Week 87 // Thinking Like a Stranger

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Cutthroats and strangers
You count down the line
And pictures I made for a previous time
And weren’t you there?

I think I’m in love
With a strange kind of life
I pray for the constant to break
Ain’t it right

That God only knows
I’m an innocent man
Getting truer each time
That I say it again
Singin’ God only knows
I’m an innocent man
Getting truer each time

And maybe I’m lucky I’m made out of time
Stare into the early morning light
Silhouettes and traces it describes
And oh we barely knew ya
Say goodnight

You wake up doing your best
You’re thinking like a stranger
You confess

Notes
Disclaimer: You’ll want to wear your headphones and really crank this one. I had some difficulty mastering it, and in the interest of time I posted a really quiet version.

Last week I was visiting my folks and my Dad put a tenor ukulele in the back seat of my car before I left. Excited with my new toy, I decided to take it for a spin. I set out with the goal of writing a rock song using only a uke. Thinking Like a Stranger is the end result. The song relies on heavy layering, both on the uke and on the vocals. I wanted a thick, dynamic sound, so I played around with changes in rhythm, and I tried to use my vocal overdubs like a lead instrument. The feel often veers more toward folk than I had initially intended, but it creates a nice contrast with the more driving sections of the song.

The words are about waking up feeling like somebody else. In this instance, I’m talking about finding yourself with a better attitude. You can get used to feeling one way about yourself, and when it suddenly changes the only explanation is that there is a stranger in your head, and it’s a good thing.

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

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Week 86 // Hello, Paradise.

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Featuring:
Nick Mastors
Alex Selby
Marissa Block
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Listen to a few of these songs, and you might notice that very few things elicit a reaction from me quite like my close friends do. Nearly any time that I get to spend significant time with them warrants a song of its own. This is a song about not needing the baggage you bring with you. I’m the guy who packs the car to the brim just to get where he’s going only to realize that he doesn’t need most of it. I do the same with my heart, dragging around old ordeals and feelings. But I get where I’m going and I realize that what I really need is the people; the ordeals and feelings wash away. When I’m leaving, it seeps back in slowly, but I’m able to remember how touched my life is by truly exceptional people. Marissa Block puts it best when she says that spending time with these kinds of friends makes you feel “right, at peace, [and] full of hope and promise.” It’s so beautiful it makes you cry.

I wrote this song with Nick Mastors in a rare encounter as he through-hikes the appalachian trail. His mohawk and beard are things of wonder. Alex Selby played the lovely guitar solo that rounds out the middle of the song. His subtle mastery of spontaneous melody always knocks me down. I plagiarized the title of the song from Marissa Block, and stole the photo from her as well. She had already said it better than I could.

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

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Week 85 // Dangerous Music

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Hand it over
Grip like a pit bull
Starting to shiver
And I bleed in the lake
And you should go

Hard to remember
Dangerous music
Danger loves company
But where did you go?
Oh where did you go?

Early summer
Rolling over
Burning Daylight
Barely letting go

So nice to see you
So good to be here
So much like you imagined
Things ought to be
But you should go

And where’s everybody?
I’m hot in the middle
And what’s gotten into you?
I really should know
I’d really like to know

Burning daylight
Getting closer
Days like these
Can’t say where you should go

Early summer
Spoke like children
Rolling over
Barely letting go

And you felt it sure as you could
Like dangerous music treating you good
Like devious sunlight burning your shoulders
You live for a day without getting older

And every summer
Burning daylight
Spoke like children
Finally letting go

You talk like a stranger
You think you can prove it
Like shadows and movement
And it hits close to home
It hits close to home

Like chasing a feeling
Like holding on tighter
Forgetting to breathe
It’s like you’re begging to know
You’d really like to know

And it hits where you live
And you know that you’re not gonna go

And you felt it sure as you could
Like dangerous music treating you good
Like devious sunlight burning your shoulders
You live for a day without getting older

And you’re sure
That you’ve got
What you need
And it ain’t like you
To be this sure

And you feel
That the rest
Of your life
Should be just like this
And you need more

