Re: 'The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg'
With this obsession of trying to figure out who Benjamin Breeg is, only very few people really decided to deeply look into the lyrics. It's a shame, really, because they offer more than you would think at the first glance.
The title suggests, and a line in the lyrics support that, that the song is about reincarnation. The idea that a person or a soul dies and lives again seems ridiculous to some and very believable to others. Entire civilisations were built around this idea, and it is something that has moved humanity for almost as long as it exists.
The song introduces us to a character that, taken at face value in combination with the title, is the reincarnation of a thousand souls. This character knows that (s)he is a reincarnation and is plagued heavily with it. As the reincarnation of a thousand sinners, (s)he is haunted in his/her dreams, and the burden is a too heavy one to live with.
To me, however, there is another possible interpretation of the lyrics which, I hope, does not sound too wacky.
Most of us are, at one point in our lives, confronted with situations we feel, to say the very least, very uncomfortable with. There are situations that touch us deeply, and may as well wound us very deeply. When we are finally out of this situation, the memory may still be so unbearable that the common belief that time is a perfect healer proves to be wrong. Even years later, we look back and still feel the same pain or insecurity -to name but these two sentiments- as we did back then. Depending on how cutting the experience was, the memories return more or less frequently to haunt us, be it in our dreams or be it in situations when some sort of impulse brings us back all the memories.
With this background, let us examine this song.
The first verses are a careful introduction into the character's story. We are told of dreams and hopes, the natures of which are not specified- and can remain open to interpretation. Are the dreams literally dreams that come to the character while (s)he sleeps or are they his/her hopes mentioned in the second verse?
The things that happen may be those incidents that inflict in him/her the burden (s)he carries the rest of his/her life.
The next lines imply a terrible incident in the character's past. Most likely, the character did something terrible that put a lot of guilt on him/her; on the other hand, it is also possible that the character simply made experiences (s)he can't be held responsible for but that left deep and painful marks. It is possible, though not likely, that a person is simply confronted with a situation which is simply impossible to resolve without getting yourself or somebody else hurt; likewise, such situations can simply appear without anyone consciously or unconsciously contributing to it. Yet, in the aftermath, the "victim" of this situation can feel guilty for all the pain (s)he inflicted on him/herself and possibly on others (though the latter case often just takes place in the mind of the "victim"). -- I won't be forgiven 'til I can break free -- My sins are many, my guilt is too heavy
In other cases, a person may lose his or her dreams, which is the mildest possible case. Some see their dreams brutally slaughtered and will recover from that setback only very slowly, if ever.
The reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg, in that case, is not a literal reincarnation, but a metaphorical one. Out of the ashes of a person who lost -in this case- his dreams and hopes (which he said he'd tell you of in the song's introduction), who lost the life he was leading to that point. He started a "new life" (a term that is very overused, in my opinion) and became the reincarnation of his former self- Benjamin Breeg.
Yet, there are moments when memories of Ben Breeg's former life come back to him and haunt him still. Whatever it was that he did or that happened to him, he wants to rid himself of the memory. He is able to see things that happened in his/her past and has to live with the pressure of hiding what [he knows in order to lead a normal life. He feels he is going insane by himself, and the last part of the song is a cry for help; for someone to save [him], to bring salvation (...) to exorcise this hell. What nature this help is to be of always depends on the person looking for it.