on the Lake

•July. 7. 2014 • Leave a Comment

they will remember you for the way you give and give. reflecting the morning light. washing gold to the shore. they will remember you for your summer clothes and the way your fingers curl. in the evening, when you turn so calm and silent. speaking without moving your mouth.

there will be moments when you remind them of their dead. preserving the memory in a fresh water language. words that lift and sink. revive and fail.

and you will turn fluid. as smooth as the years on a calendar.
one after another. made beautiful by repetition.

 

 

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Music Journal: “Seasons” by Future Islands

•March. 7. 2014 • Leave a Comment

Most of my life has been a personal sort of arithmetic. A type of mathematics designed for a person who prefers imaginary numbers over integers. Consequently, I add postcards to the dashboard of my car and books to my shelves, while subtracting youth and failed loves from my memory. The results haven’t always been clear. But, reinvention is never clear. And who we are is never obvious. Nevertheless, there are moments when we recognize ourselves. The amputated parts and the nostalgia are there with our hazel eyes and our morning coffee. Sometimes, we can taste our own breath. We can hear our own voice. We can feel our name at the precise moment we pronounce it.

Most art, for better or worse, reveals the audience far more than it ever reveals the artist. And, so it is with Future Islands’ new single, “Seasons.” Right from the start, vocalist Samuel T. Herring offers a rain soaked haiku in the voice of a bengal tiger. The image of changing seasons is juxtaposed with Herring’s imploring to a lover. His moan is a sloppy mix of soul and Tom Waits, and completely his own. However, in spite of the first person song writing, the emotional urgency is frighteningly personal. As I listen, I lose sight of Herring, and instead, discover myself. I imagine my feet walking along cracked sidewalks. Dodging rain and my own reflection in windows. I recall every phone conversation that ended before I wanted it to. And the taste of the wet earth on my tongue. I can count every promise I made to myself. Each and every resolution made on New Year’s Eve. I can feel the bubble of champagne on my lips. Teasing me, the way hope often does.

It’s very likely that the “you” that Herring is singing to in “Seasons” is no one other than himself. Indeed, we all wait for ourselves to change. We “break” down. We give up. We “crave” what we once had, but it’s “gone away.” And that is the pain of this song. It’s the pain of  knowing who we are. But only a little bit at a time.

And that is the consequence of living in a world that changes. We can be happy. But only for a little while.

below is a link of a live version of the song:

Dying but Never Dead

•March. 5. 2014 • Leave a Comment

One shape becomes another. We are
who we are. But who we are isn’t
permanent. The color of the sunset
is not to be mistaken with the color
of the sunrise. We don’t switch
the ending with the beginning.
But it can be tempting.

It can be tempting to think
we are resurrected. But
we still have our memories.
And we still know the shape
of our body. Even as it slips
away from us.

We are glaciers. Melting
and ripping open the skin
of the earth at the same time.

 

 

Favorite Songs Found in 2013

•December. 23. 2013 • Leave a Comment

Humiliation by The National: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rn9W0LfGdtE
The lyrics of this song paint a canvas of dark nights and dinner parties. The humiliation of losing love. Of not being enough. It moves like a drunk who has no bed to sleep in. It is blues music dressed up in a three piece tuxedo. At my worst or at my best, I know, I have had nights, too.

Porno by Arcade Firehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soo9hnLqXqY
One of the best grooves. It’s a chrome flash disguising the breaking heart below. If most of life is denying who we want to be. Then this song perfectly narrates the inverse. To find that one person to build your world with. To find that person you wouldn’t leave. One day. To deliver on that promise.

I Want to See Pulaski at Night by Andrew Birdhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oecHq2neweA
 The sound of starting over. The violin that moves like snow dust across bare tree branches and city pavement. The sound of cups that overflow as we hold each other by the waist under metropolis stars. It’s true. There are nights when my cup overflows. There are stories that never lose their thrill.

Now the Fall by Dinosaur Jrhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgTwdKZavRU
Guitar music. So fresh. If it’s a feeling; I want it again. Spring days with the windows down. The smell of the new grass. The long conversations. The inevitable sidewalk and the good places to talk. I think I’ve known you before.

You Only Live Twice by Nancy Sinatrahttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgFtQPgHyek
Love is the first dream. And then you drift through the years. This song somehow gets it all right. If I was younger, I wouldn’t understand it. But now I’m older. And I have loved and loss. And I have loved. Not to mention, there is that guitar that bites through the speakers. So smooth.

Layman’s Terms by Boomgateshttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-p_p0-fo_IA
There are codes we speak in. For a while, hiding desire is fun. Playing hard to get can be cool. But, then sometimes we say what we mean. And we say it as slowly as possible. When those screams come in half way through this song. I know what they are screaming for. And, of course, there are those loud guitars.

Anything Could Happen by The Cleanhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tf1wzg4rdE
Probably my favorite song of the year. Even if it came out in 1981. To imagine music like this existed. The definition of ramshackle. Those guitars that twist and shake their hips. The choice is yours. So make it worthwhile.

Get Thy Bearings by Donovanhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyxfCQG1t4w
Once again. I had no idea. A bass played like silhouette footsteps. A saxophone like cigarette smoke. A voice like a paperback novel. The story of late nights and getting together.

Byegone by Volcano Choirhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dp127U0EJoI
One of my favorite genres of music: the comeback song. I enjoy the sound of starting over. Of setting sail and climbing to the mountain’s crest.  The guitars of this song keep putting one foot in front of the other. And you know what they are saying: He’s a legend. I’m a legend.

Grown Up by Danny Brownhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOmsU91AxVg
If most of my favorite songs are about the comeback story. Then I love this song simply because it is about delivering on the promise of youth. The coming of age story. This song is pure swagger.

