on what this song means. I always thought that the verse where "the curtains flew and he appeared" started with "Love of two is one" It makes more sence to me that this song may be about death and dying but there is the one who comes to you to help you from this world to the next plain
  • Teri from Chicago, IlCowbell or Woodblock? Listen very closely...
    A cowbell has a hollow-sounding short-sustain resonance which is not what you hear on the re-mastered cd version. The Woodblock has a more definite impact 'thud'. cut & dry. This is what my ears tell me I am actually hearing.
    Can someone point us in the right direction to the facts of what was used? Liner notes of percussion instruments? proof?
    Anyone? Thanks...
  • Cary from Mesquite, TxA bit of video game and BOC history. The origianl video game "The Legend of Zelda" for Nintendo played the melody of the repeating guitar rifs whenever Link enters a castle to defeat the dark wizard known as Ganon or Ganondorf.
  • Chris from Milford, Ctdoes anyone know who plays the guitar solos in this song and burnin for you?
  • Daniel from Cincinnatti, Ori have a friend whose mom thought this song was about drugs. She thought they were saying "don't feel the reefer" and i also dont think its about suicide although it could be interpreted that way
  • Steve from Chattanooga, TnCome on folks ... "SHE RAN TO HIM (THE GRIM REAPER) AND SHE BECAME LIKE THEY ARE (THE DEAD" ... Seems pretty darn clear to me. Maybe the songwriter didn't intend for this song to be interpreted as an act of suicide (and I'm sure the stories of suicides inspired by his song must have brought him much guilt), but any objective listener would acknowledge not only that suicide is a reasonable interpretation, but that it is the most reasonable interpretation. I don't mean to demean Dharma in any way - it is an excellent song, and he can't be held responsible for actions people took in response to his song (which he may well have intended to be intrepreted more generically). But, being suprised and shocked that people could interpret suicide in this song is like being suprised and shocked that "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" might, my gosh, be interpreted as relating to LSD. Intentional or not, the lyrics speak for themselves.
  • Scott from Raleigh, NcAh! this song is not about suicice! Don't Fear the Reaper just means we shouldn't fear death.
  • Larry from Newton, NcWell, this is it. I have been listening to rock 'n' roll intensely since I was 12 years old and this is my favorite song of all time. I have listened to it for 30 years and it still blows me away every time just like it did the first time. I have never tired of it at all. And the guitar note which is struck and held for so long and finally ascends sharply at the end of the instrumental section in the middle of the song gives me goose bumps every time I hear it. If you have never noticed this about this song, listen carefully next time and you will see what I mean. It is powerful and brilliant and makes the song.
  • Bill from La Crosse, Wi"Don't Fear the Reaper", in Latin, is "non timetis messer", and is the inscription on Death's scythe in the "Discworld" series of novels by Terry Pratchett.
  • Savannah from Salem, InHIM did a cover of this. Its pretty freakin' sweet.
  • Adam from Greenfield, InI was walking around my fairly small town. When out of nowhere this old guy with a grey beard riding a bike has this blaring from his stereo sitting in the basket of his bike. How crazy....
    If for some reason that man reads this You changed my life....
