Week 139 // Introvertigo

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Good gracious
You burn your own pages
You cut your own wages
There’s something up

Causing trouble
You burst your own bubble
You’re never so subtle
You get enough

So then you try to turn a phrase
But you’re really just turning the wheel
You think you’ve got a lot to say
Then I’m sure you will, yes you will

Whenever you’re alone
It’s your chance to let it all in
You get it in your heart
Again and again

So you catch your self breathing it in
Yes you catch yourself breathing
You catch yourself breathing
You catch yourself breathing it in
Again and again
Again and again

Good gracious
You’re running in place
Yeah you’re burning up traces
A perfect ten

Some people
They never lose sleep
Over getting it cheap
Are you one of them?

And all your pictures getting old
Yeah you’re fading with plenty to say
And if it makes you lose control
Then you should some day, yes you should

Whenever you’re alone
It’s a perfect revelation
You get it in your heart
Again and again

So you catch your self breathing it in
Yes you catch yourself breathing
catch yourself breathing
You catch yourself breathing it in
Again and again

Ooh you catch your self breathing it in
Yes you catch yourself breathing
You catch yourself breathing
You catch yourself breathing it in
Again and again
Again and again
Again and again

Notes
Not too long ago, I took a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test online, and I found out something about myself that startled me. In retrospect it seems painfully obvious, but I guess it just didn’t fit my concept of how I fit into the world. It turns out I’m a pretty hardcore introvert. The reason that I was surprised about this revelation was probably our societal misconception of what introversion is. I’m a blast at parties. I run my mouth off. I’m not cautious with my opinions. Extroversion, right? Not necessarily. Introverts process the world internally, and value privacy and autonomy. I do these things. I live an intricate internal life that tends toward solitude in the midst of a few intense personal friendships. Perhaps my miscalculation of myself as an extrovert has lead me to believe that these traits are somehow making me broken. This is a song about the tension within a person who is an introvert, but somehow doesn’t see it. It is a song about better knowing one’s self, and breathing in the fresh air on the correct side of self discovery.

Another note about this song. I found the guitar part, and therefore the bulk of the song, deep deep in my back pocket. I wrote it about five years ago, and intended to play it in my old band, Lightning Bug. It even had lyrics back then, but I’m not sure what they were. It was almost certainly a breakup song of one kind or another, which probably contributed to the band never picking it up. I was writing a lot of those back then, and we ended up throwing most of them away. I think we tinkered with it at one band practice before moving on to other material. I was always a bit disappointed, since I really like it. I continued to tinker with it for several years, but somehow over the past 138 weeks it never occurred to me to use it. So here it is, with a fresh coat of paint, brand new lyrics, and a new lease on life. Sometimes I really love my back pocket.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

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Week 137 // The Great Machine

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Grease on your hands
You touch your face
Gets in your eyes
You’re out of place
You know you’ll never fix it
With those petal hands
You’ll never see it
Work its gears again

And this machine
This road facade
It runs on something
You’re begging God to know
You’ll synthesize the substance if you can
You’ll curse the blisters
On your broken hand

And you know I struggled
Against the great machine
And it began to stir

And I’d never lie to you
But I’d stretch the truth
That’s how you make it work

You’ll set a fire
You’ll burn the plans
You’ll dash the pieces
You’ll wring your hands
You’ll know you’ve been a victim
Of some kind of scam
And if you trust a human being again
You just let them think it worked

We’ll all pretending like it works

And you know I struggled
Against the great machine
And it began to stir

And I’d never lie to you
But I’d stretch the truth
That’s how you make it work

It’s been a long road
You never let it end

It’s been a long road
You never let it end

It’s been a long road
You never let it end

It’s been a long long road
You never let it end

Notes
This song dives into a metaphor that I’ve played around with at least a few times before, but never to such a degree. In Week 67 // Recent Successes I remarked that “If you shut the engines down, wouldn’t you know, you won’t be starting them up.” Just a few weeks ago, I followed with “the machine is broken, if I get it working, I don’t know what it does at all.” The idea that I’m playing with is that a person’s life is like a machine, which makes each individual like a mechanic, or a tinkerer, trying to get all of the gears moving the right way, struggling to get the engine to turn over, or to keep the thing in working order. This song explores this idea further. If we start with the impression that life is this great machine, where did we get the impression that there is a right way for it to work? Is it our perception of other lives around us? Do we hear smoothly purring engines passing us, while ours sputter and cough? Is this a falsehood? What if there is no way to fix the machine, and the real metaphor is to leave it in a steaming heap by the side of the road and to carry on by foot? The moral failing of this song’s point of view is that we’d likely tell the next person that we come across that the machine is working just fine, because human beings can be vain and jealous creatures. Without any knowledge of our rusty gears, they’d hear the smooth rumble of our engines in their mind’s ear, and they’d double down in futility, rather than letting it go, being the person that they are, and living their life the way it is. Fuel for thought, perhaps.

