Week 16: A Life On A Carousel

A call to Visual Artists! If you are an artist please click here!

Press Play
Mount Everest - A Life On A Carousel Featured Performers:
Nick Mastors
Miguel Williams
Jesse Mitchell Lindsey
View Lyrics
Ain’t it so the hardest part
Is coming back around again
And searching unfamiliar faces
for the faces of your friends
And I am coming back around again
It’s a life on a carousel

There’s a reason
For the coldest season
It’s a proving ground
And there’s a light that’s coming
So impressive we will all be found
And I am coming back around again
It’s a life on a carousel

Notes
 width=The artwork this week is a photograph by my friend Brian Doyle. He found this carousel someplace in France, and managed to paint a beautiful picture with it’s light. I saw it and began to think about carousels and what they do. Of course they go around, and around. It happens again and again. It is a cycle, much like a year, a revolution akin to an orbit. It is a simple metaphor, so I wrote simple lyrics to describe it, and I repeated them twice, a cycle in their own right.

This is another collaborative song, written with Nick and Miguel. As always the experience was a pleasure. I particularly liked working on three part harmonies on the sans-lyrics sections. I also liked that so much of this song was played on acoustic instruments, and we were able to step outside of the computer for a few minutes. I sincerely hope I get another chance to write with those guys in the near future.

If all has gone according to plan I have now landed safely in Boston after a fun and rewarding vacation in California. As my flight was the red-eye, I am most likely at this moment passed out in a pile of my own luggage, unable to make it up the stairs.

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

If you “like” and “tweet” this song I will be grateful because more people will hear my music!

Pin It

Week 15 // A Soul Anatomy Game

A call to Visual Artists! If you are an artist please click here!

Press Play
Mount Everest - A Soul Anatomy Game

Featured Performers:
Nick Mastors
Miguel Williams
Jesse Mitchell Lindsey
View Lyrics

It’s just a little bit of heart
It’s just a little bit of shame
It’s just a little bit of innocence
It’s just a little bit untamed
And it’s a good amount of restlessness
And on the road the inches on the map get called the game

I took a drive to see the capitol
I wondered what it would say to me
I thought of all the ways I could lose control
Like the pillars of history
And the giants all around me told me
Son you gotta learn your soul anatomy

Your head, your heart
Your hands, your feet
Your mind, your thoughts
The rest is everybody else
The rest is yours
To know, to love
To grow, to feel
To discover that the less you feel the less you’ll know
The less you know, the worse you’re gonna feel

Just think of your worst memories
And all the days that left you scarred
And then endeavor to believe
The most important days are hard
That all your darkest days are beacons of the light that’s in your heart
And make you love the life you’ve got

Your head, your heart
Your hands, your feet
Your mind, your thoughts
The rest is everybody else
The rest is yours
To know, to love
To grow, to feel
To discover that the less you feel the less you’ll know
The less you know, the worse you’re gonna feel
And it’s better to learn to feel

Notes
 width=Greetings from California! I’m here visiting friends and family, but you won’t notice any difference around here, because I’ve pre-recorded songs in advance to last us through next Monday. I couldn’t have done it without some help though, and I had plenty in the form of Nick Mastors and Miguel Williams. These guys are two of my greatest friends, and also my former band mates, so it felt just like old times getting together and making up some songs.

The geneses of this song began in Nick’s brain, and we all attacked it from every angle until we had something all three of us could call our own. Listen for Nick’s signature beats, e-bow guitar, and twiddly-funk. Also keep your ears open for a beautiful vocal breakdown and some wonderful acoustic guitar provided by Miguel. My only regret is that Miguel couldn’t stay until I had written the lyrics in order to sing them all with me. Maybe next time.

A soul anatomy game? I was thinking about all the games that I used to play in my head as a kid in the back seat on long car rides. Maybe I was trying to find out-of-state plates, or looking for pictures in clouds. I still play games to keep my mind occupied when I’m driving alone on a long trip, but long trips get so introspective that I sometimes lose track of the game and find myself someplace else. In particular I was thinking about one trip that I took last fall to Washington, DC for Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity. It was the morning after I came up with the idea for this blog, and I had been so exited about it the entire night that I hadn’t slept a wink. I was recklessly exhausted, but desperate to make the rally. As I drove I thought about all the possibility inherent in making myself write a song every week, and I realized that I was about to have to become infinitely more honest and familiar with myself. Week after week I would learn my soul inside and out.

