Week 479 // Creatures of the Fire

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The waves are cresting all around
I wonder how we’ll come of age
Your breathing is a subtle sound
I think ahead to other days

And all we are is this
And what this is
Is up to you and I to name our own
again
Creatures of the fire
Masters of the air and earth
We’ve known it all the while

I crack the knuckles on my hand
You fret the furrow of your brow
We conquer every world we can
We meet back in the here and now

And all we are is this
And what this is
Is up to you and I to name our own
again
Creatures of the fire
Masters of the air and earth
We’ve known it all the while

Holding on
Holding on
Holding on to you

Seems Thursdays can be lighter days
If Wednesdays are the deepest ones
If older is the only way
May wiser be what we become

And all we are is this
And what this is
Is up to you and I to name our own
again
Creatures of the fire
Masters of the air and earth
We’ve known it all the while

Notes
Rebecca helped me do a tarot card reading this morning. It wasn’t a traditional deck, and I don’t know much about those. Her deck is filled with beautiful images of animals. I learned that today was a day to take inspiration from an eagle. At the same time, Rebecca found her way in the path of the elephant.

I’m not going to break down the exact meaning and interpretation of these cards. Nonetheless, the reading inspired me and gave me comfort. I adapted some of these lyrics from a vague misremembering of what we read.

I think mastery over fire and air describes an ability to navigate change and challenge with perspective, as if from above. For my wife and me, this is a time in our lives when we need that perspective as we work to change and grow together, and as we confront challenges and transformations in many corners of our lives.

With enough perspective, we get to define who we’ll be. We get to grow up with a bit more purpose. We get to decide how to be together. We get to be masters of a life we choose.

~M.E.

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Week 478 // No One Ever Talks That Way

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No one ever talks that way
No one ever thinks about it
No one ever talks about it

No one ever talks that way
No one ever thinks about it
No one ever talks about it

Believe me
Believe me
Believe

Believe me
Believe me
Believe

Notes
Nick and I just went on a ski trip. You remember Nick, don’t you? He’s probably the most frequent collaborator on this project (although I’ve never run the numbers), so I’ll just assume you know who I mean. While we were driving through the woods in Maine, he told me about listening through all of Mount Everest from beginning to end over the past few weeks. I’m amazed and grateful that he decided to do that. He asked a lot of thoughtful questions about the experience of doing this project and what it means to me in the greater context of my lived experience. He got me to really open up about it.

In the process of talking it through, I spoke aloud a true thing that I never talk about, and perhaps had never uttered before. This project has become such a bulwark against the darkest corners of my heart that I absolutely tremble at the thought of losing it. Missing a week has become one of my greatest fears. If it happened, I’m afraid I would shed a part of my identity so fundamental that my world without it would be unknowable.

That sounds very dramatic, but I want to shed a more positive light on the same feeling. Nick reminded me that some years ago I called this project my life’s work. That still holds true. The contours of one’s sentiment toward his life’s work shouldn’t be simple. I should fear the loss of this thing even as I adore it for merely existing. I don’t talk about it often enough in this way. What I’m doing is important to me.

~M.E.

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Week 477 // Turn Your Face to It

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Behold the Earth is turning
And it brings us back to this
We hold each other up
And place our feet upon the ice
We shield each other’s faces
As we turn into the wind
We warm each other’s bodies
As we travel through the night

We are part of this
Turn your face to it
We are part of this
Turn your face to it
We are part of this
Turn your face to it
We are part of this
Turn your face to it

Notes
This is a winter song. I’ve written before of navigating the winter, and drawing closer together in order to get through it. It’s an old idea — an ancient necessity. While the obvious need for warmth is far more simply met with the heat of another, there is also the inevitability of challenge and trial that comes with the season. Even though many of us face the winter in relative safety from the elements, there is yet the pervasive sense that the challenge of living becomes more acute, that we wouldn’t make it through without teaming up. When we can, we become part of each other and turn to face the cold together.

~M.E.

