Week 64 // Bad Habits/Good Signs

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So long, I’m waving like you’re nothing
I’m gone and I won’t be back again
Dear God, did you ever carry something?
A weight to great to reach the end

One day I came upon a garden
So green like a creature all its own
My God, now so empty and discarded
You’d never recognize the bones

I swore I wouldn’t be afraid
I swore I’d trust in my own good
I’d take my burdens to my grave
I swore I’d do the best I could

I swore I wouldn’t be afraid
I swore I’d trust in my own good
I’d take my burdens to my grave
I swore I’d do the best I could

But everybody feels afraid
It’s hard to trust in your own good
Unloading burdens on the way
On weary shoulders where I could

Hold it ‘til you let go
Keep it cuz you said so
Love it like it’s your own
Leave it when it gets cold

It’s time to break the habit
One day I’ll be better than I am
One day we’re gonna solve the problem
We’re gonna hold it in our hand

Hold it ‘til you let go
Keep it cuz you said so
Love it like it’s your own
Leave it when it gets cold

Notes
 width=We’ve all got bad habits. Some of them aren’t such a big deal. There’s little consequence to forgetting to floss now and then, or cracking your knuckles when you get stressed out. Some of them are bigger, and less easily recognized in one’s self, like placing undue burdens on people, or taking people for granted. From big to small, it matters that we attempt to identify our bad habits, and that we work on breaking them. Changing habits can be one way that we make progress as people. It can be an important way that we get better. This is a song about trying to break the big ones, and it’s hopefully a song about becoming a little bit better little by little.

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

 

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Week 63 // It Matters

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Out in the woods
Nearing on dusk light
Through the tall trees
The wind sounded empty
And it came to me

Once in your life
Once alone in the short span of your memories
You’ll know just what you could be
And what you shouldn’t be

Who you were
And who you are
And who you’ll be

Cross your heart
And hope to live
If you believe

Under the ice and rocks and stones
And layers left by the centuries
And the remnants of your history
You’ll be left alone

And maybe there’s a chance
That someone’s hands could lift
The dirt and weight off of you
Let in the air that you might breathe
You never know

Who you were
And who you are
And who you’ll be

Cross your heart
And hope to live
If you believe

Up in the air
Way above the roof tops and the canopy
There’s no way that you’re empty
With all you see

Notes
 width=It is tough to say exactly what’s going on in this song. The lyrical content feels more to me like a broad sketch than a focused effort. That’s fine by me. I tried to write more by feeling than by intellect. The result is a song that lacks a broad topic, but has numerous themes. Identity is in there. Nature is in there. Faith is in there. Longing is in there. Time is in there. What do all of these things have to do with one another? These are concepts that I find important. The perspective from which we view these concepts has a lot to do with who we are. One time a bunch of friends and I decided that we would go skydiving. I thought it would be a lot of fun, but what I didn’t anticipate was walking away with the feeling that I had met God. I think the feeling was due to the radical shift in perspective that the experience offers. The world becomes unfamiliar in all its familiarity. I suppose that might be the feeling that I am trying to describe in this song. How many ways can you view the Earth? Your life? Your actions? Your surroundings?
Your self?

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

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Week 62 // Is This The Shape Of Things To Come?

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Is this the shape of things to come?
Is this the ground we walk upon?
Is this the way we live and die and cary on?
Is this the day we hoped would come?

Change what you would. What’s the use?
The unmistakable truth:
We’d do it all the same

And somebody out in America
Has found a new belief to push their heart away

And who would have thought
That the shape of things to come
Would just reveal the things that never change

Is this the shape of things to come?
I ask just because it’s an awkward one
I ask because I need to know if there’s somebody out there to love
If there’s anybody I can trust

I am the salt of the Earth
The unmistakable truth
The one that got away

And somebody out in America
Is looking back and thinking that I look the same

But who would have thought
That the shape of things to come
Would just reveal the things that never change

Change what you would. What’s the use?
The unmistakable truth:
We’d do it all the same

And somebody out in America
Has found a new belief to push their heart away

If that’s what you think
Then the shape of things to come
Will just reveal the things that never change

Notes
 width= This week’s song was written in anticipation of an unknown future. The words are a play on the old concept that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Is the shape of things to come the same as the shape of things as they are now? Do people change? Do fortunes change? Does the country change, or are we merely playing out roles in a repeating history on a loop? Can anything or anybody ever change if we are to cynical to believe that it can? I like this song. It feels a little off, but in a way that is appealing to me. I also like the weird little guy in this week’s artwork, although I find him unsettling. He’s like a creepy little cartoon hipster made of blood. I hope he isn’t the shape of things to come…

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

 

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Week 61 // 20th Century Kind Of Life

