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Blue Oyster Cult @ Streetfest Saturday – The Story Behind ‘(Don’t Fear) the Reaper’

The El Paso Downtown Streetfest returns this weekend with Blue Oyster Cult among the three bands rocking downtown’s BIGGEST party of the summer Saturday night.

Of all the songs Blue Öyster Cult is known for, none is bigger nor has its popularity proven to be as long-lasting as “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”. Not only did it reach No. 12 on the pop charts in 1976, but it’s racked up close to one million digital downloads over the years.  From the day the song hit the airwaves, many have believed it to be about a murder-suicdie pact. A title that refrences the Grim Reaper, and lyrics such as “Romeo and Juliet are together in eternity” have done nothing to squelch that belief over the years.  But Donald Dharma — the band’s lead guitarist and “Reaper” songwritter — says the song is about eternal love, not suicide.

According the Songfacts website, which quotes a 1995 interview Dharma did with College Music Journal, it actually deals with the inevitability of death and the belief that we should not fear it.  “It is, like, not to be afraid of  [death],” Dharma says.  “It’s basically a love song where the love transcends the actual physical existence of the partners.”

Listen to the timeless classic below, and watch BOC live this Saturday night at the Downtown Street Festival. You know what the only problem with the song is?  It needs more cowbell.

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