Week 315 // Pondering the Arrival of an Overlong Winter

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When the ice covers everything
And your paws are all froze to the ground
And the only kindness you know
Is the pale distant light of the sun

In the dark of America
Where the poison they poured in the well
Is the only drop you can drink
You hold out
You hold out
You hold out

Notes
It’s pretty warm here in New York to be writing a song about the world freezing over. It is still a lovely fall, skirting the comfortable edges between chilly and cold, so this type of winter pondering is certainly premature. Still, it feels like winter came early this year, and I continue to sort out the fallout of recent events as they segue into a sustained state of being.

This song plays as bleaker than I actually feel about the situation we collectively face. I am entering a phase wherein Mount Everest and the practice it requires of me must necessarily become an outlet for emotions that I wish not to allow to fester. Allow me to unburden myself, and if you feel like I feel, let your burden down as well. We’ll hold out together.

~M.E.

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Week 314 // Restitution

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I’ve got the strangest feeling
Coming over me
Like we’ve all been down
This stretch of road before
So we bend our knees
And pray for restitution
And carry on carry on carry on

Oh what the Bible’s telling you
I swear it never said to me
And could a notion big as God
Fit in a book that you could read?

I’ve got a fear
That’s digging deep inside of me
That light begets the darkness
It must counter
We lack the points of light
To cast without a shadow
So carry on carry on carry on

Oh what the future’s telling you
I swear it never said to me
And can a concept big as truth
Fit on a page of history?

Forgive us lord
We know not what we do
Cast our lot with deceivers
When it feels like the truth

Forgive us lord
We know not who we are
Lay us down and conceal us
With a blanket of stars

Lay us down all together
With a blanket of stars

Notes
This week marks the 6th anniversary of Mount Everest as a weekly songwriting project! It has become a tradition of mine to offer up a big free download in gratitude to my faithful listeners for sticking around for another year, so I present to you “S!X” which is a 30 track album that compiles the “Best Of” tracks for the last year. “Best Of” tracks are chosen by me according to a completely subjective and shifting rubric that I keep in a secret vault accessible only via the hidden control panel behind a painting of Robert Oppenheimer inside my walk-in humidor.


click here, and then push the little download button in the upper-right-hand-corner
to download 30 tracks for free

I’m compelled to say thanks for the love and support of Rebecca (my wife), Nancy and Gene (my parents), Eben & Sarah & Hal (the wonderful west coast branch of my nuclear family), my wonderful friends, my talented collaborators, and all you fine listeners out there. I’m also happy to wish my big brother Eben a happy 134th birthday today!!

This week’s song is another meditation on the recent election results, concerning which I haven’t been shy to state that I think we have made an historical fuckup as a country. For those of you scandalized by the “f-word,” I defy you to summon a more accurate description of this likely extinction-level calamity. All that aside, this song keeps a level head about the whole thing. This is a prayer to a God I’m uncertain is there; a hymn about the folly belief. In the wake of this whole thing, I’m searching for something to believe in. All the while I have a feeling that belief in a thing (as opposed to searching curiosity about a thing) is what got us into this mess to begin with.

Thanks for listening to another year of these songs! I’ll keep writing them if you’ll keep coming back.

~M.E.

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Week 313 // Mourning in America

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It’s morning in America
Anyway, can’t we all sleep in today?
‘Cause all the safety pins and words we say
Aren’t even nearly making up for this mistake
And I wonder, are we strong enough
To stop the coming war?
Is there love enough in our righteousness
To fathom what it’s for?

We’re in mourning on the subway train
Heading back and forth forgetting from which way we came
And our silence is a bitter frost
Its crystals spreading over every love we’ve lost
And I wonder, have we lost enough
To stand for what we’ve got?
Is there love enough in indignity
To move us from this spot?

It’s sunset and I break my stride
And ponder all the fighters who have lived to die
And if anger seeks revenge
I’ve said let love proclaim that justice must be done instead
And I wonder, have we heart enough
To brave the coming storm?
We must love enough
And in loving so decipher what it’s for

Notes
We have a winner and now we must make sense of the new future ahead of us. This is a mopey song, and a self-indulgent song, because I wrote it as much for therapy as to make any kind of commentary. At face value, this song says, “all we need is love” but I’m not naive enough to believe that’s true. What we need is to do a whole lot of hard fucking work. The question at hand is what the emotional source of our work ethic will be.

Anger has gotten the better of me since Trump announced his candidacy, because it was pretty obvious that win or lose, a whole lot of people were going to grok to his hideous message. We watched that happen in a way that eclipsed everyone’s expectations, apparently even the president-elect’s. Hillary campaigned on a slogan that said “Love Trumps Hate.” Trump understood that no press is bad press, at least where he is concerned, and that putting his name in one of her slogans only fed the ball back to his side of the court. The thing of it is this: love didn’t trump hate, because too many of us lefties were lashing out at our political opposites in anger, instead of building a movement on love.