But this song isn’t all about driving down to see Jon Stewart, giddy about a website. It’s about feeling your hardest feelings in order to better know your own soul. If there is a thesis statement in this song, it is some combination between the second verse and the end of the last chorus: “Endeavor to believe the most important days are hard, and all your darkest days are beacons of the light that’s in your heart… The less you feel, the less you’ll know, the less you know the worse you’re gonna feel. And it’s better to learn to feel.” In other words, if you avoid the things that are hard about your life, and try not to feel them, you will not truly know yourself and you’ll only make it worse. We sometimes try to bury our hard feelings, but I suggest we embrace them in order to find a more complete understanding of ourselves. This song is supposed to be optimistic!

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

If you “like” and “tweet” this song I will be grateful because more people will hear my music!

Pin It

Week 14: So This Is Tomorrow

A call to Visual Artists! If you are an artist please click here!

Press Play
Mount Everest - So This Is Tomorrow Featured Performers:
Jesse Mitchell Lindsey
View Lyrics
I want to know for sure
The morning will be there
If I sleep through the night

I want a love who knows exactly who I am
I want a chance to hold tomorrow in my hand

And I want a city in the sun
And a guarantee I’m not the only one
And I want to find out I could carry the weight for anyone

Here am I
I’m burning burning
God, I’m gone, I’m gone
Here I am uncertain
Certain rights will stay un-wronged
And here I’m waiting for the dawn

And I got me in a down and out way
I got the windows down and I’m feeling like a stray

And I’m moving with no purpose I can feel
But something’s dead ahead and damn if it ain’t real
And I’m thinking again that it’s all in my head when I’m behind the wheel

Here am I
I’m burning burning
God, I’m gone, I’m gone
Here am I uncertain
Certain rights will stay un-wronged

God and all God’s children hurting
Learning right from wrong
Love and all love’s burdens burning
Bright on everyone

And everyone’s so anxious to arrive
And it scares me just to know that we’re alive

So there it’s scratching at my skin
Like a fresh reminder of the state I’m in
So this is tomorrow
And it all begins
And it all begins

Notes
 width=The photo accompanying this week’s song was given to me by my friend and collaborator, Nick Mastors. It brought me back years to my first semester at college. I’m not sure if I’ve ever told a soul about the frequent late night drives that I would take when my head was full of thoughts. That’s where this picture brought me when I looked at it. I would pick a road that I hadn’t tried yet, and I would drive and drive, sometimes for hours, usually turning back only when I was convinced I was lost. I weaved in and out of towns and villages, through woods and farmland, under buzzing streetlights, and beneath fragrant pines. I was testing out the limits of my new-found independence, but more than that, I was thinking about tomorrow and how uncertain it was. It was an uncertain time, and when I think back to it, the feeling still resonates with me. It’s like all we can do is barrel into the future, wake up every day and say, “So, this is tomorrow,” and the universe pretty much does what it’s going to do, while we do our best to learn and be good people.

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

If you “like” and “tweet” this song I will be grateful because more people will hear my music!

Pin It

Week 13 // Spires

A call to Visual Artists! If you are an artist please click here!

Press Play
Mount Everest - Spires

Featured Performers:
Jesse Mitchell Lindsey
View Lyrics

Outside of the city
And up in my bedroom
Away from the buildings
And the people and the games

I look at the city
It’s all full of bedrooms
Stacked high in the buildings
And the people look the same

I’ve never been much of the city kind
I got a lack of understanding
A point of view I cannot bear

But I look at the city and its twisted metal climb
And I’m wondering how can anybody be alive in there?

And at the end of all that was
When human hearts will be the end of us
When the towers reach the Sun

And all the spires will decay
And soon the wind will blow the rest away
The debt will be repaid

Way out in the country
Away from the suburbs
Away from the city and the sound
And in the air

I think of the city
And all the good people
And all of the love that’s to be had for living there

But I’ve only ever fallen in love out in the air
Way out of the city
Where the world’s got room to spare

And somewhere in the suburbs
There’s a life without a care
But there’s way too much to care about

And at the end of all that was
When human hearts will be the end of us
When the towers reach the Sun

And all the spires will decay
And soon the wind will blow the rest away
The debt will be repaid

Notes
 width=In college I majored in Studio Art and I often made pictures of cityscapes, and people in cities, and giant animals in cities, and on and on. One day a classmate approached me and said, “Jesse, your work is so urban… are you, like, from New York City?” I laughed to myself and then admitted to her that I had grown up in a comfortable suburb of Boston. In fact, I have never lived in an urban environment. I have split my life between the suburbs and the woods, only venturing into urban areas on occasion and usually for recreational purposes.

