There’s something I keep trying to capture with all of this writing. I am still not satisfied that I have come anywhere close to it. I guess part of this is that I am trying to quantify what it is that makes a song good. There is an abstract truth to any piece of art that can’t really be expressed. Trying to explain it like it is a concrete concept is impossible. So the hope for me with these blog entries is that they are an artistic response to an artistic expression. A derived work. In doing so, I hope I end up paying tribute to the original work. An artistic act of appreciation. This asumes that what I am doing doesn’t suck.
Living life is a constant struggle for me. There is this idea that my heart is attached to. We should all have a much more passionate existence. That every moment should build on the moment before. If I think too much about it or try to improve my existence based on this concept, I either become depressed or self-destructive. It’s so easy for me to think that my current emotional state could be fixed by dismantling my life the way it is and re-inventing myself and every aspect of my life. In fact, that’s how I used to respond to difficulties in my life. Just get up and change everything.
“I tremble. They’re gonna eat me alive.”
The problem with doing this is it is just self-destructive. It certainly is easy to be your own muse. Everything is fresh and alive. You actually see everything that you are looking at.
“Help, I’m alive, my heart keeps beating like a hammer.”
I once shared a bottle of Thunderbird with a bunch of homeless guys under an overpass. I was a teenager. This is an experience I could never forget. Regardless of the haze my mind was in, there was a lot that registered. These were nameless and faceless fixtures on the side of the road. Now I always see their eyes. Next time you see a homeless person, give them a dollar and look in their eyes.
“Hard to be soft, tough to be tender.”
In high school I had this gigantic crush on a girl in my gifted and talented classes. She made it clear that she had a crush on me. We sat next to each other for years. She sent friends to talk to me. I couldn’t respond. The word got around. My best friend at the time confronted me about it when we were eating dinner with his parents. His father said, “You are afraid of girls.” I lied to get out of it. I made up reasons why I didn’t like her. He was right. I was afraid. I am simultaneously attracted to my own passion and terrified of it.
“Come take my pulse, the pace is on a runaway train.”
As I have aged, things come a little easier. I build on previous successes. I do the best I can. I have plenty of regrets. I learn a lot from my son and other kids. Being excited is something I have a hard time doing. I love watching him when he can’t keep himself composed because he’s so excited. Composure is something I struggle for. I would rather just let myself be that excited. To erase anxiety from my vocabulary and just be so excited that I can’t sit still.
“If you’re still alive, my regrets are few.
If my life is mine, what shouldn’t I do?”
I want all of those things that belong in their time to stay in their time. I don’t want to travel back and correct all of my mistakes. I just want to make sure I miss less of what is so beautiful about life as life occurs to me.
“while my blood’s still flowing
and my heart still beating like a hammer, beating like a hammer.”
I like Emily Haines’ register changes. The simplicity of her approach. Knowing that she has really said what she needed to say with the few words she used. James Shaw’s change ups are nice. Emphasizing the existentialism. And each of the transitions build up and then drop off. Enough changes to keep the interest flowing. Plenty of continuity to keep the idea alive. And this is just as much a musical idea as it is a lyrical idea. It could have easily been a ballad that doted on itself. But there is all of this build up to defeat and then changing to victory over adversity.
“If I stumble, they’re gonna eat me alive.”
I don’t want to be that tight. I want to approach life with passion and grace. I don’t want to worry about all that. I don’t want another 20 years to pass and to think of them as lost.
“Hard to be soft, tough to be tender.”
Ain’t that the truth?