Week 200 // Mount Everest

September 15th, 2014

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Where you goin’ to?
I’ve seen the place you’ve been
I’ve sen the traces you worked up
And left as you went

Was it a mighty thing?
At least that’s how it felt
Looked at your pain like strings
You plucked to shake it all out
At least that’s how it felt

And I would be like you
I’d have the love you bring
I’d have your dream of truth
I’d have the bells that you ring
I can hear them ringing now

So I will pull you up
You’ve done the same for me
My friend we’re climbing up right now
To see what we can see
And I can see it now

I see you I see you I see
I see you I see you you see me

Are you still burning up?
And can you still believe
That when you started out
You had to learn to release
Those little burning kinds of things

And somewhere down down deep
I’m sure I’ll always be
Stuck there at 25
And working penance to my grief
What kind of man that made of me…

So I will pull you up
You’ve done the same for me
My friend we’re climbing up right now
To see what we can see
And I can see it now

I see you I see you I see
I see you I see you you see me

Notes
So now there are 200 of these! This week I couldn’t help but reflect on what this Mount Everest project has meant to me over the years. It’s a companion. It’s a friend. It’s a burden. It’s my therapist. It’s my alter-ego. It’s so many things to me. This is a very self indulgent song. It is a song about writing two hundred Mount Everest songs. It is a song that I’ve written to Mount Everest as if it has its own subjectivity, independent of my own. I think maybe it might. Writing this song I came to an important insight about my project. I’ve always thought of the Mount Everest metaphor as referencing the climb, the persistent work of putting one of these things out every week. What I realize now is that it’s really about the view as well. The higher I climb, the farther I can see, both into myself, and across the wide world. Sometimes I can’t stand this project. It can get in the way of things, and some days I want to let it go. But then I look at how it has carried me out of the deepest pit of my life, up into my greatest heights so far. Rather than let it slip behind me, I’ll extend my hand to my old friend and we’ll continue the climb together. Of course we will.

200 is a moment to pause and say thanks. Thanks to each of you listening today, yesterday, and any day since I started doing this. Thanks to Nick Mastors for starting this project with me in the first place, and more recently for giving Mount Everest new life through the tremendous gift of his prized Fender Telecaster. Thanks to the many many collaborators who have graced this site with their talent and friendship. Thanks to my Mom and Dad because they’ve been with me on this from the start. Thanks to my beautiful friends who are the faces I imagine singing to when I record these. Thanks to my wonderful fiancée, Rebecca, who has been the inspiration for more of these songs than I’ve admitted to her (including parts of this one). Thanks to each one of you who joins me next week for number 201.

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

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Week 199 // Furious Maze

September 8th, 2014

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Down on the earth so far away
There’s a place I’m going
And I can’t be late

I’m caught
Like a dream I cannot find
The exit’s hidden
And I fall behind

Down on the ground so far away
People walking
And it seems so strange

I’m caught
On a line cannot break
Dragging my bones
Through a furious maze

Notes
Last week I faced a frustrating situation, as one airline delay after another prevented me from reaching my destination, ultimately forcing me to miss my uncle’s funeral. This experience was similar to a genre of dream that I frequently have in which I am attempting to get somewhere, but I keep getting sidetracked, waylaid, or otherwise distracted. It is a genre of dream that I frequently think of as “the maze”. Although there are frequently no physical barriers, navigating these dreams elicits the type of frustration and resignation that one feels when they cannot find their way.

This song received less attention than I might have hoped because I am nursing a head-cold that makes it rather unpleasant to sing. These things happen from time to time on this site. Needless to say, next week’s 200 song landmark will put me in an ambitious mood whether or not my cold persists. See you then!

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

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Week 198 // Other Plans

September 1st, 2014

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Sing me down Atlanta
Gonna shake the ground for answers
God’s got other plans
He’s gonna let us in on after

And I feel like turning back
But I never ever do

Let me down September
Gonna boil and break to remember
The way you always decend
You are the sour kind of friend
September

And it always looks the same
With a gray and scattered sky
And I feel like turning back
But I never ever do

Notes
Labor Day weekend with my family was interrupted by bad news. This year, September begins with a funeral in Atlanta, and the trip that I must take this Thursday weighs heavy on my mind. This song is an attempt to sort out some of those feelings. Funeral songs are all too common on my website, but this one is different from the others. Typically I’ve gone for a quiet acoustic piece. This time I let the feelings move a little more in a number that takes a few more chances. Also, unlike in other similarly themed songs, I let myself get a little angry in this one. But as death is a part of life, the anger is a bit directionless — a gentle kind of anger. It is an anger at a lack of understanding. I doubt if one can ever really understand.