  • Melody from Jacksonville, FlThat song is clearly the best song ever. Well, it's my favorite. I've loved it ever since the first time I heard it in the summer of 2004. Not very long ago, but I've looked into the song alot because many people I know accuse the song of being about suicide and the band satanic. I believe with all my heart that this song is not about suicide at all.(so what if it is?...) The song is obviously about the fact that everyone has to die and the beauty of being reunited with the one you love. Anyone that cannot see that has a very shallow mind and should not be listening to an awesomely poetic lyric like that.
  • Melody from Jacksonville, Flthis is like a REALLY GOOD song. ahhh... rock and roll magic...:)
  • Johnny from Rockland, Ma"The Stand" is an awesome book and movie. watch it, read it,do both, whatever. (I suggest you read the book first, you cant put it down)
    ps. dont fear the reaper appears at the very beggining of the movie.
  • Melody from Jacksonville, FlThat song is clearly the best song ever. Well, it's my favorite. I've loved it ever since the first time I heard it in the summer of 2004. Not very long ago, but I've looked into the song alot because many people I know accuse the song of being about suicide and the band satanic. I believe with all my heart that the members of B.O.C. are not satanic at all. The song is obviously about the fact that everyone has to die and the beauty of being reunited with the one you love. Anyone that cannot see that has a very mind shallow and should not be listening to an awesomely poetic lyric like that.
  • Deebo from Lynfield, New ZealandJust to let you know... the version of 'Reaper' at the end of the Peter Jackson film 'The Frighteners' was not the 'BOC' version, but a cover by a New Zealand band: 'The Mutton Birds'.
    Not usually a fan of cover-versions, but I dothink their take on the classic rocked. Sufficiently different, but with a similar 'spirit' (if the use of that word, is allowed).
  • Emily from Freeland, Miwow, this gets confusing. is it about suicide or not? well... Joe's explanation makes most sense so... I'm gonna go with the love story theory; not suicide.
  • Tony from Bellmore, NyHi. I read these boards...I don't know how old this discussion is....but:
    I had a lengthy discussion one-on-one with Buck Dharma about a lot of things, including their symbol and the Reaper tune. I can speak as his friend that he is not not NOT a satanist or anything close to that (well, he is a Republican...lol)
    My band recorded an acoustis version of Reaper, and Buck did some guest vocals with us on it, so we got a chance to talk about it a lot. It is about death. The inevitability of death. He intimated to me that if he had known how many people would think it advocated suicide, he probably would have changed some of the lines. But, since in his head it was about death, and how true love can transcend even death, he did not see how some others may have seen it. Yes, he made up the 40,000 number because it "sounded right."
    Donald (Buck) is a decent, hard working musician and loving family man, with a great sense of humor, and would give you the shirt off his back. He is very spiritual as well (we didn't discuss demoninations, but he is not an atheist, that's for sure).
    You gotta understand...these guys, Donald, Eric, and Allen in particular, were all fans of history and classic horror movies. Their thinking was that a song isn't much different than a movie. Nobody thinks the producers of the original Dracula film are vampires or satanists, nor do we believe Clint Eastwood has shot dozens of people. They are stories. Blue Oyster Cult songs are more along the lines of comic book science fiction than anything satanic, one look at the lyrics would show that.

