Week 236 // Fractal in a Fractal

May 25th, 2015

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On a street corner
Screaming into traffic
Was an ugly vein
Sticking out that way
And it made more sense
To walk right past
Summer came on a Tuesday
And we laughed ’cause
Only weeks before
We had braved the snow
We’d crossed the frozen park
And back again

I was a kinder kind of person
Thinking back to then
And oh what’s the use?
I do the best I can
to cultivate my attitude
He was screaming on the corner
Yet again

Always far off
And dreaming of New England
Always miles away
But honestly
My entire world
Is ten blocks this way
I got moments
I understand a pattern
It’s a fractal in a fractal
As I pull away
I see it all again

I was a kinder kind of person
Thinking back to then
And oh what’s the use?
I do the best I can
to cultivate my attitude
And he’s screaming on the corner
Yet again

Notes
This is a song about feeling settled into a place. Rebecca and I were reflecting on the neighborhood over our typical breakfast burritos at Root’s Cafe — our favorite local morning ritual. We were noticing how many moments we’d lived in that spot, and ruminating on the notion that when we inevitably leave this neighborhood, there will be very familiar things we will necessarily leave behind. There isn’t one specific man screaming at traffic on the street corner. He is a fabricated proxy for the familiarity of strangeness in this corner of the world. On the other hand, the snow really did blanket the park only a few weeks before summer seemingly set in, and I really do dream of New England even when I am so contented in my life here. I’ll leave you to sort out the rest, wishing you a happy Memorial Day, as I spirit myself across the chasm to a rooftop barbecue in the East Village. Be merry, and take pause to appreciate what you’re doing.

~M.E.

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Week 235 // Strange New Land

May 18th, 2015

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Just like that I get a feeling
That I’m no longer a stowaway
I made it to the shore
And all at once
I set my feet upon the sand
And sink my toes
I haven’t been this way before

And the air’s so sweet
The smell of spring and that perfume
It’s got me floating off my feet
And I’m a dangerous man
I come this way to find what’s mine
And take it right into my hand
And it’s a strange new land we’re in

Every morning
I look out into the world
And ponder what out in the world
Is looking back
And every evening
Taking stock of what I’ve seen
I write it down and I forget it
Just like that

‘Cause it’s a dangerous place
The world’s intentions are severe
It’s got them written on its face
And I’m a civilized man
I’ve only got what I’ve been given
Knuckles white upon my hand
And it’s a strange new land we’re in

And all of Christendom
Will look into the sky
And wonder what up in the clouds
Is looking down
And as for me
I’d rather look into your eyes
And count reflections of our lives
Here on the ground

Though it’s the softest sound
Your breath can cut the dead of night
And draw the covers all around
And I’m a fortunate man
That when the earth shakes
I am steady hanging tightly to your hand
And it’s a strange new land we’re in

Notes
The work is done. The toil is over. I have walked the mile and emerged unscathed. Today is graduation day. There will be plenty of fanfare and hullabaloo for me, and for many people I’ve met. There’s a good chance we even deserve it; they don’t just hand out a master’s degree, you know? But my mind is a bit quieter about the whole thing, and I think that is reflected in today’s song. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited, and proud of myself, and I’m looking forward to celebrating. It’s just that I’ve grown accustomed to taking a longer view of things, and this space affords me room to indulge quieter reflection on life’s milestones. This song is a rumination on where I’ve emerged after a long journey, and an acknowledgement of the journey yet to come. Already this writeup is more self-indulgent than the song itself, so I think I’ll leave you there. I hope you enjoy another quiet little song.

~M.E.

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Week 234 // Ain’t This My Stop?

