10Nov/163

The One That Got Away

Why are people so upset about the ascension of Donald Trump?

We are all built to predict events. We cast our thoughts out like fishing lines into the unknowable depths of the future, and reel in as many strange and exotic scenarios as we can imagine. Then, when one of these probable events transpires, we are usually very pleased, because we have likely invested time in preparing for it. Through this preparation, we avoid injury, and on the whole, we prosper from it.

This love of the expected is so strong that we demand its fulfillment in our art, in our relationships, and most especially in our societies. When a piece of music jolts us with unexpected, harsh, atonal progressions, we tend to consider it a bad composition. In the same way, when a lover grows in a different direction than we had imagined that they might, it is often a cause for divorce. And on days like today, when an election outcome stands in defiance to our expectations, the streets become flooded with protesters.

My own life, if it can be said to have been predictable at all, was only ever so in a tragic sort of way. More often than not, my story has eluded all logic or explanation, and so I have ceased in looking for an equitable exchange with Fate, or Karma, or any of the other expectation deities.

However, many others, through no fault of their own, still do expect certain justices from life. Every movie they've ever watched reinforced this tendency; their hero always won. All of their favorite songs inevitably found a settled and harmonious ending. Maybe they've not yet watched someone they love die, maybe they've not yet seen their own dreams lay down in humble little graves. So when the bad guy won, and the mighty hero was slain, the whole world seemed unreal to them.

To those people, I'm sorry that you had to find out like this, all at once, but the universe doesn't have a plan, or if it does, it's beyond our abilities to discern it. There's no script, nobody's keeping score, and when you die... That's it. There's no after-party.

So find happiness in whatever you do have, and spend whatever precious moments you can afford doing something that fills your whole body with joy. And when the world lets you down, don't cast blame onto others-- no promise was ever broken-- just breathe deeply and do whatever you can to protect the light that shines inside and animates your soul.

24Sep/163

Share Something Beautiful

I crisscrossed America with Chris Cron and his band Mêlée almost ten years ago. We went on several different tours together, and covered most of the country in our big, white passenger vans.

Chris Cron

Chris from his video for "Atlas".

Usually, when you tour with somebody, after the first few nights, their act becomes stale and trite; you've heard it all before, you know what jokes they're going to tell, and you know what song they're about to play next. So, after a few weeks, you start to hide out back of the club during their set just to avoid hearing those same damn songs again.

But it was never like this with Chris. I'd watch his set every night, because every night he brought a fresh perspective to the stage. It was mostly little things, new inflections and implications, or a sudden reaction to something going on in the room, but it was always new, always engaging.

One of my favorite memories from those years was of a night in Colorado when we all stayed at the club long after our audience had gone home. The manager was serving us drinks, and lazily sweeping up the floor. We were all laughing and joking, playing a bit of pool on a dusty old table in the back of the room.

Then, Chris got up on stage, even though he'd just played an hour-long set, and he started performing again. It was a pantomime of sorts, a parody of his typical act, but it was just as great, and just as engaging.

We all stood around and watched him, in the middle of the night, after having taken hundreds of photos with strangers in a loud and smelly room, after having sweat under hot lights, and having dragged our heavy equipment to and from the stage, after having driven sixteen hours just to get there, and knowing that we had another ten-hour drive ahead of us, despite all of this, we stayed up till almost dawn and watched him play because it was pure entertainment-- because he was great.

That's how I remember Chris, but we still keep in touch sometimes online.  Just a few nights ago, I heard that he was on The Voice, a popular television gameshow. I don't own a TV, so I haven't seen his performance, but apparently he didn't make it past the first round.

On the show, they have three giant chairs, with three celebrities sitting in them like kings, and if you're deemed good enough, they turn around and actually watch your act...  But if they don't like what you're doing, they'll just sit with their backs turned, as if you don't even exist.  For Chris, they all sat thusly, ignoring his performance.

I think of this, and it makes me a little sick... To know that such an incredible talent can fight against the world's ugliness and indifference, and persist in offering beauty for over a decade, and that still, almost predictably, the world seemingly turns its back on him.

So anyway, I suppose this whole rant was just my way of acknowledging Chris, and his incredible gift. It was my way of turning my metaphorical chair around, and watching his talent unfold.  (And if you're curious to hear what he's all about, I've attached his latest video below).

