Here is my analysis of SFAM. I know there are many parts which are not 100% solidly substantiated, but this is the most comfortable conclusion I can come to, based on all the theories that I've entertained. Please feel free to discuss it, but I don't think I will be changing my mind about any of it.
For the sake of less typing and reading, I will refer to the characters as defined below. I know it's pretty straightforward, but this is just so there is absolutely no confusion.
Nick = Nicholas
Hypno = Hypnotherapist
Ed = Senator Edward Baynes (Miracle)
Julian = Julian Baynes (Sleeper)
We start with Nicholas relaxing to the sounds of the Hypnotherapist's voice and entering a hypnotic state in the pursuit of regression therapy. The location is not known, nor is the necessity of the therapy. We are given one piece of possibly important information by the Hypno saying "If at any time you need to come back, all you need to do is open your eyes."
Now Nick is in a hypnotic trance and marveling at the surreal peace and comfort. As he settles into his trance, he begins to focus on what we know learn is the subject of his regression therapy, a girl named Victoria and a life that feels strangely similar to his own.
In Strange Déjà vu, we hear a little more about previous dreams that have led Nick to his therapy, and also continue on deeper in the current trance. We learn that every time he closes his eyes, he is taken to this recurring dream of another very vivid, (yet just out of reach of conscious understanding) life. We are given details about the current dream, which is the recurring dream; therefore this is what he's been dreaming previously that has led him to his regression therapy.
There is a pathway to a house. Inside the house and upstairs is a room where a girl appears in a mirror. All of this seems very familiar to him, but it logically shouldn't. In this dream, probably because this is actually a hypnotic trance and not just an average dream, some things seem clearer than ever before. He can see the face of a young girl and poses the question, "Young girl won't you tell me why I'm here?" He sees that she has something to share with him, that there is a reason she is leading him here, a story to be told, and this story is of something terrible that is "tearing at her soul".
Victoria now expresses her first hint at why she is haunting Nick. She has been searching for a way to reveal the truth about her murder. I believe she is faintly aware of Nick, just as he is faintly aware of her. Neither of them, at this point, actually knows that they share the same soul. She also expresses great lament, "tears my heart into two". This along with the next line, "I'm not the one the Sleeper thought he knew", is her guilt that Julian never knew about her relationship with his brother, which we learn about much later. Julian thought he was going to meet the love of his life and pick up where they had left off, instead…well, we learn what happens later. And this is her lament at this point of the story. Poor Julian never saw it coming, and she feels responsible.
Now Nick is out of his therapy and back in real life. Even though he is awake, the thoughts and events of this other life are beginning to permeate every second of his day, and this is the beginning of his obsession with resolving this whole mess. He desperately wants to know why this is happening and would cross over to this other world consciously if he knew how. Nothing in the current day matters to him, only learning more about his new obsession. It is here that he has his first inclination that he may have actually lived in the world of which he dreams. He knows that this dreamland holds the key to his peace, and he will not rest until he unlocks that door.
In 'Through My Words' Nick realizes fully the link between Victoria and himself. He now knows why he feels so drawn to her and her world as they share the same soul.
'Fatal Tragedy' starts with Nick 'alone at night'. I picture him lying in bed reflecting on all he has learned recently. He knows who Victoria is now, but not why she is so torn or how he is involved. This I would see as a fade to black with the next scene beginning the next morning and Nick is leaving his home. He goes to visit an older man, whom the story makes a point to tell us is 'alone'. Whose house this is, and who the old man is, are things that are never made clear throughout the story. There are many possibilities, but nothing certain and I'm not sure it matters much to the context of the story anyway. The importance of the older man is that he knows a little about a murder that happened at this house long ago and shares what he knows with Nick. We learn that a girl was murdered, and that she was young. Nick sits and listens to the older man's tale and finds that it is still a mystery today. It seems to me that the older man knows more than he tells, both about the truth of the murder and about Nick. This kinda leads me to think he is someone of importance, but there is no conclusive evidence of whom.