May 11th, 2015

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And on the first of May
I dreamt of silence
I think I got it wrong
And way beneath
These cut-glass islands
I heard a kind of song
I rode my days
To try and find it
‘Cause It’s been playing long
And I rode my nights
To be be beside it
Asking if I belong
Is this my ride home?
Is this my bottle of wine?
Is this my world to arrange?
Is this my moment in time?
Ain’t this my stop?
And on the count of three
We’re gonna step right to it
Am I that kind of man?
And on a boiling block
We’re gonna learn the answer
I hope you understand
And when the clock strikes 12
You’re gonna see into me
And you’ll know who I am
Who needs the window closed?
I like the sound of concrete
It’s how it all began
Is this my ride home?
Is this my bottle of wine?
Is this my world to arrange?
Is this my moment in time?
Ain’t this my stop?

Notes
Right now I’m off to finish my last paper to hand in tomorrow at my last class of my master’s degree. I’ve mused before about how moving to New York for my master’s has been much more than just an academic experience, but a rather transformative moment in my history. Not merely because I wrote my thesis about the soundscape of the MTA, it has felt like a long ride on a fascinatingly noisy train, which is final coming to my station. Arriving at “my stop” isn’t just about getting off the train, it’s also about reaching a destination, and I feel that profoundly these days. I’ve taken a ride to a brand new place. There is a note of trepidation in this arrival too. I’ve been on a bit of a hot streak since I came to graduate school, and I have been biting back a fear that when I finish what I came here to do, that streak might be at an end. I don’t really feel like that will be the case, but nonetheless a new phase is about to be revealed upon this arrival, and I’m not entirely sure what it looks like. Also the day after tomorrow is my 30th Birthday, so there’s that… Next week: Graduation!

~M.E.

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Week 233 // Leaving Tracks

May 4th, 2015

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I think I’m leaving tracks
And I got days to wait
And in the stacks and stacks
I stumble and it’s getting late

And there’s a bright red wall
You know I gotta get around
And it don’t matter how I do it
Beating cracks in every door I’ve found

And everyone knows
When you’re out in the rain
You get trampled upon
And you see it come
And everyone feels
When they’re out in the storm
It’ll never let up
But then it does

I got a good good plan
You see it’s something like this
I’m gonna chase the light
‘Till morning catches up with me
And slip into the mist

And it’s a good good year
For letting trouble slip away
For letting go of all the little things
I used to let get in the way

And everyone knows
When you’re out in the rain
You get trampled upon
And you see it come
And everyone feels
When they’re out in the storm
It’ll never let up
But it always does

Notes
I can hardly believe that it’s May of 2015. May of 2015 has long loomed over me for a couple of reasons. I imagine that I’ll address each of them on this website in the coming weeks, but to give you a preview, I’m currently swimming in an existential soup because this month I’ll turn 30, and also receive my Master’s degree. My 30th birthday (sometime next week, I’m sort of too busy to keep track of it) doesn’t feel like an accomplishment, so much as a benchmark of which I must take serious note. The notion of my soon-to-be newly minted master’s degree, on the other hand, really knocks my socks off. The last two years have flown by, and thanks to the catalyst of coming to New York to pursue my degree, literally every aspect of my life has been transformed. It has been an arduous couple of years in many ways, but also a tremendously optimistic time for me. Wrapping it up feels strange, like I’ll need to find a new reason to struggle (I’m sure that as I face the job market I’ll find one). This song is a collection of sentiments having to do with all of this stuff. I can’t really explain what it says, but here it is nonetheless.

Also, I’m pretty sure I ripped off a couple of my old songs with this one. It has been happening more and more lately; a natural function of doing this week after week. I prefer to think of it as a conceptual re-appropriation — here are some old ideas set in new colors.

~M.E.

