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Week 193 // The Rest of Your Life (You Can Call Me Hal)

July 28th, 2014

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This I know little friend
The rest of your life
Is a poem
You’re about to write
And every word you choose
Is up to you
So take your time

And on the day you were born
I looked to the sky
It opened up
Oh so wide
And maybe just as wide
Somewhere
You opened up your eyes
And you took it in

Little friend, Listen up
The rest of your life
Is a train
You’re about to ride
And all aboard!
The whistle’s blowin’
Kid this is your time

And everywhere the wide world
Is waiting on you
To come around
And to say your truth
The way you look upon
This restless world, like you,
Will be brand new
You gotta look around

Notes
Welcome to the world, Hal! This past week a bouncing baby boy was born to my big brother and sister-in-law out in Santa Cruz. Never could such a momentous occasion go unmarked on this website. It was the happiest of days for our family, and while vast distances will prevent me from meeting my new nephew for a little while, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be getting to know the sound of my voice, and there’s absolutely no reason that I can’t be telling him from afar what an exciting and limitless life awaits him here on Earth. I thought about writing him a lullaby, but then I thought again. I want to encourage this boy to open his eyes wider, rather than closing them to the world around him. This is a fast and bumpy little song, so I enlisted the help of Rebecca Horton to smooth it out with some harmonies. I think it did the trick.

So Hal, this song is yours, written for you on a beach three thousand miles from your home, and performed with love by people who can’t wait to meet you.

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

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Week 192 // Season Of

July 21st, 2014

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Out in the clearing
On a moonless night
Keeping vigil
By a dim dim light

If a good woman’s
In a season of pain
A fortunate man
Will try to carry the same

I dirtied my hands

Reaching into the Earth
A city of strangers
Aught to show you your worth

She drew an old line
Around the wind and the rain
An innocent moment
In a season of pain

Water is rising
What a serious stretch
And all the hairs standing
On the back of your neck

Asleep like an angel
With your demons about
Takes all that I got
Not to carry you out

Oh what I wouldn’t give
To be alone with you now
Standing moonless in the clearing
and you’re with me anyhow

She drew an old line
Around the wind and the rain
A veteran soldier
In a season of pain

A city with a curtain drawn
A city with a wall
A clearing with a fire burning
Go ahead, cleanse it all

She drew an old line
Around the wind and the rain
A point worth proving
In a season of pain

Notes
What we’ve got here is a song about wishing you could take on somebody else’s pain, only to realize that not only is pain a solipsistically personal thing, but that the particular person in pain possesses a vastness of strength and resolve accumulated over a life’s experience of weathering previous such ordeals. Being on the outside of pain is strange and disorienting, but it is also an experience in which one can recognize that even though a loved one’s experience pushes the boundaries of empathy, their truest and most admirable qualities are revealed in agonizingly human moments.

Instrumentally, this song was a lesson in letting go. While writing this song, I had some interesting and intricate clavichord parts from which all of my other ideas sprang. I was precious about them until it came time to mix the track, when I realized they had to go for the sake of the song. I miss their texture and their harmonies, but they crowded a song that simply needed to breathe. It’s better this way.

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

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Week 191 // Electric Light

July 14th, 2014

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Everyone’s burning electric light
Oh the lengths that people go to
Just to see in the dark

Since when is that the world on top of us?
If we squeeze a little harder
We could break it apart

You don’t believe it
Even with the world in stereo
Where could we start?

In electric light
Shining down
Constantly

Felt a little teeny little drop of rain
Wish the sky would just open up
And let it all out

And I believe that
Not a solitary human being
Woulds stifle a shout

In electric light
All around
God it burns
Let it out
World it turns
Bring it down
Shine on me

Notes
Nobody quite agrees on precisely what development in human history gave rise to modernity. I think there’s a fair argument to be made that it was the introduction of the electric light. Gone was the darkness, and with it sense-uncertainty. People learned to trust their sight above all other senses, and seeing became synonymous with believing, even when our sight betrays us, which is more often then we’d ever admit. No more incredulous an utterance can be emitted than “I can’t believe my eyes,” because we always believe them, no matter what they are telling us. Arcade fire put it better than me when they sang “I need the darkness, someone please cut the light.” Instead I implore the light to shine even though I know it isn’t good for me, because as moderns we prefer false certainty to even a moment’s darkness, which is agonizingly open to interpretation.

