Friday, January 29, 2010

Between pages, on the right day,
Sometimes I find my mind stray
To your question
And a younger man's reply.
Oh, there's no plot without you,
Every word sounds untrue;
I close my book,
Curse my mouth and sigh.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

To begin by asking whether I exist on a different plane is rarely a good sign. But else can I put it. I find myself capable of what one could call the ability to abstract, but it's only in the things that count; that is, life and people. I am triggered by words, phrases, a certain look that reveals pure innocence in contrast to a world consumed by noise and ambiguity. These lead me to uncharted moods where I can almost imagine what is happening in another heart, where I can sense its consonance to the spirals of my own mind. By understanding just one person outside the self, even if for a moment, all of mankind appears illuminated. And what a beautiful sight it is.

Sister I'm a poet

Hiding behind those sweet spectacles was an astonishing heart. I was already confident of his innocence of spirit, but I never thought his interests were of a literary bent. He expressed this fact with a line so concise, so beautiful, that I will never forget it. To think, all the hours I've toiled over verse, clunkily making words rhyme, and yet never once have I broadcast this hobby to the world at large. When faced then with such a free statement, so lacking in pretense, I was simply left in awe as it glided past my many layers of cynicism. In just a single line, he reminded of a fundamental truth: what beauty in mankind.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

1) John Prine, "The Torch Singer". I've underestimated Diamonds In The Rough for quite a while. I now think that side A may be as good as the debut. With songs like these, he conjures up a lazy, dusty feeling that I imagine many songwriters make it their life goal to capture. I can't imagine anything else in music, let alone art, that's imbued with the same state of mind. He makes a strong case for folk-rock turning out to be favourite genre after all.

2) Morrissey, "All You Need Is Me". As long as the old master can write lyrics like these, all will be well with the world. It brings me a smile that recalls "Suedehead".

3) Neil Young, "Thrasher". I've mildly oscillated with Young over the years, but hearing this after a long time was a revelation. I always admired the prettiness of the tune, but used to prefer the direct lyrical punch of "Powderfinger". But with time that stance has shifted somewhat, and I see a new subtlety in the song. Once more, it's all about the feeling. In the rise and fall of the melody, we discover that perhaps there are more roads than we once thought. In the clarity of the morning sun, one realizes that there is a life somewhere out there, and all we have to do is accept it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A perceptive take on popular song I recently read is that it serves as a filter on life. A broad statement that can be applied to any art form, but there are at least two reasons it's a valuable way to think of popular song. First, the music lends itself so easily to subjective interpretation, because it is explicitly designed to be a visceral experience; once one responds instinctively, there's no chance that the reaction of any two people will be the same. Second, as a consequence of the first, this filter is much stronger than with the other arts. I wrote earlier about poetry serving as a magic incantation of sorts, a series of powerful invocations that help one in times of duress. One can say much the same thing with popular song, except that it doesn't just come to one's aid: it actively changes one's perceptions of everyday life*. Indeed, it's not clear that there's any deeper meaning to a lot of songs or albums that I like. A lot of times there are just phrases, snippets that speak to me, and the feelings they induce are quite likely not what the artist had in mind when recording it. Again, not particularly surprising - true of poetry, for example - but popular song in general doesn't have the level of intrinsic complexity of poetry, so one is left wondering why exactly it is so pleasing. A lot of times it's the feel of the music, the expression of a feeling that you can't get anywhere else; not through books, film, nor instrumental music. I don't know if it's all about Soul, but certainly the mode of expression is essential to understanding the music.

* Of course, I don't mean to suggest that it must act as a filter on your life, whether you like it or not, but I like the sound of the idea, and I feel like it's accurate in describing my own experiences.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The melody, at night, with you

Sitting on the bus with the rain outside, I was pondering the mysteries of life. I don't know where the center is anymore, and things have never felt this uncertain. It's one of those troughs where all I see and know is the present, and it's certainly not the place to be. Oh, but I'm not defeated that easily. I know ways of escaping. Yes, the smell of summer rain...I remember. There certainly was another time, buried away as it is in my mind. I send my memory back to infinity, searching for something concrete to affix my thoughts on, and yours is the face it returns. It doesn't take a second for the memories to accompany it. Now I have the best ones all carefully selected, and I realize that I've forgotten how much comfort they bring. They make it quite plain that life has a broader frame than we perceive; and what's more, it's rare when we really understand the sentiment. It's strange to say, but it's almost as if I'd forgotten that it was me who went through all those times. The innocence and the happiness, that might have been a life ago, but these aren't dispassionate recollections of something I read about; the person inside all of them is me.

I can't deny that I feel some sadness: what once was one life was slowly, painfully broken in two. Once set down different roads, we had no way of finding the path towards each other. What might have been, what might have been... But no: the pain, it's had its turn. Accepting this, and just letting the past slowly cloud over my mind, I felt a moment of genuine happiness. What a moment in the midst of all manner of existential turmoil! Like a mythic lighthouse in the distance, the moment offered a reminder of why we travel through the bog in the first place. Reflecting on this miracle, I realize that I owe a great deal to the universe for making it me who has these memories, who has these feelings.

This is possibly the fourth life I'm living, and in the immediacy of the moment, I feel it to be the worst in recent memory. But I now have faith it will end. There were other mes that came before, and there is one set to succeed my current position. Uncertain as the future is, knowing it exists offers immense hope. Who knows, perhaps we'll meet again yet? Whatever the outcome, I'd like to thank you in spirit for helping remind me, for an instant, that there is a life above our lives. The thread is delicate, but it exists. Where once we danced, the vibrations linger on.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

It could well be that none of it means anything. Intersections of our respective time and space could just be the result of atoms playfully colliding. Maybe comets have not gone blazing by in signs of approval, and the stars haven't been shining so that I could find purpose in the night sky. It could be nothing more than the way the earth spins, how life plays itself out from time to time. Yes, maybe I've been singing praises in honour of a connection that simply doesn't exist. But without a little bit of faith, what good would any of it be? A life so detached would run its course without even allowing the possibility of such magic; whether I am right or wrong in this instance, I know the principle is true. So I believe. I draw on your every movement, and they speak to me with purpose and colour. We are pushed together by something, light shining through the perfect black that is always around. The destination is imminent, and it will all converge somewhere. Time, all I need is time.