Week 321 // Contact

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Like the fear of an open flame
It’s like the Bible was a book about nothing

A far off moon and the pearly gates
Lining up with our spacesuits pumping

All good earthlings look the same
They look like Jesus in a renaissance painting

I stab my palms and revere the pain
To paint my brothers and my sisters faces

So we’re on the way up
The Earth dies a little bit sooner

In the crater at the center of this
A weed is growing like an angry witness

In the blast of the emperor’s kiss
A seed is planted and we won’t dismiss it

In the hole at the center of me
A green thing circles toward the light of something

Around my center all the vines can squeeze
A careful meter bound to get me pumping

So we’re on the way up
The Earth cries a little bit louder

Notes
This song is trying to juggle the requisite disenchantment and resolve that I’m experiencing as time marches ever toward inauguration day, and inevitably past it. There’s something here about resentment of the shallow faith of others, and its petty power over all of us. There’s something here about the heat death of the world. There’s something here about the resilience of life, and its power to reawaken dead places. There’s something here about revering nature more than God. There’s something here to build upon, but it’s still pretty elusive. I’m going to have to keep at this for a while. Vagueness suits me best right now because nobody knows a damn thing about what’s going on, me least of all. I’m working on a plan that has no shape and no name. Perhaps you have some suggestions.

~M.E.

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Week 320 // Long Year Part 3

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I feel so lucky to be out of style
I feel so lucky to get out of town with you
Forget for a while

I think of time and coming ’round again
I think in circles
There’s no other way to think of it
We’re circling the light

See the darkness on the far side of town, darlin’
I will go there with you anytime

And my country breaks another dawn
And my whole family’s looking out the window
Wondering which way the wind’s blowing

Above the forest and above the rain
They’re doing circles in a satellite
And looking down
They look for the brightest spots

But see the darkness on the far side of town, darlin’
I will go there with you anytime

Notes
Welcome to 2017. This first song of the New Year is the final installment in a three part reflection on the year that was. 2016 was long and challenging, so I wanted to take a few weeks to allow myself room to ponder it. It feels like we’re stepping into some dark unknown right now. 2016 was a prolonged paradigm shift. We’re leaving behind the world we know for one we’re hard pressed to even imagine. This song contains a simple suggestion for how to hold your mind and heart together while stepping into the dark. Hold those you love close, and go forward with them. We can’t stay in the light of the known, so we step into the dark together. Who knows, we may find something wonderful there.

~M.E.

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Week 319 // Long Year Part 2

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One day we will hear all the tapes that they hid from us
One day we will speak with clarity on this subject at last
One day we will count all the sins that bit back at us
One day we will know who’s to blame

It feels like a dream but its not
It’s a trap
It’s a spring with a blade in your back
And if you know him he’s a really great guy
You could ask
All the upstanding crooks signing NDAs over for cash

One day we will breathe in the air of another age
One day when we’re old we’ll look back at this trouble and laugh
What’s more we’ll forget how it felt to lose when we won
One day we’ll forget that we won

It feels like a dream but its not
It’s a trap
It’s a spring with a blade in your back
And if you know him he’s a really great guy
You could ask
All the upstanding crooks signing NDAs over for cash

Notes
This is the last Mount Everest song of 2016, and part two of a year-end reflection called “Long Year”. This song is about the specter of Donald Trump that has pursued us poor sinners all throughout these turbulent trials. Perhaps he is our comeuppance, but for which wrongful deed I cannot yet fathom.

We’re living in a specifically clouded moment that doesn’t allow for much clarity of perspective. I think Trump is both the cause and consequence of that lack of clarity. Those happy fools who elected him will find themselves swiftly and badly betrayed. The rest of us will spend years stewing in the cruel knowledge of our commanding yet irrelevant popular victory. We’re already saturated in corrosive resentment over it, and the kindest fate would be to forget all about the 3,000,000 strong majority that chose Hillary Clinton over the idiot beast looming over the horizon. This song’s two major longings are at odds; we cannot both forget and seek clarity. In at least one of these endeavors we are doomed to fail.

I wrote this as a punk song, because it could only be a punk song. It’s two minutes dripping with resentment and longing. This weekend, you should commemorate the final moments of a truly one-of-a-kind year, safe in the knowledge that it can no longer harry you. The trouble falls now to its successor, and we know not what tricks and traps it holds in store. Perhaps we will be ready this time. Celebrate in safety and health, and return next Monday for part three.

~M.E.

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Week 318 // Long Year Part 1

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Long year spent unrolling the concrete
Mapping the space unknown
I was a walker
Split down the center
You were the face of home
You are the face of home

Raise up your hands to the moonlight
Pray to the coming snow
My darling, long have we drifted
Down to the Earth below

Great god, there expanding before us
Show us the winding road
Ever the questions
Ever to ponder
Places the turns will go
The places the road could go

Raise up your hands to the moonlight
Pray to the coming snow
My darling, long have we drifted
Down to the Earth below

Notes
The year is almost over. The reviews are in, and they are all but unanimous. 2016 has been a pretty complicated mess. The culture at large is calling it the worst year we can remember. Perhaps that means we have short memories. Still, even beyond the unfathomable international turmoil, the unfortunate celebrity deaths, and the unyielding catastrophe of the presidential election, most people I know faced at least one pretty demanding human trial or another. Not everyone made it out.