And you sing
Just to hear
What it sounds like
It sounds like you
And you just know

That you’ll live
And you’ll die
And you’ll own
Everything you’ll do
And you’ll let go

Every summer
Burning daylight
Spoke like children
Finally letting go

Notes
This weekend was the first time this year that I let myself feel the summer. It’s been coming for a really long time, but something switched over in me this weekend that hadn’t quite kept up with the weather. I’m not sure if you have the same experience, but the lead-up to the summer is like a rubber-band being stretched to its breaking point. All of the accumulated darkness of the winter can’t quite be shaken by the spring because the change isn’t dramatic enough. But one day you find yourself truly sun-soaked and blissfully ignorant of anything bad in the universe, and the rubber-band breaks in a wonderful cascading snap, and your first feeling is disbelief. You try to grab onto the rubber-band because it was familiar, but as it slips through your fingers you understand the gift of the sunburn on your back (promising yourself to remember sunscreen next time), and you turn the music up so loud it could burst your eardrums. That is what this song is about.

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

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Week 83 // Self Portrait

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Trying again, these things you do
It comes to me
It goes through you

Dying to see you as you are
Stripped right down
Every part

Tired and the meaning got away
I catch my breath
Every day

All of the pieces of your heart
Stripped right down
Every Part

Trying again
It gets to you
It’s Sunday morning
You’re coming to
You’re deflecting thoughts
All about your attitude
You let yourself down
It speaks to you

Cast them away, the things you know
I recognized you
You turned to go

Honestly there ain’t rules for this
It’s as it pleased you
It’s hit or miss

Trying again
It gets to you
It’s Sunday morning
You’re coming to
You’re deflecting thoughts
All about your attitude
You let yourself down
It speaks to you

Notes
Self Portrait is a song about feeling like two people: one person who works toward your best interest, and one who works against it. It’s a song about making mistakes, and learning to deal with self sabotage. It is about how making mistakes is ultimately the best tool for learning about yourself. Like many of my songs it is ultimately about learning to be self-aware to your own betterment, which for me is a very slow process involving lots of messing up and trying again.

Here’s a quick plug: if you happen to be in New York City this Thursday afternoon, please stop by First Park where I’ll be playing a live acoustic set with the likes of Miguel, Tama, Dave, Nat, and Lyle (and probably more!) who are are fantastically creative musicians with passion and tallent! They are cool, and if you come, you will also be cool!

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

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Week 81 // Wise Up

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When you get in your way
You’re just another young thing
Another child-like stray on a string
But you know

And when the season don’t change
I’m thinking maybe it’s you
You’re thinking “God, Ain’t it strange, what you’d do?”
You should wise up

And on a regular day
An unbelievable truth
Your reaction mundane and aloof

You should wise up
You could wise up
I’m tellin’ you to wise up
You should have known you could get this old

You could have loved you more
And you should have thought of that first
But the past up and finished
And yours ain’t the worst

And you love like a pennance
But that ain’t the way
It should be your reward
But you say that you just can’t afford it
You’re way off base

You should wise up
You could wise up
I’m tellin’ you to wise up
You should have known you could get this old

Notes
Since all of my gear is packed away under a mountain of boxes (a result of this weekend’s move), I did this one with just a guitar and my voice. I still wanted to rock it a bit though, so it is a bit rollicking at times, and there are lots and lots of voices. Wise Up is a song about the strange sort of way that acting younger than your age makes you feel older than you are. Perhaps you try to distract yourself from the passage of time, and the inevitability of age by behaving irresponsibly, or by being less than the person you could be. You find yourself behind your expectations of where you should be at a certain point in your life, and you react by being aloof. But acting irresponsibly always results in consequences, and the moment the consequences present themselves is the moment you feel oh so very old. It’s when you tell yourself to wise up.

