Week 224 // Shrug It Off

March 2nd, 2015

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All the days you’d sit and wonder
If you’d amount to anything
What kind of awful nervous question
What kind of tiny way to think
You used to sing to call the thunder
You used to scowl to egg it on
You used to bare an ugly letter
Took all these years to shrug it off

Notes
I finished this song feeling pleasantly surprised. Actually, it left me with sort of a warm feeling, like I’d been sitting on something like this for a while and didn’t really know it. My process lately has been truncated, to put it delicately. When I devote fewer hours per week to making up songs, perhaps it takes a little bit longer for my most genuine ideas to percolate through the system and rise to the top. That’s not to say there haven’t been some good moments recently, because there certainly have been some. But this one has a solid simplicity that I feel truly takes advantage of the type of quick turnaround that I’ve been working with lately. It arrives, says what it means, and as soon as you’ve given it a good look it’s on its way again. I feel that’s the way a short song should be. This one is about shaky feelings about a misaligned past that seems to have resolved itself. It employs an old convention that used to be standard around here in that every time I say “you” I mean “me”… Anyhow, I sure hope you like listening to it.

~M.E.

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Week 223 // Supposing the Road and the Wind

February 23rd, 2015

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Am I carrying a light load?
No I really wouldn’t put it that way
I’m comparing sticks to stones
And mud to bones
And if you want to know
I’m apt to lose my way

And have I got a short fuse?
I guess that’s something you could say
But worry not, it ain’t for you
It’s self abuse
When every inch gets burned away

Hour after hour
Blowing back to you
Mile after mile
Spinning over me

If you have been the winding road
And I have been the sudden breeze
Then I should be the road for you
And you could be the wind for me

And will I be a good man?
Suppose there’s nothing in the way
Suppose I pray and plan
And make my mark
And understand
Suppose I never lose my way

And if we do the right things
Supposing we know what they are
Suppose we strike the strings
Let loose the choir and hear them sing
Assuming we work real hard

Hour after hour
Blowing back to you
Mile after mile
Spinning over me

If you have been the winding road
And I have been the sudden breeze
Then I should be the road for you
And you could be the wind for me

Notes
This song comes out of a contradictory state that I’ve existed in lately, one of pervasive anxiety and simultaneous relaxed certainty pertaining to the future. I didn’t really know what I was writing when I began, but what came out was surely a reflection of the mounting pressures of finishing my master’s degree by the spring, and somehow helping to plan a wedding and start a bold new future at the same time. I am certain of my course, and have an idea of what must be done, but at the same time all of the particulars completely elude me. Really, this is a song about personal upheaval and mutual support, and that is the real gift of my past year. I’ve always had the personal upheaval. It’s with most of us from day one, and it is part of the price we pay to enjoy being alive on this planet. The mutual support is something new. I’m still getting used to it, but I have to say, it’s pretty nice.

~M.E.

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Week 222 // The Cat

February 16th, 2015

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Little after midnight
Shout a little more
Early in the morning
Right beneath the floor
And it’s a lonesome mercy
That you implore
And up against the furnace
Or clawing at the door
Dreaming of the daylight
And wondering what it’s for
And it’s a mighty burden
That you endure

Notes
There is a cat trapped in the basement beneath our apartment. It is lonesome and suffering, and it wails throughout the day and night. It has done this for months, and despite dozens of phone calls and emails by my fiancĂ©e and me (she baring the brunt of this burden) the cat remains imprisoned and we remain earwitness to its sorrow. We may be inching toward a resolution to this problem. It is hard to say, as the animal is elusive of capture, and everyone we have asked for help has been less than sympathetic to both the animal’s plight and our own. At times I have cursed the little creature, as I tossed and turned in the night, unable to rest. But in the end it is a living thing, just as we are, and I cannot help but root for it. The picture accompanying this song is a photo of the small hole that serves as perhaps the cat’s only window to the outside world. From this tiny breach does it gaze at the traffic and the changing light and dream of freedom? Sometimes it pokes its little face into the hole and we can catch a brief glimpse of it. When I curse the cat in the night, I try to think of the little face in the hole. The cat is not my enemy. We are all in this together until we reach the end.

~M.E.

