This week my writing has sucked. In some cases, I knew what I was trying to say but couldn’t say it. In other cases, I loved the song but wasn’t able to express it. And there are hundreds of ways to explain this. Some of the biggest excuses could involve new jobs, soul killing corporations, being busy, environment… And maybe some of this is valid. And maybe my writing has just simply sucked. And I am embarrassed to read some of it, but I am going to let it stand. I have a couple of points to make in the long run that will be served by even my worst writing.
I want to insist that every song I have written about I have loved. This week especially. I put together a CD this week, and it has lived in my CD player. I could listen to these songs for the rest of the year. I drive up and down the freeway singing along. It has made me sad to move from one song to the next. And that is one of those things I am learning from doing this. It really is very hard work letting new concepts enter my consciousness every day. Music becomes a soundtrack for our lives. Especially when we are young. But as we get older, that music that was the soundtrack of our youth becomes our daily muzak.
Then there is the issue of how many stories I have to write about. I start becoming really critical of myself when I can’t come up with more. And I don’t know why I would become critical to tell the truth. But I was listening to this song that I am writing about right now (regardless of whether you know that), and I knew that I had failed yesterday when writing about a song that I loved. I was feeling sad that I wasn’t able to express that, and kind of embarrassed. And I knew that these two things, lack of stories left and feeling embarrassed about what I wrote, could totally kill me. This is my whole life.. Writer’s block (i.e. not knowing what to write about) and not wanting to take a chance because I might suck.
“Life on the margins, little looks we have to steal”
Then there’s the idea that it isn’t necessarily that I don’t know which stories to write about. There are real people involved in these stories. People that could be hurt or that could see the stories differently than I did. This isn’t necessarily a problem even when it is absolutely true. I have found ways already to change the way I present a story so that I leave out just enough. But there is a lot of energy that goes into that as well.
“I want to run like vagrants hand in hand across this field”
And all of this is metadata – data about other data. And funnily enough that is my new job. I deal with enormous amounts of metadata. And like my job here in this forum, it is difficult to remain interested in the attributes rather than the information. The meta-me is what I am talking about. These songs are about me. The artist’s stories are stories about my narrative. Our common ground is difficult to recognize and live in on a daily basis. And I hope I am being clear, because it’s very difficult to be clear with such an abstract concept.
“But I know the way you are I could fall into the star”
We like to celebrate our differences and our culture right now is all about dividing us. I am trying to remain awake to the idea that we aren’t very different at all. But my tendency toward isolation is really a pull that’s almost impossible to fight.
“It’s not easy for everybody to faill in love.”
And right now, one of the hardest things to do is remain passionate about this new music that is entering my life. Because I compare the larger than life emotion of the expression in the music and compare it with the gray daily life of work that has to be done. And I have to remind myself that this is one of those fantasies that just ends up making me ache.
“The city walls are reigning perilous and tall over dark chilling streets”
So while I have been awake, and I have written some stuff that has moved even me, I feel like I am missing everything. I am missing the mark at work. I am not interested in information about information. The name is a name, not an attribute. My clothes are not important. The garbage on the floor of my car is not an indication of who I am. This blog is not the music. It’s not even a map. My singular voice is my point.
“And I know I want to live my life”
We are all trying to find or invent meaning in our daily lives. But there are more moments alone for me than in contact with the people that provide the deepest meaning in my life. I think most of us are stuck with these circumstances. Whether we are driving up and down freeways and sitting in cubicles for most of the day. Developing laugh lines from our fake smiles that we give to people that we don’t really want to connect to. Sitting in hospital beds alone trying to maintain a firm grip on the purpose of choosing this particular suffering. Sitting underneath bridges.
“Don’t want to waste my time”
In most cases, there was a point to what we were doing that we can’t remember most of the time. Something that made the pain or dull ache worth it. And it’s so hard to keep that purpose in mind when I am not in contact with people that bring me joy. That there is a larger sense of mission. That I love my people. That I love myself.
