A Call to Visual Artists!

I would like to write a song about your artwork and feature it on this website! If you would like to have your artwork featured on this site as a song illustration, fully credited with links to your own website, I will be taking submissions for the next two weeks, and intend to choose four pictures based solely on my personal preference and level of inspiration. I will take submissions in any form, be it painting, drawing, photography, digital mishmash, etc. Send me something you really love, and I’ll do my best to turn it into a song.

Submissions should be sent in .JPG format and should be at least 700 X 700px. You may submit as many as you like. I’ll warn you ahead of time that everything will be cropped into a square and fitted with a neon yellow-green sidebar. Please send submissions to this email address. Thanks in advance to all who make submissions. I hope I get more than four!

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Week 11: The Echo Chamber

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Mount Everest - The Echo Chamber Featured Performers:
Jesse Mitchell Lindsey
View Lyrics

Close your eyes
And in the dark behind your eyelids
You can stay there in the perfect silence
And the violence and the peace
And all the kindness and the grief
They are your friends

Take a look
Now pretend there’s no horizon
Now imagine there are no goodbyes
And in the end you’re gonna start
And from the start you’re bound to end
And start again

And on your struggle you depend
Oh now you’ve gotta let it go
And not to break you’d rather bend bend bend
And now it’s time to let it go

You are the risk
You are the burn
You are the light
You were built to learn
You are unheard of
You are unheard
of

And when it all adds up
It’s a beauty of a sight
And when they speak to you
When you lie awake at night
It’s a comfort and a curse
Yeah it’s a cry against the light
It’s a cry against my better side

And on your struggle you depend
Oh now you’ve gotta let it go
And not to break you’d rather bend bend bend
And now it’s time to let it go
And when you’re looking for the end
Come on you never let it go
When you’re alive you must pretend pretend pretend
And now it’s time to let it go

Notes:
 width=I have a notebook, and in my notebook I scribble lyrics, and ideas for songs, and little phrases, and parts of phrases. This week I scribbled “A song about the alternating and contradictory nature of my internal monologue. Wide open possibility vs. crushing doubt.” This of course meant that I was to write a song about my mind, or as my illustration would have you believe, my brain. So that’s what I tried to do.

I don’t think I’m alone in that my mind tends to wander when I’m trying to fall asleep. This is the most active time of day for my internal monologue. During other parts of the day I usually have other things occupying my mind. But lying in bed at night with nothing to distract me from myself, my mind becomes sort of an echo chamber. Very quickly my internal monologue becomes an internal dialogue, and sometimes that internal dialogue becomes an argument. I think about all sorts of things, but mostly about the past and the future, two subjects on which my internal dialogue can be fiercely divided.

It seems that I have an optimist and a pessimist in me, and they never agree on anything. To the optimist, I’m on the right track. None of my mistakes have been so bad that I can’t recuperate and I’m bound for great success and a happy life no matter what I do. The pessimist never forgets anything, and every past indiscretion has lead me inexorably to an inevitable future filled with failure and misery, and it’s just around the corner. To be honest, I find both of these characters to be obnoxious and obstructive to a productive state of mind. When I’m not in my echo chamber they tend to blend together into a somewhat normal human being capable of real perspective on his own life. They say that everyone has more than one side to them. I guess that I’m just very well acquainted with two of mine. At least well enough acquainted to write a song for them.

Synths, and banjo. Guitar, and bass-guitar. Harmonica and piano. Rocks and rolls.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.

