Week 262 // Friendly Fire

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The cannon is loaded
The fuse is smoking
In the ruins of America
You caught me thinking
We’re waiting for a miracle
They’re not in season
Lose faith in Jesus
You get a rain check

I talk like a magazine
Maybe I’ll write a book
Screaming at senators
Passing out dirty looks
Anything’s possible
Everything’s under control

See all the house pets
Defy their masters
And written on their faces
Wide open spaces
And all over the papers
The deaths of strangers
In every language
Read all about it

Cabernet kerosene
Feeling unstoppable
Think like a millionaire
Path of a wrecking ball
Anything’s possible
Everything’s under control

Wrap the gifts with razor wire
Raise the kids on friendly fire

Notes
As of this posting I have written, recorded, and released a song every week for five years! I’m not truly able to soak in what that means, or understand this moment in my life for what it really is. It catches me as a swell of emotion from time to time, but I’m too overwhelmed by it to ponder it deeper. I have engaged in some self-congratulatory thinking lately, but I’m not surprised that my prevailing thought tends to be “Good job. You’re half-way to 10 years, and wouldn’t that be something? Any thoughts for next Monday?” Always the next song. Always higher to climb. That’s the way it should be. That has ever been the point of this.

I’m very grateful to all of you, most specifically my family (especially Mom and Dad), my friends, my collaborators, and my wife, Rebecca. In general, I’m extremely grateful to my listeners, my re-posters, my likers, my sharers, my tweeters, and on and on. As a show of gratitude, I offer you a very large download of 30 songs, which are my favorites from the past year.


Thank You for being here!
Here is your free download:


This week’s song is a reflection on the madness and decline of western thought and civilization. I see it all around me, and it makes my belly ache. I participate in it too, which makes my heart hum with survivor’s guilt. As always, there’s meant to be a strain of hope in this song. It’s bleak this time, but it’s there. After we’re all gone the dogs will finally run free of their cages and kennels. I’m certain the world will be theirs, and I’m glad for it.

Thanks for for listening. See you all again next Monday.

~M.E.

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Week 261 // Enemies

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Wine stain star
Out in the universe
It spins around and around
Consuming everything
Wake up
We’re not enemies
By the end of things
You’ll be just like me
But it happens again and again
It happens again and again

Down down down
In the catacombs
Cast away beneath the edge of the park
You’ll find a hundred potter’s bones
And wake up
At the end of things
I’ll look just like them
And you’ll look just like me
Still we do it again and again
We do it again and again

Notes
I like to listen to the news before I head to work in the morning. Lately my day starts with a bowl of oatmeal and the BBC World Service on NPR. That’s the kind of guy I am. This morning the news was understandably all about Paris. I sat with my cinnamon flavored sludge and pondered the situation boiling over all around the world. It’s shitty. Everyone’s got enemies. We’ve got more than just about anybody.

I’ve long been aware that New York’s Washington Square Park is a former Potter’s Field. Not far beneath the cheerful academic setting of my recent graduate studies there lay untold numbers of nameless dead. I was reminded of this a week or two ago when I read that mass tombs have recently been rediscovered there by workers updating some infrastructure or another. Photographs of the tombs are macabre. Scattered piles of miscellaneous human bones and broken coffins abound under ancient stone arches. These people had faces. They had names. So do our enemies. So do we.

Time, the world, the universe and all its powers conspire to destroy us, yet we hasten their work by making enemies while we wait. We’ll all be anonymous dead sooner than we’d like. We’ll all be the same. Aren’t we already the same? Why not reach for understanding while we still have names and faces?

~M.E.

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Week 259 // In Real Life

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In real life
You won’t remember it all
In real life
You’ll grasp at moments and lose
And once or twice you’ll see
In real life
The wheel for what it is
In real life

You’ll learn a name oh you will
In real life
It’s written over it all
In your life

In real life
You’ll step all over your worth
And forgotten nights
You won’t believe who you hurt
The sky ablaze in gold
In real life
The breeze of pine and salt
In real life

Notes
I’ve been into the idea of slow music lately. I’ve been listening mostly to film scores, and I’ve been finding the most appealing parts to be be the quieter moments, rather than the bigger bombastic themes. Last week I worked on something slow, but I couldn’t resist the urge to throw in some fancy drum programs to liven it up. This week I wanted to commit to taking it slow, so that’s what I’ve done.

