Week 224 // Shrug It Off

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All the days you’d sit and wonder
If you’d amount to anything
What kind of awful nervous question
What kind of tiny way to think
You used to sing to call the thunder
You used to scowl to egg it on
You used to bare an ugly letter
Took all these years to shrug it off

Notes
I finished this song feeling pleasantly surprised. Actually, it left me with sort of a warm feeling, like I’d been sitting on something like this for a while and didn’t really know it. My process lately has been truncated, to put it delicately. When I devote fewer hours per week to making up songs, perhaps it takes a little bit longer for my most genuine ideas to percolate through the system and rise to the top. That’s not to say there haven’t been some good moments recently, because there certainly have been some. But this one has a solid simplicity that I feel truly takes advantage of the type of quick turnaround that I’ve been working with lately. It arrives, says what it means, and as soon as you’ve given it a good look it’s on its way again. I feel that’s the way a short song should be. This one is about shaky feelings about a misaligned past that seems to have resolved itself. It employs an old convention that used to be standard around here in that every time I say “you” I mean “me”… Anyhow, I sure hope you like listening to it.

~M.E.

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Week 223 // Supposing the Road and the Wind

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Am I carrying a light load?
No I really wouldn’t put it that way
I’m comparing sticks to stones
And mud to bones
And if you want to know
I’m apt to lose my way

And have I got a short fuse?
I guess that’s something you could say
But worry not, it ain’t for you
It’s self abuse
When every inch gets burned away

Hour after hour
Blowing back to you
Mile after mile
Spinning over me

If you have been the winding road
And I have been the sudden breeze
Then I should be the road for you
And you could be the wind for me

And will I be a good man?
Suppose there’s nothing in the way
Suppose I pray and plan
And make my mark
And understand
Suppose I never lose my way

And if we do the right things
Supposing we know what they are
Suppose we strike the strings
Let loose the choir and hear them sing
Assuming we work real hard

Hour after hour
Blowing back to you
Mile after mile
Spinning over me

If you have been the winding road
And I have been the sudden breeze
Then I should be the road for you
And you could be the wind for me

Notes
This song comes out of a contradictory state that I’ve existed in lately, one of pervasive anxiety and simultaneous relaxed certainty pertaining to the future. I didn’t really know what I was writing when I began, but what came out was surely a reflection of the mounting pressures of finishing my master’s degree by the spring, and somehow helping to plan a wedding and start a bold new future at the same time. I am certain of my course, and have an idea of what must be done, but at the same time all of the particulars completely elude me. Really, this is a song about personal upheaval and mutual support, and that is the real gift of my past year. I’ve always had the personal upheaval. It’s with most of us from day one, and it is part of the price we pay to enjoy being alive on this planet. The mutual support is something new. I’m still getting used to it, but I have to say, it’s pretty nice.

~M.E.

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Week 221 // Thinkin’ It

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On the back of a letter in your hand
You were writing my name
In my room I could feel your through the wall
You were thinkin’ it over

Notes
Last spring I did this romantic and risky thing where I came home and confessed all kinds of nice feelings to my roommate, who has subsequently agreed to marry me. I’ve written a couple of songs about it in which the story often comes off as a bit of a parable about the value of taking chances and leading with your heart, which it most definitely is. All of those songs have left out an interesting detail, one that for some reason I thought of this evening as I sat to write a new song which (even to my surprise) set out to fill that detail in. Here is the detail: after I told her, we ended the evening still as friends. I spent the night blinking at my ceiling wondering what I’d done, and I can only assume she spent the night blinking at the ceiling wondering pretty much the same thing. Days later we started what would become our relationship, but only after a weekend spent wondering what she would do with the major revelation I had made. The memory of that first night’s suspense stays with me and holds an important lesson, which is that the real thing takes work and careful attention. She gave it just that, and we’ve continued to do so ever since. I think it’s a better story than the simple parable where everything goes just like you’d expect.

~M.E.

