Week 480 // Every Person

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View Lyrics
On the way to work
I got stuck
On the wrong side
Of aging tiles
The water
Everywhere
Don’t be afraid of the others
They are like you
They are
The same
Look to them
Speak to them
I’ve been a coward
To think so much of myself
I am
Ashamed
That I think of myself
As if I am apart
And a leaking pipe
Becomes a river
Below
And it caries us
All the way
Home

Notes
I wrote this song in a different way, as a creative exercise and to find out what would happen. I may have tried this before, but I can’t quite remember. I recorded a fairly straightforward guitar piece, and without listening back to the whole thing, I began to sing and record lyrics phrase by phrase. I invented each phrase just before I sang it, and practiced each phrase only a couple of times before I recorded it. I didn’t allow myself to write down or listen to the previous phrases as I worked. I only reacted to my memory of what I had been singing, and whatever related thoughts came into my mind.

As I sang, I began to think about Jason Polan, who died today. I never heard of him before cancer took his life, but I wish I had met him. He was an artist who set out to draw “Every Person in New York“. Both for practical reasons, and because of his untimely death today at the age of 37, he never quite got to all of us. In order to draw as many people as possible, he worked quickly, sketching people as they moved about, trying in earnest to capture as many as he could. The work is a stunning testament to our shared humanity.

Polan did much of his work on the subway. Could there be a better place to encounter as many New Yorkers as possible? His subway drawings struck me deeply. So often it is a place where I shy away from the human encounter, guarding personal space and avoiding eye contact. Lately I’ve been experiencing a bit of agoraphobia in New York crowds, and the subway has been a trigger. I have wanted to feel apart from those around me, but here is work that describes our familiarity and commonality. It cuts straight through our otherness. I feel sad that this artist is gone. I feel sad that only his death brought the lesson of his work to my attention. I feel glad that I found this.

~M.E.

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