I think that the world is a better place when people like Chris can afford to share their art, and if you agree, he's looking for patrons to help him do just that.  Even if you can't assist an artist financially, take a moment to share their work, to help tell their story. It's so common to see petty memes or political propaganda popping up on Facebook-- why not make it just as common to come across something beautiful?

Filed under: blog 3 Comments
11Sep/168

Accident (demo)

To the best of my knowledge, I wrote and recorded this demo sometime around April, 2011.  At the time, writing and recording it was therapeutic, but as my life moved on, it got locked away and forgotten about...  Until now.

Accident

I’ll let you know when I’m better
When I wake every morning with hope in my eyes
And death isn’t on my mind all the time
And failure’s a feeling I don’t recognize

Yeah, I’ll let you know when I’m perfect and whole
With heart melting laughter pouring from my soul
You came and you went
Again and again
Now you’re gone

You were an accident
I fell in love
But I don’t remember when
And I didn’t mean to lose myself with dreaming
But it happened
You’re gone again

So I’ll write some songs and stay up all night
I’ll walk to the beach with the moon in the sky
And talk to the waves as they crash and then die
I’ll ask them in vain for the meaning to life

‘Cause I thought it was love
But I might be wrong
Yeah, maybe that’s just something I heard in a song
You came and you went
Again and again
Now you’re gone

You were an accident
I fell in love
But I don’t remember when
And I didn’t mean to lose myself with dreaming
But it happened
You’re gone again

So for now
I guess this is the end
‘Cause I don’t think I could take anymore
Yeah, for now, I guess this is the end
But I know that we’ve said that before

And I doubt whether we could be friends
‘Cause in truth I’m feeling used
But I’m not quite sure
Yeah, I doubt whether we could be friends
When I want so much more

That’s why I’m singing

You were an accident
I fell in love
But I don’t remember when
And I didn’t mean to lose myself with dreaming
But it happened
You’re gone again

Filed under: blog 8 Comments
3Sep/166

When Last I Left (demo)

When Last I Left

I could take our story
And sell it as a song
So that people on the internet
Can judge the way we carried on

But I wouldn't put you
Into that path of harm
Because I know
You've been that way before

So I just want to tell you that
I think about you when I'm sad
I think about the kid we almost had
How she'd be eight

And I don't need your sympathy
And I don't want you here with me
I'd just like to check and see
If you're okay

For when last I left
Through your open door
I couldn't have loved you more
I couldn't have loved you more

If you're somewhere laughing
If your heart is full
I pray you'll stay there
All your days
Wherever you call home

But if you're hurting badly
If you're bleeding out
I hope you'll call me up
So I can help

'Cause I just want to tell you that
I think about you when I'm sad
I think about the life we wanted
On a farm

And I don't need your sympathy
And I don't need you here with me
It's just been a little bit rainy
And I hope you're warm

The last I left
Through your open door
I couldn't have loved you more
I couldn't have loved you more

(audio sample)

On these lonely days
When I'm feeling down
You're what I think about
You're what I think about

But I shouldn't say
These kinds of things aloud
'Cause I'm not reaching out
No, I'm not reaching out

It's just...

When last I left
Through your open door
I couldn't have loved you more
I couldn't have loved you more

Audio sample of Coleridge's What If
from freesound.org, voice of Amy Gedgaudas.

Filed under: blog 6 Comments
2Sep/1610

Don’t Die With Your Music Still Inside

A quick update...

Don't Die With The Music Still Inside

I have a drawer full of computer hard drives.  They’ve just been sitting there, covered with dust for many years.  Some of them are almost half my own age, and probably no longer work…

On these drives, I have hundreds of recordings at all different stages of completion.  Some of these recordings are terrible, odd little gremlin songs, written when I was an angsty young teenager.  Others are okay— people might even like them.  But a few of these recordings, certain special gems, are what I consider to be my life’s best work, and nobody aside from myself has ever heard them.

I’m going to start digging through these files in my free time, finishing things off as they catch my interest…  Because I’ve always had this whisper of a fear, something that creeps into the back of my mind at odd hours of random days.  It’s this soft little voice quietly wondering ‘what if...  What if you died tonight?'.