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

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Week 80 // Embrace/Defy/Emerge Resolved

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I cash my check
And I walk all afternoon
I draw on my bare skin
And I think of you

I settle in
I think for days
I look like shit
I feel okay

I could know all the truth
If ever I wanted to
I could see right through
The obvious metaphor

An empty glass
A crooked smile
A guarded laugh
It takes a while

And you, you learn to love the truth
Embrace the facts in front of you

Embrace the context gaining strength
Defy the urge to look away

Defy the part so scared of life
Emerge resolved to look alive

Resolve the threads that linger on
And clean your slate with everyone

I look around
I love this place
I pack my things
I go away

Notes
Good afternoon to those of you joining me for the 80th time, or for the first time! It is moving week at my house here in the forest. My housemates and I will be leaving the woods, and going to the town. Quite a week indeed. Such abrupt change is of course fodder for introspection, so I didn’t have such a hard time coming up with things to sing about this week. This is a song about changes. The prospect of moving prompted the tune, but it could be about changes of many kinds. It is a song about the knee-jerk reaction to resist change because it is scary, and the ultimate realization that change is an opportunity to view life through a new lens. It’s about mustering the strength to face change head on. It’s supposed to be one of these optimistic ones that I like to write sometimes. I’m a little biased (because I wrote it) but I feel like it’s pretty good. Now that you’ve listened to it (and shared it), go outside! It’s a beautiful today!

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

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Week 78 // Awake In All You Do

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You once spoke softly
You spoke on trials
On time and scorn
You lent them credence
With fate like rivals
Asleep and worn
And when the arms that held the young thing that once you were encircle you no more
You just wake up then
You find asylum
You draw your breath
You stitch together
The finest version
of what you got left
If you could know all the right ways
You would not grow
So certain in your bet
So you summon the meaning
Of time moving faster
Of folks up and leaving
Like natural disaster
Like stuck in the crosshairs
You’re weaving and moving
And nothing’s so precious
As fighting and losing
And you laugh just because it’s so unkind
The fleeting arc of time
And I got nothing
That I can tell you
That you don’t know
You had a moment
It took forever
But still you grow
And when that darkness finds me
I’ll look to you
Awake in all you do

Notes
In the last few years I’ve had a lot of friends who have gone through the process of losing people very close them. It has been heartbreaking to watch people go through this type of ordeal, and I always wonder about where they will come out on the other end of it. I spent a lot of my weekend deep in conversation with a dear friend who suffered a great loss and then went out into the world to try and figure out what it all meant. Compared to the person who left, the person who came back had an amazing depth of understanding. It’s not necessarily the type of understanding that is easily put into words, and it’s so personal to her that I dare not draw her conclusions for her. But I was struck by the contrast. Anger had become perspective in such a fundamental way. I just had to reflect on it with this song.

I’m away from my usual command center, and I didn’t have access to some of the bells and whistles that I might normally employ on a song like this, so I decided to keep it really simple and focus on the chord progression. This is about as stripped down as Mount Everest gets. A dude and a mandolin.

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

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Week 77 // River Song

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I made my way down by the river
Far as I could go
I coulda stayed with everybody else
With everybody else I know

I was thinking on this poem

Once you sent to me
The words were rattling in my thoughts
Intent I couldn’t see
The intent I couldn’t see

I dipped my feet in the shallows
Was a pull I’d not deny
I could let the river take me now
Leaving all I was behind
Leaving all I been behind

‘Cause you been gone gone gone gone
You been gone gone gone gone
You were gone gone gone gone
You were gone gone gone gone

I washed up on a bank somewhere
And rose on shaking limb
I had an aching in my heart like everybody else
And moonlight on my skin
I had moonlight on my skin

I made my bed and I rested there
And I shivered in the cold
You were out there in in the night somewhere
You were fighting getting old
You were fighting getting old

Since I’ve been gone gone gone gone
I been gone gone gone gone
I was gone gone gone gone
I was gone gone gone gone

You’ve been gone
You were gone

Notes
This is a little song about missing people. The idea here is that you could get in the river and it would take you to somebody you feel like you need to see. But it doesn’t take you there. You tried to let the river do all the work for you. You tried to be passive about it and just go for the ride, but the river spits you out wherever it wants to. It spits you out and maybe you’re even more removed from whoever it was you were trying to get to. You have to do the work yourself. You have to admit that it’s not just that somebody is far away from you, but that you are far away from them too. It’s a simple little song, and its a continuation of my recent love affair with simple little guitar songs.