Suki by Unresthttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkNj28UZ_GQ
The sound of caffeine. Lyrics edited down to their sharpest point. It’s not having little to say. It’s having one thing to say and saying it until you get it right. It keeps repeating because it deserves to be repeated.

I’m Under your Spell by Mind & Matterhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HMSO_i5gUs
Love songs like this will always be a favorite. No pretense. Just a groove like magic. And flawless harmonies.

Skyscraper by Sea and Cake: (no video)
I don’t even know how to talk about this song. If I were to try I would say that the guitars sprint at the perfect pace. The vocals hiss like steam above the noise. The lyrics sing about wanting the impossible because it’s better. And I agree.

The entire album by The Super Eagles titled Senegambian Sensation
Example song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbCsaRSgxTI
This whole album captivated me without explanation. Everything works together so perfectly. The drums steal the show just as often as the guitar work. There is emotion in the vocals. Nothing boring or tiring about this. Just  a thrill.

Paper Trails by Darkside http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZVPHzsRp_o
The sound of a bonfire under mountain stars. Almost cold. Almost sensual. I love the way the guitar is reinvented by Darkside. Equal parts blues and reverb synth sounds. This song mixes in those deep, clove cigarette vocals with enough empty space that every stab at the guitar or arpeggiator feels like a risk. Who didn’t tell you? There is danger and comfort in watching a house burn.

Cadillac Desert by William Tyler http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YszpE1vff0
Again. A guitar sounding purposeful in 2013. Of course it reminds you of John Fahey or Trace Bundy. But there is a nuance to the instrumentation here. Brass and glockenspiel create a sense of distance. And then the guitar does the walking. The sound of returning from exile. But a personal exile. The distance we create for ourselves between us and the world. The distance required to meditate on who we are. And why we are.

Vermeer 65 by the Walkmen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goZZ5Q_eibs
The Walkmen have been recording the sound of victory on their last two albums. This song, with its ever-descending chords and head-held-high chorus seems to wipe the blood off its knuckles with a laugh. On December 31st what else is there to say? Another year and we haven’t said good bye yet. Laughing at the tops of our lungs.

Hannah Hunt by Vampire Weekend http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOwFLTwvXHc
Without a doubt. The lyrical triumph of the year. Maybe of a few years. A song that operates like a short story. Employing Hemingway’s theory of the Iceberg. Giving us only the spare details. But, then again, isn’t this all life gives us? A few clues. A couple guesses. Those passing insights into the person we love. We are still guessing. Can we trust those that we love? What is going on behind those eyes of yours, dear? We keep our cool for only so long. As this song explodes into debris and frustration. It’s familiar terrain. The fights we have in the name of love. The various ways that love can leave us speechless.

Too Hard by Kurt Vilehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31qMWqJ1xM8
“There comes a time when a man has to take hold of the matter at hand.” That lyric. It makes sense in the year 2013. I keep reading articles telling me what it means to be a man. How the idea of man has changed. Really. The idea of gender doesn’t mean as much as it once did. But, if I am a man. I know it from my ability to be responsible for what needs to be done. Honor in getting the job done. But this song is about more than just that. It is about doing your personal best. It’s about realizing that the world is “a ball of beauty that makes you wanna just cry.” As I look forward to the new year. It’s true. This world is still better than I ever could have imagined. It still surprises me. And I still surprise myself.

2013 Music Review

•December. 23. 2013 • Leave a Comment

Like all art. Music flourishes and suffers from an audience that knows not what to do with it. Is enjoying music enough? If not, then should we analyze it? Should music be compared to other music and receive a rating? For some, music is something that makes dancing possible. For others, music is an expression of the self.

Personally. Music is art because it doesn’t fulfill a singular purpose. Music raises new questions as it answers old questions. Consequently, because of this, I really enjoy discussing music with others. I enjoy getting an emotional reaction from music. I enjoy when music speaks with lyrics that are seemingly universal yet personal.

Sometimes music achieves the status of soundtrack. However, I do not mean background noise. I suggest that there are times when music narrates our lives. Adds to the purpose of our story. Becomes an integral piece to the sense of our days and the definition of our experiences.

Thinking of music in this way. I would like to share my favorite songs / artists / albums from the year 2013. These are the songs that gave meaning to the trials, victories, worries, and joys of my 2013. These are songs I found in the year 2013. This music is not exclusive to being new to the year 2013 only. (the oldest song goes back to 1928). Thinking that only music from one year should go into a “year-end-list” is reductive and I cannot make sense of thinking that way.

If you would like. Here is a Spotify playlist that offers 5 hours and 29 minutes of my favorite music from the past year. What should you do with the music on this playlist? I don’t know. But it starts simply enough. Listen.

Hits 2013

The Story Won’t Do What You Want it to Do

•October. 18. 2013 • 1 Comment

9:01am in October and
my dictionary is empty.
quiet like a tree that has given up
on all its autumn leaves. a canvas
stripped of its paint. friends,
most of life is decoration.
this much I’ve realized:
when you are naked in the morning
and there is nothing to say. and she
has eyes that simmer like last year’s
holocaust. do no be so fast to fill yourself
with sentences and half truths.
life is nothing more
than a few well written pages.

 

Autumn Nights

•September. 28. 2013 • 2 Comments

Autumn nights like candle wax
That sticky feeling in your heart
That crunch of coffee and the fog
in the morning. You’re almost sure
she has her mother’s eyes and
the body of a fresh water lake. Back in Indiana
there are sand dunes and full moons.

Happiness doesn’t move in any specific direction.
Traveling down the highway, heading west with
the windows down. Every road is smooth
and repaved. Every feeling is like a book
you’ve never finished reading.