I’m glad to see this year winding down, and though I know it isn’t over until it’s over, I am beginning a process of making sense of it. I imagine it will take a few weeks, so I’m getting an early start. Long Year Part 1 will be followed by at least parts 2 and 3. This first song isn’t deep, and and doesn’t face the really tough parts of the last year. It addresses physical toil, and the refuge I found in love and possibility. 2016 wasn’t all doom and gloom. See you in a week for the next installment.

~M.E.

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Week 317 // Apex

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Oh winter covers o’er
That which we build
That which we die for
All but the apex
Reaching up

Oh come the wind
We’ll blow away
And from the air
We’ll look down upon
What we’re flying from
What a waste

Oh winter covers o’er
That which we build
That which we die for
All but the apex
Reaching up

Oh come the wind
We’ll blow away
And from the air
We’ll look down upon
What we’re flying from
What a waste

Notes
This week’s song is another winter pondering. The cold snap is finally really here, and the lunacy in the world at large makes me want to either hibernate or blow away on the breeze. This song covers both of those options in a short, repetitive offering that builds instead of exploring wider chord changes.

I wanted to make something hymn-like and meditative, but also spontaneous. As I’ve said recently, these days this project is functioning as a salve. It makes me feel better to sit down and come up with something as quickly as I can exhale, because I often feel like I’m holding my breath between new songs. When I’m writing these, it often feels as if I am praying.

~M.E.

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Week 316 // Not Sorry

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Blame the young
And curse them for their ways
They have no sense of cause
Love only for themselves
And curse the old
For squandering a gift
And boasting all the while
What left have we to keep?
And we’re not sorry
And you’re not sorry

Notes
This song is playing with notions of blame and mass-scapegoating that I have observed to be powerful influences in the discourse recently. Trying to make sense of an inexplicable event like the recent presidential election is a daunting task, and the path of least resistance is to create a straw-man to beat up on.

Many observers, myself included, try to rationalize that we are not complicit in the outcome, that we did our part. We put ourselves into categories free of fault, and organize our ire around groups we perceive to be less virtuous. Here’s how I do it: while white men like me voted in numbers for Donald Trump, millennials like me voted overwhelmingly for Clinton, which means that the blame falls with a small-minded older generation spooked by evolving demographics and progressive values, damn them all.

On the other side of the divide, similar arithmetic is taking place. An older progressive may note that though their age demographic came out strongly for Trump, if more millennials had been politically active instead of Instagramming their pets, things might have turned out differently. Blame rests with the self-idolatrous and disengaged youth, god damn them and their overly tight pants.

This type of scenario is playing out in any number of binary and more complex combinations. Everybody is deflecting, nobody is sorry. Quite frankly there is little to gain from assigning blame. Unless you voted for Trump, in which case I blame you. That was incredibly inconsiderate of you.

~M.E.

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Week 315 // Pondering the Arrival of an Overlong Winter

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When the ice covers everything
And your paws are all froze to the ground
And the only kindness you know
Is the pale distant light of the sun

In the dark of America
Where the poison they poured in the well
Is the only drop you can drink
You hold out
You hold out
You hold out

Notes
It’s pretty warm here in New York to be writing a song about the world freezing over. It is still a lovely fall, skirting the comfortable edges between chilly and cold, so this type of winter pondering is certainly premature. Still, it feels like winter came early this year, and I continue to sort out the fallout of recent events as they segue into a sustained state of being.

This song plays as bleaker than I actually feel about the situation we collectively face. I am entering a phase wherein Mount Everest and the practice it requires of me must necessarily become an outlet for emotions that I wish not to allow to fester. Allow me to unburden myself, and if you feel like I feel, let your burden down as well. We’ll hold out together.

~M.E.

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Week 314 // Restitution

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I’ve got the strangest feeling
Coming over me
Like we’ve all been down
This stretch of road before
So we bend our knees
And pray for restitution
And carry on carry on carry on

Oh what the Bible’s telling you
I swear it never said to me
And could a notion big as God
Fit in a book that you could read?

I’ve got a fear
That’s digging deep inside of me
That light begets the darkness
It must counter
We lack the points of light
To cast without a shadow
So carry on carry on carry on

Oh what the future’s telling you
I swear it never said to me
And can a concept big as truth
Fit on a page of history?