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Featured Performers:
Alex Burke
Jesse Mitchell Lindsey
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Was I even thinking when I swore we’d be alright?
It’s a 20th Century kind of life for me
20th Century kind of life

I wrote and wrote about America
I wrote about myself
Cuz I was thinking I’m the common man
Convinced I was in perfect health
Gimme that 20th Century kind of life

You could write your own ticket
You could chose any life
You were somebody special
You were always alright

Who is responsible?
Who was held accountable
For the chasm and the night?
Aint no 20th Century kind of life

What was once irrepressible
What was once the vital pulse of mankind
Slowed and sputtered what a sight
Sure aint the 20th Century kind of life

You could write your own ticket
You could chose any life
You were somebody special
You were always alright

Notes
 width=Several years ago I co-wrote a song called The Manhattan Project that was intended to be an emotionally cathartic sigh of relief having left the 20th century and all of its horrors and genocide behind. It was a little bit earlier in the 21st century when I wrote that song, and I’m not sure that I could have anticipated writing the exact opposite song today. 20th Century Kind Of Life is asking the previous century “where have you gone?… and can you come back!?” I grew up in the 1990s, which were obviously amazing. It was the tail end of the 20th century, and most of the horrors of 20th were well behind us. It was all sunshine and Clintons, and while the grownups were busy setting the stage for the mother of all letdowns come the Oughts, nobody had a clue what was about to happen, and things were pretty nice for a lot of people. This song longs for blissful ignorance, but ultimately recognizes reality. The past sure looks nice from here, and while it’s nice to fantasize about it from time to time, it’s better to live in the moment so you don’t have to find out that the past wasn’t the paradise you imagined it to be, but just a previous version of reality filled with just as many challenges. For this week’s artwork I have dug up a photograph taken of me during the 20th century to lend some historical authenticity to this blog entry.

Major big thanks to Alex Burke for getting the ball rolling on this song. He made an awesome drum loop for me and told me that I could do anything I wanted with it as long as I used a banjo. I am grateful to him for encouraging me to pick up that instrument again after a long break. Also, shout out to Mrs. Sandra Burke and her new blog www.sandrasplantgallery.com. During a weekend excursion to Maine with these Burkes (and other fine friends) I had the pleasure of making art with natural objects in the snow which can be seen along with pieces by Sandra, and Ms. India Lucy Arons at Sandra’s blog at this very moment.

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

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Week 60 // My Lips Are Sealed

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I screamed at the top of my lungs
And all you heard was just a peep
It’s hard saying what you mean
When saying anything at all would make you weak

And at the bottom of the cavern
Wasn’t any further down that I could go
Until my mother and my father gave me shelter
And the room to grow

I said you’ll never see the rest of me
I think I died out there
So someone else could come to be

Oh God what I’ve seen I’ll never tell
In a house in the woods all by myself
In a heart locked down
Setting up to feed all the things I’m made of into me

You’re giving them hell
You’re giving them hell
You’re giving them hell
Is everybody better off for wishing they’d be better off?
Oh well

Haven’t you heard
Your luck could change
You cursed your voice
You cursed your name
Heaven forbid there’s something you would say

My God what I’ve seen I’ll never tell
Little house in the woods all by myself

I said you’ll never see the rest of me
I think I died out there
So someone else could come to be

Haven’t you heard
Your luck could change
You cursed your voice
You cursed your name
Heaven forbid there’s something you would say

Notes
 width= My Lips Are Sealed is not about keeping secrets. It’s about not being able to speak. The fall of 2010 was the weirdest time in my life. It was the culmination of a year long ordeal with a vocal cyst that upended all of my plans and put my life on a decidedly different path. I wrote about this as I reflected on releasing 60 songs in 60 weeks. It was a moment that my timeline hinged on. Without the weirdness of that fall none of these songs would have been written, and the most inconvenient thing to ever happen to me would never have turned into the catalyst for what I’ve begun to view as my life’s work.

I was hoarse for over a year, unable to sing, and unable to interact in a conventional fashion. I still have a knee jerk reaction to being in crowded places, because I fear the damage that raising my voice even a little might do. It was a very bad year and it did bad things to my personal state, but the weirdest part by far was the very end of it. Surgery fixed me up good, but after the doc cut me up I had to go on total vocal rest, which meant no speaking of any kind for any reason for a period of weeks. This song is about feeling trapped in your own skull because you can’t say a word. It’s about some time that I spent isolated in the woods in New Hampshire because being around people was too much for me to cope with. It is also about the immense gratitude that I feel toward my parents for helping me through that period of my life. It’s about being a different person later on.

Thanks for sticking around for 60 weeks! I love the hell out of all of you!