    Now...the symbol. If it is reversed, trust me, the guys in the band don't even know that. They chose it because while reading a science textbook, one of them noticed that the Kronos was the symbol for the planet Saturn, and that Saturn was known as the planet of heavy metals. They though that was funnym and adopted it as their symbol.
    Donald has performed many benefits for cancer charities, Eric (lead singer of BOC) has coordinated many events for Make A Wish and other organizations, etc. etc. etc. - they are good guys who make music. To accuse them of satanism or promotion of such is offensive and untrue.
    I will end with one quick story...Eric Bloom and I were having a drink one night after a show, and someone came up to him for an autograph, which he never refuses. He and I both being complete geeks, we were talking about computer video games. Our conversation was about a game called Starcraft, a science fiction/aliens strategy game. The fan approached for an autographed just as Eric was telling me how you can win one of the higher levels of the game if you summon up some alien bats (or something like that) at just the right moment. The fan's eyes widened, and he tried to ask what we were talking about...I imagine when he went home he was sure Eric was a satanist, and was instructing me on how to summon bats!!!! LOLOLOL!
  • Michael from Raleigh, NcBrian, I bow to your superior spelling skills:) When are they going to put a spell checker or some basic layout in this forum so the "typing challanged" have a chance? Greg, yeah regardless of what it means, it certainly is one of the best hooks of the 70s- Cheers
  • Greg from Wyandotte, MiI don't dispute Dharma's claim that he didn't write the song about suicide, but I was a teenager when that song was released and it was generally accepted among my peers that the song was about suicide. Sure, if you 'dissect' the lyrics you can see Dharma's slant, but most of us don't dissect lyrics while we're driving down the road with the radio blasting. Look at all the previous comments by people who all thought at first the song was about suicide.
    I remember reading reports about kids who were high on drugs or alcohol (big problem during the '70's - remember?) committing suicide after hearing this song (inhibitions removed, hormones raging). This probably would have happened with any song talking about death and suicide, even if the author didn't intend it that way, but Reaper just happened to be big at the time and the repetitious style of the tune made it easy to remember and repeat.
  • Barry from New York, NcThe Saturday Night Live skit is funny, but I think they took quite a few liberties. For example, the tune was recorded in March 1976 and I think it was August in the skit. Also the guy who resembled Bouchard was the drummer instead of guitarist. But as it was just for laughs, it's not really worth quibbling about!!
  • Brian from Meriden, CtMichael, come on now, don't let Wagner off the hook so easily. Don't try to pretend he wasn't anti-Semetic. "Anti-semantic" sounds like an easy way not to face the fact he was anti-Jewish. Are you trying to pretend he was something he wasn't?
  • Mike from Staten Island, NyI got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell... baby
  • Michael from Raleigh, NcJoe and Bill. On the outside it looks like you made my point for me. First you said that "you have found no such proof 'snip' about the "questioner's cross" " but I gave you the URL and you didn't use it. Then you tried to discount the thread because of a typo. Wagner was anti-semantic, but it didn't change the fact that practically no one has ever topped the modulation in Tristan and Isolde. Lennon was a confirmed atheist (or do you discount 'Imagine') and he almost killed Mcartney's "Let it be" because of the Christian message, but it doesn't change the fact that he was one of the most talented writers ever. So why can't you face the fact that BOC songs ranging from Burning for you to Reaper are clearly satanic? Are ashamed if they are? Or would you try to argue that ACDC's "highway to hell" means something other than what the name says? Seriously, I respect your right to believe whatever you want to believe, but what is the purpose of trying to make these songs something other than what they are?
  • Joe from Bh, NjNo sanitizing being done here, I'm about the least Christian person you'll meet, I just really don't think the band is anti-christian. It really doesn't matter when you think about it, and it wouldn't make them any less great if they were, but people tend to think ant-christian means that they worship the devil and drink the blood of lambs.
  • Bill from Pittsburgh, PaI think it's rather obvious that this song is simply about death as an inevitable part of a person's life. I think only the most reactionary people would say it was about suicide; those people are deliberately looking for some ominous meaning, and that's fine too. I'm sure most songwriters don't mind if their songs are interpreted in various ways. I have to admit I was amused though by the person who claimed that "Reaper" was about suicide because they have some mystical "anti-Christian" symbol on their album. How in the heck is a so-called anti-Christian symbol "proof" that this song is about suicide? A think a bigger clue is that the person who made that post thinks that one of these...!...is an 'explanation point'.
  • Michael from Raleigh, NcI don't keep up with this tread very often, but find it pretty funny that some either have such devotion to BOC or are so anti-Christian that they can't take 3 seconds to look up a URL or accept the fact that BOC uses an anti-christian symbol.

