Week 179 // Land of Giants

April 21st, 2014

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Answer to
Answer to
No one else

Compromise
Compromise
Nothing at all

Acquiesce
Acquiesce
Never again

Think about
Think about
What you done

Nothing, it’s nothing, it’s nothing
It’s everyone
Nothing, it’s nothing, it’s nothing
It’s everyone else

But your mind starts to go
‘Cause you’re thinking too fast
And maybe you’re wrong
Or maybe it’s, Maybe it’s, Maybe it’s
Everyone
Or maybe it’s, Maybe it’s, Maybe it’s
Everyone else

You’ve stumbled upon
This land of giants
And named yourself king

You’ve climbed to the top
Of the mightiest anthill
Declared yourself
You are their king

And the time starts to go
‘Cause you’re bleeding too fast
And you know something’s wrong
And you feel yourself
Feel yourself
Feel yourself fading
And thinking of
Dreaming of
Counting on everyone else

You’ve stumbled upon
This land of giants
And named yourself king

You’ve climbed to the top
Of the mightiest anthill
Declared yourself
You are their king

Notes
This week’s song is about the pitfalls of stubbornness. This is something that I know a lot about because I’ve been stubborn my whole life. The problem with stubbornness is that it is an isolating stance. You’ve got to budge for somebody, or after a while nobody is likely to budge for you. Reliance on friends and family has been a running thread on this site for a while, and particularly lately. This song insists that if you take the isolating stance you are doomed, and at the last minute you’ll know you’re wrong, which for a stubborn person is the worst imaginable fate. It is better to soften you’re position along the way and be right about the big stuff.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

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Week 178 // I Think This Boat Is Sinking

April 14th, 2014

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I think this boat is sinking
Sailing away
You said it’s not a problem
Just relax

And you know my time is precious
Especially when I
Decide it’s fine to waste it
Goodness knows

And I’ve never been a nice guy
Especially when you
Were sure I was the nice guy
That ain’t me

You should have heard the things that
I’ve thought about you when
You thought you caught me smiling
How about that?

Notes
I saw the title and opening line of this week’s song scrawled on the wall of a coffee shop bathroom last week. I see lots of things scrawled on bathroom walls, but for whatever reason I took a picture of this one. I think I liked the way the letters in the word “sinking” were following a downward arc, as if they themselves were on the boat. I thought it would be nice to use this line as a springboard for a new song, so that’s what I set out to do this week. I tried to follow my instincts about what the line’s original author might have been reaching for with the boat metaphor. A boat carries people, like friendships and relationships carry people, so if the boat is sinking, perhaps somebody was in the midst of the end of one of those. I put my head in that space, and what came out was kind of mean, but realistically, friendships and relationships rarely end nicely. It actually felt good to write something mean though. Since this song is about somebody else’s friendship or relationship, I didn’t need to hold back for fear of attacking a real person in my life. That’s not to say I haven’t been in this place before. This is a song about trying your best to act nice, when nothing you’re thinking is nice at all.

To my friends and family who have been emailing and texting me to make sure that I’m alive these past several Mondays, and to my listeners losing patience in the middle of the day, I offer the following disclaimer: for the next month and a half or so, expect Mount Everest songs to be posted late on Monday Evening. That takes us through the end of the current semester of my graduate program, and this project just fits best into my life that way for the time being.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

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Week 177 // Don’t Hate Your Hat

April 7th, 2014

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You think…
Let’s give it all away
Let’s be somehow new
But is that a good thing?

To turn around like that
To turn from yourself
What would you be like then?

Like on a sunny day
You’d turn toward the light
But would you still need it?

Or on a chilly afternoon
You’d reach for your hat
And realize you hate it

Say you want to excavate the past
Say you’ve got to contemplate your role
Say you need to validate some void
Say you’d love to find the thing you’ve lost

It’s true
You’re thinking hasty now
You cling to yourself
But is that a good thing?

How about a measured way
To reach for the door
And see what’s behind it?

Say you want to excavate the past
Say you’ve got to contemplate your role
Say you need to validate some void
Say you’d love to find the thing you’ve lost

Notes
You might remember that last week I began a new initiative to combat the pervasive reliance upon rhyming in western songwriting. A funny thing happened on only my second attempt: I totally failed. This song obviously rhymes (excavate, contemplate, validate), and what’s funny is that I completely didn’t mean to let that happen. I noticed it only after the song was complete. I thought about going back and reworking that section of the song, to stick to the new rule I’m trying out, but I decided against it. This song makes my initial point better as it is. Rhyming is so dominant in our cultural ear, I could not go two weeks without doing it accidentally. No matter, I’ll try again next week.

This song is about wanting so badly to better yourself, you forget the things about you that you ought to keep. Everything in good measure!… perhaps that’s what my subconscious is trying to tell me about songs that rhyme…

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

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Week 176 // All the Times I Might Have Lost

March 31st, 2014

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So now I’m closing in on
A truth that has some traction
Of How erased I might have been

I know it’s still my twenties
But it don’t feel much like them
Hey what’s that feel like anyway?