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Week 476 // Amazing Things

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Oh amazing things
Amazing wind could blow
On the day it carries us off
They’ll be waving down below

Oh amazing sky
Amazing stars could shine
To find reflections there in your eye
I’ll be searching all the time

Way down on Earth
We stand with feet in different ages
I’ll pause as I lick my thumb
To loosen up the pages

Oh amazing roads
To seize amazing days
To twist and weave wherever they go
And to trust them all the way

Oh amazing hand
To place it into mine
With all that means we carry it
Here and there and down the line

Way down on Earth
We stand with feet in different ages
I’ll pause as I lick my thumb
To loosen up the pages

Notes
I write to you this morning from the Amtrak North East Regional on a gloomy day before New Years Eve. The sky is low and it is quiet here in coach. Leaving the city, we’re passing through an industrial remnant of an old decade, a few decades past. In a couple of days, we’ll begin another new one. I don’t know what it will be like, but it stretches ahead of us waiting to show us. I’m taking a breath as I prepare to find out. I am hopeful that one way or another it will amaze us.

~M.E.

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Week 475 // Everyone’s Thinking

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Everyone’s thinking the same thing
Everyone’s thinking the same thing
Watching them thinking it over
Watching them thinking it over

Everyone’s feeling the same way
Everyone’s feeling the same way
Watching them working it over
Watching them working it over

Notes
I only had time this week for a quick sketch of a song, but I tried to make it sound nice. With the hectic preparations for the holidays — shopping, cooking, packing, running last minute errands, tying up loose ends — everyone I see is rushing around. People are frantic and on edge. It’s funny because for many of them, the thrum of anxiety that they navigate is in service to a season that is meant to be a respite. But we’re all thinking the same thing. We’re just trying to get there.

~M.E.

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Week 474 // Tricks of the Light

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I want to stay up late
Without a thing to do
I’m gonna think a little while
I’m gonna talk to you

When the sun goes down
And we’re the last alive
All kinds of enemies around
We should stay inside

I want to hold you up
You gotta help me please
I’m gonna finally find a word
For what it means to me

When the sun goes down
And we’re the last alive
All kinds of monsters around
The fast and angry kind
And we can wait them out
We gotta stay inside
We gotta stay inside

I’m trying to make it through the night
You gotta help me please
I’m gonna make it through the night
You’re gonna help me please

When the sun goes down
And we’re the last ones alive
All kinds of ghosts around
The big and ugly kind
I move at every little sound
I freeze at tricks of the light
Don’t want to wait it out
I gotta get outside
We gotta get outside
We gotta get outside
Gotta get outside

Notes
This song came as a bit of a surprise to me. I’m sick today, and fully expected to expend as little energy as possible on today’s entry. Instead, I fought my cold to spend some quality time with this track, and I’m happy that I did.

There’s a sense motion to this song, and despite struggling to sing through congestion and sneezing, I think there is an appealing honesty and vulnerability to the vocal performance. My cold got the better of me when it came time to decide whether or not to record vocal harmonies. I had a few ideas that I regret leaving out, but I still think the solo voice has a lot of character and caries the song on its own.

This is a song about the give and take that two people do to stay strong for each other. It’s about wanting to be the strong one, then realizing you need to take at least as much as you want to give.

~M.E.

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Week 473 // A Dream of Flight

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Out in the kinder air
The first breath of night
Oh how the sun went down
Behold the last remaining light

Oh darling look to me
Fly to the north
Fly up away from here
I’ll follow after for all I’m worth

I think the wind
Will always blow
I know the light
Will always go
Perhaps my wings
Will always know
A good way home

Good night to whispered words
Good night to songs
Good night night to searching thoughts
Good night with love until the dawn

I think the wind
Will always blow
I know the light
Will always go
Perhaps my wings
Will always know
A pretty good way home

Notes
I’ve been getting out of town and it’s a calming influence. Whether it has been up to the woods of New Hampshire to visit my folks, or to the rolling foothills of the Catskills to dream by the firelight with my wife, I’ve found peace in the clear air at twilight. This song is a lullaby for a person who has grown into a new restless age. So many songs for grownups cast the night as long and lonesome, and the dark as a foreboding shadow. I wanted the night to be a blanket, and the darkness to become an enveloping dream. When I dream, I want to dream of flight.