    But contrary to the poster who said proof is hard to find' as I posted before, it's very easy to find the Questioners Cross under it's more popular title, the "Cross of confusion"- Just paste this phrase and 'symbol' into Google and you will find literally 100s of examples- Here's the exact url to make it a little easier for you.


    And no this is not a Christian invention- It was Roman ' For example, our current thread appears to be the most current discussion and is the first return on gogol, but scroll on down to


    Look what you find- A site for teenage witches with this definition: Cross of Confusion- An ancient Roman symbol which questioned the validity of Christianity.

    Moral of the story- Learn to read and consider documenting your thoughts'or else others will recognize that you are making up the things that you want them to believe.

    Last but not least, BOC obviously rocks so why try to "sanitize" them?
  • Ross from Independence, MoThis was #397 on Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest songs.
  • Megan from Ozark, AlThis song totally rocks!! It's like my theme song...I dunno. I love Burnin' For You too!
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, Scwhat a beautiful song. It's so haunting and sad. I love it though. The vocals are great.
  • Debbie from Decherd, TnI was 17 when i would drive my Dodge down the winding roads in south missouri and had my 8 track player as loud as i could get it playing, Don't Fear The Reaper...over and over it was my anthem.. Wanted to be with the boy i loved so bad.. I had to leave him in Califonia when i moved. This song is awesome and younger lovers everywhere could identify with it.. The music catches you ..the lyrics hold you.... I have to admit I to thought it was about Suicide..until my dad passed away... and 4 years later my mother... and i was with her when her last night of sadness came and this song popped in my head and it became so clear... I know my dad came and got her because she reached her arms out to him... And i have no doubt she took his hand.... and they are together in eternity... Love on Daddy and Mom
  • Diane from Bronx, NyI absolutely LOVE this song. I first heard it on the miniseries "The Stand" and I thought it was so awesome. I liked it even more when I read the lyrics. I used to think it was about suicide, but I think it's about confronting death and it's inevitibality. I think it might be a cross between both suicide and just subcumbing to death. Either dway it's really deep and I didn't get offended by it at all. It's a great "horror" song and used in many frightening movies. I especially love the Laurie/Annie scene in Halloween. I do think it has some suicidal lyrics towards the end of the song where she says "she couldn't go on" and the took the reapers hand and she was able to fly. You can interpret that as she didn't want to live anymore or maybe she was sick and knew she was going to live much longer. However when he says "seasons don't fear the reaper" meaning whether it's spring, summer, winter, or fall...when your time comes, it comes. VERY DEEP SONG....it's one of the best, ever.
  • Joe from Bh, NjI remember hearing this song at the end of an episode of the Simpsons. I don't remember much about it, though.
  • Naomi from Wexford, Irelandit's used at the end of an episode of six feet under, where nate drives off on a motor bike having come to terms with his own mortality. so the song was pretty fitting.
  • Deborah from Chicago, IlFor years I've been listening to this song and I always aligned it to an American Classic movie titled "Death Takes a Holiday" a remake was made w/Brad Pitt titled Meet Mr. Black. When death comes he falls in love in the original the girl takes his hand so in fact dies. In remake death takes Anthony Hopkins'character.
  • Siobhan from Birmingham, EnglandI personally think that this song is about a woman who is terminally ill, and her husband/boyfriend/partener is ther trying to help her throught her last hours.When it says "And she ran to him" thats when she dies.
  • Siobhan from Birmingham, EnglandI adore this song,I first heard it on the film the frightners and thought it was fantastic.
  • Mark from Wichita, KsSomeone doesn't know his Latin. "Sciencia" is Latin for "science." Satan is _Hebrew_ for "adversary."
  • Paul from Rothesay, Nb, CanadaBOC performed as Soft White Underbelly, and The
    Stalk Forrest Group during the early 70's.
  • Paul from Rothesay, Nb, CanadaThe re-mastered version of the "Agents of Fortune" album contains Buck's demo of "The Reaper". Very interesting.
  • Randy from Richmond, VaI heard BOC also played under the name Soft White Underbellies. Does anyone know if this is a true statement?
  • Karol from Toronto, CanadaWasn't Christopher Walken supposed to be Bruce Dickinson or something???
  • Christopher from Columbia, SdThis song along with led zeppelins kashmir are the songs that got me into classic rock, i love the guitar in this song even if it is extremely easy too play it still is a great song.
  • Joe from Bh, NjBlue Oyster Cult is not a satanic bad. They're symbol is not an inverted ahnk. I read the post about the "questioner's cross" but have found no such proof and therefore do not believe it. MANY symbols that we consider evil today are NOT EVIL AT ALL. The Pentagram, or satanic star, as I have heard someone call it was not a satanic symbol until the christians got to it. The Pentagram was the symbol of Venus, a latin god, but the Christians thought it was wrong to worship a female god, so they made it appear evil by associating it with Satan, and christians also thought it was wrong to worship more than one god.
