Week 426 // From a Distance

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From a distance
It is crooked and out of place
And the center gets away
Hold your face to the wind
Hold your face to the wind
This is the way it feels
This is the way it feels
When the corners finally meet
When the edges fade

From a distance
It is answering for itself
It is looking out for itself
Hold your face to the wind
Hold your face to the wind
This is the way it feels
This is the way it feels
When the corners finally meet
When the edges fade

Notes
Rebecca and I headed a little bit upriver over the weekend to reconnect in between the madness of her law school semesters, and to get out of the city for a little while. While we were away, I snapped a picture of the majestic and sparkling Hudson, with Manhattan poking its gnarled underbite over the horizon. I have sung a few times of the view from the outside. My adopted home city is ever a perplexing subject to me. No matter how comfortable I get here, I will still need to reckon with it in the words of my songs. This one is about getting out in order to find each other, and the cool gust of wind in the relief when we do.

~M.E.

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Week 425 // Taking the Stairs Two by Two

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Getting it all figured out
Having it there in your hand
Every one of us is
Keeping it all like it’s been
Making it look like it did
Every one of us is
Every one of us is
Every one of us is
Every one of us is running
Out of time

Bowing my head as I walk
Taking the stairs two by two
Every one of us is
Smudging the words with our thumbs
Holding the page at its edge
Every one of us is
Every one of us is
Every one of us is
Every one of us is running
Out of time

Sunshine on our faces
No failing can erase this

Notes
I’m turning back to the electric guitar for the first time in many many moons on this project. I had been feeling like I was neglecting my beautiful Telecaster, so my folks gave me a nice little practice amp from Orange for Christmas. It offers some pretty cool tones, especially for a small package. I thought I’d mic it up and hear what came out of it this week. Thanks Mom and Dad!

This is a song about keeping pace with the shifting landscape of adulthood, and failing that, keeping up appearances. It’s about rushing through moments and missing them. It’s about only seeing the the imperfections in oneself and ones efforts, then suddenly being stopped in ones tracks by the splendor of the sun. Nobody can take the sun from you.

~M.E.

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Week 424 // Orbit (3)

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It starts in the morning
Dress for the moment
You’d never guess from what we see
We live near the ocean

Feel the empty room
Feel the weight of the mountain
Watch the ground implode
See the earth like a fountain
Picking the past apart
And some of it mattered

The path of an orbit
Forget that we’re turning
Forget that the end is where we start
A thing that I’m learning

Feel the calamity
Trace the shape of that feeling
Ear to the radio
Pretend that the word is worth hearing
Picking the past apart
And some of it mattered

Past is a word for people without vision
I’m worried I’m one of them
Oh the moment is ending

Feel the empty room
Feel the weight of the mountain
Watch the ground implode
See the earth like a fountain
Picking the past apart
And some of it mattered

Notes
Last week I erroneously signed off with a note that I’d see you all again in 2019. I obviously jumped the gun on that one, unless you happen to be one of my listeners on the the other side of the international date line. I’m still a few hours from the ecstatic renewal of the new year. It’s funny to be caught looking ahead when this song mostly ponders the plight of a person who focuses a bit too much on the past. Reflection is healthy, but fixation can be dangerous. New Year’s eve is a good time for looking forward.

Celebrate safely and with great joy as you bid farewell to the old year, and say howdy to the new one! See you back here in 2019.

~M.E.

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Week 423 // Orbit (2)

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You know we’ve been here before
And we’ll be here for a long while
The click and the creak of the door
And your entrance in your own style

And dear you wouldn’t believe
How wide you smiled
The moment that the notion finally struck you
But darling I digress again

I lace up my boots for the mile
And I step out raising sunshine
I watch your reflection go by
And I linger in my own time

And dear you wouldn’t believe
How wide you smiled
The moment that the notion finally struck you
But darling I digress again

Notes
A merry Christmas Eve to all of my listeners who observe that particular celebration. I’m out in Denver, Colorado with Rebecca’s family, enjoying a fine holiday visit at the foot of the Rockies, and taking in the sites and sensations of someplace new to me. I thought about penning a Christmas song, since today’s post coincides with the holiday, but that doesn’t feel like me. I’m already onto New Years, as I continue my three-song “Orbit” cycle to end out the calendar year and start the new one.