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Week 232 // Wild Blue

April 27th, 2015

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Rising moon
Mid/late day
Wild blue
and 10 balloons
Floating away

Setting soon
Light looks strange
Alien hues
And street lights too
Buzzing away

How does it get you?
Nobody knows
Light like an evening
Those years ago
Strange how it works you
Right to the bone
Song from a morning
Ages ago

Hold my hand
Tight my dear
Such a friend
I lose my head
Having you near

Old old light
Disappears
Catch the ribbon
On the breeze
Hold it for years

How does it get you?
Nobody knows
Light like an evening
Those years ago
Strange how it works you
Right to the bone
Song from a morning
Ages ago

Notes
This is a song about when something in the air is familiar and it catches you off guard. Sometimes when the air is just right, or the temperature hovers in a particular place, or a song wafts by your ears, or the clouds look just a certain way, or the light fades at just the right instant, you can be transported to other places and other times. Memory sneaks up on you, and past blends with present, and time folds in on itself and unfolds in curious and unexpected ways. It is different from mere deja vu in which your memory is confused and mistakes the present for the past. It is the discovery a moment that complements a memory, and a realization that life is full of symmetry, and refrains come back around just like the chorus of a song. It is a curious sensation, and when it happens, moments last longer, and linger in your perception. I try to savor those moments when it seems like life is a song.

~M.E.

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Week 231 // What I’m Built For

April 20th, 2015

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On the edge of the dark
A tiny burning thing you’ll always see
You’ll probably know it when you see it
It probably follows you
And this I know
Because it follows me

And I will race you home again
And I will be there waiting
Count on that
It’s what I’m built for
And I will memorize the way
And I will know it backwards
Count on me
And I will count on you

I’m a young young man
I got the whole wide world in front of me
You make it easy to believe that
You make it true
You make it so
You make it real

And I will race you home again
And I will be there waiting
Count on that
It’s what I’m built for
And I will memorize the way
And I will know it backwards
Count on me
And I will count on you

Notes
For months and months I’ve been writing tunes on a nylon string guitar. A lot of them have been pretty nice, but it occurs to me that newcomers to this website might not realize that the Mount Everest catalog is typified by diverse multi-instrumentalism. Lately the sound has been heavily influenced by time constraints, and obligations outside of this project. It has seemed easy and natural to reach for a guitar each time I sit down to write. Today as I contemplated reaching for a ukelele to shake things up, I looked to the piles of papers and clothes on top of my synthesizer and it occurred to me how lonely and neglected it looked. Shoving said papers and clothes to the floor, I found that the familiar keys felt good under my fingers, and I composed this song. It think of it as sweet video game music; a loving meditation punctuated by a simple and expressive digital warmth. It felt good to write it. I hope it feels good to listen to it.

~M.E.

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Week 230 // Bright Spot

April 13th, 2015

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Working hard
On a crowded street
Took a deep deep breath
Now you’re digging deep

Lay down
Off your weary feet
In a bright spot
Darling next to me

Chase the sun
And the work redeemed
And a place you earned
And a perfect dream

Lay down
Off your weary feet
In a bright spot
Darling next to me

Notes
This song is about hard work and a deep, satisfying fatigue. Rebecca and I wen’t down to DC over the weekend to run the annual Cherry Blossom 10 Miler with her sisters. The popular road race was attended by thousands and thousands of runners of all skill levels out to treat themselves to a workout amidst the capitol’s famous cherry blossoms at the peak of their bloom. While 10 miles is routine for some runners (like Rebecca’s impressive marathoning sisters), this race was out of our comfort zone, and we’d been training for months. We were treated to an absolutely perfect day for an absolutely awesome run. The blossoms were like nothing I’ve ever seen, and the scent of rebirth on the spring breeze was an inspiration. We ran faster than we thought we would, and finished with wide grins on our faces. This song is a quiet reflection on the hard work we did, and the sore muscles we earned. After you listen to it, get outside, because spring is in the air.

~M.E.