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Week 221 // Thinkin’ It

February 9th, 2015

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On the back of a letter in your hand
You were writing my name
In my room I could feel your through the wall
You were thinkin’ it over

Notes
Last spring I did this romantic and risky thing where I came home and confessed all kinds of nice feelings to my roommate, who has subsequently agreed to marry me. I’ve written a couple of songs about it in which the story often comes off as a bit of a parable about the value of taking chances and leading with your heart, which it most definitely is. All of those songs have left out an interesting detail, one that for some reason I thought of this evening as I sat to write a new song which (even to my surprise) set out to fill that detail in. Here is the detail: after I told her, we ended the evening still as friends. I spent the night blinking at my ceiling wondering what I’d done, and I can only assume she spent the night blinking at the ceiling wondering pretty much the same thing. Days later we started what would become our relationship, but only after a weekend spent wondering what she would do with the major revelation I had made. The memory of that first night’s suspense stays with me and holds an important lesson, which is that the real thing takes work and careful attention. She gave it just that, and we’ve continued to do so ever since. I think it’s a better story than the simple parable where everything goes just like you’d expect.

~M.E.

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Week 220 // Impossible

February 2nd, 2015

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Things that seem impossible
Things that seem like cursin’ all around
And it’s alright right now

Things that come and raise you up
Things that raise your blood right up
And get you so down right down

Impossible
Impossible, we’re banishing the word

Things that sound like something else
Things that fool you
Getting fooled and fooled again
But it’s alright somehow

Leaving up them colored lights
Never taking down the tree
I gotta leave it leave it upright
No how

Impossible
Impossible, we’re banishing the word

Impossible
Impossible, we’re banishing the word

Notes
I’ve sat on this guitar part for many weeks. I liked it, and I was waiting for the week that I’d have time to make it something really really great. This is a tricky time of year, in a particularly tricky year. I’m not spending a lot of time with Mount Everest and that’s okay. Over the weekend I probably had time to do with this song what I wanted to do, but I didn’t really do it. I sat and fiddled around with it, avoiding taking major steps, doubtful I could bring it home. This evening as I sat to record a song, I thought I’d save this one for next week, yet again, given the impossibility of pushing this idea where it needed to go in the time I had allotted. Then it dawned on me that this song is exactly what Mount Everest is for. I’m supposed to be pushing through my ideas, especially when I’m stuck. I’m not supposed to be treating my ideas as precious. I’m supposed to be releasing them into the wild, not guarding them. So I wrote it, and it isn’t what I imagined weeks ago when I fiddled with it for the first time. But that doesn’t matter, because it is pretty, and perhaps even a little poignant in its best moments. More importantly, it exists, and that is its most sacred duty as one of my weekly songs. Onward to next week. See you then.

~M.E.

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Week 219 // What the Silence Means

January 26th, 2015

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On our vast and crowded islands
Huddled fast against the storm
It’s hard to reckon what your truth is
And wait in line for something warm
You gotta hold on to something good

And on the eve of cataclysm
You hear how still the night can be
You gotta wonder about the silence
You’ve gotta linger on what it means
You gotta hold on to something good

Notes
The bodegas are all sold out of bread. The liquor store has a line around the block. Modell’s is selling record numbers of winter boots, and Rebecca and I have canceled our evening plans in favor of hunkering down and avoiding what would surely have been a most frustrating subway journey. The denizens of this fair city have soggy socks. The blizzard has arrived. I skim social media and read sensational stories about the storm of the century. Yes it is snowing out, but surely the apocalyptic rhetoric is overblown, right? I skim again, and see the cynics scoffing at our collective panic; this is winter — it is supposed to snow. As a son of New England, the land where men, women, and children laugh in the face of nor’easters, I am sympathetic to the cynics. However, I look around New York, and it is as plain as the nose on the Old Man in the Mountain (RIP) that not all is well. Sensational as reports might be, many New Yorkers lack the simple resources to weather this storm. You can see them everywhere you look, seeking solace on warm exhaust vents, in subway cars, and under flimsy awnings. If you find yourself scoffing at sensational reports of a historic storm of biblical proportions, consider your station. If you have what you need, and this storm is a cakewalk, be thankful, not cynical. Be safe and stay warm.

~M.E.