Anger is good for seeking vengeance. Love is good for seeking justice. That’s why vengeance beat justice in this round. We tried to fight for justice with anger and indignation, and love would have worked better. So marshal your love and put it to work in your community. Put it to work by organizing. Put it to work by demonstrating. Put it to work by running for office. Put it to work by writing letters. Put it to work by opening your doors to your neighbors. Put it to work by listening. Put it to work.

And yes, I know my heart is bleeding through my shirt as I write that. That’s because it’s broken. I’ll tell you one thing, though. It’ll never mend through anger. Only love can mend a broken heart.

~M.E.

P.S. Rest in peace and thank you to Leonard Cohen, who was the greatest at writing songs that are poems and poems that are songs. You’re a ghost in everything I write from here on out. You already were.

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Week 312 // Hold the Monster at Bay

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Think it through
America
Do the right thing
And you know what it is
Let the babes in their cribs
Keep their innocence
Hold the monster at bay

Notes
This song is a prayer to America. I wrote it as if America’s collective consciousness had a collective conscience to which one might appeal during dire circumstances. In previous elections, I might have called the Republican nominee a monster, and I might have even meant it at the time. I disagree with the republican platform, and with the philosophies from which it has been derived. I see with the clarity of hindsight that any monster I saw back then was only of the metaphorical variety. The monster casting his shadow over tomorrow’s election is all too real. I will not list his fangs, because you know them all too well. I implore you in the name of decency to reject Donald Trump, and vote for his far more virtuous rival Hillary Clinton. I want to have a family, and my best family making years will likely fall in the next president’s term. I shudder at the indecent world my children may be born into should you make the wrong choice. Do the right thing.

~M.E.

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Week 311 // October Surprise

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Up late on a Saturday night
I’m stirring my thoughts
Except they’re made of stone
And I’m staring knives at the screen of my phone
Over politics

Then the very next afternoon
Holding my wife as the wind comes alive
We watch out the window
Does anything survive
A wind like that?

Oh, so I’ve got a nightmare
And I’ll tell you how it goes
It goes that only the old men vote

One time way before I was born
A moment to conjure
In an ugly red hat
A moment to die for
What could be better than that?
Believe in it

Oh, so I’ve got a nightmare
And I’ll tell you how it goes
It goes that only the white men vote

Notes
The election is careening into its final week and I can’t ignore it anymore on this blog. I’ve gestured toward it, but it is dominating my attention more than mere innuendo can adequately express. I spent much of the weekend distracted from my life by my computer phone, upon which I scrolled aimlessly hoping for a glimmer of good news to puncture the apocalyptic revelation that Hillary Clinton’s emails are once again the subject of federal inquiry, and that Donald Trump will definitely become the next and last President of the United States.

Old white men everywhere cheered! I’m an aspiring old white man, so I find their position on the subject devastating. Will I harden into a callous, bigoted ethno-political nationalist someday? What will my beloved think of me then?

My wife bought a wonderful new T-Shirt from the Internet. It reads “Nov. 8th Pussy Grabs Back.” Indeed. Let’s hope so.

~M.E.

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Week 310 // Memorabilia

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I got memorabilia
Souvenirs from a dozen different lives
They look out from their places
They’re a quiet lot ’til they catch my eye
And heart in my throat or soaring up high
It depends on the day
It depends

Hands covered in ashes
Getting in my eyes when I touch my face
Like a ghost from the movies
Hands out and howling all over the place
If the echo’s the only lingering trace
That depends on the day

Threadbare on a Monday morning
Put away that used up junk
Or put it in a place of privilege
It depends on the day
It depends on the day
It depends

I got marginalia
In between the words and vying for room
And the thoughts were all fleeting
But I snatched them lest they scattered too soon
And it’s dark between pages, yeah it’s dimmer than doom
But it depends on the day

Threadbare on a Monday morning
Put away that used up junk
Or put it in a place of privilege
It depends on the day
It depends on the day
It depends

Notes
Over the course of a life you collect things. Some things you get rid of, but some of it you keep, even if you’re not sure why. Time elapses, and then you look at the shelf, or in a drawer, or between the pages of a book, and there you find the ephemera of a life that seems like somebody else’s. Sometimes you feel nothing and move on. Sometimes you’re transported someplace wonderful. Sometimes you’re transported someplace you don’t want to visit anymore. This is a song about objects of power, and how they can catch you off guard even when they frequently go unnoticed in your line of sight. This is a song about alternately accepting or rejecting the power of objects. This is a song about layers of experience, and how easily they peel away and cover up again.

~M.E.

