Week 208 // Kingdom of Circumstance

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Only one part’s over
Pretty good trick
Convincing us we’re older
Who’d have thought
This would be the year
With the right thought
Anything can happen here

I was alive when
Half the world was burning
It was a crime to
Think that stopped us turning

Watch this moment
When I slow down
I’m sure that she can hold it
She’s got burning ways you see
Through the fire she
Came in on a wave to me

There was a time when
Kindness was worth learning
That was a moment
Earnestly returning

I was alive when
Half the world was burning
It was a crime to
Think that stopped us turning

Moonlight gets away
Was a child when
Last I tried to see this way
Oh the kingdom of circumstance
Once believed that loving was a consequence

This is a moment
Wrapped up in this yearning
Hooked to a comet
Brightest light and learning

I was alive when
Half the world was burning
It was a crime to
Think that stopped us turning

Notes
This week marks four years that I’ve spent making music as Mount Everest, four years of never missing a Monday, of writing music all the time. 208 is a lot of songs. After all, four years is nearly five years! Isn’t that something? When I hit an anniversary, I usually take stock, and this year was no different. On airplanes and subways and interstate highways I have recently revisited much of the now daunting catalogue. There was a time when this undertaking was much easier. These days, I can never make it a quarter of the way through, so I skip around randomly sampling ideas that I used to have, and thoughts that I used to think.

One thing really struck me this time. I’m always writing about how old I’m getting. To be clear, at 29 I am literally not old. It’s probably a function of such a linearly autobiographical project that I keep returning to this concept of aging. Watching the weeks tick by on this website, it’s no wonder I start to feel more than my age. The problem is that I am writing about my life like it’s over, when it has barely even started. This song attempts to redress that error of perspective. It has taken a year that has represented seismic beginnings in my life to recognize that this concept that my youth is behind me is a big trick I’ve been playing on myself. Sure, I’m not getting any younger, but youth is a perspective I’m not yet willing to cede to the next generation.

It is my custom to give you presents for Mount Everest’s birthday. If you click the image below, you will download a compilation of my favorite Mount Everest tracks from the past year.


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




It is a 23 track album; about an hour and twelve minutes of heartfelt thanks for lending me your ears, and (in many of your cases) your collaborative talents, your emotional support, your love, and your friendship. I love you all so much. It means the world to me that you come here to listen. Please come back next week as I kick off year five. The coming 12 months are shaping up to me monumental in my life, so anticipate sounds you’ve never heard!

~M.E.

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Week 207 // When it Goes

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I fill my capsule in the dark
I close it tight so it stays sealed
I dream of home and then I start
To pick apart the bits I’d steal
And when it goes
Ain’t it strange
To pick the bones
And beg the rain?

And out tonight into the dark
To search in vain for this made real
If out one moment goes a spark
What’s up ahead must fingers feel
And when it goes
Is it strange
To love the cold
And fear the flame?

And goodness knows
That it ain’t strange
That when it goes
We’re not the same

Notes
My parents are in the final days of selling my childhood home. It’s happened to a lot of people, now it’s happening to me. It isn’t a devastating loss. My life isn’t going to change all that much as a result. How many times a year do I even go there? What it illuminates is more about what’s changed already, which is pretty much everything. Certain aspects of this hit me really hard, but mostly it’s this numb acceptance, which is weird. If I ever go in there again, it’ll be something else, somebody else’s. If I ever go in there again it won’t be home. I suppose one pervasive aspect of this is a feeling of coming unmoored. There’s been a long tether between the Boston suburbs and me for as long as I’ve lived. I’m not sure it will be there anymore. Will I just drift off in the current? What does it mean to be from somewhere when you’ve got no place there to go back to? Maybe a lot. Maybe nothing. Sometimes I think this is really going to hurt. Other times I suspect I’m already over it. That house did its job for us. It did it really well. I love it like a family member. I love it like a parent. Maybe it’s good that it can do that for somebody else now. This song is about all of that stuff.

