Usually when we talk about video game music, we talk about music that’s actually in the game and part of the soundtrack. I mean, typically it’s the only music that’s associated with a given game so it’s really the only option. There are special cases though, and Michael Levene’s version of “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” for Resident Evil VII: biohazard is one of them. It mostly existed to be the centerpiece of the game’s marketing and was only included in the actual game as an easter egg, but it’s left a strong enough impression that I can’t really think of RE7 without also remembering the song.
The original “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” is actually a folk song from mid-19th century France, and it’s actually quite different from the version created for RE7. In the original song, the singer is telling a young boy to go tell his aunt that the family’s goose has died. It talks about how it happened and the impact it’s having on the other goose and their goslings. It’s also sung in an almost dismissive manner, as if this is just how life is on the farm. As those who’ve heard the new version know, it’s an entirely different kind of song. Really, I think the only similarities are the basic tune and the line: “go tell Aunt Rhody.”
Rather than being irreverent to the point of being almost upbeat, RE7’s version of the song is slow and haunting. The lyrics don’t describe a fact of farm life, but instead a horrible, trapped and even violent existence. The entire feeling of this song is one of inevitable, inescapable doom, and this fits the game perfectly.
The lyrics here don’t exactly tell a story, but rather describe a situation. In terms of feel, you could say that this is the situation of the entire Baker family, Mia and Ethan. Their fates were all sealed the second they encountered Eveline. More specifically though, I think this song is actually sung from Eveline’s point of view. (Spoilers ahead, watch out.)
“I was raised in a deep dark hole,
A prisoner with no parole.
They locked me up and took my soul,
Ashamed of what they’d made”
This portion is Eveline describing her origins and situation. She was either taken as a young girl and changed into a bioweapon by The Umbrella Corporation, or she was engineered to be one from the very beginning. She was never supposed to have a normal life, and was instead simply something to be used. When they couldn’t use her the way they wanted, they tried their best to quietly put her somewhere out of sight and out of mind. Obviously, this didn’t go according to plan.
“I called to him and he will come,
She’ll answer him like he’s the one.
His arm’s outstretched but when she’s done,
He’ll be torn apart.”
This is Eveline laying out the circumstances leading up to Ethan’s arrival at the Baker house and her intentions for him. Eveline (controlling Mia) contacts Ethan and tells him to come rescue her. She lets Mia regain control in order to gain his trust, but (as we see in the game) quickly takes control of her again with the aim to kill him and convert him with the mold just like she did the Bakers. Then with both Mia and Ethan under her sway she could finally have the “family” that she always wanted.
As for “everybody’s dead,” well, they are all dead except for Mia, whom Eveline seemingly spares due to the connection the two shared prior to the events of the game. Finally, I think the refrain: “go tell Aunt Rhody,” is Eveline both confessing to the listener and daring them to go tell the authorities at the same time. She’s confident in her power, thinks she deserves to have this “family” that she’s cobbled together, and she believes no one is capable of stopping her. Just wow!
Personally, I just love the song’s haunting feeling and the chills it manages to inspire each and every time. It’s the kind of song that just sticks with you once you hear it! Really, the clever lyrics are just icing on this aural cake!
What do you think of this song? What about RE7 itself? Can you think of another song with a similar effect?
Image captured from official announcement trailer