An Analysis of Holy Holy Hold Me off of The Witches Made Me Do It
By Yannick Eike Mirko
Three weeks ago Ryan Cassata, the incredibly talented musician and activist, released The Witches Made Me Do It, a folk-rock concept LP covering a variety of social issues and topics including, but not limited to, the oppression of LGBTQ+ people, finding oneself in the midst of chaos, and challenging relationships with religion, going into the last one specifically in the song titled Holy Holy Hold Me. The song could very well be considered the emotional climax of the project, taking us through eight minutes and twenty one seconds of the emotions we bury within ourselves but happily analyse and spend time with through his portrayal of such issues.
I’m sure there are many people who can relate to my experience with processing the song – laying on the floor of their room, wrecked out of their minds on so many nights since it’s come out, feeling a need to repeat the song because their thoughts and emotions have been read in a way that once felt impossible to understand by anyone and are now suddenly being shown to the world through a masterpiece.
A queer person’s relationship with religion can be more complicated than one would like, particularly when in love, and I can relate very much to Ryan’s ‘tug-of-war’ experience with Catholicism as a Queer, Transgender individual. It is so hard to discover that something that has been such a large fundamental part of your life disagrees with not only who you are as a person, but also with who you love. This song explains and describes the feelings that come with that through its lyrics and unspoken signals in musicality.
The song dances around the general vicinity of a resting heart rate, which is heavily appropriate given the context. And the opening lyrics cut through your walls like a knife made of rose petals.
“Our bodies intertwine
I set my heart on fire for you
I’m walking on the wire between dreaming and reality
When we kiss I feel like I’m defying gravity” (lyrics via Genius)
The lyricism throughout the rest of the song continues to radiate the bittersweet realization that we wish so badly to be held by the person we’re drawn to and desire, and also wish to be held by the communities we’ve known and loved for so long. In an interview with Pride.com, Ryan briefly talked about the experience of being met with negativity from the church he was a part of and even said it made him feel “… shameful for being queer for a really long time.” A sentiment many LGBTQ+ people, including myself, have felt and continue to feel.
There have been so many times where I have been too afraid of my own thoughts to sit with them and decide whether or not I should feel okay with being myself or if I should focus on my faith and religion, and this song provides a safe space for that intimidating but essential internal dialogue. It also provides the very solid point that love, specifically queer love, is sacred and to be celebrated, rather than shamed or hidden. Some of the purest forms of expression in life come through honesty, love, and acceptance – meaning, there is a way to have faith in a relationship with someone, and simultaneously have faith in all other aspects of living including a God, if you choose to incorporate that.
It is incredibly refreshing to hear such thorough thinking through an incredibly talented voice and artist such as Ryan Cassata. The entirety of this song walks us through a soundscape of peace, deep love for others, and a level of self-acceptance and love everyone should work harder to find within themselves.
You can hear that this song, and the entirety of the LP, is made with so much intention and truth; it’s hard to listen to without feeling inspired to look into oneself. I heavily encourage taking the time to listen through The Witches Made Me Do It, taking a walk with yourself during Holy Holy Hold Me, and remembering that it’s going to be okay. Because as long as we have artists like him making a difference, things will be.
Stream The Witches Made Me Do It LP: http://hyperurl.co/WitchesRyanCassata
Written by By Yannick Eike Mirko
[Photos of Ryan Cassata and Team provided by Ryan Cassata]