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

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Week 190 // Crows Nest

July 7th, 2014

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The air is so much lighter here
When I try to breath
Back where I’ve come from
Something’s in the way

And when I think about the constant miles
My thoughts skip to my love
Who answers oh so far away

And there’s something in the atmosphere
I can taste it
Mixing hopes and fears
And possibilities

And I think I’ll sit and rest a while
Where all I’ve got to do
Is play these chords and taste the breeze

The stars shine so much brighter here
When they try to shine
Back where I’ve come from
Something’s in the way

My love is in the atmosphere
It’s drifting on a note
And right back down to you
So far away

Notes
One of my favorite things about trips to spend time with my friends is that there’s always somebody eager to sit with me for a while and pluck out a new Mount Everest song. Frequently I’m lucky enough for that person to be Alex Selby who makes his umpteenth performance on this site playing lead guitar on this week’s song. This song is heavily infused with place. We recorded it in the airy crows nest of a beautiful old house hugging the craggy Maine coastline. You can hear the ocean. You can hear the sounds of our friends down below us, enjoying each other and the sunny day. You can hear our mistakes, but none of them matter. The space breathes, so we thought we’d allow the song to breathe as well, focusing on the guitars and the space rather than words. As such, the vocals come in late, and speak simply. This song takes its time, just as we took our time to sit with it, and in my opinion it just works.

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

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Week 189 // Plastic

June 30th, 2014

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So everyone cries when they’re born
Right? At least that’s what I’m told
‘Cause keeping that in would be
An impossible thing to do

You see the trauma we all start with is honest
It’s about being exposed
And screaming it out
‘Till we’re enveloped and swaddled
It’s true that it’s the only thing we want

And do we all turn out to be conscious?
Or do we need proof
That the folks walking around
Are thinking thoughts
Just like me and like you?

Like maybe some of us turn out to be plastic
Or maybe it’s a thing we can choose
Like we can unscrew our heads
And leave them at home
And our state is improved

Notes
There’s a lot that I like happening in this week’s song, but I can’t escape the feeling that it isn’t really done. It kind of just ends where there could definitely have been another part. A crescendo escaped me as I was writing this. Oh well, that’s part of this whole thing isn’t it? The words include some half-baked musings on the trauma of childbirth, and the development of consciousness in a culture of materialism. Some attractive turns of phrase found themselves in this song, but the missing crescendo left me slightly disinterested in developing the lyrical content. What I really like about this song (as it is, not just as it might have been) is the instrumental hook. I played around with lots of ways of adding words to it, but I just liked the power in the simplicity of the melody, and how loud I could get it. It’s hot in my room with the windows closed and the fan turned off for the sake of my condenser mic. I am remembering now what Mount Everest in the summer time is like. Wish me luck braving this sauna again next week!

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

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Week 188 // Driving the Loop

June 23rd, 2014

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We drove the loop
I tried to understand the meaning
Of the years spent away

In the facade of every building
They’ve erected and
The things they displaced

And as I called a recollection up
To occupy a similar spot

It only made me more intent
On resurrecting
All the things I forgot

Is it a selfish thought
To wish the world unturnable?
It probably is

Did I construct a world in stasis?
Certain spaces?
What a terrible wish

But as a younger man
I fell in love with
Living in a place I adored

And slightly older now
And I’m amazed to find
It ain’t my place anymore

Notes
I went to college in Saratoga Springs, NY, which I hadn’t visited since early 2008 until I arrived there this weekend. Returning to a place where I once lived, and spent many formative years was wonderful, and also unbelievably strange. Obviously things there aren’t precisely how I left them (a subject that I covered a couple of years ago in Week 97 // Part of the Price to Exist, which is probably my favorite Mount Everest song). Buildings and landmarks have been taken down and replaced, and the memory of precisely what was once there is unreliable and incomplete. It’s a strange feeling, and it’s the one that I’m working through in this song. It used to be my place, but truthfully it and I have both moved on, and that’s alright. It was still wonderful to be there, and to remember what it and I both used to be.