I like cities, but they also perplex me. I haven’t spent enough time in them to really understand what lies beyond the relative excitement compared to my own subdued environment. They also intimidate me a little bit: a vital aspect of my artistic fascination with them. When my classmate asked if I was from New York City, for a moment I felt like I had been a terrible impostor, misrepresenting myself through my artwork. But then I looked at my work and saw a cartoonish and warped unreality. I realized that I was working from an honest perspective. I was depicting cities through the eyes of a total outsider.

My friend Nick (who grew up quite literally in the woods) has said to me numerous times that he believes that cities are unnatural environments for the human animal. I have often been inclined to agree with him, but ultimately I don’t. Human beings are so social, thriving on one another’s company, so the city must be the ultimate expression of our nature. But therein lies a great danger. In our desire to live together we have built vast concrete machines that spew toxins and swallow land. It is a little scary.

This song is about the contradiction inherent in cities, as described by an outsider. There is so much love to be found amongst so many people, but damn it if the cities aren’t going to drag us all down eventually. Sometimes it makes me want to pack up and move downtown. Sometimes it makes me want to run for the hills. It is also about the choices that we have about where to situate ourselves. The song seems to make a value judgment that the only truly human and real places to live are in the extremes: The country and and the city. The suburbs can be described as diluted versions of both.

With this song I wanted to get back to basics a little bit with the instrumentation. It is played only on bass, nylon-stringed acoustic guitar, and drums (at least what passes for drums around here). I wanted it to end with somewhat of a vocal cacophony to simulate what I feel and hear when I look up at a really tall building.

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

If you “like” and “tweet” this song I will be grateful because more people will hear my music!

Pin It

Week 12 // The Void and the Great Unknown

A call to Visual Artists! If you are an artist please click here!

Press Play
Mount Everest - The Void and the Great Unknown

Featured Performers:
Jesse Mitchell Lindsey
View Lyrics

I’ve been wide awake
Since 1985
How many now have closed their eyes
Since I first opened mine?

And in the morning light
I hear it every time
That’s when I know the voice of God
Has been keeping me alive

And I know I’ve been left alone
With the void and the great unknown
And the world and it’s quiet beauty call
And I feel that it’s my own

The moon, the earth
The edge, the search
The itch, the hurt
My open eyes
It’s what’s keeping me alive
And it kills me every time

I knew it when I was a child
That the night would be only mine
That the darkness would swallow the light
That there are colors on either side

That there are colors that must be named
And there were questions from the start
And there’s a vastness that remains
And there are answers in the dark

The moon, the earth
The edge, the search
The itch, the hurt
My open eyes
It’s what’s keeping me alive
And it kills me every time

Notes
 width=Those who know me well will tell you that I am quite the night-owl. But it goes a little deeper than that. While I do have one fully diagnosed sleep disorder, I also believe myself to be one of the world’s great undiagnosed insomniacs. I never sleep at night. I don’t know what a good night’s sleep is like, and I can tell you in all honesty that I don’t know what somebody means when they say they are well rested. I have never experienced that; at least not that I can remember, and not in the way that everyone else means it. My song this week is about everything that is beautiful about insomnia.

The night is mine. I have it to myself, and sometimes it reveals its secrets. Everything is different in the middle of the night. Things sound different. Things look different. The earth is still and quiet. Time moves differently. Sometimes I try to pay attention to the night, to look into it, to find out what it really is. It’s like trying to unravel some great mystery. If sleep doesn’t come easily, it makes sense to use that time. Sometimes I use it philosophically, and sometimes I use it productively. Something happens to me in the middle of the night. My ideas become lucid. I can translate my ideas into form more easily. For me, the middle of the night is a muse. In some way, everything I have ever written, drawn, or played is a commentary on the night. It is my partner.

This week I continue to explore what I’ve come to recognize as a curious relationship developing between my banjo and my synthesizer. It seems to me that they have something to say to each other, and maybe even something to say about each other. It is a relationship that I am interested to see develop a little more. I suppose what I am really trying to do is to decipher what they have in common. I think they have more in common than they would like to admit.

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

Please “like” and “tweet” this song! It helps me get the word out!

Pin It

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!

Pin It

Week 11: The Echo Chamber

Press Play
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

Pin It

Week 10: A Bottomless Season

Press Play
Mount Everest - A Bottomless Season Featured Performers:
Jesse Mitchell Lindsey
View Lyrics

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

Pin It

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

Pin It

Week 9 // 20 Questions For Jared Loughner

Press Play
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

Pin It