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Week 218 // A Trick in the Dark

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Almighty our god
Is an angry old man
With his hand in his pocket
And his gun in that hand
And if he pulls it on you
You’ll be dead where you stand
so think of that
When you’re saying your prayers

Almighty our god
Is a lamp in the sky
And if you tell enough friends
You’ll switch on when you die
Yeah if you tell enough people
You’ll spend eternity high
So think of that
When you speak to your friends

Halleluja

Almighty our god
Is a word you can’t say
And should he rise to your lips
You must push him away
‘Cause he is jealous and vengeful
And we like him that way
‘Cause he is ours
And says we’re not wrong

Halleluja

but hold on a minute…

Almighty our god
Is a trick in the dark
And although it is hard
We’ll light up with a spark
That revenge isn’t love
And that a god who embarks
On revenge
Is a god who is not love

Notes
What this song is not: an indictment of all religion, belief, practice, or doctrine. What this song is: a critique of many popular religions, beliefs, practices, and doctrines. In the faith of my upbringing, god is love. God cannot both be love and anger. God cannot be both love and divisiveness through superiority of one group over another. God cannot be both love and petty jealousness. God cannot be both love and damning of kind people who disagree on god’s nature or existence. God cannot be both love and damning at all. God cannot be both love and the reason to fight a war. God cannot be both love and an excuse to discriminate against, persecute, and systematically disenfranchise marginalized groups. God cannot possibly be both love and vengeance.

I am unequipped to say what god is. I don’t know that god is anything. I do know that the only god worthy of any of my attention would have to be a loving one. The god I hear people talking about out there is most often not a loving one. I’m thinking hard on this one.

~M.E.

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Week 217 // Join the Conversation

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Join the conversation
Listen up, god knows
They could jaw for hours
And they’d never know
There’s a topic bleeding
On the ice and snow
Join the conversation
And let nothing go

And what are you
But the point you make?

That’s your conscience fading
Knocking at your door
There’s an outcome waiting
And it isn’t yours

Notes
It seems that the deeper our problems grow (our problems as a civilization, that is) the more superficial our discourse becomes. It’s bad out there, and precious few people seem to have anything of substance to say about it. That’s what I’m singing about in this song, and unfortunately (or perhaps fittingly) the song is characteristic of the discourse it is critical of. It offers nothing but to say that if you aren’t a part of the conversation, you’re a part of the problem. It advances no cause other than discourse. It stakes no claim other than that better claims must be staked.

I had a lot of fun with the drum and bass programming on this number, making a couple of moments really go, while keeping it extremely simple. There are also a couple of useful moments on the guitar. The track is stylish; I only wish I’d had more to say about how preciously little anyone has to say that’s worth saying. I’ll try again later on down the line, I’m sure.

~M.E.

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Week 216 // The Year

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On the morning that I woke up
Convinced that this would be the year
Come on, what a notion
Little whispers in my ear

Light and radiant on the highway
I never realized what it meant
Come on, what a notion
That every second lived is spent
So come on

Burning down the country fire
And knowing for a fact this moment’s real
Come on, what a notion
So many moments we could steal
So come on

Notes
Hello out there! Happy New Year! The year is already five days old, but this is the first Everest track of 2015, so I’m still coasting on the optimism and good times of what has always been my favorite holiday. I know a lot of you must be groaning, because every year I come on this blog and sing and write and pontificate about how great the new year is because it represents renewal, and second chances, and the importance of our brief light in the ever progressing march of time and on and on and yadda yadda yadda. Well this year is no different, and since this going to be a big year for me, I’m kicking it off with a fun little number that is meant to herald the year to come, and to take stock of its fleeting moments as precious commodities to be held and cherished. Wherever this song finds you out there, and whatever shape your life is taking, I wish you a new year worth holding on to.

~M.E.