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

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Week 197 // Summer’s End

August 25th, 2014

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Looks like
Summer
Is over
Come again?

I’ve been
Facing it
Brave like
A soldier

Good night
My Darling
We’ll love like
We’re older
And then

You gave me
You gave me your answer

You gave me
You gave me your answer
It’ll guide you
Guide you home

You gave me
You gave me your answer
It’ll guide you
Guide you home

Looks like
Summer
Is over
It’ll come again

I’ve been
Facing it
With a cold shoulder

Good Night
My darling
We’ll love getting older

Good night
Please wake me
When mornings
Are colder

Notes
This summer has been one of the most transformative periods of my life. It was the summer when I found my person, and that’s a pretty big deal. With work taking her temporarily abroad, and my academic calendar suddenly springing to life, there is little denying that summer has come to a stop, and this period is something new. Life continues to be interesting, exciting, and unpredictable, but this moment deserves the kind of observance that I can only offer it via a song on Mount Everest. For a few years now, it is how I have marked the change in the seasons, and this particular change in season seems particularly important. How do you mark the change of the season that changed everything? This song is my attempt…

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

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Week 196 // Here

August 18th, 2014

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You’re on a plane
Heading oh so far away
For so long
I wouldn’t listen to the hum

I got a long list
Of places I’ve never been
It’s been a long while
But you’ve been to most of them

When you see
The sun rise up
Ahead of me
If you look back
I’ll be here

I need a green light
Shining up in the trees
I got a cold road
Barking cars out in the night

You’re in a dry land
Yes it’s bleeding dry you see
You got a good hand
Putting pressure on the bleed

When you see
The sun rise up
Ahead of me
And stars you saw
Hours ago

Now I can see
And when it’s time
You’re gonna know
Just where I’ll be
When you come back
I’ll be here

Notes
This is a song about staying behind when somebody goes away. It’s a simple little song, written deliberately simply to give me more time with a person who is heading out the door for a little while. It’s about feeling a little provincial when getting ready to miss somebody so worldly. Ultimately though, it is about embracing that provincial quality, and recasting it as reliability. You’ll know just where to find me.

I neglected to mention last week, by the way, that you’re hearing a new guitar here on Mount Everest. It’s a beautiful Fender Telecaster given to me by my good friend and frequent collaborator Nick Mastors, who played it often on early Everest tracks. Many thanks to him!

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

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Week 195 // Look, You’re the Ocean

August 11th, 2014

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Look, you’re the ocean
You’re the vastness
You’re the wild crash
Of the wave I’m diving into

See, it’s the moment
That you told me
I had turned your lips into a kiss
Get near me

I’ll cut to the chase now
That never will you be without
Never will you wonder who
Casts their fate right over you
Like every situation
Lead us up to this some how
And I look right at the ocean
And see into your heart somehow

Know that I’m honest
When I tell you
That I’ll be there
When you need someone to be there

Know that I mean it when I say that
You’re the only one who sees
The parts worth seeing

I’ll cut to the chase then
That every time I look at you
I’m looking right at the future
I’m looking at the honest truth
Like every situation
Lead us right to this somehow
I look right at the ocean
And see into your heart somehow

Notes
This is a love song in as classic a sense as I’ve ever written one. It is full of wonder, rich in promises for the future, declarations of deep abiding affection, and metaphors pulled from nature to describe feelings too big to comprehend on a human level. It’s how I feel, so there you have it. Perhaps it’s best to let the song do most of the talking here.

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

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Week 194 // Good Good

August 4th, 2014

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Notes
It’s amazing that A Pattern of Multiple Whales hasn’t had a song on Mount Everest yet. This is a band that I’ve played in for about a year. We’ve been making up songs together whenever we’ve had free evenings, and we’ve long intended to include one on this site. Most of the players are familiar to long-time Mount Everest listeners. Tama Wrote and sings these beautiful words. Miguel plays rhythm guitar, and sings hamonies. Vicky plays lead guitar. I chop around on the mandolin.

This song was written for a beautiful occasion, which was the wedding of our dear friends Nick and Marissa. It was even performed as the couple’s first dance, substituting Alex Selby (also familiar to Mount Everest listeners) for Vicky. It was a wonderful opportunity to lend our support to dear dear friends in the form of song. The whole wedding weekend was a beautiful time. I’m still a bit shell shocked from all the love and friendship. This recording stands as a small memento of that weekend, and the great love we celebrated.

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

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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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