~Jesse

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Week 10: A Bottomless Season

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Mount Everest - A Bottomless Season Featured Performers:
Jesse Mitchell Lindsey
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How we’ve kept
We’ve slept this season
And what we’ll lose
In the cold still to come

Down down deep
They’ll find us breathing
Deep New England
Afraid of the sun

Oh cuz the snow came
And it buried us all
And it hid all our secrets
In the yard, three feet tall
A bottomless feeling
Since the end of the fall
It’s a bottomless season after all

Oh we could wait
And the snow could wash away in the night
And the rain could carry our sin away

Sinners all
Our conscience freezing
And filling our lungs
With the breath of the weak

Certain am I
That come the next season
I’ll carry my bones
And no ill shall I speak

Oh when the Earth froze
You know it followed the dark
And heaven knows
That there’s a weight in our hearts
When the ice is cracking it’s a delicate art
With a sound like an explosion it’s a start

Oh we could wait
And the snow could wash away in the night
And the rain could carry our sin away

Oh we could wait
And the snow could wash away in the night
And the rain would carry our sin away

Notes:
 width=This is a winter song. I’ve been thinking lately about what winter does to people. All the time we spend inside, it feels like we’re hiding away. We’re buried as if under the snow. The thick covering in the yard is mysterious to me. Who knows what lies just beneath it? Perhaps in the dark of the winter we keep our secrets under there. Winter puts people on edge. Winter makes us short with one another. Winter makes us into something paler than ourselves. But winter also allows us to absolve ourselves. We know that if we can make it through the cold, the rain will wash away the snow, and with it will go the secrets and lies that we’ve hidden beneath it. With the spring we are new.

Truthfully, I love the winter, although this song may sound like I’m itching for it to be over. It’s just that nobody is immune to a little bit of seasonal affective disorder. It’s a dark time of year and it’s bound to bring out some darkness in all of us. Some people prefer to live in a place where this sort of season never happens. I could never be one of them. Without the cold, the warm is meaningless to me. Would we have a word for light if there was no such thing as dark?

I’ve been exploring my new banjo again this week. It’s been a nice change of pace to begin to learn a new instrument again, especially one so rich and old as the banjo. Its a freshness that I haven’t felt since I took up the mandolin a couple of years ago. I feel like the banjo is completing what I’ve been trying to accomplish with the mandolin. They play so nicely together. I wanted this song to elicit an old fashioned waltz. I wanted this song to have room to breath, so I left drums out of huge swaths of it. I wanted it to sound light and then dark, but not so dark because there will always be more light.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.

~Jesse

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Little by little, chipping away at my opus

A couple of months ago when I began this project I didn’t really know what I was doing. It was a personal challenge turned cockeyed scheme turned plea for attention turned I don’t know what. Now I’m beginning to understand little by little that this is a lifestyle choice. I’ve come across a few people on the internet who are doing, or have done something similar to this. I came across a fellow calling himself Praying For Greater Portland who started doing it just a month or two before me, and he cited as his inspiration a guy named Into It. Over It. who recorded a new song every week for a year and then put out a big double album. Even Kanye West recently released a new song every friday for several months. I knew none of this when I posted my first song, but it’s a great comfort to me to know that I’m not yet in totally uncharted territory.

I feel a great kinship to these people, coupled with an enormous sense of admiration. There are a few more of them that I’ve come across, but they all have one thing in common that I don’t share with them: an ending. Kanye called it quits and returned to whatever it is he does when he’s not doing this: probably working on his next opus. Into It. Over it. did it for a year, and I can’t wait until I know what he felt like on week 52. I’m sure Praying For Greater Portland will know a singularly beautiful feeling when he hangs up his microphones after a year, and I want to know what that sense of accomplishment feels like. But even more than that, I’m itching to know what it feels like on week 53 and week 54. I’m like Kanye. I’m chipping away at my opus, little by little, but for me this is my opus. I can’t say for sure if I’ll do this forever. I suppose I’ll do it until I’m done doing it. It is my goal for that to be a very very long time from now.

I’m so excited that I’m still at the very beginning of this, because there is so much music that I haven’t written yet.

~Jesse

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Week 9 // 20 Questions For Jared Loughner

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Mount Everest - 20 Questions For Jared Loughner

Featured Performers:
Jesse Mitchell Lindsey
View Lyrics

Can you confront your greatest fear?
Where will you be this time next year?

And on a scale from one to ten
Was the count consistent with your intent?

Are you guilty when you tell a lie?
What must you do before you die?

Did you ever hope you’d have a wife
and kids and live a simple life?
And are you satisfied?