One more note about this song: It has been many weeks since I’ve had the chance to really trick a song out like this one. I love my quiet folk tunes, but to me, “The Great Machine” just feels like vintage Mount Everest.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

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Week 136 // Little One

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Lay your head down
And go to sleep now little one
‘Cause your dreams of the sunshine
And the raindrops gotta come
And the whole world is ahead of you
Just behind the setting sun
So go to sleep
Go to sleep little one

Lay your head down
And go to sleep now little one
‘Cause your dreams of the wide world
And your best days gotta come
And your whole life is ahead of you
Just behind the setting sun
So go to sleep
Go to sleep little one

Notes
This week I have a new toy! I was given a new melodica by my dear friends this weekend as a thank-you present for officiating their wedding (thanks, and congrats yo! — that wedding was unbelievably awesome!) and it fits in perfectly with the song that I wanted to write this week. A different friend is expecting a baby very soon, and I thought it would be a good time to try my hand at writing a lullaby. The rich earthiness of the melodica coupled with my banjo made the task an absolute pleasure. My only regret is that my voice is a bit haggard from a weekend of wedding partying, and I think some high harmonies that I just couldn’t hit today would have nicely rounded out this soothing little tune. Nonetheless, I sincerely hope that when little heads hit little pillows with this song playing softly nearby, that sweet dreams are shortly to follow.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

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Week 134 // Out The Door

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I got my glass
And I’ve got my wine
Been working on my temper
And honey I got time
I’d spend it all on you
But what’s the use?
‘Cause once you see the problem
You’re bound to see it through

Like you said try try try try try
Just try to see the world
In a better way

And I’m saying my my my my my
My point of view
Doesn’t need to change

And I’ve got my boots
I’m putting on my hat
I’m picking up my car keys
And I ain’t coming back
This way no more
I’m saying what’s the use?
I’m working on this theory
The blame is all on you

‘Cause you would lie lie lie lie lie
Until we’re dead and gone
But who could live that way?

And I’d rather die die die die die
Than see you waste your breath
On the shit you say
So I’m out the door

And I’ve got my legs
I’m gonna try ‘em out
And if I get me moving
You’re gonna hear me shout
You’re gonna know for sure
Ain’t nothing you could do
‘Cuase once I spot that problem
I’m gonna see it through

And I would cry cry cry cry cry
For lack of nothing else
That I would rather do

And I’m thanking my my my my my my my
My lucky stars
For getting through with you
So I’m out the door.

Notes
I don’t spend a whole lot of time in relationships. Perhaps one of the reasons behind that is my tendency to allow my will to be walked over. I don’t know if the root is a lack of self confidence, but I’ve always tried for the path of least resistance rather than speaking my peace, like I’m lucky to have somebody’s attention and I’m desperate not to do or say anything to lose it. As a result of this I just feel like a stronger version of myself when I’m on my own. This song is a fictional reversal of my usual persona. The narrator of this song is confident that his point of view is sound and he shouldn’t have to change who he fundamentally is for another person. He is able to assign blame when necessary instead of always shouldering it. He is able to righteously walk out when the situation is clearly hopeless, rather than hanging on for the sake of convenience. I like this narrator, despite the fact that he isn’t necessarily reliable. Certainly all the blame doesn’t belong in one place, and his surety of his correctness should be questioned. But he is decisive nonetheless, and that is a trait that I’ve struggled to attain.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

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Week 132 // Country Mischief

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Old dark water seen it all
I’m sure they’ve got a lot to say
Like two black vultures
And four eastern bluebirds
And one little dragon flown away

And those good old days
I said they’re all but gone
And I’d drive like hell
For some country mischief
And to break our silence with a song

According to the master plan
There’s a piece I can’t recall
The machine is broken
If I get it working
I don’t know what it does at all

But if your good old friends
You feel them hanging on
Well you’d fight like hell
For something to belong to
Can’t you tell it’s right?
It works
It can’t be wrong

And I’d drive like hell
For some country mischief
And to break our silence with a song

And of the skin you cast away
The vibrant mass that you discard
Embarrassed of your beauty
Aligned with falsest notions
Who holds themself in such regard?