“Trying to strike the right lyrical density.”
And this can be the hardest part of the whole entry. This is the part where I write a paragraph about the song itself. As if I wasn’t writing about the song the whole time. Really please! I understand that the concept is abstract. But every word I have written so far is about how kick ass this song is. I am left wanting to change my whole fucking life every time I listen to it. While writing this damn thing, I have listened to it about 30 times. The attributes – the metadata – are irrelevant. The relationship to progressive rock and Queen in particular. The blues turn arounds? The harmonic progression. The incredible amount of time that went into this song. It’s all clear. I can hear Ramesh Srivastava suffering over all of the lyrics he has. What to leave out – what to put in? But he has so much of his life on the tip of his tongue. Isn’t this all of us? You sing every damn word you got. Holy shit! If I could write lyrics like that, my songs would be 90 minutes long. And the connection to the music! Usually you get this kind of lyrical density and the music and lyrics are disconnected. An afterthought. Voxtrot puts a lot of work into this concept. And I am putting a lot of work into trying to express how it makes me feel.
“I used to be your biggest fan”
And I remember a girl that I don’t want to write about. Who was very private. Who was too depressed. Who lived in Houston, Boston, Albuquerque. Who follows me everywhere I go. Who lives in a hospital bed. Who walks free in her dreams. Whose smile follows me everywhere I go. Who are you? Who am I? And how I lose you when I am sitting here refreshing my fucking inbox.
“I used to be your biggest fan”
Yes I did. I used to believe in myself. I was a child and every day wasn’t a subject for my biggest critic. The scrutiny of the peers in my head. Every moment thrashed and dismissed. I didn’t worry about whether I would fail. I danced like a fool. I searched for mud puddles. I loved the rain and the wind. I waited for the sunset. I played the guitar like I was a rock star. I wrote like I loved every minute of my life. I spoke like a man possessed. And sometimes, right here in this moment, I am connected to that madman.
“Now I find that you are slipping in my estimation”
Yes you are. You disappointed me with your less than perfect blog entries. The passionless daily existence of a job at the pinnacle of some career paths. So ungrateful and arrogant.
“I used to be your biggest fan”
Finding enough courage to create in the face of all these voices of criticism. To be able to subject myself to the actual criticism beyond the tip of my nose. Not the self-flagellation in my head. It’s a wonder that I can get out of bed in the morning. Maybe that’s why I simply don’t go to sleep.
“Now I know that you could never love someone like me”
How many opportunities do we have to truly express ourselves? Probably every day. So it really must take a lot of work to avoid it. I’m not apologizing for the last time. I am not re-committing myself to being forgiven. I am not looking for a redemption that begins in the morning and lasts all day. I won’t be a better man.
“I made a mistake, well I made two, one for me and one for you”
And I’m going to keep making this mistake. I’m going to keep listening. And expressing myself. Searching for the thing that moves me about it all. Searching for the weakness in my armor. I’ll find it sometimes. Other times, it’s just going to be a bunch of hollow clangs that miss the mark. The music gets to me every time. Every single time.
“The science of music is stupid and cruel”
And I don’t want to quit writing about this song, because it means I have to move on to the next one. I love this song. It’s the cruelest thing about this project of mine. I want to pause on Voxtrot, The Morning Benders, Odd Nosdam, Ra Ra Riot and Hot Panda for a long time. This is my favorite week of music since I started this thing. And the lamest writing. Hopefully I got this one and it makes up for the rest. But maybe not. It’s not important. What’s important is that I hang myself out there regardless of how cruel I am to myself.
But let me end it with a great lyric that I wasn’t able to fit into this entry.
“I want to be the toast of the shanty town…”
He’s just got so many great lines. It’s amazing that he is able to string them together into a single concept. It’s amazing that the band maintains all of that interest through the whole piece! That they’ve done it on more than one song…