This is a case of the song title preceding the song itself. I’d been playing around with the idea of singing about real life for a little while, and I’d even started writing a different song with the same title. That song was fast and lively. It wasn’t bad, but I preferred something more meditative. What is real life as I’m singing about it here? For much of the song it is the moments when your experience departs from your ideal. But sometimes it is the moment when your experience and your ideal are perfectly aligned. A common western cliché misreading of Buddhist thought suggests that all life is suffering (or maybe that’s exactly what the Buddhists are saying — I’m not Buddhist after all, so what do I know?). I’ve always hated this axiom because it leads me down a dark path that I’m prone to following. Sure, a great deal of life is suffering, and realizing that real life will often treat you badly is a big part of coming to an understanding with the world. But life is also serenity, and love, and great many other things. We stack up suffering in real life to juxtapose to our bliss in real life. That’s what I’m singing about.

~M.E.

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Week 258 // Predators

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Behold the angels
Weeping tears over the park
Old time believers
From the cradle to the grave
Take hold a piece of you
You watched them pull apart
Hold tight the bigger piece
Don’t let it get away

And rule Britannia
Oh Columbia, what art
To own a pile of dirt
Protect it to the grave
And all the angels
Weeping tears over the park
And all our saviors
Keeping predators at bay

Notes
This is the type of song that I hear in my head when I’m out walking around looking at New York. But I’m not really trying to look at New York; that’s just the city I happen to live in. I’m trying to look at America. This can be a hard city to live in if you’re trying to look at America, because it doesn’t have a whole lot in common with the rest of the country. It goes about it’s ridiculousness, fully convinced of its importance, while the rest of the country does something else. I wanted the obliviousness of this city to be in this song, and I wanted the truth of the outside world to seep in all around that obliviousness. This is a song about watching people who don’t give a lot of thought to the fact that they live in an imperial superpower, or a surveillance state, or a would be democracy seriously flirting with the idea of become a full-blown theocracy. This is a song about looking at a whole lot of people who are convinced that what happens in this city is more important than all of that. This is a song about the warmth and solace I’ve known by becoming one of those people.

~M.E.

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Week 255 // The Last Castle Wall

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All the ant people
Live in separate cities
Every time they see the rain

And in my old tunnel
I just don’t know where I am
Even though it looks the same

And hear the air raid siren
Blowing in the wind
Singing what?
I couldn’t say

And feel the old castle wall
Shake beneath the cannon ball
Shatter slowly in the rain

And you don’t have to get up
We ain’t like the young folks
They’re squeezing out every drop

But watch the age that we’re in
‘Cause we ain’t like the old folks
We’re still breaking in our skin

And all my old friends
Are still my newest friends
But I don’t wonder what it means

If the moment’s catching
If the chill will stick around
You’ll find my face against the breeze

And hear the old folks
Laughing their hearts the floor below
What will it take to be like that?

To be the last castle wall
Why it remains while others fall
We will remain
We’ll be the last

And you don’t have to get up
We ain’t like the young folks
They’re squeezing out every drop

But watch the age that we’re in
‘Cause we ain’t like the old folks
We’re still breaking in our skin

Notes
The rain has gotten colder lately. People react by becoming islands. Around here that means they are islands within islands. It’s disorienting when umbrellas replace faces. Even underground, familiar stations become alien and the heart longs for something old a familiar. This is a song about appreciating things that last as bulwarks against a world that is ever fleeting, ever in a state of destruction and recombination. It is about old friendships, and old buildings, and ancient neighbors that never seem to vanish, that give us a sense of longevity toward which we might aspire. I haven’t gotten old yet, but as I look around the buzzing scene, I see young faces peeking out, eager and alive. It’s time to consider how one prepares for the next step. What does it take to age without fading? What does it take to crack without breaking? These and other questions are asked but not answered.