By the way, the title that I chose for this song is sort of a joke. If you happen to get the joke, that means that you are a huge nerd. But I’m okay with that, because I’m the nerd who cracked the joke.

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

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Week 76 // Fact Ain’t Truth

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Featuring Rebecca Horton
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You know I believe
In all these old fashioned things
Like spending time
And saying sooth
We live like spies
But fact ain’t truth

I got news for you kid
You’ve got nothing to lose
You got time
You got plenty of folks trying to find you

Look at your head in the clouds
It seemed like Earth
But it’s dead somehow
And you’ve got this move
Where you cover your eyes
And you wrap up your heart
And you run and you hide

I got news for you kid
You ain’t got nothing to lose
You got time
You got plenty of folks trying to find you
And you’re in love
With the embellishments and the half truths above you
You got time
Wouldn’t you spend it with people who love you

Notes
Spending time with long absent friends this weekend, I noticed a prevailing theme in our conversation. Everyone I know is exhausted and disgusted with social media and constant connectivity. It was supposed to be a revolution in communication, but instead we feel voyeuristic and exploited, and relationships have been cheapened and made superficial. The word “friend” has become ostensibly meaningless in the culture at large. I have hundreds of them. Yet we religiously update our status and poke our friends as if we’ve been defeated. I use promoting this website as my excuse for doing it. Everyone’s got their own excuse. The truth is we like it, and we’re worse people for it. Mark Zuckerberg says you are worth a hundred dollars to him. That makes me want to take a shower. This is a song about real friendship. The list of facts that you read about your friends on their timelines are not the truth. They might be true, but you can’t learn the truth in somebody unless you do it the old fashioned way. You talk. You listen. You write a letter and you take the time to make it mean something. You share a meal. You share a drink. You think hard about somebody. You tell them they matter to you. You poke them – with your actual finger – and you know they’re real.

Thanks to Rebecca Horton for existing and inviting me on an adventure this weekend. Also thanks to Rebecca for talking to Rob’s cat in a sweet voice within range of the microphone that I was using to write this song. It’s my favorite part of the song.

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

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Week 75 // The After Party (and Three Free E.P.s)

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My God, this watch stopped hours ago
The clockwork stealing time
A feeling you should know

And these, the faces of a crowd
The honor is all mine
Their glances getting loud

And how much have I had tonight?
How cynical my words
Aware of every slight

I’m caught in visions of despots learning
Save the children
House is burning

My God, my ride left hours ago
I spilled my drink tonight
A feeling you should know

I’m here, but were we ever friends?
What history do we share?
Too tired to pretend

I’m up all night
And it’s disconcerting
I’m stuck in place
And the Earth is turning
Earth is turning

Well I got feet
And you got heart
And you should know

You reach your hand up from the crowd
And then you go

This isn’t how the world ends
Would you like to know?

I’ve got a friend
Looks just like you
From years ago

Notes
In celebration of 75 weeks of new music I made you a gift: Three Totally Free E.P.s for you and your loved ones to enjoy. These E.P.s include some of my favorite Mount Everest songs, and each reflects a particular mood, sentiment, or aspect of the music that I write week after week. They will be free for a limited time only, so jump on this opportunity.

Click here to download them from Sendspace, or click on the artwork below to download them from Bandcamp.

This week’s song is about suffering through the worst party ever. It’s the kind of party filled with the worst people you can think of. They are the kind of people who make you question the goodness of humanity. They are pretentious, self absorbed, obnoxious, fake, or whatever makes your blood boil in a social scenario. You are stuck there, and you’ve probably had a few too many drinks to try and make the situation bearable. It didn’t work. It’s a rock and roll song and it’s awesome. It’s the first track on “Cut and Run” (the red E.P. down below). Please download it and share it, and scroll way down to the bottom and hit “like” so all of your friends will know all about crazy old Mount Everest giving all his stuff away for free!



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

P.S. Track 5 on “Physical Things” was co-written with Nick Mastors

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