All of those countless hours of work, all of that music encoded as strings of binary— it's all just sitting in that drawer, and I'm the only one with the passwords.  I imagine a future in which those hard drives lay entombed in a landfill somewhere, a future in which all of those songs die with me.

And to be honest, most of the time I'm okay with that.

Because assuming that I do find the time to finish a bit of this work, I still don't know if anyone will care to listen.  But I'd like to be able to say that I gave them the chance anyway...  Even if it's just my own kids some day, laughing about how their dad used to write love songs.  Even if it's just my self, listening back when I'm old and tired.

Filed under: blog 10 Comments
4Jan/162

Nights and Weekends

I took some time over my winter holiday to write a couple songs and record a few quick demos of them.  This is the first thing that I came up with.  It is admittedly very specific to my own situation, but maybe somebody else will hear something familiar in these experiences.

I was only afforded one day to work on this demo, so it is very sparse.  Still, the song is in there, and I felt that it was better to do something, if even something small, rather than nothing at all.

Nights And Weekends

Lately I've been losing sleep
Counting the dollars that I need.
Since I was born the world told me
A man is made to suffer.

And so I gave up on what I love,
Sold my guitars and got a job,
Some nights and weekends I still sing, but
My voice feels like another's.

Still I know
We can't have it all,
But if I could, I'd have my songs,
And I wouldn't have to beg for crumbs.
I'd claim no shame for being an artisan.

Still I know
We all take the fall,
And if you haven't yet, someday you will.
The things you loved will grow to feel
Petty and small.

And the endless groove of time
Keeps moving on
But you won't.

Lately I've been worse than dead.
I swear, once I was talented,
But now I do as my master bids--
I'm a slave, but I don't like it.

And maybe art is common sense.
Yeah, maybe love is just pretend.
Oh, maybe engineering wins...
If death is what you're after.

Still I know
We can't have it all.
There's a choice to make
So make it well.
You can give your days to something real
Or something false.

Still I know
We all take the fall.
Whether it's out of fear
Or a lack thereof,
We each will veer from the life we loved
Towards our wants.

And the endless groove of time
Keeps moving on
But you won't.

So give your life
To that which takes you home.
And spend your time
With those who make you feel whole.

Don't think of what
Other path you gave up
Because only love
Can grow.

27Apr/152

A Thought Before Bed

Sentinel

Life will not break clean
It will not be fair or right
But always true.

So lean into circumstance
As against a punishing wind
And when stillness arrives
Be present to greet it.

For you will have little choice
Over what happens
Yet full control over how--

Slight power to shape fate
But enough strength still
To carry the world.

Filed under: blog 2 Comments
21May/143

Immovable (Song Demo)

I write a lot of breakup songs, but that's not to say that I've had a lot of girlfriends. I just spend entirely too much time living in the past...

Immovable

Tell me, was it true?
Did I really make you happy?
Or were you just pretending all along?

Cause now I'm looking back
And I can't remember where it happened
How you started crying
Help me find the place where our love went wrong

Because I've never given up on something beautiful
I've never walked away from someone true
So if it's like you say
And your heart's become immovable
I'll just spend my whole life standing next to you
I would spend my whole life standing next to you

Tell me how I'm wrong
Help me find the path towards better
In disappointing you I have failed me, too

I only ever wanted
To make you feel warm and happy
Even in the stormy weather
Help me turn these grey skies back to blue

Because I've never given up on something beautiful
I've never walked away from someone true
So if it's like you say
And your heart's become immovable
I'll just spend my whole life standing next to you
I would spend my whole life standing next to you

'Cause I don't think that love is just
A spreadsheet to be added up
And when the number's red
You let it go

No, I've been taught you try your best
You give your whole heart and nothing less
Then trust that in love's arm's you've found a home
'Cause in my faithfulness I'm immovable

I've never given up on something beautiful
I've never walked away from someone true
So, if it's like you say
And your heart's become immovable
I'll just spend my whole life standing next to you
I would spend my whole life standing next to you...

 

Filed under: blog 3 Comments
24Apr/144

The One I Wanted (Song Demo)

I spent the last three years with a beautiful woman who helped me find strength, sanity and stability. Even while other aspects of my life were crumbling all around, I could count on her to be steadfast and level-headed.

