Week 137 // The Great Machine

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Grease on your hands
You touch your face
Gets in your eyes
You’re out of place
You know you’ll never fix it
With those petal hands
You’ll never see it
Work its gears again

And this machine
This road facade
It runs on something
You’re begging God to know
You’ll synthesize the substance if you can
You’ll curse the blisters
On your broken hand

And you know I struggled
Against the great machine
And it began to stir

And I’d never lie to you
But I’d stretch the truth
That’s how you make it work

You’ll set a fire
You’ll burn the plans
You’ll dash the pieces
You’ll wring your hands
You’ll know you’ve been a victim
Of some kind of scam
And if you trust a human being again
You just let them think it worked

We’ll all pretending like it works

And you know I struggled
Against the great machine
And it began to stir

And I’d never lie to you
But I’d stretch the truth
That’s how you make it work

It’s been a long road
You never let it end

It’s been a long road
You never let it end

It’s been a long road
You never let it end

It’s been a long long road
You never let it end

Notes
This song dives into a metaphor that I’ve played around with at least a few times before, but never to such a degree. In Week 67 // Recent Successes I remarked that “If you shut the engines down, wouldn’t you know, you won’t be starting them up.” Just a few weeks ago, I followed with “the machine is broken, if I get it working, I don’t know what it does at all.” The idea that I’m playing with is that a person’s life is like a machine, which makes each individual like a mechanic, or a tinkerer, trying to get all of the gears moving the right way, struggling to get the engine to turn over, or to keep the thing in working order. This song explores this idea further. If we start with the impression that life is this great machine, where did we get the impression that there is a right way for it to work? Is it our perception of other lives around us? Do we hear smoothly purring engines passing us, while ours sputter and cough? Is this a falsehood? What if there is no way to fix the machine, and the real metaphor is to leave it in a steaming heap by the side of the road and to carry on by foot? The moral failing of this song’s point of view is that we’d likely tell the next person that we come across that the machine is working just fine, because human beings can be vain and jealous creatures. Without any knowledge of our rusty gears, they’d hear the smooth rumble of our engines in their mind’s ear, and they’d double down in futility, rather than letting it go, being the person that they are, and living their life the way it is. Fuel for thought, perhaps.

One more note about this song: It has been many weeks since I’ve had the chance to really trick a song out like this one. I love my quiet folk tunes, but to me, “The Great Machine” just feels like vintage Mount Everest.

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

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