This song is about domestic life, and the comfort of its predictable aspects. As I reflect on a year that saw a lot of change in the context of my partnership, especially with Rebecca apply to law school and completing her first semester, comfortable patterns have become important touchstones to me. We can change what we do, and even who we are, while still maintaining a tether to the familiar. As I extrapolate that notion to the context of the unpredictable changes the next years and decades doubtlessly hold, I feel a great relief.

Hold your loved ones warm and tight, and I’ll catch you in 2019.

~M.E.

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Week 422 // Orbit (1)

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All of this is change
All of these are lessons
All of this is change
All of these are lessons

Lessons can be strange
Hold that thought and begin again

All of these are dreams
Some of them are questions
All of these are dreams
Some of them are questions

Questions can be strange
Hold that thought and begin again

Notes
I wrote a whole other song over the weekend. It is fairly different from this one, and I found myself unable or unwilling to finish it just yet. The guitar is in the box, ready for words I’m not quite ready to write. I wrote this song to warm up. I used similar chords with a different feel, and I aimed for a broad theme to expand upon later. I will continue to limber up with one more song, and then I’ll try to finish what I started.

Somewhat organically, I have found myself for the third time ending the calendar year with a cycle of three songs to reflect on the year that was, the change that found me, the lessons learned, and the expectation of something new. Last year I called it “End Cycle”. The year before it was “Long Year”. This year I’m calling it “Orbit”. Come back next week for part two.

~M.E.

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Week 421 // It Only Lights the Way

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It only gets you down
It only gets you down
It only gets you down
It only gets you down

It always feels the same
Can it mean the same thing?
It always feels the same
Can it mean the same thing?

It only lights the way
You still have to make it home
It only lights the way
You still have to make it home

It always feels the same
Arrival is the great reprieve
It always feels the same
Arrival is the great reprieve

And if it lifts you up
How are you to name the view?
If it lifts you up
How are you to name the view?

You won’t feel the same
You will feel the ways you change
You won’t feel the same
You will feel the ways you change
You won’t feel the same
You will feel the ways you change
You won’t feel the same
You will feel the ways you change

Notes
Change has many faces. It can be so abrupt and jarring that it leaves one disoriented, turned around, and confounded. It can also be so maddeningly gradual that it is easily mistaken for stagnation. This song sings to that second kind of change; the kind that you don’t recognize until you look back at large swaths of your life, and you finally appreciate the substance of point B in its profound contrast to that of point A. This song uses repetition to simulate the slow creep of change. It is a series of mantras with a beginning and an end.

~M.E.

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Week 420 // Fire on Neptune’s Shoulder

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The house had burned
Many years ago I think
But the stones stood like a photograph
You could look at if you blinked
You could see it if you blinked

And the mother hen
Traced her circles on the drive
And the fountain bubbled up from there
And the kitchen was alive
The way all kitchens are alive

Oh my God
It’s a miracle
I can’t believe my eyes
It always ends the same
It always ends the same as this

The wind would pull
The smoke all out to sea
The island looms like Neptune there
His shoulders are its peaks
His shoulders are its peaks

And summers fly
And the fires burn away
And the stones still like a monument
And the trees all creak and sway
The trees all creak and sway

Oh my God
It’s a miracle
I can’t believe my eyes
It always ends the same
It always ends the same as this

Notes
When Rebecca and I visited the island of Sao Miguel this summer, we were struck by the abundance of burned and abandoned structures there. In clearings and on overgrown hillsides, on mountaintops and on the edge of town, you can find them. Much of the Island’s architecture consists of beautiful stonework, so burnt homes can often be found that have retained an essence of their shape. In one particular instance, high on a mountain, accessible only by a steep and winding cobblestone road wide enough for only one car to pass at a time, a pristinely intact shell of a home revealed the life of a family to me, if only for a moment. This place returns to me from time to time, and I have tried to do it justice in this song.

~M.E.

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Week 419 // A Lot of Things on My Mind

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I have a lot of things
On my mind
Terrible things
But what does mean?
Wonderful things
What does it mean?

I have a lot of things
On my mind
Terrible things
But what does mean?
Wonderful things
What does it mean?

Notes
This week’s lyrics came to me all at once, and I didn’t really pause to ponder them before I had already finished singing the song. Listening back, this seems to be a song about anxiety, and the highs and lows of being a person. This is a song that rings through my head in the middle of the night when I am left with my thoughts, facing the ceiling in worry. We can face such terrible and wonderful corners of ourselves in the dark when the evening and the morning are both far away.

~M.E.

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Week 418 // Here

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Here is the blood in my throat
Here I am handing out notes
Here is the dilettante desperate to author

Here is the wolf in my place
Here am I baring my fangs
Here I am
I can be cruel
Did you know that?