Did they get what they deserved?
And are you happy with your work?
And can you sympathize at all?
And are you dead inside?

Just what does it feel like when
Your mind can break but cannot mend?

And are you living in the dark?
What force could shape you/break our hearts?

Is Arizona on the brink?
America what do you think?

Was that your purpose:
Drive the wedge,
And spread the fire,
And wake the dead with a blow to the head?

And did they get what they deserved?
And are you happy with your work?
And what was all that shit you said
About new currency and mind control?
Is this some kind of joke?
Is this some kind of sick attempt at playing games?
At playing loose with lives?
At playing God?
So tell me can you sympathize at all?
And are you dead inside?

Notes:
 width=I tried so damn hard this week not to write a song about Jared Loughner and the mass shooting that took place in Tucson. I spent the weekend working on something that I thought would be a somewhat emotional travel song about my generational zeitgeist and our general malaise, like I do. But then I put pencil to paper and out came this song.

I wanted so badly to wait until I could find some understanding and perspective on the event before I allowed myself to make my feelings on the subject a matter of public record. But I couldn’t stop myself. I realized that understanding and perspective would most likely never come, because one cannot make sense of an atrocity perpetrated by a man who is so impenetrable and ill as Jared Loughner. So I asked him (in my song) a series of questions. Some of the questions are digging for his humanity, which surely must be in there somewhere. Some of them are looking for his motive, the mystery of which has prompted a national debate as polarizing as any in recent memory. Some of the questions are angry indictments, because when I think about Jared Loughner I want to scream and tear down his insanity to find one good reason to think of him as a human being, but I can’t.

I think Loughner took a look at a house divided an decided to try to burn it down. I was moved this week by President Obama’s incredibly powerful speech at the memorial in Tucson. It is taking all of me not to hurl accusations of culpability at people other than Loughner. I am not immune to the national dialogue, and I can’t help myself from coming down in a certain way on the issue, but in the spirit of the President’s speech and my firm belief that what Loughner really wanted was to tear us ever further apart, I will refrain.

On a lighter note, I purchased a banjo! I used it on this song, along with a mandolin, a synthesizer, a harmonica, and my voice. To all the children out there, I’m sorry for exposing you for the first time ever to the word “shit” in this song. I know it’s a bad word, but I used it because It’s how I felt and I don’t believe in censorship. Don’t ever say it in front of your parents.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.

~Jesse

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Week 8: Belief In Fiction

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Mount Everest - Belief In Fiction Featured Performers:
Nick Mastors
Jesse Mitchell Lindsey
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At the turnstile
You’ll catch your breath
You wore your sturdy clothes
But lost your cigarettes

The world will speak to you
Reveal its name to you
And ask its price of you

And in your suitcase
A dusty book
And every chapter gives your life a second look

It only lives for you
It’ll never lie to you
And it won’t die for you

This I believe
The story holds the proof we will recieve
Who with your dying cough
Swore this is not the world for us
If this is not the world for us
Then why are we so desperate to believe

I believe in fiction
This I believe
That my generation
Came awake on New Years Eve

We are the best of us
We are the worst of us
We are the first of us

They’re at my doorstep
And this I fear
That it’s a fiction that the answers could appear

There was a god for us
A simple cause for us
There is an Oz for us

This I believe
The son of man endeavored to recieve
Who with his dying cough
Swore this is not the world for us
If this is not the world for us
Then what are we so desperate to believe


Notes:
When I originally conceived of putting words to this song, I was inspired by the classic series of radio essays known as This I Believe. Legendary radio newsman, Edward R. Murrow initially hosted the show in the 1950s, and it has more recently been resurrected on NPR. The format is simple: Americans of all walks of life read essays on what defines their core value system. It is a diverse and wonderful format, and every time I have listened to it, I have found myself deep in self-reflection. I wanted to write a song that would function as my own entry to This I Believe. However, when I began to write the words to this song, it quickly began to stray from being strictly a discussion of my core values, and became more of a reflection on the power of stories.