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Week 229 // Swimmers 2

April 6th, 2015

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Floating on a poem
Great and gracious water
Flow to the horizon
Round the bend we’re going
Say we catch the word
On a sudden blowing wind
And we race into the water
Two by two by two

Race the night a’coming
Hold your hand and greet it
Climb the bank ’till morning
Round the bend we’re going
Say we hear the word
On the sweetest summer breeze
And we race into the water
Two by two by two

Notes
Last week I refrained from naming my song as a number in a sequence of ”River Songs” that I’ve been accumulating over the four and a half years that I’ve been working on this growing catalogue. I chose instead to refocus the title on the swimmers who travel the river together, facing the placid or turbulent flow of time together, and celebrating the virtue of the buddy system both in aquatic pursuits and in life in general. It seems that the river song sequence has sprouted a spinoff series, or perhaps a tributary, as I quickly add a sequel to last weeks “Swimmers.” Who knows how many of these there will be, and how quickly they’ll come. “River Songs” seem to manifest very rarely, with months or years between entries. “Swimmers,” on the other hand, begged my continued attention right away. As Rebecca and I near our wedding day, I can’t help but feel swept up in the flow of time. It’s a great comfort to have her swept up with me. This entry focuses on harmony and repetition. I hope you enjoy listening to it.

~M.E.

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Week 228 // Swimmers

March 30th, 2015

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Like swimming down river
Don’t need to swim at all
Much sooner getting to
That place worth dreaming down the river

And it’s a grand sliver
The sun that’s setting on
The bank we left behind
And wet our feet to swim together

Wide and wide
We scale the other side
Lengthen shadows
Ever goes the time

And you’re a fine swimmer
I think you’ve seen it all
At least you’ve seen enough
To spot the ripples in the water

It’s been a long winter
After a lonely fall
And praised these waters be
They’ll fast convey us to our summer

Wide and wide
We scale the other side
Lengthen shadows
Ever goes the time

Notes
This week’s song could easily have been named as one of Mount Everest’s several River Songs. I think it would have been River Song 4 if I had decided to go that way, but instead I decided to focus on who was in the river, allowing swimming to become the titular metaphor. Certainly, the river has a metaphor to play in this song; it describes time, and destination, and the ease or difficulty of that passage. But here I’ll shift attention back to the swimmers who navigate those waters. Any former summer camp waterfront co-director (such as yours truly) will tell you unequivocally that swimming is an activity in which it is vital to observe the buddy system. Not only is swimming safer if you’ve got somebody with you –somebody who can look out for you as you look out for them– swimming is more enjoyable if you’ve got somebody to swim with. All the marvelous and otherworldly properties of the water are enhanced if you’ve got somebody to share them with. This song is an ode to that simple notion.

~M.E.

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Week 227 // On the Last Snow

March 23rd, 2015

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Weatherman
They could call you an artist
You got a fine spin
On missing the thing

But on the last snow
I said to my darling
Ain’t this the perfect
Way to greet spring

Age old
Scattering moonlight
Dots in the cold
Everyone asking
Where does it go?
Oh my
Where will we go?

Wait up
Screaming out doors
The moment
Insisting it’s yours

Radio
You could call me a pilgrim
I’m spinning round and round
Where you tell me to go

And on the last note
I’ll look to my darling
She’ll give a simple nod
And it means that she knows

Age old
Scattering moonlight
Dots in the cold
Everyone asking
Where does it go?
Oh my
Where will we go?

Wait up
Screaming out doors
The moment
Insisting it’s yours
The picture
Stuck behind glass
The winter
Over at last

Notes
This is a hopeful song. Friday was the first day of spring. Friday was also the day of a pretty decent four or five inch snowfall in New York City. The snow had a hard time accumulating at first, melting as it hit the ground, but little by little this tenacious late winter episode blanketed the city in white as far as the eye could see. The temperature was pretty forgiving and didn’t keep us inside; Rebecca and I enjoyed a snowy run in Prospect Park in the afternoon, and ventured out in the evening to watch performances from our ever talented friends, Nat Osborn and Lyle Divinsky. When we woke in the morning the snow was gone, as if it was never there at all. It seemed a last gasp of winter, and this song posits that it was just that. Perhaps it wasn’t the last snowfall of the year, but its fleeting arrival and departure sure felt like a farewell from old man winter.

Many thanks must go to my parents who alerted me late tonight that I had forgotten to post my song. I finished it Sunday evening, but as I worked on a paper all day it slipped my mind to post it for you all to hear. Crisis averted. It is still Monday somewhere in America after all.

~M.E.

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