Week 429 // When it Was Night

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When I was small
I was nervous child
I wanted to keep that secret
But I’m sure it showed

When it was night
After I had grown
You put your hand on my chest
And you left it there

Later on I’ll succumb to my age
Or something worse
What else am I supposed to do?
There are no words
For the fear that I’ll lose you then

Another storm
It was a different life
I lit the ground right beneath me
So I could feel the heat

When the wind changed
And I was someone new
You put my hand to your forehead
And you kept it there

Later on I’ll succumb to my age
Or something worse
What else am I supposed to do?
There are no words
For the fear that you’ll lose me then

Notes
At dinner with some friends last week, the conversation turned to fear of death, because apparently my friends and I love to have a great time. During that conversation, I offered that my own fear of death likely stems from my proximity to organized religion; that growing up with frequent visits to church put the concept of the afterlife at the forefront of my mind, and that drifting away from faith means the reward I was working toward may no longer be mine. Reflecting on it later, what I had said didn’t ring true anymore. I wrote this song to flesh out the truth behind my own fear of dying, and to correct the overly academic approach I had taken with my friends.

Here’s the truth: when I was younger, I feared death because I wanted to be loved before I died. Now I fear it because it could bring an end to the love I’ve found. Of course that outcome depends on big answers to questions like the ones you’d find in church, but I’m not trying to approach it that way. I’m okay describing my fear here, and getting it out of my system for a little while. That’s my way of resolving to live in the here and now while I can.

~M.E.

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Week 428 // Song for My Friend

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Where you going?
Where you going?
Where you going?
What’s that way?

Hear the light split into colors
Each note you play

If you want to it’s okay
To run away to my place

Watch the hand that works the pain
Heed the one that points the way

Even though
The Earth might try to swallow us whole
If it swallows us both
We’ll just stay up all night
And sing to the radio

Bury a word
Bury a word
Bury a word
Try a better one

Try an idea on for size
Wear it with stripes just for fun

Stand in the doorway
And sound a note like the sun

Tell me about your troubles friend
And take your time with each one

Even though
The Earth might try to swallow us whole
If it swallows us both
We’ll just stay up all night
And sing to the radio
If it swallows us both
We can stay up all night
And sing to the radio

Notes
I wrote this song for a dear dear friend who called me up tonight and sounded like he could use a song. If you called me up tonight, I wrote this for you. Maybe you’ll understand it without explanation, or maybe the little bit I’ll offer the general audience by way of these track notes will fill in whatever bits are still confusing. You can call me back some time if you’d like a deeper sense of what I’m telling you.

If you didn’t call me up tonight, I suppose I still owe you some kind of explanation of this song, since you’ve come all the way to this website to hear it. My friend is empathetic and deep and brilliant and creative and original and fun and awesome. He’s also an amazing leader of people, and a fantastically loyal friend. When he’s got trouble on his mind, I do my best to listen, and tell him what makes sense to me. I think he often feels alone in his troubles, but what ails him often reverberates within a deep sore spot in my own heart, echoing my own sorrows and fears. We’re different in a lot of ways, but we’re also alike. Mostly, I wish I could evaporate the demons of the world that stand between my friend and the spectacular truth of his own beauty.

I’ll say this to my friend, and he can take it however he likes: I love you and I love being around you. From time to time, take a look at yourself and try to see what I see.

~M.E.

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Week 427 // On the Way

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All the way to our place
Carry a word with me
Up in the sky we will try to see it

On the way I think of you
On the way I think of you
On the way I think of you
On the way I think of you

I have been here before
I’ve got a memory like this
I have seen angles of this in our pictures

On the way I think of you
On the way I think of you
On the way I think of you
On the way I think of you

Notes
History’s most beloved love songs are grand and sweeping, encapsulating the highest peaks or lowest valleys of the romantic experience. As well worn as these two poles of experience may be in the art form, they often fail to capture the essence of being with a person and knowing them. I am looking for a simpler kind of love song about daily experience, about opening the door to find somebody you’re expecting, about building your compass around a person, about striving together, about the relief in being able to rely on somebody. I have many more grand and sweeping love songs to write, but they’re too easy in a way. This one hopes to do something else.