This song is about the deep connection that human beings have with stories: the way we project our own lives into them, the way we use fiction to inform our ambitions, values, and choices, and the way that we rely on stories to make sense of the world. After all, what is the first thing you pack when you go away? For me it’s a book (okay – sometimes it’s a comic book, but those count too).

Some people insist that the world’s religions are fictions. That is not my aim here, although it may seem so. Rather, I wish to elevate the entire pantheon of fiction to the level of esteem to which religious people hold the stories that they tell within their faiths. A great story feels like a holy document to me, just the way that a great painting, or a great song can hold so much weight. They contain amazing truths which are unique to each individual reader (or listener – please preserve verbal storytelling!). They can guide us, or misguide us. They have the power to change us.

I am so pleased to share the instrumental credit with Nick Mastors again this week. As always he brings an insight all his own. What strikes me the most about working with Nick is how complete his ideas are as soon as he has them. He hears a part in his head fully formed and needs only to translate it to his fingertips. Meanwhile I must chop away in trial and error until something sounds right. I sure wish I could do what he does.

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



Mount Everest – 12345678
In celebration of our first two months of existence, and in thanks to all of you who have listened, commented, told your friends, and come back again, I am pleased to announce that I have posted the first 8 Mount Everest tracks as a free download! It is a mini-album called Mount Everest – 12345678 and it is a fine retrospective of the last 8 weeks worth of tunes in the order that they were originally presented. Download it, share it with your friends, and tell them where you got it. But you should hurry, because this thing wont be download-able forever. In two weeks I will take it down and that will be that. So thank you for your participation, and thanks for coming back each week. You are my favorite people on earth and I love you all very much.

No longer available for download

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Week 7 // Counting Up From One

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Mount Everest - Counting Up From One

Featured Performers:
Jesse Mitchell Lindsey
View Lyrics

Another lifetime was the curse
We were so young
The day the decade dashed our hopes in old ’01
And what we lost back then
We’ve only just begun to understand
We built the wall, we bought the gun

It’s not just innocence we’ve given up this time
No New Year’s resolution will suffice for us
Ten years now we’ve given to the night
Well, not again, this year I’m putting up a fight

Watch this world breaking
Our hearts give
We were mistaken
It’s just one decade lost to the wolves
And it’s over now

Get the kids to say
Get the kids to say we’ve changed our ways
And all us old folk
We can all just fade away
And let the world move on
It’s better off this way

And all us young folk
We’re killing for the cause
And raising kids who will never know just what they’ve lost
They’ll never know who stole from them
They’ll never know the cost
And we can care for them and envy them

Watch this world breaking
Our hearts give
We were mistaken
It’s just one decade lost to the wolves
And it’s over now

What becomes of us now?
What of all the young ones?
What of all the old ones carrying the young ones?
Just what will become of us?
When the light is there in front of us
When the score is here to settle us
When the road is all ahead of us
We’ll be living by the gun
My God, we’re counting up from one

What becomes of us now?
What becomes of us now?
Just what will become of us?
Just what we’ll become
To see the world in front of us
To learn from all the old ones
To learn from all the young ones carrying the old ones
We’re counting up from one
We’re counting up from one


Notes:
 width= Happy New Year from Mount Everest! As the New Year is by far my favorite holiday for it’s spirit of renewal and celebration, I could not help but run with that theme this week. At a New Year’s Eve party on Friday night I couldn’t help but notice how often conversation drifted toward emerging from not only the last year, but the last decade as a whole. There was some debate over whether or not we’d already left the decade a year ago, but I think the catharsis that people were feeling stemmed from finally escaping the ten year stretch that started in 2001, the year that everything changed. To look at ourselves as a collective whole before and after that year, it is hard to imagine that ten years have really gone by since New Years 2001.

