River’s last will and testament. A mysterious song recorded by River and John Frusciante at an unknown time, though I suspect it was the night before he died. John Frusciante attempted to release the song on his 1994 album, Usually Just a T-shirt, but was forced to remove it by River’s mother. In 1997, he renamed the song Height Down and released it on his solo album Smile From The Streets You Hold.
Designed by Frusciante, the album cover depicts the scene of the crime featuring the poisoned drink, the two-way mirror leading to Johnny Depp’s office and what looks to be a soul rising from a heart. We see a full moon looking down on the scene and a snake-like form emerging from the bottle (the sidewinder) and biting the lined figure with the three shapes. To the right of the snakebite there appears to be a sad face staring at the bottle. I believe the lined figure symbolizes River, perhaps in the form of an acoustic guitar which he brought with him that night. The three shapes represent those responsible for his death in order of guilt: The Kingship (the diamond), Heart Phoenix (the heart), and Michael Stipe (the zero). We also see a scaly, smaller figure to the left of the shapes with a frightened expression and what looks to be a red hat. It appears to be reaching out to the lined figure. Still not sure about that one. Not sure about the symbol to the right of the bottle either, perhaps a phoenix bird rising from its ashes?
The artwork on the flipside of the album depicts a fishlike or birdlike figure with legs that appears to be on the verge of falling over face first, which is exactly how River fell. The photographer on the scene that night, Ron Davis, described River as “looking like a fish out of water” as he convulsed on the pavement. An X marks the spot where the figure will fall and the background is colored red. To the bottom left-side of the figure we see what looks to be a red knife/sword with (possibly) cat ears attached. Not sure about this either but it does fit in with R.E.M.’s song The Worst Joke Ever describing the cat burglar falling on his knife.
The lyrics read like a riddle. For a more in depth analysis you can go here, but to summarize, River will send flowers to his mother for his funeral. Blossom castle scents is a reference to the poison in his drink given to him by his mother’s guest (presumably Michael Stipe). The gift is given to him at the Viper Room owned by his friendly rival, Johnny Depp. He describes the aftermath of his death and seeing the symbolism in the Rolling Throne spread as well as his own cremation. Gather round the fireplace feelin’ freaky son. The murderless helping hands are his friends, possibly P, who were called in for his soul removal, a volcanic change of plot that I have yet to solve but obviously went horribly wrong. He knows the kingship wants him dead and his mother is following suit. I believe the line, “kingship gives it to her for me,” has a double meaning and I’ll leave it at that.
John Frusciante’s part is a plea for River to forego his plans (his volcanic change of plot) and skip going to the Viper Room. Frusciante is afraid it won’t work and that they’ll be sabotaged. He wants River to stand down. Height Down.
Two, three, four…
I’ll send flowers again for her
Blossom castle scents has her guest
a gift described, disguised as my rival.
Lovely life full regret
psychos did you hear dirty boys only
see that Rolling Throne story unfold
yeah or how it might be
I can sure see how they’ll take
gather round the fireplace
feelin’ freaky son.
Murderless helping hands in a soul removal.
Leader says century now
Kingship gives it to her for me.
Failing light nailed its spike through the wall
to realize that they’ll come after what you’ve planned for
I’m pleading foregoing tomorrow to do it right.