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Holly Thrailkill           
Professor William Wolfe
English 2322
June 1, 2016
Born Under A Bad Sign: The Mixtape of Doctor Faustus
     In Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus (1604), we see a great example of the birth of renaissance humanism, or the turn from God and religion being at the center of the medieval world, to the focus on the power of the individual and the exercise of man’s free will. The main character, a sort of antihero, Doctor Faustus is an accomplished and learned man who has mastered theology, law, and medicine, now wishing for his next educations to afford him some supernatural powers. He rejects the principles of theology and believes in himself more than the stories of religion. He decides to learn and master the dark arts, a subject he is intrigued by, but mocks its powers over him. He believes he can master these arts and return to the status quo unscathed and back to the benign world from whence he came. Dr. Faustus uses his free will to invoke the devil and makes a contract damning his soul for eternity after 24 years of any knowledge, indulgence and wish he can imagine. The years go by swiftly and Faustus is faced with his last day, not finding a loophole in his contract. Despite attempts from his friends, angels and his own conscience pleading with him to repent and receive God’s forgiveness, Faustus rejects redemption and is violently hauled away by demons to hell. The following is a list of songs found on the mixtape in Faustus’s desk drawer after his demise. He compiled these songs on his journeys to the future with Mephistopheles. They are a musical autobiography of sorts, meant to be played in order, as the events correspond chronologically.
  • Tool. “Opiate.” Opiate. Zoo Entertainment, 1992, CD.
     This song exploits the Marxist view that “religion is opium for the masses”. The lyrics mock religion as a method of brainwashing and using both faith and guilt to promise salvation and entice more followers for money and power over them:
Choices always were a problem for you.
What you need is someone strong to guide you.
Deaf and blind and dumb and born to follow,
What you need is someone strong to use you.  (Like me)
     Faustus mocks divinity in lines 108-9, “Divinity is basest of the three, Unpleasant, harsh, contemptible, and vile.” (Marlowe 1.108-9).
  • A Perfect Circle. “Judith.” Mer de Noms. Virgin, 2000, CD.
     This song is another mockery of the Christian faith, namely why Christ doesn’t save us from pain and suffering. (God is a farce):
Your Lord and your Christ
He did this
Took all you had and
Left you this way
Still you pray, you never stray
Never taste of the fruit
You never thought to question why
     The background of this song is that Maynard James Keenan (singer from Tool and A Perfect Circle) had written this song about his mother Judith Marie Keenan, who suffered a stroke and was bound to a wheelchair in pain for the rest of her life, remaining a devout Christian. Faustus mocks and rejects the faith with sincerity in the beginning of the play, ultimately choosing free will…
  • Rush. “Freewill.” Permanent Waves. Mercury, 1980, MP3.
     This one is obvious, the song is all about the exercise of one’s free will, almost all of the lyrics are fitting. Specifically, that free will is not a gift, but rather a choice, and that even if man chooses to evade the fact that he must choose, he is still making that choice:
                        You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that's clear, I will choose freewill
     Faustus makes his decision final when talking with Valdes and Cornelius: “Valdes, as resolute am I in this As thou to live, therefore object it not.” (Marlowe 1.134-5).
  • The Rolling Stones. “Sympathy for the Devil.” Beggars Banquet. Decca, London, 1969, MP3.
     Another obvious one from the Stones. Faustus is now conjuring the devil in scene 3, and meets Mephistopheles and talks to him about who the devil, Lucifer is and how the formalities of hell work. In the song, the devil warmly greets the listener from a first person account, offering his services of knowledge, just as Faustus was seeking:
                        Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name, oh yeah
Ah, what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah
  • Johnson, Robert. Cross Road Blues. Vocalion, 1937, MP3.
     In scene 5, Faustus makes his deal with the devil, writing a contract out in his own blood to Lucifer, committing his “…body and soul, flesh, blood, or goods, into their habitation wheresoever.” (Marlowe 5.108-9) for 24 years of basically, anything he can imagine. Robert Johnson, an immortalized Mississippi Delta blues guitar master, who died at age 27 (yes, another member of the 27 club) and widely rumored to have gone to the crossroads at the Dockery Plantation at midnight to make a deal with the devil in exchange for a mastery of the instrument. This song is better known simply as “Crossroads” and performed more popularly by Eric Clapton.