This song is about stepping out of the rubble of a failed decade, rubbing your eyes in the sunlight and looking around. You are still covered head to toe in the dust and refuse of the aughts with it’s wars and it’s disasters, it’s terrorism and our national loss of innocence (and a generational loss of innocence for us so called “Millennials“), and it’s financial meltdowns and oil spills and the list goes on. This song doesn’t presuppose that the next decade will be any better for us. In all likelihood the paradigm has shifted for the long haul. What the song does suggest is that this is a time for reflection, a time to look at the past and think about the future. For my generation, it’s a time to stop pointing fingers at our parents’ generation and find out what we can learn from them, because it’s coming up on our turn up to bat. It’s a time to pull together to make this new decade a lot better than the last one. If that sounds idealistic, then good. We’ve counted to ten on the last decade, and 2011 affords us the chance to start count again. I don’t know about you, but that has me feeling pretty good.

Here’s hoping your decade doesn’t totally suck.

~Jesse

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Week 6: Breathless While In Exile

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Mount Everest - Breathless While In Exile Featured Performers:
Nick Mastors
Jesse Mitchell Lindsey

View
North in an old sedan
I broke my fall one autumn
Like a dream I thought I’d never land

And I was a bitter man
Good God I’d lost most of my heart
To a fruitless plan

When I came home again
Familiar trees they could scrape the breeze
One hundred feet above where I had left them

And I was breathless then
And I’ll lose my breath on a strangers breast
When I get my chance again and I will thank her

Lets get this right
I’m telling you It was the virgin on the turnpike
And the offer of a another kind of life

And I’m comin’ up light
Could be I’m burnt out on the savior
And I’m not so good with favors and I ain’t right

And It was getting late
So I dragged my fool heart
Clear across town in a vulnerable state

Well she was the going rate
And I lost my cool when she saw me
‘Cuz she knew she could see through me in every way

So just off the interstate
Like some mud kicked kid I looked down into my bleeding heart
And it spoke to me like a brand new language

It was something like an act of faith
I was lookin’ at Jesus and the Buddha read the Bhagavad Gita
They was talkin’ about Krishna, God I wished that I was with them

Well let’s get this right
I’m talkin’ about the virgin on the turnpike
And the promise of a another kind of life

And I’m comin’ up light
Seems that I’m burnt out on the savior
‘Cause I’m not so good with favors and I ain’t right

Notes:
This week we’ve got a wistful little number about ambitions failing and what you do when that happens. It is a traveling song. Parts of it are about leaving behind the city of Philadelphia and the friends, band-mates, and missed opportunities that I left down there. Other parts of it are about a girl. In either case the song discusses losing faith, first in one’s self, and then in something greater. It is about trying to find that faith again by looking for it elsewhere. The song is a little cliche, but it knows that it is and it just doesn’t care, because cliches are reflections of ways that people actually feel about things. This song is nothing if not honest.

We’ve got Nick Mastors back again this week, and I’d like you all to wish him luck as he and his girlfriend Liz are embarking as we speak on an adventure in Costa Rica! Nick provided much of the thick Americana in this tune with his lovely mandolin part. I have to say that I’m jealous that he beat me to playing a mandolin on this website, but he did it very well if I do say so. We juxtaposed the mandolin with thick synthesizers (the original working title of this song was LazerFolk), as well as triumphant guitar harmonies.

The accompanying artwork is a photograph of Boston in the fog taken by Eben Lindsey, my older brother. He is an extremely accomplished photographer and I suggest you do yourself a favor and take a look at his flickr page. I felt that this photograph was emblematic of the isolation and wandering that this song is attempting to elicit. I am quite thankful to have such a talented brother who is generous enough with his work to allow me to use it on this blog.

I have obtained a new synthesizer! Expect your brain to melt this time next week.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.

~Jesse

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Merry Christmas

I am in New Hampshire with my family enjoying a quiet Christmas Day. Being here surrounded by loved ones, I feel very fortunate. I wish to pass along my feelings of yuletide contentment to you and all of your kin today (regardless of your religious affiliation!). This is a time of year to enjoy the company of people who make you happy. I hope you are doing just that.