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Week 309 // Circle as a Line

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I see a circle as a line
‘Cause I only look at one piece at a time
I assume it breaks
Because I’ve never traced the whole thing around

I see the horizon as a cliff
‘Cause I’ve never set foot close to it
And I’m a careful man
I barely understand when a risk’s not a risk

Notes
The past couple of years of Mount Everest songs have been mostly quiet little acoustic numbers, but it may or may not surprise you to learn that the mode of production has still been highly chopped up, digitized, manipulated, and otherwise artificial as far as that type of song is typically concerned. I loop parts. I copy and paste. I correct and comp many takes. I take generous advantage of the digital recoding era’s many gifts to make songs that sound more or less played into a box. This week I played a song into a box. I’ve done it before, but for some reason I feel like it bears mentioning. I sang and played two takes of this song live into a portable recorder on my kitchen table. The second take sounded better than the first, so I put that one on the internet. I didn’t do anything else to it other than turn up the volume with a digital plug-in called a limiter. It’s a simple song about recognizing one’s self imposed limitations. Maybe that’s why I imposed some limitations upon my process as I set out to record it. Does it sound any better or worse than the others? That’s up to you.

~M.E.

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Week 308 // Moonshot

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Scream to the night sky
Like you’re all alone
Look around to see
A city block

Pray to your idol
That you crack the core
Pray to your lover
That the door’s unlocked

Up late
Will we ever climb so high?
Will we ever climb so high?
Will we ever climb so high?
Will we ever climb so high?
I’m sure we will
Of course we will

Driving the wrong way
Down an empty road
Pass the signpost
On the county line

Watch the moonshot
On a tiny screen
Fly through radio waves
Just to pass the time

Up late
Will we ever climb so high?
Will we ever climb so high?
Will we ever climb so high?
Will we ever climb so high?
I’m sure we will
Of course we will

See the bright lights
Count the tail lights

Will we ever climb so high?
I’m sure we will
Of course we will

Notes
Real life has to be a group effort. Last century the brightest minds joined together and put humans on the moon. Perhaps those ambitious doers stayed up there and started a moon colony that doesn’t want much to do with us earthlings anymore. Our ambitions must have been left behind up there on that rock, because all we seem to aspire towards these days is making increasingly distracting gadgets and hopefully not ending civilization in the immediate foreseeable future.

If this appraisal seems bleak, start a team and build something. It doesn’t have to be a rocket to the moon. This weekend my wife and I got together with our team — a family of likeminded philosopher queens and kings — and we built a rocket straight to our hearts. If our era is to be remembered as the end of cooperation as we know it, I refuse to be accused of going it alone.

~M.E.

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Week 307 // Authority Figures

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Oh what’s the Bible say about
Watching the evening news
Thinking anti-social thoughts?

Oh and the Constitution says
I can say whatever I want
To anybody I please

So I’ve got strong opinions
About the things you do

Oh what’d your mother say about
Making a face like that?
It’ll stick, then what’ll you do?

Oh and the 10 Commandments say
That you can’t do anything right
And that God is a dirty word

So I’ve got strong opinions
About the things you do
And if you’ve got your own opinion
I really don’t care
I honestly don’t

What does your weapon do for you
When you often disagree
With the strangers that you meet?

And what does a bullet mean to you
When you hold it in your hand
With your knuckles turning white?

So I’ve got strong opinions
About the things you do
And if you’ve got your own opinion
I really don’t care
I honestly don’t

Notes
I have pondered lately that authority figures in our collective consciousness are often used for dual contradictory purposes, both somehow working toward the same end. In our discourse, a figure of authority is both that which we rail against to justify our own actions, and that which we revere in order to legitimize our prejudices. In either case, our gods, our government, our books, and our founding documents exist as containers for whatever feelings we’re having about our own power or lack thereof. External power either makes us feel bigger or smaller, but in both instances we can use it to avoid having to rationally engage notions of ownership over our own thoughts or deeds.

If that all seems like a reach, or perhaps lacks clarity amidst boiling pretense, I would refer you back to the song. It all makes more sense there.

~M.E.

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Week 306 // Scenery

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Oh power lines
Reach into the land and drink of it
Reach into our hearts
Just think of all the power you’d find in there

Oh Sisyphus
Let it roll back down the mountain
Let yourself be light
And find the scenery you’ve been missing out on

Pace around the house
Pace around the house
And ponder what could be done

Oh radio
Fingers in the air we’re breathing in
Fingers everywhere
Just think of all the thoughts you have seeded in us

Oh animals
Growing in a carved up wilderness
Growing up to chase mankind
From the grove of the deepest regret he should feel

Pace around the house
Pace around the house
And ponder what could be done

Notes
Here is an embarrassing disclosure: this week’s song was completely done on Sunday because I knew how distracted I would get by the presidential debate, and I completely forgot about it until my wife reminded me at 11pm on Monday that I hadn’t posted it yet. This presidential race is a steamroller running down everything I care about. I’ll be damned if it ruins my nearly six year streak of posting a song every Monday, so thanks to Rebecca for safeguarding that interest.

What’s this song about? I’m going to give you kind of a shrug. It gestures toward bigger concerns and smaller concerns. Mostly it juxtaposes macro problems against micro worries. In doing so it asks in passing what man’s place in nature might be, and also asks man if he even understands that he has a place in nature. It covers a lot of ground for a two minute song that I literally almost forgot I wrote. All that said, when I sat down with it after such a stressful nationally televised shit-show, I felt comparatively at ease. There’s something to it.

~M.E.

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