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

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Week 59: The Amazing Uncertainty Of Tenses

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On my heart like a personal scar
On the day I submerged in the fog in my car
As I made my way blindly through wreckage and wastes
The next day marked a new year, a welcomed embrace
And how lovely it was

Oh I saw a hundred years behind me
And tomorrow’s seeming strange

And human beings are just machines
All wired for hope and living it just the same

And while the final factory wall
Came down on New Year’s Eve, the hour came

Listen up: It’s not falling apart
Cuz the past isn’t physical
It’s a place we can start
It’s a concept like future and present
And time’s like a beating heart
And one day’s gotta end for the next one to start
And how lovely it is

Oh I saw a hundred years behind me
And tomorrow’s seeming strange

And human beings are just machines
All wired for hope and living it just the same

And while the final factory wall
Came down on New Year’s Eve, the hour came

Notes
 width= This week I once again look to the new year for inspiration, but unlike last week, I am not talking about frustration and anger. This time I’m talking about the ever steady passage of time. I traveled through southern New England on New Year’s Eve to make my way to a celebration in Rhode Island. I avoided all of the major highways and found myself criss-crossing through old mill towns that I had never visited before. They were all remnants of another time, and time had clearly taken its toll. A heavy fog had set in and I could see little more than what was just in front of me. Amazing hulking smokestacks and rubble would periodically emerge from the white, and damnit if I wasn’t driving through a poem about the loss of industrial America and the dawn of an uncertain era. It was truly beautiful, but at first I felt sad. Perhaps if it hadn’t been New Year’s Eve, I would have remained that way. But it was quite clear to me that the strewn remains of mills and factories were part of a natural process. The years will march on, and things will be born and things will die. If time doesn’t pass the future cannot be. I chose to focus on renewal and the potential that exists in the present. Needless to say, I felt the whole thing to be quite profound, so when I came home I wrote a little song about it.

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

P.S. Thanks to JWG of Big Sir for the Photo!

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Week 58 // Fight The Way You Feel

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Open up, look at the Earth
Like it is
Like it’s never been
Giving up, buying right in
To the concept we’re at the end

Shut your eyes, shut it all out
Take control
Take your medicine
Close your eyes, spinning around
Feeling something, now nothing again

You’re earning your stripes and your colors
You’d bleed for each other and your tyrants
But beauty is real
And you’d see it alright if you’d actually try
If you’d fight the way you feel

Promise if it aint the end
That you’ll live
That you’ll try to live
Promise you’ll begin again
You’ll put right all the things you can

You’ve lived this year spinning around
And your toes
They can’t touch the ground
Lived it frustrated and bound
To a future you haven’t found

You’re earning your stripes and your colors
You’d bleed for each other and your tyrants
And you’re still alive
But you’re seething and crying
Forgetting the meaning of kindness
And beauty is real
And you’d see it alright if you’d actually try
If you’d fight the way you feel

Notes
 width= This is the last Mount Everest song of 2011, and that got me thinking about the year that we’ve just had. For me it was a very good year, filled with art and growth and reflection and action. But I look around, and when I see the big picture I can only think of one way to describe how people felt in 2011: pissed off. It was an angry year full of accusations, assignations of blame, frustrated rumblings, and righteous indignation. People have a right to be angry. Things are tough, and it’s hard to tell if they are getting better. People also have a right (and sometimes a responsibility) to voice their anger and do something about it. But the public discourse has grown fatalistic. Perhaps it is an expression of our collective belief in the cultural meme that has grown around the fast approaching Mayan apocalypse of 2012. I’m not saying that many people actually believe this event is going to happen, but it seems as if we as a culture would be more satisfied if it did. It’s like the breaks have come off the car and the easiest way to slow down would be to plunge into a canyon. The problem with that attitude is that when a culture grows as restless as ours, it is difficult to see the beauty in our humanity. I know that I constantly write about the value of living in, and acknowledging the breadth of our emotions, so it must seem strange that I’m telling people to “fight the way [they] feel.” But, anger is one of those emotions that sucks up the other ones. If you have to feel it, try to see the beauty and the liberation that is inherent in it. Fight the urge to feel nothing else, even though anger can be so satisfying. Thanks for sticking around through 2011, and be sure to help me kick off 2012 next week! You are cool.