I do not have a Christmas song for you to listen to today, because I’m afraid of sounding like a monster from the shopping mall. I do, however, have a recommendation: this morning my family enjoyed listening to Sufjan Stevens’ multi-disk Christmas album: Songs For Christmas. It is a nice departure from our usual selections (but don’t get me wrong because I still loved listening to Willy Nelson’s Pretty Paper last night).

Enjoy the rest of your holiday, and I’ll see you all back here Monday at noon!

~Jesse

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Week 5 // In The End We Are All Pictures

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Mount Everest - In The End We Are All Pictures

Featured Performers:
Nick Mastors
Jesse Mitchell Lindsey
View Lyrics

Your name they should have known
But for your beauty you were left alone
And in your lonesome way you came alive
But for the color and the weight you had to die

It was an honest life
Some kind of sacrifice
With your most holy eye
You set upon their love
And their desire
Oh their very fire
You saw what no one would admit
You saw the spire

Could you let the standard lie? No
Could you bear all the meaning in what’s alive?
Could you measure the love you saw in light? No No
Could you bury the burden you held inside?

Could you lend me some light?
Could you lend me some life?
You could lend me some color
You could give me your sight
You’d be unburdened
But for all your love you could not be denied

Was love the only thing you lost?
The way you called out in the night
The way you fought
The poison in your thoughts
You were a man of God
You were a man of heart
Embedded in your art

Good God they fought you from the start
And you felt it so
And you held it so close

Could you let the standard lie? No
Could you bear all the meaning in what’s alive?
Could you measure the love you saw in light? No No
Could you bury the burden you held inside?

Could you lend me some light?
Could you lend me some life?
You could lend me some color
You could give me your sight
You’d be unburdened
But for all your love you could not be denied

God loves you


Notes:
This week’s song is for Vincent Van Gogh. His passion and his mental illness enabled him to see the world with a veil pulled away. It tortured him and turned him into a social pariah, and eventually it lead him to suicide. He endured all of this so that the rest of us would eventually see what he saw. He once studied in seminary, where his illness and social peculiarity denied him a traditional ministry. He said about his artwork (and I will paraphrase) that some men tell the word of God through stories, but he could only tell it through pictures. He was able to change the world, but it was a burden that would weigh too heavily. But did Vincent Van Gogh really change the world? Yes, of course he did. That is a central assumption that I will make here, and it is not one that I care to defend. He left the world a better place because he made pure art.

I will admit that I had not thought a great deal about Van Gogh recently until my brother, Eben Lindsey, begged and pleaded with me to watch the most recent season of the British sci-fi series, Doctor Who (wtf?). The Doctor is a time traveler, and in one episode he visits Van Gogh who helps to defeat an invisible alien that only he can see. Why can Van Gogh see it? Because he can see more than the rest of us. It is clever and cute, and in the end it is quite touching. The Doc tries to help Van Gogh by bringing him to the twenty-first century to show him what he was never able to see in his lifetime: that his work is beloved, and that humanity has been truly touched by his vision. But when returned to his own time he still takes his own life. Why? Because his madness wasn’t going to be cured by recognition. It wasn’t going to be cured at all. It was part and parcel to his gift, and I think that this silly British sci-fi romp hit the nail right on the head. Van Gogh’s madness was his vision and his vision was his madness. We all owe him a great debt of gratitude for suffering as long as he did so that the rest of us might get a brief glimpse into the mind of a man so passionate, a man who saw beauty and color and light all around him even as he battled a darkness so profound. So this one is for Vincent.

Nick and I composed the music for this song in less than two days of hanging out and eating pizza and drinking beer together. It was great fun, totally productive, creatively rewarding, and completely awesome. Nick proved himself a master of time much like Doctor Who, although here I am referring to time signatures and not time travel. We each laid down guitar and keys. I got to rock my bass, and Nick did most of the work with the beats. I was happy because I got to play a guitar solo. A simple one, but a guitar solo nonetheless.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck,

~Jesse

I would refer you to fellow Massachusetts native Jonathan Richman who sang so lovingly “Have you heard about the painter Vincent Van Gogh who loved color and who let it show?”

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