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‘The Tell-Tale Heart’, the mash-up by Gustavo Cerati and Edgar Allan Poe

The heart is the first thing

lives in the structure

of the animal and the last

that dies

In him it has its beginning and

his term in life.

-Juan Luis Vives

“The Tell-Tale Heart” is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), classified as “Gothic narrative” and published for the first time in the literary journal ‘The Pioneer’, edited by James Russell Lowell (Poe’s friend) in January 1843. In this story, the first-person narrator –an unnamed protagonist who addresses the reader and tells him in great detail about the murder he committed– confesses an inexplicable love for an old man whom he later violently murders and dismembers. This narrator reveals his madness by trying to separate the part of the old man that he loves from the supposed evil eye, which triggers the narrator’s hatred, the old man’s heartbeat in the story is crucial for the protagonist to confess the crime he has committed .

The Argentine musician and singer-songwriter Gustavo Cerati (1959-2014), was inspired by this story to write and compose the song “Corazón delator”, included in the fourth studio album by ‘Soda Stereo’, entitled ‘Doble vida’ (1988). . From the beginning of the song, the references are latent: “a lure / there is something hidden in each sensation / She seems to suspect”, which refers to the story of that obsessed man who insists on his sanity and justifies the hallucination in a hypersensitivity that exacerbates their senses: “Have I not already told you that what you mistake for madness is only an excessive acuteness of the senses? At that moment a muffled and hasty ringing reached my ears, such as a watch might make when wrapped in cotton. That sound was also familiar to me. It was the beating of the old man’s heart.”

In both works, the agony experienced by the narrators for the crime committed is what causes the heart itself to betray itself, and confess: “Oh, my heart becomes a tell-tale, the fever will return again / a sweet throbbing, the intimate key, they are falling from my lips / like an anchor / from my lips” (Cerati), “–wretched! he exclaims. Dissemble no longer; I confess the crime. Tear off those boards; there it is, there it is! It’s the terrifying heartbeat of him!” (Poe).

Later, Cerati confessed to the media the following: “the story is based on a story by Allan Poe, where a heart betrays a person who killed another. In this case, I wrote it thinking that my heart gives me away when I see the person I love.

“Corazón delator” is a single that was produced by arranger Carlos Alomar (Puerto Rico, 1951), best known for his work with David Bowie, who was also the musician with the greatest presence on his albums, and is the second of the two unique works of ‘Soda Stereo’ made by someone who was not part of the band, the other being the self-titled Soda Stereo (1984), the debut album, which was produced by Federico Moura, vocalist of ‘Virus’.

“Tell-Tale Heart” is a perfect sound work of art; when Cerati finished writing and composing it, she felt that she had stumbled upon something that he believed she could never improve on. It was the maximum of what he could do, considering that the main meaning of everything he wrote and composed, the architect of the sound, aspired to produce a shot in the imagination of the listener. “I like Tell-Tale Heart, it’s a perfect song not because it’s technically perfect, but because it’s the inauguration of something bigger.”

In Cerati’s piece, the manifesto of the sin that was carried out with the consent of the will is narrated, mainly that coming from the weakness that accompanies each one (drugs, women, materialism, falsehoods, hedonism), and that are true prisons (reference wives), the sweet touch of divinity moves him to confess and repent (“the intimate key / they are falling from my lips”) –forgiveness–, accepting reparation in life for guilt (“a soft whip / a premonition / they draw sores on the hands / a sweet throbbing…”). The song describes the feeling of that weakness (“vestiges of a bonfire”, “ocean of fire”) and highlights the supernatural aspects of life and the hidden that lies behind it and that seduces us, because only in the hidden is there always the meaning, otherwise, our days would be worth little and the world itself would be nothing more than an empty number; This is the true “intimate key”.

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