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

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Week 187 // Gust of Wind

June 16th, 2014

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Gust of wind
Carried away
Words that I had prepared

Sunset arms
More than I mean
Reaching for each and everyone
Who fled the scene
And this I know
Just who’s on my side

Gust of wind
Carried away
Trusty old hat to my dismay

Sunset chase
More than I gave
Chasing down anything but
Symbols of my age
And this I know
Just who’s on my side

Notes
After last week’s more experimental entry, I’ve scaled back again this week to feature guitar and voice in a more intimate way. It’s a finger style tune that fits in well with its predecessors on this site. It is more of a gentle meditation than a fleshed out exploration, and as such the guitar work is searching, and the vocals are purposely timid. It is probably about intentions versus chance, and who you can really count on on. The wind will blow where it will blow. The song ends in an ellipsis.

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

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Week 186 // River Song 3

June 9th, 2014

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Up on a roof
In the lower east side
The kind of thought
That doesn’t cross your mind
That when the morning comes
You’ll change your life

And simple
Simpler than it ever seems
That kind of moonlight’s
Only in your dreams
The kind of dreams
You wake in disbelief

Swim, Swim them deep
To the bottom of the East River
Coming up together in the air

Down on the street
And now we’re buzzing around
Got tunnel vision
And I don’t hear a sound
Are we the only people
In this town?

And never
Never did I ever think
I’d live to see so many sorrows sink
Down to the murky bottom of the drink

Swim, Swim them deep
To the bottom of the East River
Coming up together in the air

Notes
This is the third song called River Song that I’ve written, and it is very different from the other two, which are very different from each other. I suppose the differences speak to the fluidity of rivers, both as bodies of water and as thematic structures. This one is a bit about dreams, a bit about romance, and a bit about finding a place to put all of your troubles (in this case, you can swim them to the bottom of the river and leave them there — not really so different, come to think of it, from the sturdy old box in which I buried them way back in Week 20, which perpetually stands as a free download on my website, in case you’re interested). This song moves a lot. It is summery and lush, and I’m pretty glad I wrote it.

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

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Week 185 // I See Everything

June 2nd, 2014

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I see everything
I see everything clearly now

Up above us
The sun’s love turning the earth somehow

And I let it go

Notes
I’ve been on a long, gentle, acoustic kick for the past several months, and this week I had the itch to play around with fake instruments and come up with something a little more layered. I kept the lyrics simple, nearly mantra-esque, in order to emphasize performance over content; stressing the grain of the voice and a few harmonies over a simple sentiment which essentially boils down to a song about nice weather. I also wanted to reacquaint myself with programming drums, and took the opportunity to approach the song rhythmically from a few different angles. I also whistled on this song, because I’m not sure why I don’t whistle on every single song. Every human being that can whistle is equipped with at least two voices. I’m not sure why I so seldom use both of mine.

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

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Week 184 // How We Got Here

May 26th, 2014

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I’m getting carried away with thoughts
And songs I might be singing
A chorus running through my mind

And all the while yonder glance you cast
And set me spinning
You get me spinning all the time

And you can think it all out loud
You know my ears are open
I’d hang on anything you say

And I would spell it out for hours
The way it set in motion
Were that a thing I could explain

But I don’t understand
How we got here
Or what it means to go this way
But it’s good

And out there standing on the stoop
You know my chest was pounding
I searched for anything to say

An early lesson struck me
Full of peace and truth resounding
I pushed the door out of the way

And if I ever knew the truth would
Taste so sweet my darling
I would have spoke it right away

Instead of weighing all the costs
I’d trust the wealth within you
I know exactly what I’d say

That I don’t understand
How we got here
Or what it means to go this way
But it’s good

Notes
Hey folks. I’m gonna keep the notes on this one short because I’m coming right up on midnight, and I’m nearly missing a Monday for the first time ever. I’m not going to do that. This song is about the rewards of telling the truth

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

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