The repetition of the "Without…etc" lines must have significance. My guess is that they are two separate statements. "Without Love and Truth, there can be no turning back" is Nick realizing that until he unveils the truth about what happened to Victoria, he cannot live his current life. He is stuck in this obsession and cannot turn back. "Without Faith and Hope, there can be no peace of mind" is Nick encouraging himself to be strong and have faith that he will find the truth, because without that truth, he will never rest. This song ends with the Hypno speaking. I picture Nick back in his office, or wherever the place of therapy is, and he has just explained to the Hypno what has transpired since the last session. So the Hypno starts the next session with taking Nick back to the point of the murder of Victoria/himself.
Here we learn the newspaper account of what happened in 1928. The story is that a witness, Edward Baynes heard a 'horrifying sound' and upon reaching the scene of the sound he discovers a woman who's been shot dead, and the shooter standing over her. The witness tries to help and the shooter commits suicide and falls on top of the dead woman. The newspaper account talks of 'a sad close to a broken love affair'. This indicates that the victim and the murderer are identified as previous or maybe even current lovers. The repetition of 'Our deeds have traveled far'…etc, I don't believe to be taken as part of the newspaper article. Even though it is shown in the sleeve of the CD, I can't see how that would be a part of the account.
The paper goes on to explain that Victoria and Julian were recently broken up due to Julian's decadent lifestyle. There are many possibilities regarding what 'evil way' he had fallen into, gambling and/or drug addiction being the most likely, but the fact is it's irrelevant. It's also indicated that she would have taken him back if he'd straighten up his lifestyle. Then there is the last question…'Was their fatal meeting prearranged?' All of Fatal Tragedy is to be taken as the newspaper account. The question of the murder being prearranged is probably discussion of whether this was premeditated murder or just an argument that escalated to the tragedy. I'll explain this a little more in the next section.
Now we read an account of the physical evidence at the scene. There is evidence of a 'violent struggle' and a switchblade is found. The switchblade causes some confusion, because the victim is a young girl and typically you wouldn't expect a young girl in 1928 to be carrying a switchblade, unless, she was anticipating a need to defend herself…"was the victim unaware?" Also found, in the killer's pocket, is a written note. It's speculated that it is a suicide letter, but not a suicide, after I kill you, letter. It clearly reads that the Julian would rather kill himself than live without Victoria, but it mentions nothing of harming her.
I mentioned above that I'd explain the question of premeditation. What I noticed is that the note was still 'in the killer's pocket'!! Since the note addresses Victoria, 'than live with losing YOU', he must have intended to give it to her. I think what the newspaper account would have us believe is this: Julian meets with Victoria to say his farewell and give her the note. He finds this harder than he imagined and it becomes a heated argument which leads to a physical struggle. Victoria produces the switchblade that she was carrying for just such a situation, and Julian pulls the gun, which he was only carrying because he intended to go kill himself after he gave Victoria the note. Julian shoots her and then himself. All of this happens before he ever even produces the note he has written. Keep in mind…this is what the newspaper account leads the reader, and thus Nick in his hypnotic trance, to believe.
Lastly there is the repetition at the end of 'Beyond This Life'. These lines are deepening Nick's belief that he and Victoria share the same soul. They also indicate that, not only do souls reincarnate, but they also carry the same personality traits with them. 'What we have been is what we are'. Simply put, mean people reincarnate into mean people, and nice people reincarnate into nice people. And your deeds will follow you throughout eternity. So if you screw up in this life, the guilt or paranoia or whatever you feel, will transcend into every future life you will have.
Now Nick is awake again. He has learned that Victoria/he was brutally murdered in 1928. He feels compelled to visit Victoria's grave and basically, face his own death. He expresses the sorrow he feels for her, and how helpless and innocent she was. Not only that but, since he's learning about his life by looking through her eyes, he realizes that this happened to HIM also and the unfairness of it begins to nag him.
Upon reaching her grave, he is overcome with sadness. Even the words on her stone indicate that she was a sweet innocent girl who had her life brutally taken from her at a very young age. He is startled by how much her death feels like his own. He compares it to losing someone you love, as this is as close as you can come to describing how it feels to die. We all know how it hurts to lose a loved one, imagine mourning the loss of your own soul! He continues to let images of her wander through his head, as he just wallows in his sadness for awhile. He thinks of how much more he's lived and again is stricken by the injustice of her young death. Then as the song ends Nick begins to regain his composure and is comforted by the realization that by facing this tragedy and mourning the loss, he can now move on. This time of pain was necessary to accept his death in a previous life and fully comprehend why this other life has beckoned him.