~M.E.

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Week 426 // From a Distance

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From a distance
It is crooked and out of place
And the center gets away
Hold your face to the wind
Hold your face to the wind
This is the way it feels
This is the way it feels
When the corners finally meet
When the edges fade

From a distance
It is answering for itself
It is looking out for itself
Hold your face to the wind
Hold your face to the wind
This is the way it feels
This is the way it feels
When the corners finally meet
When the edges fade

Notes
Rebecca and I headed a little bit upriver over the weekend to reconnect in between the madness of her law school semesters, and to get out of the city for a little while. While we were away, I snapped a picture of the majestic and sparkling Hudson, with Manhattan poking its gnarled underbite over the horizon. I have sung a few times of the view from the outside. My adopted home city is ever a perplexing subject to me. No matter how comfortable I get here, I will still need to reckon with it in the words of my songs. This one is about getting out in order to find each other, and the cool gust of wind in the relief when we do.

~M.E.

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Week 425 // Taking the Stairs Two by Two

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Getting it all figured out
Having it there in your hand
Every one of us is
Keeping it all like it’s been
Making it look like it did
Every one of us is
Every one of us is
Every one of us is
Every one of us is running
Out of time

Bowing my head as I walk
Taking the stairs two by two
Every one of us is
Smudging the words with our thumbs
Holding the page at its edge
Every one of us is
Every one of us is
Every one of us is
Every one of us is running
Out of time

Sunshine on our faces
No failing can erase this

Notes
I’m turning back to the electric guitar for the first time in many many moons on this project. I had been feeling like I was neglecting my beautiful Telecaster, so my folks gave me a nice little practice amp from Orange for Christmas. It offers some pretty cool tones, especially for a small package. I thought I’d mic it up and hear what came out of it this week. Thanks Mom and Dad!

This is a song about keeping pace with the shifting landscape of adulthood, and failing that, keeping up appearances. It’s about rushing through moments and missing them. It’s about only seeing the the imperfections in oneself and ones efforts, then suddenly being stopped in ones tracks by the splendor of the sun. Nobody can take the sun from you.

~M.E.

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Week 424 // Orbit (3)

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It starts in the morning
Dress for the moment
You’d never guess from what we see
We live near the ocean

Feel the empty room
Feel the weight of the mountain
Watch the ground implode
See the earth like a fountain
Picking the past apart
And some of it mattered

The path of an orbit
Forget that we’re turning
Forget that the end is where we start
A thing that I’m learning

Feel the calamity
Trace the shape of that feeling
Ear to the radio
Pretend that the word is worth hearing
Picking the past apart
And some of it mattered

Past is a word for people without vision
I’m worried I’m one of them
Oh the moment is ending

Feel the empty room
Feel the weight of the mountain
Watch the ground implode
See the earth like a fountain
Picking the past apart
And some of it mattered

Notes
Last week I erroneously signed off with a note that I’d see you all again in 2019. I obviously jumped the gun on that one, unless you happen to be one of my listeners on the the other side of the international date line. I’m still a few hours from the ecstatic renewal of the new year. It’s funny to be caught looking ahead when this song mostly ponders the plight of a person who focuses a bit too much on the past. Reflection is healthy, but fixation can be dangerous. New Year’s eve is a good time for looking forward.

Celebrate safely and with great joy as you bid farewell to the old year, and say howdy to the new one! See you back here in 2019.

~M.E.

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Week 423 // Orbit (2)

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You know we’ve been here before
And we’ll be here for a long while
The click and the creak of the door
And your entrance in your own style

And dear you wouldn’t believe
How wide you smiled
The moment that the notion finally struck you
But darling I digress again

I lace up my boots for the mile
And I step out raising sunshine
I watch your reflection go by
And I linger in my own time

And dear you wouldn’t believe
How wide you smiled
The moment that the notion finally struck you
But darling I digress again

Notes
A merry Christmas Eve to all of my listeners who observe that particular celebration. I’m out in Denver, Colorado with Rebecca’s family, enjoying a fine holiday visit at the foot of the Rockies, and taking in the sites and sensations of someplace new to me. I thought about penning a Christmas song, since today’s post coincides with the holiday, but that doesn’t feel like me. I’m already onto New Years, as I continue my three-song “Orbit” cycle to end out the calendar year and start the new one.