Here is the moment I wrote down a word I could use
Here is the token I traded for lighting a fuse

Here is the canopy’s song
Here where your branches are strong
Even where the woods are all but forgotten

Here is the turn on the roof
Here are words offered as proof
Here am I
I am unclothed
I am wanted

Here am I lying awake
Now the light’s switching on
Here is the howl of the wind
As the curtains are drawn
Here is the instant the light strikes your features at dawn

Holding tight
Your smiling eyes
I’m safe here near the edge

Notes
I am so happy today to celebrate 8 years composing and recording as Mount Everest every week. I haven’t skipped a Monday in all that time, and I’m dizzy from writing songs. I am also dizzy with gratitude, which is appropriate because this Thursday will be Thanksgiving. I am grateful to my wife, my parents, my family, my collaborators, my friends, and my listeners for the tremendous support and encouragement I have continued to enjoy since the day I announced this project. As a token of my gratitude, as has been my custom, I offer this free download. It features 25 of my favorite songs from the past year.


click here, and you’ll download 25 songs for free

As I listened back to these songs, I couldn’t help but reflect on how profoundly this project has changed in recent years. When I was an exuberant young buck, I used to throw everything including the kitchen sink at each new entry. My arrangements were maximalist and elaborate. It suited those songs, and it suited me.

Since I’ve scaled back my arrangements, I have often received questions about Mount Everest. Most of them seem to gesture (kindly enough as possible) toward the notion that perhaps I’m less engaged than I’ve previously been, or maybe even less interested. I don’t mind the question. I usually answer that I simply don’t have as much time as I previously had to devote to this project. That’s not really the whole truth.

The truth is that I am writing the songs that are meaningful to me now, and I have changed a lot in the last eight years. As I retraced the steps of my last year’s writing in order to pick my favorites, I heard perhaps the first yearly collection that felt like a cohesive whole since I started this project. My approach to writing feels focused. Sometimes that’s just a kind way to say that my songs get a bit repetitive, but for the most part these selections feel fresh to me. Yes, the recordings and performances are rougher because my time is more divided, and over the course of the year there were perhaps a few more weeks mixed in that I’d deem “duds”, but those are a part of this project and always have been. I’m so excited about this new collection, and I hope you enjoy listening to it.

As for today’s new song, I remained true to the year’s writing and stayed unplugged for the closer. I focused on melody and harmony. I tried to create moments. I made an abandoned first attempt at the lyrics wherein I fretted over encroaching fascism in the United States. It had very little of myself in it, so I started over. The revised version traces my steps from the throat injury that derailed my rock and roll dreams in 2009, to my honeymoon this past summer. The terrain it covers accounts for the difference between the author of Mount Everest Year One and that of Year Eight.

Thanks for being here. Hang tight. I’ll have another one next Monday.

Love,
Jesse

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Week 417 // A Minute to Remember

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Remember the darkest day in November
Take a minute to yourself to remember
Think of the coldest day in November
Take a minute alone to remember

Imagine the conversation
Remember the conversation
Think of the things that you walked away knowing

Remember the darkest day of the season
Take a few minutes to think of your reasons
Remember the coldest night of the season
Take a few minutes and think of your reasons

Remember the conversation
Remember the conversation
Think of the things that you walked away knowing

Notes
This song is take #2 of a one mic recording session. That means there were no overdubs, and everything you’re hearing was recorded at the same time by the same microphone. I’ve done this a bit more often lately, allowing for performance and its inconsistencies to come through, rather than opting for the control offered by multiple takes and overdubs. While I like the authenticity, I’m afforded a more limited ability to iron out vocal mistakes and pitchy passages. I stand a lot more exposed. Here I am.

The lyrics gesture toward some past moment of turbulence in the month of November. If I’m honest, I can’t pinpoint what that was. The temperature drop and time change gesture toward a turbulent moment, so I shepherded that feeling toward a song. I’m certain it speaks to somebody’s reality.

We’re a week away from another anniversary for Mount Everest. In a week, I’ll mark eight years behind the microphone, singing songs for you. I hope you’ll join me.

~M.E.

P.S. Stan Lee died today. Stan taught me to love my imagination, to treasure diversity and that which makes us each unique, and to believe in the possibility of impossible things. His was the most uninhibited imagination of the twentieth century. He was an Imaginaut and I’ll ever be his disciple. Excelsior, Stan! You’re in the stars now.

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