Alt-J (∆) – Taro
Taro is my favorite from Alt-J. The name of the song comes from the first female war photographer Gerda Taro. She was the companion and professional partner of photographer Robert Capa. The song tells the story of Capa’s death and being reunited with Taro in a fascinating way.
Taro died in 1937 at the age of 26 during the Spanish civil war. Capa lived for 17 more years and keep photographing wars, including WW2. On 25 May 1954, the regiment was passing through a dangerous area under fire when Capa decided to leave his Jeep and go up the road to photograph the advance. Capa was killed when he stepped on a land mine.
Lyrics of the song sounds really weird and discrete. But after you learn their stories, it makes much more sense. Arguably be the most weird and beautiful lyric of the song is:
Do not spray into eyes, I have sprayed you into my eyes
We can interpret that sentence in many ways but I think one interpretation I have read makes the most sense.
“Do not spray into eyes” is a warning label they put on spray cans. Taro’s death is the warning to Capa of how dangerous their job can be, “Do not spray into eyes”. But, Capa ignores this and even knowing full well, he still continues to do that job until it kills him as well, “I have sprayed you into my eyes”.
Indo-china, Capa jumps Jeep, two feet creep up the road
To photo, to record, meat lumps and war
They advance as does his chance, oh, oh
Very yellow white flash!
A violent wrench grips mass, rips light, tears limbs like rags
Burst so high finally Capa lands
Mine is a watery pit
Painless with immense distance
From medic from colleague, friend, enemy, foe, him five yards from his leg
From you Taro
Oh, oh, oh
Do not spray into eyes
I have sprayed you into my eyesThree ten
Pm Capa pends death, quivers, last rattles, last chokes
All colors and cares glaze to grey
Shriveled and stricken to dots
The left hand grasps what the body grasps not oh, oh
Le photographie est mort
Three point one four one five, alive no longer my amour
Faded for home May of ‘54
Doors open like arms, my love
Painless with a great closeness
To Capa, to Capa Capa dark after nothing, re-united with his leg
And with you Taro, oh, oh, oh
Taro, oh, oh, ohDo not spray into eyes
I have sprayed you into my eyes