One day, while we were talking, she asked me why I'd never written her a song. "Because you never made me need one," I told her, "I only write when I'm hurt, and you make me happy".

Eventually, she decided to go her own way, and I wound up writing that song (though perhaps not the type she'd wanted). I wish it could have been a more joyous tune, because she deserves one, but I've never been much inclined to play music while the sun's shining.

The One I Wanted

First, I was your friend
Then, I was your lover
I would have loved you till the end
If you’d only let me under your skin
But I never bought you roses
And I never held your hand
Guess I should have let you know that
You were in my every plan

Now I’m back on the edge of hope
I’ve been here before
I’m back on the edge of hope
But somehow, now
It feels much worse

Cause you were the only one I wanted
You were the only one I loved
You are the high
I will judge the others by
And I know that they’ll all fall short
‘Cause I’m bonded
To the one I wanted

Don’t think I’m just afraid
To be out on my own
It’s easy enough for me
To find someone to take home
And I know I’ve got a good life
Yeah, I’ve got all that I need
But really, what’s a good life
Without something to believe?

Now I’m back on the edge of hope
I’ve been here before
I’m back on the edge of hope
But somehow, now
It feels much worse

Cause you were the only one I wanted
You were the only one I loved
You are the high
I will judge the others by
And I know that they’ll all fall short
‘Cause I’m bonded
To the one I wanted

You were the one that I wanted

In the cold of the night
There’s a certain type of hope
And it is always alive
Even when we’re dead and gone
So, that’s how my love
For you will go on
Yeah, that’s how my love
For you will go on

Cause you were the only one I wanted
You were the only one I loved
You are the high
I will judge the others by
And I know that they’ll all fall short
‘Cause I’m bonded
To the one I wanted...

Filed under: blog 4 Comments
18Apr/146

The Chosen One (Song Demo)

Last year, I went back to school, and I haven't had any free time for songwriting. This week, however, I am on spring break.  So, I decided to forgo any fun beach adventures and lock myself in the studio.

This first song is what I call a "threshold" effort. Whenever I haven't written for a long time, I need to warm-up by composing something crappy. So, that's what The Chosen One is to me: an exercise that cleared the way for more inspired work...

Still, I hope somebody out there will enjoy it anyway. :)

The Chosen One

The smell of smoke and alcohol
The chipped black paint thick on the walls
A girl I’ve never met before
Says she knows me well
Like I was made for her

Then the drummer starts to play
All the fans take out their phones
And they point them at our faces
Just like loaded guns

I sing:

I am not The Chosen One
I am just a guy who wrote some songs
No, I am not The Chosen One
And I’m sorry if I let you down
Or led you on
Fate must have
Some kind of strange sense of humor
To have fashioned a pop singer
Out of a crooner
No, I am not The Chosen One
I’m the chooser

Five years have passed
Since I left that stage
I don’t look back
Still, I can’t escape
The feeling that
I’ve lost my place
Nor the doubts that hatched
When I turned and walked away

I still strum my old guitar
But that drummer moved out of state
Yeah, I think he’s got a family, now
And I’m still stuck in L.A.

Because

I am not The Chosen One
I am just a guy who wrote some songs
I am not The Chosen One
And I’m sorry if I let you down
Or led you on
Fate must have
Some kind of strange sense of humor
To have fashioned a pop singer
Out of a crooner
No, I am not The Chosen One

I’m the chooser
And I will choose happiness
For happiness’ sake
I am the only one to blame
When things don’t seem to go my way
It’s my way…

So, now I look upon my luck
With gratitude
And strength enough
To serve the world
From which I sprang
And to sing the songs
That I was meant to sing

Because a day is just a day
Until you make it worth your while
And I hope to help my friends stay well
With an honest smile

Because in a way I am The Chosen One
Even though I’m just a guy who wrote some songs
In a way I am The Chosen One
If the music that I sing helps people move along
Fate must have a pretty strange sense of humor
To reveal our greatness once we’ve earned it and no sooner
In a way I’m The Chosen One and the chooser

So when life breaks you down
And your soul’s fought a bruiser
Don’t you ever tap out
There’s always hope in the future
Cause in a way you’re The Chosen One
And the chooser

In a way you’re The Chosen One as the chooser
You are The Chosen One when you’re the chooser.

 

Filed under: blog 6 Comments