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

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Bonus Track: Set To Burn (Cover)


Featured Performers:
Miguel Williams
Tamarinda Figueroa
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One Morning I was set to burn
I’ve been learning not to learn
Am I what I’d hoped to be?
This way no one gets to me

I’d move like a burning sun
I’d trust like I’d just begun
I’d lose like I’d been outrun
I’d love like I kept someone

In the silence someone waits for me
I’ve been stuck in history
I’ve been up against a wall
I’ve been trouble to us all

I’d move like a burning sun
I’d trust like I’d just begun
I’d lose like I’d been outrun
I’d love like I kept someone


Notes:
I got a wonderful early christmas present from my dear friends Tama and Miguel, and I wanted to share it with all of you (and I got their permission!) They have recorded a wonderful cover of Mount Everest’s Week 25: Set To Burn. With it they also sent me a wonderful poem and a picture of some great Mount Everest facial hair art that Tama made on Miguels beard! They didn’t name the face art, but I’d like to think that if they did they might have called it “Side To Burns”

Here is the poem:

We sang your tune and harmonized
Then Miguel covered up his eyes
While Tama shaved Mount Everest
Into his beard, with great success
We’d like to say we love you lots
And think that all your music rocks
We hope you like our “Set to Burn”
This song’s for you, for whom we yearn
To see more often, and very soon
Perhaps we’ll have a three-way-spoon
and cuddle close as winter settles
Should we invite Robert Hedges-Goettl?
You’re swell, you’re great, you’re really cool
You’re super-awesome, yes, you rule
So Merry Christmas, dear, dear friend
Don’t ever let Mount Everestin’ end
And for the New Year, best of luck!
Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck!

-love Tama & Miguel!
but Tama wrote it.

So there you have it!
Here’s hoping your holidays don’t totally suck!
~Jesse

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Week 57: Tappan Zee Bridge (GWB Is For Suckers)

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Shaking off the evening and the morning it became
Gotta get my shit together
Gotta keep it in the lane
How can I keep myself alive?
The hours feel the same

Everyone around me has a mission to their name
Crawling up the continent
Accomplishing their aim
It’s an art
No matter when they start
They’re arriving in the dark

And have you seen a picture framed so well
As a windshield frames the earth?
Like you’re present at its birth
Peering through the lens your heart rebels

Do you see the honor in a solitary claim?
Do you think you’d be a goner if you learned to love again?
Oh if I burned myself for trying would I sit there in the flame?

And have you seen a picture framed so well
As a windshield frames the earth?
Like you’re present at its birth
Peering through the lens your heart rebels
And the road keeps staring back
Asking what you’re looking at
Carrying your love and doubt so well

Notes
 width= I got up early yesterday morning and departed the city of Philadelphia by car. I had been visiting friends on the occasion of Ecce Shnak’s first concert (an exciting new band lead by frontman and superfriend David Roush – visit their bandcamp!). In celebrating my friend’s new band I had pretty much forgotten to get any sleep. As I drove out of Philly, it was dawning on me that I had a screaming headache and my eyes were having trouble staying open. What followed was an uncomfortable and painful, yet introspective and rewarding trip. This is a song about all of the stuff that was on my mind as I fought my way north, and mightily made excellent time without speeding or crashing my car.

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

 

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Week 56 // Mortality Shimmy Shake

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You touch on the good that you set aside
But somewhere your heart feels you burn alive
It’s someplace you’ve been
With trees and gardens
With love and moonlight
It’s at the end
And what does it mean?
We’re gonna fade away?
That all of your friends could leave you here one day?

As plain as it seems yeah
That human beings
We got boiling blood
We’ve got hopes and dreams

So it wakes you with a start just to know
That every last one of us was built to grow
That every last heart’s got a seed to sew
And you can keep it or you can live and let go

But you let the beauty in the thought pass you by
Because it shakes just to know that we’re bound to die
Yes, you’ll die
Yes, you’ll die
You will die
But know this:
Until then
You are alive

And what does it mean?
We’re gonna fade away?
That all of your friends could leave you here one day?

As plain as it seems yeah
That human beings
We got boiling blood
We’ve got hopes and dreams

Notes
This week I managed to make the poppiest, most danceable tune in recent Mount Everest history, and I went ahead and sang all about death. But really when you are singing about death, you are actually singing about life. At least that’s the way that I do it. I am afraid to die. I don’t think about it very much, but now and then it catches me: the inevitability of it. It is something I’d rather never do. How much easier would it be to live out your days in unending certainty that one day would be followed by another and another and on and on without end? You would have little to fear, but certainly you would have little motivation to use the time that you have for something that has a point to it. Here’s the point of what I’m trying to say: Life is wonderful, and death is a part of it, so no matter how scary death is, there is something beautiful about it. It frames our experiences, and pushes us to create. I causes us to reflect on those we love. It inspires us to action. The greatest comfort that I draw from my fear of dying is the fact that I haven’t done it yet. It is a comfort so great that the fear washes away immediately and I am overwhelmed by the beauty of possibility. You will die, but know this: until then you are alive!

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

P.S.
Thanks to JWG of Big Sir Projects for this week’s artwork!

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