They didn’t think it through #3: Stargazer

The climactic track of Rainbow’s swords-and-sorcery metal masterpiece Rising (1976), Stargazer tells the tale of a sorcerer whose slaves build a tower so they can watch him fly from it — only to see him not so much fly as plummet.

In the free-form coda that ends the song, Ronnie James Dio cries out:

I see a rainbow rising
Look up, on the horizon

Now here is the problem. Even if we accept the dubious proposition that rainbows rise (I suppose they might do so as the sun sinks) and even accepting the notion of a rainbow on the horizon (something you only see when the sun is unusually high in the sky), even then you would not look up to see a rainbow rising on the horizon. You would look horizontally.

So the song should say:

I see a rainbow rising
Look horizontally, to the horizon

They just didn’t think it through.

9 responses to “They didn’t think it through #3: Stargazer

  1. Much like…

    Thunder only happens when it’s raining
    Players only love you when they’re playing
    They say women, they will come and they will go
    When the rain washes you clean, you’ll know

    That, as is obvious, is untrue.

    Rain evaporates before reaching the ground in a dry thunderstorm, but lightning is still a major hazard. When rain evaporates before reaching the ground, it’s called virga. … So Stevie should sing instead… Thunder can happen when it’s raining…. or Thunder only happens when it’s lightning.

    They didn’t think it through

  2. Can’t argue with that!

  3. You’ve clearly never been a sorcerer’s slave. (I haven’t either, but I used to work in a screen-printing shop, which is similar). If you had been, you would know that you and your colleagues would habitually keep your eyes downcast so as to avoid inadvertently making eye contact with your fell master.

    So yes, the slaves would have to look up, relative to their current vector of gaze, in order to see the rainbow on the horizon.

    That, or Ronnie James Dio was so short he had to look up to see anything at all, I don’t know. Either way this lyric, like all Rainbow lyrics, is perfectly sensible and well-thought-out.

  4. Richard G. Whitbread

    Hmmm. That would be all well and good (and I’ll freely admit that your thesis did make me chuckle) if it was actually what he sings. But it’s not ‘Look up … ‘, it’s ‘Look there … ‘. The various lyric sites – ‘Genius Lyrics’, ‘AZLyrics’, ‘LyricsFreak’, etc. – are consistent on that wording, too.

    Which does seem OK.

  5. I can’t help what mistakes LyricsFreak et al. might have copied from each other. Listen to it yourself, at 6m51s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSIZBSNxb54#t=6m40s — it’s a pretty clear “look up”. I’ve actively tried to make myself hear it as “look there”, and it can’t be done.

  6. Perhaps they are using a slightly different meaning of “rise”. From my OED, for the verb “rise, meaning 11b – “To have an upward slant or curve; to slope or incline upwards”. e.g. As one approaches Denver, one sees the Rocky Mountains rising from the Great Plains. The newly built skyscraper rises above the city it surveys. “Rise”, in these cases, refers to physical description, not motion.

  7. Just for the record, I absolutely hear “Look there” in that video.

  8. Weird. Maybe it’s a gold dress/blue dress thing?

  9. I also hear “look there”. But yeah, it might be easy to hear something else through all those thick layers of music.

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