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Week 218 // A Trick in the Dark

January 19th, 2015

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Almighty our god
Is an angry old man
With his hand in his pocket
And his gun in that hand
And if he pulls it on you
You’ll be dead where you stand
so think of that
When you’re saying your prayers

Almighty our god
Is a lamp in the sky
And if you tell enough friends
You’ll switch on when you die
Yeah if you tell enough people
You’ll spend eternity high
So think of that
When you speak to your friends

Halleluja

Almighty our god
Is a word you can’t say
And should he rise to your lips
You must push him away
‘Cause he is jealous and vengeful
And we like him that way
‘Cause he is ours
And says we’re not wrong

Halleluja

but hold on a minute…

Almighty our god
Is a trick in the dark
And although it is hard
We’ll light up with a spark
That revenge isn’t love
And that a god who embarks
On revenge
Is a god who is not love

Notes
What this song is not: an indictment of all religion, belief, practice, or doctrine. What this song is: a critique of many popular religions, beliefs, practices, and doctrines. In the faith of my upbringing, god is love. God cannot both be love and anger. God cannot be both love and divisiveness through superiority of one group over another. God cannot be both love and petty jealousness. God cannot be both love and damning of kind people who disagree on god’s nature or existence. God cannot be both love and damning at all. God cannot be both love and the reason to fight a war. God cannot be both love and an excuse to discriminate against, persecute, and systematically disenfranchise marginalized groups. God cannot possibly be both love and vengeance.

I am unequipped to say what god is. I don’t know that god is anything. I do know that the only god worthy of any of my attention would have to be a loving one. The god I hear people talking about out there is most often not a loving one. I’m thinking hard on this one.

~M.E.

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Week 217 // Join the Conversation

January 12th, 2015

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Join the conversation
Listen up, god knows
They could jaw for hours
And they’d never know
There’s a topic bleeding
On the ice and snow
Join the conversation
And let nothing go

And what are you
But the point you make?

That’s your conscience fading
Knocking at your door
There’s an outcome waiting
And it isn’t yours

Notes
It seems that the deeper our problems grow (our problems as a civilization, that is) the more superficial our discourse becomes. It’s bad out there, and precious few people seem to have anything of substance to say about it. That’s what I’m singing about in this song, and unfortunately (or perhaps fittingly) the song is characteristic of the discourse it is critical of. It offers nothing but to say that if you aren’t a part of the conversation, you’re a part of the problem. It advances no cause other than discourse. It stakes no claim other than that better claims must be staked.

I had a lot of fun with the drum and bass programming on this number, making a couple of moments really go, while keeping it extremely simple. There are also a couple of useful moments on the guitar. The track is stylish; I only wish I’d had more to say about how preciously little anyone has to say that’s worth saying. I’ll try again later on down the line, I’m sure.

~M.E.

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Week 216 // The Year

January 5th, 2015

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On the morning that I woke up
Convinced that this would be the year
Come on, what a notion
Little whispers in my ear

Light and radiant on the highway
I never realized what it meant
Come on, what a notion
That every second lived is spent
So come on

Burning down the country fire
And knowing for a fact this moment’s real
Come on, what a notion
So many moments we could steal
So come on

Notes
Hello out there! Happy New Year! The year is already five days old, but this is the first Everest track of 2015, so I’m still coasting on the optimism and good times of what has always been my favorite holiday. I know a lot of you must be groaning, because every year I come on this blog and sing and write and pontificate about how great the new year is because it represents renewal, and second chances, and the importance of our brief light in the ever progressing march of time and on and on and yadda yadda yadda. Well this year is no different, and since this going to be a big year for me, I’m kicking it off with a fun little number that is meant to herald the year to come, and to take stock of its fleeting moments as precious commodities to be held and cherished. Wherever this song finds you out there, and whatever shape your life is taking, I wish you a new year worth holding on to.

~M.E.

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Week 215 // But Wait

December 29th, 2014

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Like the moon in the night sky
I been waiting for you
Lit up by your sunshine
Far away from you

All alone on the last night
I been thinking of you
Way off in the sun rise
Nothing else I can do
But wait

Notes
This quiet meditation is the final song of the three that I wrote and recorded in the week preceding Rebecca’s return. Its calm and simplicity put a period on that week’s creative exploration, as well as the wait itself, since It was recorded on the final morning before she came home. It is in contention for the title of shortest Mount Everest song, but I lack the desire to verify its status. It is every thing it should be though; a momentary punctuation to a much larger sentiment.

Included is an unrelated photograph from my older brother, Eben. I’ve posted it here because I like it, and because Eben’s photography deserves wider circulation. More of his photographs can be seen at renaissancedilettante.com.

I hope this week’s song finds you all fat and happy from a holiday season well spent with friends and loved ones. This is the final Mount Everest song of 2014, which turned out to be a big year for me. Here’s hoping you all enjoy peace, prosperity, love, and kindness in the year to come. Sing Auld Lang Syne with great gusto, and raise a glass to old friends this New Year, then pat yourself on the back for completing another lap around the sun. Great job!

~M.E.

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