'Home' is full of information…,for us. Nick is not privy to what we learn in this song. We hear Julian talk of his obsession with decadence and how he is only living a charade. Ultimately, as we have learned earlier, Victoria leaves him because of his addiction, whatever it may be. Next we hear Ed, (I picture him as a psychotic and maniacal man who talks to himself when alone, rubbing his hands together and nearly frothing at the mouth). He gives his account of Victoria crying on his shoulder over her break up with Julian. He finds himself falling for her, and at first even feels guilt over deceiving his own blood. But his obsession for her becomes stronger than his guilt and he seduces her in her vulnerable state. Lastly we hear from Nick again, back in present day, and awake. So far he only knows what the older man told him, and what he learned about the newspaper article in his last therapy session. He knows there must be more to the story and he is obsessed with solving this mystery. He yearns for regression, cannot wait for his next therapy session so that he can get back to solving the mystery.
'One Last Time' begins with Nick going over it in his head. He is not convinced, from the evidence given so far, that the newspaper account is the truth. He also appears to have heard some rumors. My guess is that there were rumors of her affair with Ed. Did Victoria wound Ed's soul and bid him farewell? Then we see Victoria, in the past again, saying 'One last time, we'll lay down today.' I think Nick hears this as Victoria telling Ed goodbye, that this will be their last meeting.
Nick visits Ed's house, where he and Victoria had their affair. The house seems to hold many clues and he feels that he is finally shown some confirmation of what he's been thinking. Though he is now awake, as he enters the bedroom, he experiences a sort of revelation, almost as though he's slipped right out of consciousness, the cold returns, as he felt in his recurring dreams before, and he's suddenly outside and hears a woman screaming and a man pleading forgiveness. I think Nick, at this point, has been suspecting that Ed and Victoria were having an affair. That is the suspicion to which the home holds many clues. In his current state of dual consciousness, he is seeing Victoria's memories of the fatal meeting, but he doesn't get enough info yet and the scene fades to black.
In 'The Spirit Carries On', Nick is again, and for the last time, under hypnosis and reiterating his belief that his soul will transcend, and that he need not fear death. He believes now that Ed was involved in the murder. He realizes he may never convince anyone else of this, but he must try anyway. He plans to expose the truth behind a crime that happened over 70 years ago. Victoria pipes up, in the present this time, and tells Nick that he should move on now, she has revealed the truth to him, but he should never forget her. At this point he basks in the peace that he feels as he has appeased Victoria's nagging and his own obsession. Nick now feels that the reason all of this happened, the ultimate message, is that death is not the end, but only a transition, as the Hypno has already pointed out.
'Finally Free' again, I believe is only for our information. Nick is not privy to what is revealed in this song, because the Hypno brings him out of his last hypnotic trance and we hear him get in his car and leave. What we learn is that Victoria and Julian meet by chance and decide to meet up later in secret so they can talk. She is obviously excited because Julian is the one she has always loved, and she's going to break it off with Ed. She is no longer torn between Ed and Julian, who she would rather have been with. But she knows Julian would kill Ed if he knew of her relationship with him.
So they meet up, without anyone knowing, so they think. Ed shows up, begins struggling with Julian who drops a bottle of liquor out of his coat pocket, pulls out the knife, Ed shoots Julian, Victoria screams, Ed tells her "open your eyes Victoria", and he shoots her also. Julian crawls over to her, collapses on top of her and utters his last lines, "one last time…etc'. Now, the beginning of the song, Ed has just shot them both and is standing there kind of saying, that'll teach you to break my heart, very indignant, like they got what they deserved. He plants the letter on Julian and then gets help and plays his part as the witness.
Now back to Nick. He's driving home and thinking about how he is free of the haunting that has plagued him. Also he has learned about his life, that it will carry on after death, through Victoria's nagging. The last line, 'We'll meet again my friend someday soon' this must be Nick speaking of Victoria, however it's one of the things I can't really explain. I don't know why he says this, but I don't feel like it has a great impact on the story, UNLESS, it is related to the ending.
The ending…. Nick arrives home and goes inside and begins relaxing. Another car pulls up, the Hypno enters the room and says, "Open your eyes Nicholas", the phonograph gets bumped as Nick is startled by the Hypno…..static…..fade to black. The Hynpo, who is Ed's reincarnated soul, has killed Nicholas.