Next week is Mount Everest’s fourth anniversary! Wow. Please come back to celebrate with me.

~M.E.

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Week 205 // Prove It

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I can’t believe it
What’s in my hands
Sat on the gravel
With something bleeding
And watched the movement
Across the street

And somewhere sacred
Like in the past
White lights are blinking
And no one’s moving
And there I’m thinking
Are we to blame?

Can someone show me
Whatever you’re thinking?
I’ve got to know it
Or really I’m ruined
It’ll get me through it
Or I’ll explode

What have you
What have you
What have you
What have you got to prove?

Notes
This is a song about the rambunctiousness of youth. But isn’t Mount Everest all about the trials of getting older? Not today, it isn’t. Sometimes you have to look behind you and puzzle over it. Sometimes you’ve got to appraise the indefatigable urgency of yesterday to make heads or tails of right now. I’m on the precipice of my 30s, I’m getting married pretty soon, and somehow I like the idea of responsibility, even if I haven’t really nailed it yet. But once I was 19, and I was really really 19. I think I did 19 about as well as anybody ever did it. I’ll tell you, my being was on fire, and I was fit to burn the house down. I’m pretty relieved I didn’t. This song isn’t about a specific moment in time, or a thing I did or was done to me. This song is the atmosphere of my youth. It’s about the way my skin vibrated like so many barely rendered pixels. It’s about being partially cooked. I suspect that in ten years I’ll write another one just like it about right now. If only I knew.

~M.E.

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Week 203 // Listen, You’re the Ocean

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Once I tried to hear the ocean
In the faintest whispers in a seashell
Once I thought I heard you laughing
On the breeze that blew across the ocean

Notes
This is a buzzy robot ocean love song. I’ve written an ocean love song before, but never a buzzy robot ocean love song. This song is not only thematically, but melodically the sequel to Week 195 // Look, You’re The Ocean. There’s a similar slow unfolding lilt to the lyric, but this time it’s the same simple poem repeated twice. I’m listening for my ocean darling in a shell, on the breeze, wherever she may be. I’ve been near the ocean lately, and it’s a place I associate with her now. Going there without her leaves me listening for her, way way over on the other side somewhere. Now when she listens for me she’ll hear this.

~M.E.

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Week 200 // Mount Everest

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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.

~M.E.

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Week 197 // Summer’s End

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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…

~M.E.

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Week 195 // Look, You’re the Ocean

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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.

~M.E.

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Week 193 // The Rest of Your Life (You Can Call Me Hal)

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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.

~M.E.

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Week 192 // Season Of

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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.

~M.E.

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Week 190 // Crows Nest

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The air is so much lighter here
When I try to breath
Back where I’ve come from
Something’s in the way

And when I think about the constant miles
My thoughts skip to my love
Who answers oh so far away

And there’s something in the atmosphere
I can taste it
Mixing hopes and fears
And possibilities

And I think I’ll sit and rest a while
Where all I’ve got to do
Is play these chords and taste the breeze

The stars shine so much brighter here
When they try to shine
Back where I’ve come from
Something’s in the way

My love is in the atmosphere
It’s drifting on a note
And right back down to you
So far away

Notes
One of my favorite things about trips to spend time with my friends is that there’s always somebody eager to sit with me for a while and pluck out a new Mount Everest song. Frequently I’m lucky enough for that person to be Alex Selby who makes his umpteenth performance on this site playing lead guitar on this week’s song. This song is heavily infused with place. We recorded it in the airy crows nest of a beautiful old house hugging the craggy Maine coastline. You can hear the ocean. You can hear the sounds of our friends down below us, enjoying each other and the sunny day. You can hear our mistakes, but none of them matter. The space breathes, so we thought we’d allow the song to breathe as well, focusing on the guitars and the space rather than words. As such, the vocals come in late, and speak simply. This song takes its time, just as we took our time to sit with it, and in my opinion it just works.

~M.E.

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