  • The Charlie Daniels Band. “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Million Mile Reflections. Epic, 1979, MP3.
     This song is a reflection of the consummation of the deal Faustus makes and a nod to the arrogance he has for the validity of it. After the deal is made, fun immediately starts—he meets Lucifer, the seven deadly sins, and wishes are granted. Faustus still believes he can outsmart this deal, like “Johnny” in the song:
                        Johnny said, "Devil, just come on back
If you ever wanna try again
I done told you once you son of a bitch
I'm the best there's ever been"
  • Snoop Doggy Dogg. “Murder Was The Case.” Murder Was The Case. Death Row-Interscope, 1994, MP3.
     In scene 7, Faustus and Mephistopheles take on the world, literally raising hell and living it up torturing the pope and going all-out in their sinful ways. Later, Snoop Dogg enjoys his own Faustian contract 1990s style. The entirety of this verse is warranted here, brace yourself:
                        I get, fronted some keys, to get, back on my feet
And everything that nigga said, came to reality
Livin like a baller loc
Havin money, and blowin hella chronic smoke
I bought my momma a Benz, and bought my Boo-Boo a Jag
And now I'm rollin in a nine-trizzay El Do-Rad
"Just remember who changed your mind
Cuz when you start set-trippin, that ass mine"
Indeed, agreed proceed to smoke weed
Never have a want, never have a need
They say I'm greedy but I still want mo'
Cuz my eyes wanna journey some more, really doe (check it out)
  • Clutch. “The Devil and Me.” From Beale Street to Oblivion. DRT Entertainment, 2007, MP3.
     This song alludes to a friendly relationship with the devil that goes bad:
The devil and me, bad blood and beef
An undisciplined child, a liar and a thief
It's a low down shame, we were the best of friends
But I suppose all good things got to come to an end
      In scene 12, Faustus is realizing his time is short, and sees no way out of his damnation, despite the beckoning from the old man:
      Where art thou, Faustus? Wretch, what has thou done!
      Damned art thou, Faustus, damned; despair and die!
      Hell calls for right, and with a roaring voice
      Says, “Faustus, come: thine hour is come!” (Marlowe 12.38-41)
  • Imagine Dragons. “Demons.” Night Visions. KIDinaKorner/Interscope, 2013, MP3.
     The song is about a troubled man wanting to come clean and be saved by the woman he loves but cannot let her get too close because he is doomed and she is divine:
Your eyes, they shine so bright
I wanna save that light
I can't escape this now
Unless you show me how
     This fits very well into scene 12 where Faustus has conjured Helen of Troy and is begging her for a kiss that makes him immortal and save his soul.
  • Stanley, Ralph. “O Death.” O Brother, Where Art Thou? Lost Highway/Mercury, 2000, MP3.
     In this song the lines, “O death, won’t you spare me over til another year?” are a great summation of Faustus’ emotional lament to have more time before Lucifer takes his soul to hell:
            Fair Nature’s eye, rise again, and make
            Perpetual day, or let this hour be but
            A year, a month, a week, a natural day,
            That Faustus may repent and save his soul. (Marlowe 13.62-5)

NOTE: A bonus or “secret song” entitled “Breaking Point” was found as the end of the tape played, it came from a blind, left-handed guitar player named Chris Elliott from La Porte, Texas. He recorded it at San Jacinto College around 2000 and is a fitting ending.  Faustus saw from afar this blind man’s talents and had to take a copy for himself, probably the only reason why the song didn’t make it big.
This is my guitar player’s song; I play percussion/drums for The Bodacious TaTas (local band). You can listen to the song “Breaking Point” at www.bebodacious.com/music
Just click on the music tab to listen
Works Cited
GREENBLATT, STEPHEN, CATHERINE ROBSON, and CAROL T. CHRIST. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ninth ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012. Web.

MARLOWE, CHRISTOPHER, 1564-1593. The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. England:
     United Kingdom, 1907. Web.