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Week 214 // Midnight in the Clearing

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Candle in the window
Light the way
Light the way
What am I to do?
Sit and wait
Sit and wait
Crack the end of autumn
On the way
On the way
Hold on
Hold on
Hold on

Sound of heavy concrete
Gone away
Gone away
Midnight in the clearing
On the way
On the way
Hold on
Hold on
Hold on

Notes
Last week I wrote of the approaching return of my fiencée from her season of work abroad, and just as last week’s song anticipated, she arrived on Friday, much to our mutual joy relief. I spent the week writing songs in advance of the holiday season and the travel and logistics that often make keeping up with Mount Everest difficult. Having already written of her return, I had intended to explore other subjects and territories, but sometimes an emotion and an event looms so large that I cannot write around it, so I embraced the wait and I kept meditating on it. To that end, here is yet another song about Rebecca’s approaching return, despite the fact that I am releasing it days after the event. There is yet another one like it cued up for a week from today, and both of them were written and recorded last week. Some Monday early in the new year Mount Everest will catch up to real life, no longer lingering on that week’s wait. There was simply nothing else I could imagine writing about.

This song plays with a slightly elaborate electronic arrangement. I pull off a few things with a synthesizer that I haven’t really tried before. I hope you enjoy it.

~M.E.

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Week 212 // Ember

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The season gets long
And the stranger it gets
I hold an ember
It’s at the heart of it
And I’ll give it to you
You hold it tight in your hands
I want you to be a part of it

The season gets long
And the stranger it gets
I hold an ember
It’s at the heart of it
And I’ll give it to you
You hold it tight in your hands
I want you to be a part of it

Take a look around
This place was made for conversation

Notes
This song is anticipating a much deeper part of winter, the part when things get a little weird. Any winterdwellers know what I’m talking about. There’s going to come a day not too long from now, after the holidays are over, after the novelty has worn off, when we’ll realize we’re in the very middle of it. Autumn will be a flicker of a memory, and spring will be a bizarre fantasy; a lie somebody told you once. The walls will feel closer. Time will slow down. But then something will happen. It will become a beautiful part of winter, because it will be the moment when we give up on the superficial relief of other less mighty seasons, and we will turn to each other. People keep this little warm thing at their center; they tend to it. They keep it burning. It is precious. One day when the sun is dim they take it out and they give it to somebody else. Winter is about human connection, and as the air shifted this week, and autumn left us, I began stoking the little ember in me. I need to keep it glowing, so it will be bright enough to give away later on.

~M.E.

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Week 211 // A Moment

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Up into the air
Crossing o’er the valley
Something down below
Catches light just like a diamond
What am I to do
But fix my eyes upon it sadly?

Pictures stuck between
Pages of a notebook
Turn them in my hand
Recognize the faces slowly
What am I to do
But fix my eyes upon them gladly

Notes
What I’ve been doing for the past couple of weeks, and what I may be doing a few weeks longer as finals hit NYU, is sort of like the songwriting equivalent of haiku. This is a short song that set out to be short. Here are phrases and ideas that are hoping to be something complete rather than something truncated due to lack of time to flesh it out. This song is really just a moment in time. It has a little sadness. It has a little happiness. It evokes places and people without ever spelling them out. I wanted it to be a song you could run your fingers over, one with a little texture, like a physical object. Maybe I did that, or maybe I didn’t. I enjoy making these little meditations. If I didn’t have Mount Everest, I’d never bother to make a song so small and simple.

~M.E.

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Week 210 // At the Center of the Earth

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At the center of the earth
Not far away from here at all
The buried rocks beneath the dirt
And the hot fire ball

When molten rocks push through the seam
To scorch the surface of the earth
We’re never asking what it means
We only ask how it works

Notes
This is a steady, patient little slow burn of a song. I suppose it’s about our modern proclivity to quantify the world around us, rather than searching for deeper meaning. I must have developed some frustration with this phenomenon during my time in graduate school. It isn’t so much that people never search for deeper meaning. That’s the whole project of the arts after all. I guess my problem is that qualitative perspectives are so easily sunk by numbers in our culture. They amount to nothing but a nice addendum to the figures. It isn’t right. Data drives us so deep down that our critical minds, and perhaps even our very hearts, are losing authority. Reader, Listener, please never cede the authority of your heart.

~M.E.

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