If I say the name Anthony Head, there’s a reasonably good chance that “musician” isn’t going to be one of the associations that comes to your mind. You’re most likely to recognize him as an actor, one who’s played a plethora of roles but is probably best known for his seven-year role as Rupert Giles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. On the other hand, if you’ve actively watched that show the whole way through, you’ll know that his role on the show gave the opportunity for him to express his vocal talents multiple times, from a few guitar-playing scenes early on to the show’s vastly popular musical episode, “Once More With Feeling.”
If you’ve had the opportunity to hear his musical abilities in those contexts, it’ll come as no surprise that “musician” is in fact a title he can claim, from a brief stint in the short-lived pop band Two Way in 1983 to releasing two studio albums in more recent years. The first of which, Music For Elevators, was a mix of ambient, electronica, and alternative rock elements that he created with George Sarah and released in 2002, and therein lies my focus in this particular post.
Though the whole album bears an experimental style that’s thoroughly intriguing and merits checking out, the standout track for me has always been the closer, “End Game.” The song clocks in at about 5 minutes, minus the space for the hidden track at the end; it’s a tragic and heartrending piece about the helplessness of death and loss, its music composed by George Sarah and the lyrics constructed by Anthony Head. Ambient synths, electronic drumbeats, and slow piano arpeggios back Head’s delicate crooning, briefly accompanied by spoken lines from Buffy costar Alyson Hannigan. The lyrics are a vague sort of desperation for the first half of the song, but are moving nonetheless as the second chorus finds Head questioning, “Do we need more time to set things right / Are we ever prepared inside to say goodbye?”
This continues until the bridge, where the song changes to stripped-down honesty; the thick layer of electronic audio cuts out in favor of acoustic guitar, and Head confesses, “How did I outlive you? / Couldn’t see us apart / Us broken.” Yet in spite of this, true to the reality of grief, the direct confrontation isn’t followed by easy acceptance; the song continues to question and mourn to its close. The verses echo in the background in two more repetitions of the chorus, between which he cries out, “Is this right / That this really is the end?”
It’s far from the only display of Head’s musicianship, but it is certainly one of his most effective displays out there, and a flawless collaboration with Sarah. The gorgeous vocals, poignant lyrics, and perfectly matching instrumentals converge to make “End Game” a lovely, if tragic, song that deserves endless recognition.