~M.E.

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Week 472 // Whatever’s Best for Me

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I’m a man
Set in his ways
Whatever’s best for me
I’ll never change

Whatever’s best for me
Whatever’s best for me
Whatever’s best for me
I am who I am

I’m a man
Set in his ways
Whatever’s best for me
I’ll never change

Whatever’s best for me
Whatever’s best for me
Whatever’s best for me
I am who I am

Notes
I’m not sure if I am singing to bemoan the entropy in typecasting myself, or if I’m defending my loyalty to the steadfast truth of my character. Perhaps I’m doing both. I think there’s a powerful thing in recognizing one’s own character and living in it. I also think there is tragedy to be found in denying oneself the opportunity to grow and improve out of fealty to some abstraction of one’s expected parameters. At the end of the day, I suspect that I wrote this song to disagree with it. I imagine I have already written the rebuttal, and that it is buried here somewhere in these hundreds of songs. I don’t believe I ever set out to defend the impulse never to change.

~M.E.

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Week 471 // River Song 5

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By the river
Looking into it
Not the way that we remembered it
No
These things will change
And I’d believe most any news
From home

Hold the door
And I will run for it
Put your back and shoulders into it
Hold
You’ve held the world
It’s this I ask and nothing more
Of you

There are lots of ways
There are many ways
We can take the long way home

I can swim upstream
I’m sure of it
I can fight the current
All the way home
God and my will
The trappings of a zealous heart
I’ve known

There are lots of ways
There are many ways
We can take the long way home

Notes
These nine years are inconceivable to me as I think back to the day I launched this project. I vowed not to let music drift from my life, and it hasn’t. For this I’m grateful and I celebrate. I am particularly grateful to my wife, my parents, my family, my collaborators, my friends, and my listeners for their continuing support and encouragement since that long ago November. As a token of my gratitude, as has been my custom, I offer this free download. It features 23 of my favorite songs from the past year.


click here, and you’ll download 23 songs for free

This song took the long way home. It has been a kind of white whale to me since I first plucked at it some time in February. Sometimes l love a guitar piece so much that I’m afraid of it — afraid to touch it, to defile it with the wrong words, or besmirch it with the addition of an unworthy new passage. It might seem dramatic. To your ear, this piece may not warrant that reverence. To me, it was a jewel never to touch, except to idle upon it in my apartment, always to put it away again. Every time I tried to finish it, I fled. Until today.

An important step was to realize that this is a River Song. Since the first one I made during year two, I’ve periodically found inspiration in rivers, because rivers are already songs, and they’re different every time. This time the River Song is about change and patience. This year has been abundant with both. I’m happy it is finished. I feel free to start the 10th(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) year of this project with a clean slate.

I hope you’ll stay with me this year, and perhaps share this project from time to time with people who love music. The next twelve months will bring both the 500th song of this project, and its decade anniversary. I can’t imagine how that will feel, but I would like to share it with you. Thank you for listening.

Love,
Jesse

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Week 470 // Common Sense

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I was up against
all my common sense
I was up against
all my common sense

Ain’t no use in thinking that
Ain’t no use in thinking that
Ain’t no use in thinking that
Ain’t no use in thinking that

I was up against
all my common sense
I was up against
all my common sense

Ain’t no use in thinking that
Ain’t no use in thinking that
Ain’t no use in thinking that
Ain’t no use in thinking that

Notes
The rain outside is casting a certain mood. Things seem black and white. The photo accompanying this post was altered to make my block look a bit more like it seems when you actually walk it today. This song is about reacting to one’s own best judgement, and standing at odds with oneself. It is written to suit the mood of the cold rain outside. It’s a characteristic November song for a very November day.

Next Monday is a special day here on the old Mount Everest song project. I will be marking this project’s ninth anniversary. It’s a perplexing thing to contemplate nine years in pursuit of my song in this very specific way. I’ll have plenty to say about it in a week, if you decide to return for the occasion.

~M.E.

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