This song is about domestic life, and the comfort of its predictable aspects. As I reflect on a year that saw a lot of change in the context of my partnership, especially with Rebecca apply to law school and completing her first semester, comfortable patterns have become important touchstones to me. We can change what we do, and even who we are, while still maintaining a tether to the familiar. As I extrapolate that notion to the context of the unpredictable changes the next years and decades doubtlessly hold, I feel a great relief.

Hold your loved ones warm and tight, and I’ll catch you in 2019.

~M.E.

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Week 422 // Orbit (1)

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All of this is change
All of these are lessons
All of this is change
All of these are lessons

Lessons can be strange
Hold that thought and begin again

All of these are dreams
Some of them are questions
All of these are dreams
Some of them are questions

Questions can be strange
Hold that thought and begin again

Notes
I wrote a whole other song over the weekend. It is fairly different from this one, and I found myself unable or unwilling to finish it just yet. The guitar is in the box, ready for words I’m not quite ready to write. I wrote this song to warm up. I used similar chords with a different feel, and I aimed for a broad theme to expand upon later. I will continue to limber up with one more song, and then I’ll try to finish what I started.

Somewhat organically, I have found myself for the third time ending the calendar year with a cycle of three songs to reflect on the year that was, the change that found me, the lessons learned, and the expectation of something new. Last year I called it “End Cycle”. The year before it was “Long Year”. This year I’m calling it “Orbit”. Come back next week for part two.

~M.E.

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Week 421 // It Only Lights the Way

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It only gets you down
It only gets you down
It only gets you down
It only gets you down

It always feels the same
Can it mean the same thing?
It always feels the same
Can it mean the same thing?

It only lights the way
You still have to make it home
It only lights the way
You still have to make it home

It always feels the same
Arrival is the great reprieve
It always feels the same
Arrival is the great reprieve

And if it lifts you up
How are you to name the view?
If it lifts you up
How are you to name the view?

You won’t feel the same
You will feel the ways you change
You won’t feel the same
You will feel the ways you change
You won’t feel the same
You will feel the ways you change
You won’t feel the same
You will feel the ways you change

Notes
Change has many faces. It can be so abrupt and jarring that it leaves one disoriented, turned around, and confounded. It can also be so maddeningly gradual that it is easily mistaken for stagnation. This song sings to that second kind of change; the kind that you don’t recognize until you look back at large swaths of your life, and you finally appreciate the substance of point B in its profound contrast to that of point A. This song uses repetition to simulate the slow creep of change. It is a series of mantras with a beginning and an end.

~M.E.

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Week 420 // Fire on Neptune’s Shoulder

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The house had burned
Many years ago I think
But the stones stood like a photograph
You could look at if you blinked
You could see it if you blinked

And the mother hen
Traced her circles on the drive
And the fountain bubbled up from there
And the kitchen was alive
The way all kitchens are alive

Oh my God
It’s a miracle
I can’t believe my eyes
It always ends the same
It always ends the same as this

The wind would pull
The smoke all out to sea
The island looms like Neptune there
His shoulders are its peaks
His shoulders are its peaks

And summers fly
And the fires burn away
And the stones still like a monument
And the trees all creak and sway
The trees all creak and sway

Oh my God
It’s a miracle
I can’t believe my eyes
It always ends the same
It always ends the same as this

Notes
When Rebecca and I visited the island of Sao Miguel this summer, we were struck by the abundance of burned and abandoned structures there. In clearings and on overgrown hillsides, on mountaintops and on the edge of town, you can find them. Much of the Island’s architecture consists of beautiful stonework, so burnt homes can often be found that have retained an essence of their shape. In one particular instance, high on a mountain, accessible only by a steep and winding cobblestone road wide enough for only one car to pass at a time, a pristinely intact shell of a home revealed the life of a family to me, if only for a moment. This place returns to me from time to time, and I have tried to do it justice in this song.

~M.E.

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