Forgive us lord
We know not what we do
Cast our lot with deceivers
When it feels like the truth

Forgive us lord
We know not who we are
Lay us down and conceal us
With a blanket of stars

Lay us down all together
With a blanket of stars

Notes
This week marks the 6th anniversary of Mount Everest as a weekly songwriting project! It has become a tradition of mine to offer up a big free download in gratitude to my faithful listeners for sticking around for another year, so I present to you “S!X” which is a 30 track album that compiles the “Best Of” tracks for the last year. “Best Of” tracks are chosen by me according to a completely subjective and shifting rubric that I keep in a secret vault accessible only via the hidden control panel behind a painting of Robert Oppenheimer inside my walk-in humidor.


click here, and then push the little download button in the upper-right-hand-corner
to download 30 tracks for free

I’m compelled to say thanks for the love and support of Rebecca (my wife), Nancy and Gene (my parents), Eben & Sarah & Hal (the wonderful west coast branch of my nuclear family), my wonderful friends, my talented collaborators, and all you fine listeners out there. I’m also happy to wish my big brother Eben a happy 134th birthday today!!

This week’s song is another meditation on the recent election results, concerning which I haven’t been shy to state that I think we have made an historical fuckup as a country. For those of you scandalized by the “f-word,” I defy you to summon a more accurate description of this likely extinction-level calamity. All that aside, this song keeps a level head about the whole thing. This is a prayer to a God I’m uncertain is there; a hymn about the folly belief. In the wake of this whole thing, I’m searching for something to believe in. All the while I have a feeling that belief in a thing (as opposed to searching curiosity about a thing) is what got us into this mess to begin with.

Thanks for listening to another year of these songs! I’ll keep writing them if you’ll keep coming back.

~M.E.

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Week 313 // Mourning in America

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It’s morning in America
Anyway, can’t we all sleep in today?
‘Cause all the safety pins and words we say
Aren’t even nearly making up for this mistake
And I wonder, are we strong enough
To stop the coming war?
Is there love enough in our righteousness
To fathom what it’s for?

We’re in mourning on the subway train
Heading back and forth forgetting from which way we came
And our silence is a bitter frost
Its crystals spreading over every love we’ve lost
And I wonder, have we lost enough
To stand for what we’ve got?
Is there love enough in indignity
To move us from this spot?

It’s sunset and I break my stride
And ponder all the fighters who have lived to die
And if anger seeks revenge
I’ve said let love proclaim that justice must be done instead
And I wonder, have we heart enough
To brave the coming storm?
We must love enough
And in loving so decipher what it’s for

Notes
We have a winner and now we must make sense of the new future ahead of us. This is a mopey song, and a self-indulgent song, because I wrote it as much for therapy as to make any kind of commentary. At face value, this song says, “all we need is love” but I’m not naive enough to believe that’s true. What we need is to do a whole lot of hard fucking work. The question at hand is what the emotional source of our work ethic will be.

Anger has gotten the better of me since Trump announced his candidacy, because it was pretty obvious that win or lose, a whole lot of people were going to grok to his hideous message. We watched that happen in a way that eclipsed everyone’s expectations, apparently even the president-elect’s. Hillary campaigned on a slogan that said “Love Trumps Hate.” Trump understood that no press is bad press, at least where he is concerned, and that putting his name in one of her slogans only fed the ball back to his side of the court. The thing of it is this: love didn’t trump hate, because too many of us lefties were lashing out at our political opposites in anger, instead of building a movement on love.

Anger is good for seeking vengeance. Love is good for seeking justice. That’s why vengeance beat justice in this round. We tried to fight for justice with anger and indignation, and love would have worked better. So marshal your love and put it to work in your community. Put it to work by organizing. Put it to work by demonstrating. Put it to work by running for office. Put it to work by writing letters. Put it to work by opening your doors to your neighbors. Put it to work by listening. Put it to work.

And yes, I know my heart is bleeding through my shirt as I write that. That’s because it’s broken. I’ll tell you one thing, though. It’ll never mend through anger. Only love can mend a broken heart.

~M.E.

P.S. Rest in peace and thank you to Leonard Cohen, who was the greatest at writing songs that are poems and poems that are songs. You’re a ghost in everything I write from here on out. You already were.

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Week 312 // Hold the Monster at Bay

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Think it through
America
Do the right thing
And you know what it is
Let the babes in their cribs
Keep their innocence
Hold the monster at bay

Notes
This song is a prayer to America. I wrote it as if America’s collective consciousness had a collective conscience to which one might appeal during dire circumstances. In previous elections, I might have called the Republican nominee a monster, and I might have even meant it at the time. I disagree with the republican platform, and with the philosophies from which it has been derived. I see with the clarity of hindsight that any monster I saw back then was only of the metaphorical variety. The monster casting his shadow over tomorrow’s election is all too real. I will not list his fangs, because you know them all too well. I implore you in the name of decency to reject Donald Trump, and vote for his far more virtuous rival Hillary Clinton. I want to have a family, and my best family making years will likely fall in the next president’s term. I shudder at the indecent world my children may be born into should you make the wrong choice. Do the right thing.

~M.E.

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