And if the finest days
Are surely yet to come
I’ll try like hell to finally
Make myself believe
I understood that all along

Notes
Despite being raised with the quintessential suburban experience, over the last decade I have done my damnedest to recast myself as some sort of new-fangled country bumpkin. When most of my friends were moving into big cities to seek their fortunes, I fled for the woods for better or for worse. I understand why most people try to get their kicks under big city lights, but to me it always seemed like a sort of obvious brand of excitement. I have always preferred to get up to no good in the middle of nowhere. Now as I prepare to drag myself kicking and screaming (in a good way) to some kind of new life in New York City, I find myself reflecting on all the country mischief that I have made over the years. This song is a kind of premature and temporary wistful farewell to the forrest. It is about the friendships that I have forged there, the songs we have sung there, and the meaning that one can only divine from an uncorrupted environment.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

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Week 131 // Strange

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You won’t believe
What I’ve been going through
I call my friends
And talk about the past
I can’t relate
To almost anyone
It always feels
Like it’s about to rain

And ain’t it strange?
Common sense saying look the other way

I said ain’t it strange?
To pretend it’s just any other day

I don’t believe
In darkness anymore
I’ve never once
Allowed the monster in
Feels like your heart’s
A quiet passenger
Feels like the sting
After you hear your name

And ain’t it strange?
Common sense saying look the other way

I said ain’t it strange?
To pretend it’s just any other day

Good God when you say
Believe in anything and nothing
Ain’t it strange?

It ain’t OK
You count the days just like the seconds fall away

Notes
This week’s song is attempting to address the weird way in which our concepts of our lives shift around. One day being alive feels one way, and the next day it feels different. One day you can relate with a perspective, and the next day you can’t. One day you’re afraid of the dark, and suddenly you grow out of it. One day you think you know who you are, then the next you don’t anymore, and then the day after that you know it stronger than ever. Being alive is tumultuous and strange. Sometimes it feels like we’re all just hanging on for dear life as the scenery passes us by at some ludicrous speed. This song is about how weird it is that every day you are a unique and temporary iteration of yourself, and each iteration is just floating away into the past. Strange indeed.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

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Week 128 // Look At You Now

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I think of you then
With your sensitive moments
And your big city friends
You were out like a light
You were looking around
With your faith in a notion
And your head in the ground

Just look at you now
Just look at you now
‘Cause you’ll figure it out
And you’ll stand in the rain
And you’ll know in that moment
That you’re never the same

And if you could arise
Just like any other
If you could have any life
Would you trade it to know
Even just for the day
That the future is certain?
It’s a terrible way

Just look at you now
‘Cause you’ll figure it out
And you’ll stand in the rain
And you’ll know in that moment
That you’re never the same

Notes
This week I’m continuing with this weird sythed-out 80’s vibe that I’ve been tinkering with lately. This time I brought in the big-tom-drum-fills… uh oh! Once again, this tune came out of a moment related to the tragedy in Boston, but this time it was a much quieter and more personal moment. The night of the big manhunt, after all was said and done, I went out for a run to clear my head. While I was out, these huge rain clouds swept in and released the pent up frustrations of that entire week down upon me. It was truly cathartic, and I started thinking of the ways that I looked at the world before, and the ways that I now look at the world in light of everything that has happened. My friends in big cities came to mind, and I realized that I have never truly worried about their safety. The harsh realization of my past-naiveté came up against my stubborn will to stay the same, and I didn’t really like it. I took heart, however, in the notion that we never stay the same, and that all the times that I’ve had to change in the past didn’t hurt so much that I couldn’t keep on enjoying life. Even with calamity and uncertainty abound, this is the life we have.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

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Week 127 // Monday

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Every cent will benefit victims of the tragedies in Boston, MA and and West, TX.

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Monday, an age ago
Falling apart
The place I was born
Like a hole in the heart

And innocent notions
At once rearrange
Awoke Tuesday morning
All waiting on Cain

Then all Wednesday’s promise
Erupted that night
Saw faces on Thursday
That couldn’t be right

Friday like Ragnarok
What must we do?
And when it’s all over
What can we hold true?

On a Monday
We were falling apart
On a Friday
Wondering: where can we start?

Monday, incredible
What have we seen?
The object of tragedy
Would not concede

Allure of the darkness
The pitch of the night
Held onto the morning
Aspired to light

And something about them
A call they refuse
The basest of instincts
We must never use

And Friday, a bookend
A staggering sight
The roar of the evening
The still of the night

On a Monday
We looked deep in our hearts
On a Friday
Wondering: where can we start?