  • Joe from Bh, NjWell, I am a Big BOC fan. It's strange, because I just got the CD yesterday, but I have loved Burnin for you and Don't fear the Reaper since I was really young. I have listened to this song many times and when i finally started trying to figure out what all the lyrics were, I thought for a minute that it was about Suicide, also. Then I began disecting the lyrics. I am good at interpretive reading and lyrical writing, so I was curious and I looked into the lyrics. I then thought it was just blatantly about love, the consequences that can sometimes come with it, and how people don't care about the consequences, hence the name, "Don't Fear the Reaper".
    Also, at first I thought that maybe 40,000 men and women every day meant that is how people a day commit suicide. Then, remembering that about 40,000 people die every day, I realized that this was impossible, because then all of them would have to have comitted suicide. Another reason this song is not about suicide is the seemingly ignored line, "Another 40,000 coming every day", symbolizing that about 40,000 people are BORN every day, keeping a sort of worldly balance.
    References to Romeo and Juliet are obvious, but there is another love story that is referenced in this song. "Valentine is done" this has nothing to do with the holiday, as many people think, but referrs to the story of how the day came to be. This story involved St. Valentine, a priest or friar, falling in love with a king's daughter. He sent her a heart shaped letter on her birthday, February 14th , and when the king found out he was imprisoned because the priest was not allowed to love his daughter (I'm not sure that was actually why he was imprisoned, but it had to do with the king being angry about St. Valentine loving her) It turns out that the girl was also in love with St. Valentine, and they would send "Valentines" back and forth to each other on February 14th.
    "Love of two is one
    Here but now they're gone
    Came the last night of sadness
    And it was clear she couldn't go on
    Then the door was open and the wind appeared
    The candles blew then disappeared
    The curtains flew then he appeared
    Saying don't be afraid"
    These lines were believed to be about her committing suicide, but I think that they were a story about the girl not being able to wait any longer for the lovers to run away together, and then her lover came, and he took her away. A bit sappy, but none-the-less, not about suicide. "Love of two is one, here but now they're gone" means that, litterally, when two people love each other, they become one, and that "the Last night of sadness" was the last night that they had to be apart.
    MANY of these lyrics could easily be misinterpreted and thought to be about suicide, but it simply isn't so.
  • Nick from Denver, CoFellas, you gotta want that cowbell!
  • Paul Riffle from Columbus, OhBOC saying that "Don't Fear the Reaper" is not about suicide is like L & M saying "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" isn't about LSD (which they did).
  • Paul Riffle from Columbus, OhI think claiming this song isn't about Suicide is like the L & M claiming Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds wasn't about LSD.
  • Shana from Pembroke, CanadaYa, the HIM version is really good too. Love this song...
  • Clint from Bloomington, InI love this song but no point getting to worried about it. After reading tons of books where the author acts like they aren't even aware of what they were writing about - I'd say this song is about suicide whether the writer realizes it or not. It's too clear. She's sad - can't go on - but I wonder why both of them should embrace death - becasue they can't be together for some reason - like Romeo and Juliet! The Stand was a great book, the movie tried to stick to the book but many of the actors just weren't good enough to play key people. Like all of King's books.
  • Dale from Milton Keynes, Englandany one heard the HIM version which dosent have that AM,G,F opening
  • Evan from Orlando, FlOn an episoode of the simpsons, Homer kicked Bart and Milhouse out of the car so he could chase some van to win a radio show contest. The prize was a BOC medallion that Homer showed off at the trial. In the end credits, the reaper plays instead of the regular theme.
  • Michael from Raleigh, NcDon-
    Agreed on your Ankh example- Many have used it over the years and I doubt that it had any 'religous' meaning whatsoever- Just an interesting symbol with an intersting history and no alternative meanings.
    On the other hand, if a band chooses a symbol for their trademark and continues to use it over and over, it shouldn't be long before someone says "hey you've got your Ceres Symbol upside down" and "If you keep it that way it's really an anti-Christian symbol"- Seems like if this was really an honest misunderstanding, the symbol would have flipped after a year or two?
  • Don from Philadelphia, PaDoesn't john paul jones wear a neackless of the "Ankh"? I know he does. Shaq has a tatto of it too. Pretty interesting, micheal. I knew the "peace" sign is evil as well as the occult and satanic stars. "The Hexagram" look like the Jewish Star of David.
  • Michael from Raleigh, NcHere's a link if you want to compare- Here it is called the "Cross of Confusion"
    on the page