~M.E.

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Week 254 // Rising Star

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Picture yourself standing outside
Everyone marvel at the night sky

Later on when you’re all alone
Once again stare into the catacombs

It makes you want to run run run
Run run run in the open air

No, Listen you should run run run away
Never look back lest they see your face

‘Cause to the old world
Everyone looks like a cannibal

And in the new world
Everyone feels like a rising star

Notes
Last night I stood on the roof of my apartment building with two total strangers and watched the blood supermoon eclipse peer its etherial eye through intermittent clouds, as if parting them by some will of its own. This was the first time I’d spoken to any of my new neighbors for more than two minutes, and it felt good to focus our common humanity on a genuine celestial spectacle (see Week 18, a personal favorite, for more on a similar subject). My neighbors and I took turns discreetly texting, tweeting, or otherwise engaging the social sphere with our photos and thoughts on the event. Nobody was outrageous with their technology in the moment, but it was there with us, just as it always is. Satisfied with the mystical and unifying wonder of the cosmos, I went back indoors and within minutes I had fallen from the heights of the supermoon, down down down to the murkiest depths of my personal devices. This is a tension I have addressed from time to time, and I think my generation is uniquely suited to comment on it. We straddle the line of what was and what is coming. We just barely remember the old world, and thus hold a lingering suspicion of the new, even as we embrace it in our routines. We make a habit of living with suspicion, of looking behind our backs, of feeling like we may soon need to flee, and all the while we calm our nerves with fantasies of the wonders that await us in the data. I seek the moments that puncture these fantasies. That’s what I’m singing about this week.

~M.E.

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Week 252 // The Tithe We Pay to Time

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Very Very soon you know
Right now will be long long ago
And as we grasp the pace of time
Recollection’s first to go
But if you dare to look behind
Look not on that which rent you low

‘Cause all of us were bleeding then
And each is sure to howl again
And all will test their faith in time
And and each will see their patience bend
So if you’re seeking peace of mind
Look only to your nearest friend

And everything is quiet now
And everything is simple now
See, fear’s the tithe we pay to time
And we’re still breathing anyhow
Remember when you look behind
You don’t get up by looking down

Notes
This week’s entry was written for a good friend going through a hard hard time. I’ll spare you any real details, because it is not my business here to compromise a friend’s anonymity. I’ll just say that from time to time, difficult things transpire in all of our lives. We face them, and we make decisions, both good and bad. We adjust our expectations of the future as we assimilate new information into our past. We keep going, and the hardship recedes. New trials emerge, and often new triumphs buttress them. That’s the way it is to be alive. This song is about resilience. It is about learning to live with fear — the most future oriented emotion this side of hope — by defusing the power that the past holds over us. The song is short, but it feels full. It is simple, because it is seeking to simplify a thing that only seems complicated.

~M.E.

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Week 250 // Pixilated (or) What Are We Made Of?

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Pixilated and I’m heading home
Bits and pieces in the air
Blown around but see
The colors make a whole
Anywhere

Pulled apart the little molecules
Each constituent remark
Stow away the bits of memories
We’re left
In the dark

Take whatever you want
What are we made of?
What parts are we counting on?
And will we find them in the dark?

Reconstructed and I look upon
The face of every friend we’ve got
Reassembled in a different part of town
Around the block

Take whatever you want
Take whatever you want
What are we made of?
What parts are we counting on?
And will we find them in the dark?

Notes
Okay, so I’ve done this 250 times now and it feels really great. I’m a huge fan of comic books, and in that culture it is customary to offer a huge blowout anniversary special issue whenever a series achieves a nice round number like this. Mind you, they are counting months, and I’m counting weeks, so 250 issues of X-Men means something different than 250 Mount Everest songs. Recently I’ve preferred to make a big stink about this project’s yearly anniversary, rather than tooting my horn just for reaching a multiple of 50. I’ll certainly be throwing you special freebies and extra content this November when the 5 year mark is finally achieved. For this particular milestone I’ll just note that Mount Everest is now one quarter of the way to 1000 songs. Isn’t that something?