Notes
What is there left to be said about last week? I can’t say nothing. I was born in Boston, and when I was a kid my Dad ran the Boston Marathon each year. The Marathon route thundered through my home town at the bottom of my street, one hundred yards from my house. It was always a thrilling and wonderful day, and it lives in my memory as some of the brightest moments of my youth. So I can’t say nothing about it, even though it is hard for me to gather my thoughts on this subject. This whole thing is etched into my heart the way it is for so many others, and I’d have to ignore my heart to write about anything else this week.

Last week was one of the strangest in memory. Boston burst into violence on Monday and Friday, bookending a week that also witnessed a catastrophe beyond comprehension in Texas. What is left to say about the human drama that boiled over in America? About the heartbreaking loss? About the heroism and outpouring of human decency? About the baffling choices made by promising young men who could have embraced the opportunity of their adoptive home? About the mettle of responders to do what must be done? About the sacrifices made and lives forever altered? I’m not sure what I have to add to this narrative, so I just wrote a song about how I feel.

I usually sell these songs for whatever meager profit I can manage each week. I abhor the idea that I could write a song about this tragedy and gain any personal profit from it, so originally I was going to offer it as a free download. I changed my mind late in the game. It strikes me that Mount Everest listeners must be a caring bunch, so I decided to sell this song after all, but I won’t be keeping any of the money. Name your price for the MP3 of this song on Bandcamp, and every cent will go to charities supporting victims of the tragedies in Boston, Massachusetts and West, Texas. Thank you so much for your generosity!

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

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Week 126 // Take To Heart

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I had two ideas up at night:
1) That love’s a delusion you gotta fight
2) Or a gift if you get it right

And one idea’s dressed in black
All serious, grim like a heart attack
The other’s all dressed in white

Take to heart
It ain’t too late to love someone
Deep inside you
You’re in love with everyone
Take to heart
It ain’t too late to love someone
Deep inside you
You’re in love with everyone

So that’s the calm?
So that’s the courage to believe
That everyone will not be left alone

Am I finished with counting ways
That I let myself down, that I’ve gone astray?
So cynical, such malaise

My heart is an open book
And passing it by you could take a look
And I’m begging don’t look away
No

Take to heart
It ain’t too late to love someone
Deep inside you
You’re in love with everyone
Take to heart
It ain’t too late to love someone
Deep inside you
You’re in love with everyone

Notes
This is a song about the heart and its struggle to open itself up. I don’t write a lot of songs about love. I tend to feel like it is territory that has been plenty covered in the history of music. But every now and then I have a song that just sounds like it should address it, or a lyric that just doesn’t fit into a song that isn’t unselfconsciously about it. Perhaps I don’t write a lot of love songs because I’m not in love, and truthfully while this song is about love it isn’t a love song. It is a longing song. It is about trying not to decide to give up on the entire institution. But it is also a hopeful song. It acknowledges that finding one’s self in a place where one can love requires adopting a new optimism. Not loving at all is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It sends you around in circles. Perhaps if one acknowledges that one could potentially love anybody, one could love somebody in particular. This song is also full of awesome robots and love-lazers, and some grooves that I haven’t returned to in a little while. If I’m being honest, I really love this one.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

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Week 122 // Some Nights

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Feeling like a total stranger
The catalyst, rearranger
It makes you cry
It makes you want to cry some nights
But you don’t know why

Something like an itch in the winter
Driven in like a splinter
It makes you try
It makes you want to try some nights
But you can’t say why

Some nights you get to thinking
It’s tricky when it’s sinking in
You’re thinking you’re a pessimist
You blink and you forget it some nights

Come on don’t you see the problem
High hopes got you riding on them
You wonder why
It makes you wonder why
Some nights got you buzzing inside

Your thoughts are a curious creature
Your heart’s a serious feature
Keeps you alive
It’s keeping you alive
I’m thinking that you know just why

Some nights you get to thinking
It’s tricky when it’s sinking in
You’re thinking you’re a pessimist
You blink and you forget it
Some nights you’re feeling sure
That when you’re staring at the ceiling
That there’s something true that’s yours
And that it’s something good you’re feeling
Some nights

Notes
I’ve written again and again about my tendency toward insomnia, and my habit of being up late at night, night after night. This week, I’ve got another song to add to that category, but it feels different from the other ones. This one is about a transition in thought processes. When I’m up late at night, I’m usually lying in bed trying to sleep, but my head is buzzing with activity. It has traditionally been a time when I process some panicked feeling, and alternate between emotional volatility and rational soothing calm. Lately though, the panic has been replaced with a similarly edgy excitement, except it is all positive. It is equally as inhibitive to sleep, but I’m thinking really good thoughts. This song is about making that transition. It just makes me feel better than my other insomnia songs.

~M.E.

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