    Note that many attribute the blue oyster cult symbol to Chronos when they mean Ceres- But the BOC symbol is inverted and you will not find it if you do a search on chronos or ceres- But you can easily find their logo if you search for (symbols, "Cross of confusion")
  • Michael from Raleigh, NcPlaying in bands in the 70s and 80s, this was a required standard and one of the few memorable guitar parts in that period-

    But those that don't recognize that it is about suicide are fooling themselves. Someone mentioned that Donald Rosen couldn't have been writing about suicide because he said he wasn't- If you are that naive concerning song writing, who was the Walrus, John or Paul? (both are named in Beatles songs, and they repositioned their own lyrics whenever they felt the need).

    As with most on Reaper?s meaning, I was on the fence from the lyrics alone for many years. However a friend who digs in much deeper than I do found a very obvious clue when he investigated BOCs logo.. 3 explanation points at 45 degrees to each other with an inverted question mark at the bottom. I always thought that is was just a cool symbol that looks much like a traditional cross with a question mark on the bottom.

    But it turns out to be a rather well know historic symbol known as the ?questioners cross?. A symbol from the middle ages that was used by those who doubted the resurrection of Christ- Like it or not, the BOC logo is a well documented anti-Christian symbol.

    So if you were anti-Christian and writing songs in the 70s you would have to attribute other meanings to avoid being ostracized- And this is an easy one to investigate- Go to any of the albums and the symbol is right there- Go to the web and do a search on historical symbols. Once you see it you are likely to agree.
  • Andrew from Springfield, MoI heard that the Romeo and Juliet reference meant that Juliet killed herself too be with Romeo when she though he was dead, so they could be together again, them remeo killedhimself so they could be again together in the afterlife
  • Ico from Foreign, Francewhen i was learning english, i always thought this song was about a rape, i've made a confusion between reaper and rapist... So i thought the real meaning was don't fear the rapist. I was thinking that it was a weird title for a song, but i was a little disappointed when i've finaly found what reaper meant... Well nevermind...
  • Si from London, EnglandThe Bridewell Taxis version was far better....
  • Billy from Seminole, Floh by the way anyone ever noticed that when the music stops and starts again she dies??? i think the stoppage means thats the end of her life
  • Billy from Seminole, Flit almost sounds like hes trying to take someone in the afterlife so i think its about two people that cant be together... like romeo and juliet...
  • Hel from Vancouver, WaThis song was covered by New Zealand band The Muttonbirds for the end credits of Peter Jackson's "The Frighteners" (1996).
  • Ken from Commack, NyWhat this song needs is more cowbell...i got a fever and the prescription is more cowbell...
  • Randy from Augusta, GaI cannot say that I have any first-hand knowledge of Dharma or what he was thinking when he wrote this song, but I have been loving it since "Agents of Fortune" was first released. It was not the first record albumn I ever bought, but it was one of the first five or so. Anyway, I always thought that this was a romantic love song about a man that is coaxing his love into eloping; Romeo and Juliet as a reference to their youth and the powerful nature of young love. The man is saying that all their time together has led to this, and the valentines ( a reference to the romantic moments they have shared ) all add up to this need to break free and be together in eternal love. To redefine happiness, like so many choose to do everyday, is deciding that bonding together in marriage ( til DEATH do us part ) would ultimately be most fulfilling. When she finally agrees, and at her beckon-call, he rushes to her so fast it forms a forewind. ( actually, I think that part is kind of funny... I'm sick ) Romantic, eh ? I love the music, too.
