Flyleaf’s “Cassie” Lyrics Meaning
Mass killings really started to become a recurring phenomenon in American society circa the early 1990s. But the event that is generally perceived to have ushered in the modern age of mass, random killings is what is known as the Columbine High School Massacre. This sad incident occurred in 1999.
Prior to that, perpetrators of such crimes were generally understood to be disgruntled workers, i.e. those who may have for instance, being sacked from their jobs and decided to get revenge against their former employer. But with Columbine, that’s when it really became clear that any sick A-hole with a gun can potentially do massive damage, even to the most-vulnerable and unsuspecting of victims.
By the time all was said and done the perpetrators of this event, a couple of high school students, murdered a dozen of their peers in addition to a teacher. And amongst said peers was one Cassie Bernall (1981-1999). Flyleaf dedicated this track to her.
Lyrics of “Cassie”
And just to set the record straight from the onset, as tragic as Cassie’s story may be, this song is based on what has ultimately proven to be an urban legend. That is to say it wasn’t Cassie whom one of the killers (Dylan Klebold), asked whether she possessed a belief in God. That was the story that broke fresh after the event and managed to circulate for some years. But subsequent investigations revealed that Klebold posed that question to another young lady, Valeen Schnurr, who had already been shot.
Strangely enough Klebold did not shoot her again after she responded affirmatively.
So ultimately, what Cassie is speaking to more generally is the concept of martyrdom, i.e. affirming one’s faith even when, as in this presented case, faced with the prospect of execution as a result of doing so. So more accurately this story depicts what Valeen went through, though some narrative liberties were unintentionally taken along the way.
For instance, as noted above, Valeen was not killed for saying yes. In fact when you look at the exchange she had with Klebold, it can be postulated that answering yes may have even saved her life. But at the time this song was dropped, the Bernall story was still circulating as fact.
And the reason that such stories are so believable to begin with is because many people have and in fact still do die because of their faith. This is something that we all know. But that said, some listeners still took this piece as Flyleaf trying to capitalize off of both a real-life tragedy and Christianity, basically. But to reiterate, at the time, the full details of all of the above were not yet made public.
Flyleaf is in fact a Christian rock band, hailing from Texas. The band has a discography commencing in 2002 and, as it currently stands, concluding in 2015, when the group went on hiatus. They actually experienced notable success during the early 2010s. It was during this time that their second LP, “Memento Mori” (2009) topped three Billboard charts, including the Hard Rock Albums list. It also broke the top 10 of the Billboard 200.
Credits for “Cassie”
The following members of Flyleaf are credited with writing this song:
- Pat Seals
- Jared Hartmann
- Sameer Bhattacharya
They composed it alongside former frontwoman Lacey Sturm. Aside co-writing it, Lacey also serves as the vocalist of this song.
This track was released through A&M Octone Records on 4 October 2005. It reportedly was launched as a promotional single.
Who Was Cassie Bernall?
As fate would have it, Cassie Bernall was a student at Colorado’s Columbine High School on the fateful day of 20 April 1999. That was when two of her schoolmates, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, decided to go on a shooting spree inside of the institution. The violence resulted in the death of 13 people. It also claimed the lives of Klebold and Harris.
Cassie, who was 17 years old at the time, was amongst the victims who actually died.
Fresh after the event, it was reported that before fatally shooting her, Klebold questioned Bernall’s belief in God. Bernall was said to have answered yes and was resultantly killed. That particular narrative proved to be akin to an urban legend. It was one that apparently wasn’t factually true. However, this revelation did not come to mainstream light until some years after the event.
Part of the reason it persisted for so long was because of Cassie’s mother, one Misty Bernall. In 1999, Misty published a (commercially-successful) book titled She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall. In this book, Misty reaffirmed the false narrative.
This was despite the fact that she was actually close enough to the official investigation to know that, according to the actual investigators, it wasn’t true. However, Misty did reportedly receive counter reports (from witnesses) which confirmed that Cassie did go out in such a manner.
As far as the officially-accepted chain of events, what happened is Bernall was hiding under a desk when Harris rather spotted her. Upon seeing her, he instantaneously shot her to death.