And all my friends remind me
Of all the times I needed them
And ain’t it crazy they’re in the world?

And I know that all the times I might have lost
I’ve owed my luck to someone who
Refused to look the other way

I don’t know what I wanted
And who knows when I wanted it?
But the suspense it gets to you…

And then the future’s like this
Old friend you can’t catch up to
A voice that whispers in your ear

It whispers all about the
Unsatisfied and restless ways
One tends to move from space to space

And I know that all the times I might have lost
I’ve owed my luck to someone who
Refused to look the other way

Notes
Sometimes I find it helpful to impose restrictions upon myself while making up songs. Rules are good for creativity, I think (for example, I’m sure some of you remember last autumn’s ‘sub-project’ during which I limited myself to one instrument per song for a few months). Lately I’ve been thinking about rhyming. Yes it’s true that some song writers can turn a great phrase without imposing any recognizable rhyme scheme (I’m thinking of Matt Berninger, of the wonderful and challenging band The National), but it’s also true that statistically speaking, close enough to 100% of songs ever recorded rhyme, so married is our cultural ear to rhyming’s symmetry. It’s strange to me for this to be so. It isn’t anything like the way we speak, and poetry freed itself from this universal constraint generations ago. Many poets think of it as the territory of children’s limericks, and nursery rhymes. I think I’ve done songs in the past without rhyming, but I’m not sure there was any real intentionality behind them, so for a little while I’m going to give it up, starting today. My new restriction is to lift song-writing’s most persistent one, at least for a while. If anything in this song sounds like it rhymes to you, I assure you it was unintentional. I merely wrote what I intended to say, which turned out to be a little meditation on friendship, the future, and the help that I got in the past that makes my future possible.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

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Week 175 // Australopithecus

March 24th, 2014

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Moving and shaking like everyone
With your two feet on the ground
You walk around
Amazed that your mind is freed
But if you need someone to lean on
You don’t need to look so far
That’s something
You hang on to what you need

Would have have believed
When you started
We’d be standing up next to you
Oh darlin’
If anything leaves you so downhearted
We’ll be standing up next to you
Oh darlin’

You wrestle with nothing and everything
You’ve evolved to feel the weight
Yeah, it’s trouble
But your truth is a higher state
And if you struggle for what to believe in
You don’t need to look so far
We’ve got troubles
That’s something
We can relate

Would have have believed
When you started
We’d be standing up next to you
Oh darlin’
If anything leaves you so downhearted
We’ll be standing up next to you
Oh darlin’

Notes
I’m switching it up this week after a pretty lengthy run of acoustic numbers. This song doesn’t have a single real instrument in it. In “Australopithecus” I’m singing about how we’re all still evolving. Our primate ancestors did a pretty important thing many many years ago, which was to start standing up on two feet. This freed our hands to grasp the world in a new way, and (eventually) our minds to grow and wonder and create. Evolution doesn’t happen to individuals, it happens to populations. We’re still a lot like Australopithecus. Some of us are learning to stand up, as it were. We’re changing and evolving as people, and like our ancestors, we’re doing it together. We help each other out. We stand side by side. Just as we always have, for eons, we steady each other.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

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Week 174 // Faith in Reason

March 17th, 2014

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There in a silver train
You felt the walls moving in
Like your second skin
Against the pouring rain

And you never understood
Why its getting pretty late
For revisions to your fate
And it don’t feel too good

And I had a little dream
I saw a city like a monster’s claw
Digging deeper into everything

And what’s to believe in?
That’s a lot of faith
To place in reason
What’s to believe in?
That’s a lot of faith
You place in reason

And I shine a little light
It barely gets ten feet
‘Till it’s swallowed up and eaten
By the glowing night

And on the precipice of day
You see in black and white
It’s strange you don’t admit you see
It’s straining against shades of gray

You see the rising sun
You see it spilling all its colors like blood
From a cut and touching everyone

And what’s to believe in?
That’s a lot of faith
To place in reason
What’s to believe in?
That’s a lot of faith
To place in reason

Notes
This week’s song is a bit tricky to get ahold of, because I wrote it much less with a particular lyrical objective in mind, and with far more of an open-ended approach. There are some nice turns of phrase here, but my heart really went into the guitar this week. I plucked at this song all week like a kind of mantra, and only today did I try to sing it. Meaning can be gleaned more I can explicitly assign it to this song. That’s probably okay, since I can sometimes over-explain songs in these write-ups. Here’s what I do know: it sounds sad, so it probably is, and color represents hope even though it bleeds from a wound toward the end of the song.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

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Week 173 // Little Rain

March 10th, 2014

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Screaming at the top of your lungs
It got you nowhere but you did it alright
Yeah
And you can look at it however you want
You’ll never make it under cover in time
No, but…

It’s just a little rain
It’s just a little rain, yeah
You get a little wet, so what?

I used to feel it clouding over at night
I used to put myself together with glue
Yeah
You know I must have been a serious sight
I’d have to worry what the weather would do
But now…

It’s just a little rain
A little bit of rain, yeah
You get a little wet, so what?