If you’ve been to this website in the past few weeks, you might remember that my wife and I have been preparing to move to a new apartment. I’m the kind of person who takes any opportunity to turn a routine life event into an inward spiral of existential bewilderment. This song reflects on the particular unease that I experience when I dismantle my life and put it together again. I completed this song on Friday before things got really hairy, when I was still anticipating the apocalypse. I’m feeling pretty great now on the other side of our move, so it occurs to me that a better point of view for this song might be our poor suffering cat, Lucy. Unlike us, she has no understanding of what has happened to her. The entire universe was destroyed, and she was flung into a cacophonous void. Emerging somewhere on the other side, her destination was incomprehensible. The sensation of total unfamiliarity instantly overwhelmed her limited faculties, and she retreated to the darkest, most remote corner of the landscape. I understand what Lucy is feeling far more than I should admit, although I am adjusting far more quickly than her. Life continues for both of us nearly unchanged, she just hasn’t caught on to that notion yet. We’re still figuring out where we’ve landed.

Thank you sincerely for listening to all of these songs, and giving me a reason to write so many of them. You are really cool.

~M.E.

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Week 249 // Shimmering

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Hold me down love
I get like this
I work my blood so much
I’m tasting it on my lips

Feel the highway
The summer wanes
Apocalyptic Rain
The thing is it never came

Everything is shimmering now
And I gotta move
Everything is coming around

Hold me up dear
I get locked down
I waste my charge, so what?
You’re keeping me off the ground

Fine intentions
I’m making good
I’m climbing canyon walls
I’m giving it what I should

Everything is shimmering now
And I gotta move
Everything is coming around

Notes
The picture accompanying this track was taken in my apartment. I staged it in no way whatsoever. This is actually what my apartment looks like right now. I can’t see the shape of this room because of the boxes we’ve accumulated. Soon we’ll fill the boxes and move them somewhere else. This isn’t a song about moving, just as last week’s song wasn’t a song about apartment hunting. This song is about chaos and anxiety, juxtaposed with sparkling optimism, partnership, and the smell of possibility in the atmosphere. My wife and I took a break from our project of deconstructing and reconstructing our lives this weekend. We traveled to help my old friends get hitched, and the event absolutely sizzled with possibility. In some ways it felt like revisiting our own wedding three weeks ago, which was one gratifying and wonderful aspect of the weekend. More than that, It was potent celebration of the possibilities in life, and it made me excited to keep building, to grab hold of the crackle in the air and make use of it. That’s sort of what this song is about.

~M.E.

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Week 248 // Mirror City​/​Life in Other Dimensions

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A wall of water
Coming down on us
A stolen moment
In the pouring rain
A new reality
I think because
Some tiny detail
You can tell has changed

And later on
We catch the colors move
We barely see it
But we know it’s so
And through the trees
I’m standing next to you
And past the clearing
Where we’re bound to go

And on the other side
From where we live
A mirror city
Close enough to touch
And every animal
And plant the same
Yes each identical
Except for us

Notes
What could be more exhausting than navigating the Brooklyn rental market? Pretty much nothing, as it turns out. It has a been a grueling week looking for a new apartment, and now as we’re nearing completion of this most unpleasant of tasks, I’m astounded at the weary miles my wife and I logged on foot, the trickery we encountered, the many different cities we traversed in just one borough, and the pure pulsing life that we encountered everywhere we went. This song isn’t really about apartment hunting. That’s boring. It is about a series of moments that emerged out of that mundane task, and a growing optimism that began to convince us that we were no longer walking the streets of the same city. Where were we? Perhaps a neighboring reality, a dimension just next door, where everything is the same, but just a bit nicer, where the colors are a little different, where we can accomplish something daunting, and where the future is maybe, just maybe, on our side.

~M.E.

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