  • Chris from Nowhere, PaI also think people interpret the song way too much, look at the rest of there stuff most of it it jokes or about a strange subject, like the song godzilla
  • Chris from Nowhere, PaFor a mid-term once i compaired the song to Romeo And Juliet. Some of the similarities are uncanny. I like most of the versions of the song (the GUS version is sad but it really dose fit well at parts) are great but the best is the Version is the one that BOC did on ETI, its fast paced the guitar work is Amazing.
  • Katie from Prince George, Canadawow. this song is definetly not about suicide...(for one because it was spoken from the creator himself) and the idea of her not being afraid is literally what hes talking about..shes not afraid of death because she knows its all going to be perfectly fine, so she lets herself fly.
  • Jess from Toronto, CanadaThe song was also quoted throughout the book the Stand. In both the original and the cuncut and unabridged version.
    And as said before it was used in the TV movie The Stand made for ABC. The movie was shown in four parts over the course of 4 weeks.

    It was also covered by the Goo Goo Dolls on their first album, "Goo Goo Dolls First Release" They gave it a harsher sound. more hard rock.
  • Jacqui from St Clair Shores, Mithe gothic band Gus redid this song but it wasn't as good. it was very low key and depressing.
  • Deana from Indianapolis, InAnd it was clear she couldn't go on
    tells me that someone was dying, and finally realized it was okay to let go.

  • Matthew from New York, NyI have heard that Dharma says the song is not about suicide, but that is like me singing "I like ice cream" and then saying the song has nothing to do with ice cream. Listen to the lyrics. This song is blatantly about suicide. It talks about Romeo and Juliet comitting suicide and then says "We can be like they are". "Don't fear the reaper." In the end, the woman take's the reaper's hand and "she began to fly" and "she had no fear" and "she became like they (R&J) are." This is completely about suicide. Also, this song is featured in the film "The Stoned Age," particularly in a scene where one of the characters sees a BOC concert and a gigantic, prophetic eye appears in front of him. Funny stuff :)
  • Marvin from East Brady, PaDharma said he was horrified when people began interpreting this to be about suicide...i'd say if the man himself says it's not about suicide, it is not...
  • Kei from Salem, OrActually, the song's writer, Buck Dharma, wrote the song during a period when he thought he was on the verge of death. He wrote it as an acceptance that death is inevitable, can't be avoided, and that fear of it shouldn't stop us from living our lives.
  • John from Greeneville, TnNo matter how you cut it, the SNL skit with Christopher Walken gave the song a new appeal. Extremely hilarious.
  • Greg from Abbeville, ScThis song is very clear to be about suicide. very clear! Disect the song lyrics one by one and you will know the true horrifying message behind this song.
  • Marvin from East Brady, PaIt was not inspired by Romeo and Juliet but the reference to the play is a big part of the reason it is commonly misinterpreted as being about suicide.
  • Chrissie from Raceland, LaThis song was used in the movie THE STAND (THE STAND is a movie based on the book of the same title by Stephen King). Very good movie and book!
  • Davey from Dothan, AlThis song can be heard in the film "Halloween" from 1978. It's playing in the background during the scene where Jamie Lee Curtis character "Laurie Strode" is riding in the car with her friend "Annie".
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