Never have you melted away
Never ever have you fallen apart, no
Never never have you drowned in the rain
And can you think of any reason to start?
No

Notes
This week we’ve got another in a string of simple, quiet little songs. It’s partly out of necessity, given how little time I’ve got for music these days, but secretly I revel in the opportunity to pen these little ones. Also, many people tell me that their favorite songs on this site are the understated ones, the ones I sometimes considered after thoughts, so who knows what gems I might get my hands on as a result of going back to school, and neglecting this website (for lack of a better word).

The idea here is simple, as there isn’t so much space for a large one. Our stresses and aversions are of our own devising, and when we decide they don’t bother us, they stop being stresses and aversions. That’s all.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

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Week 172 // Glass Houses

March 3rd, 2014

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Everyone lives in a glass house
Everyone burns their light at the same time
Everyone shifts as they dream about
Everyone else who’s standing in the same line
And no one has figured out
Their house is such we can see inside

Everyone lives in a glass house
And everyone learns their pain in the same kind
Everyone smash and careen about
Everyone love like burning anywhere they find
And no one has figured out
Their walls so clear we can see inside

Everyone lives in a glass house
And everyone holds the stone to defy their kind
And everyone curse as they think about
Maybe they learn too late what is in their mind
And no one has figured out quite yet
Their heart we can see inside

Everyone lives in a certain state
Everyone knows the truth that they dare not say
That everyone’s life is a sweet slight breeze
And everyone wills the chance they’ll disturb the leaves

Notes
I’ve written the opposite of this song a couple of times — plenty of songs about the ways in which our insulated and isolated natures confound and condemn us. This song is about the idea that perhaps our isolation is an illusion that we construct for ourselves with great effort, rather than a nature to which we are subject. Perhaps we’re so fundamentally similar to one another on a basic level, that it requires a strength of will not to be empathetic, not to see our same triumphs and tragedies happening over and over again in all of our neighbors houses. This is a song about how transparent we all are, about how people can see right into you if they choose to, but perhaps they don’t because they’re afraid it would be too much like peering into themselves.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

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Week 171 // Half Slept Dreams​/​Up Late Sleeping

February 24th, 2014

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Things I’ve said in half slept dreams
Hear the room, and sounds and things
Cautious phrase and things I’ve kept
Breach them all, the way I’ve slept

Why do I feel like
I’ve been up late sleeping?

Why does it feel like
Your hand slowly creeping

What does it mean when
Soft light, almost blinking

What does it feel like?

Someday Sunday good and strange
Come the light and breach the waves
Half slept things that I forgot
Reaching out to find the spot

Why do I feel like
I’ve been up late sleeping?

Why does it feel like
Your hand slowly creeping

What does it mean when
Soft light, almost blinking

What does it feel like?

Notes
This week’s song is sort of the opposite of a lullaby. I guess that the literal opposite of a lullaby might be an alarm, but that’s not what I’m going for here. If a lullaby is meant to soothe a person to sleep, this is meant to gently bring a person about again. It’s about the strange and elusive half dreams of waking up. It’s about mumbling in your sleep and perhaps revealing important secrets. It’s about the disorientation and ease of a pleasant morning. It’s about laying in bed and not having to get out.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

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Week 170 // Spin

February 17th, 2014

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Have I been here before?
The secret fate of everything alive
It’s so believable…
We come right back around
The day we die
Our love, and losses both
Return upon return, how many times?

You can’t resist
This thing you’re in
And it’s hard to admit
That you’re set to spin
You can’t resist
You’re alive

Are we all set in stone
But locked away from seeing that it’s so?
It ain’t the worst, you know
‘Cause everything that’s you
Is yours alone
The act of letting go
‘Cause everything you’ll do is done, It’s old

You can’t resist
This thing you’re in
And it’s hard to admit
That you’re set to spin
You can’t resist
You’re alive

Notes
This certainly isn’t the first time that I’ve written a song that comes from ideas that I saw on a TV show, but I usually don’t mention the show by name. I was recently watching the (really great) new show True Detective, on which one character’s fascination with nihilistic or at least pessimistic philosophies (bolstered by theoretical physics) is his defining preoccupation, and creates the broad thematic backdrop for the series. The idea at work is that if you could view the universe from the outside, all matter and time would flatten into a single continuous object in which everything exists in a super-position of every single moment at once (take me down internet philosophers!). As a consequence of this, human consciousness can be viewed as skimming along from position to position, everything fixed in place, predetermined. When you die, your consciousness goes around again, everything just the way it was. I’m not here to say I believe this, but it’s food for thought that I’m certainly not qualified to confirm or deny (I’m pretty sure I got into this Idea pretty enthusiastically at a dorm-room party about ten years ago). On the show, this concept is meant to illicit a sense of cosmic horror, that if you could see what we all really are, you’d go mad. But I’m not sure that I agree with that assessment. The more I think about it, there is a great comfort to be found in this cycle. Death stops really being death. Loss becomes temporary. Our failures become mere facets in a greater structure, and simultaneously our identities are solidified to the point of being written into the very fabric of the universe. I think I would take away relief from this scenario.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

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