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Monday, October 17, 2016

The Weirdest Trophy

I landed on your golf course late last night
I camped up in a tree, sharpening my knives and aim.
I came to hunt the strangest game.
Rest assured, big man,
I only wanna bring you fame. 

And when the sun came up I was primed for the kill
I waited in a sand trap, armed to the gills
but no,
you never made it to the second hole.

Now I know that we should only hunt the best of a species
and everything about this dude is definitely feces
but none of us have ever seen a skull as thick as his! 

Let me take that big weight off your shoulders!
Let me help you out of all that old loose skin— 
we can make you something great again
(It’s a rare thing to see)
Now your head could be the most peculiar trophy that I’ll ever win.  

I climbed to the window of your penthouse suite and
saw you dancing in your bathrobe, hookers at your feet
but no gun;
nothing you could shoot but crack.
I try to play by the rule: only kill what could kill you back.

But then you walked to the window, dripping in wealth.
Were you looking at me or were you staring at yourself? 
Who knows… 
until you go and drop that robe :(

Now I know you thought that you were simply humping your reflection,
but where I come from that’s a textbook gesture of aggression.
You left me with no other choice but to destroy you from the neck down!

Let me take that big weight off your shoulders!
Let me help you out of all that old loose skin— 
You’ll be more human than you’ve ever been. Please!
Let me take that big weight off your shoulders!
Let me help you out of all that old loose skin— 
We can make you something great again
(It’s a rare thing to see)
Now your head could be the most peculiar trophy that I’ll ever win.  

I smash through the window
and I knock you on your back.
To show you my respects
I disconnect and drop my mask.
Then suddenly I lose you in the room without a trace— 
you blend into the background with your fire-colored face!

Let me take that big weight off your shoulders!
Let me help you out of all that old loose skin!

I’ve hunted everything from Xenomorphs to Carl Weathers…
Special Forces, Tarzan, fuckers with their shit together.
No one ever pulled a spineless stunt like this before—
Cowardice on par with Killers in the Three World War!

By the time I get my mask back on this gorgeous face,
the Orange One is gone and I’ve become a big disgrace!
I don’t care who you are back in the world—

you ghost me again… I’ll bleed you… real quiet

The Man Who Knows Best

Come tell me my fortune, old prophets and priests! 
Come teach from the book that’s so often revised!
Explain how I look from my savior’s eyes!
Ain’t it miraculous how you can preach from your knees?
No food for the beggar, no love for the thief…
No room for the other in the company you keep.
And who is my Lord now: is it father or son? 
Well the old gods are dead and there’s only one left 
to the man who know’s best for everyone.

When will the punchline come?

Come make my life easier, young technologists!
Just outsource and automate all of my needs…
improve the design of my final disease   
and fix all my problems before they exist.
The hand that you build may be used as a fist,
but you’ll define “progress” however you wish
and what kind of world will we have when you’re done? 
Destiny’s manifested—a virtual success
for the man who knows best for everyone.

When will the punchline come? 

You gotta make my hometown safe, brave Mr. Politician!
Who’s gonna save my kids from terrorist commie heathens?
Who’s gonna make them pay the ultimate price for freedom?
Everybody outside’s trying to pop the bubble we live in.
What if their truth isn’t self-evident?
And if they can’t live without what is broken within?
“Well there’s no eye to eye so don’t even try,”   
says the man who knows why for everyone.
  
When will the punchline come?

Come sing me a soundtrack, my artist and friend!
Come make my life feel much more real than it’s been.
You used to sing all that I couldn’t explain
and now you just buy those you can’t entertain,
So march to the drum of the numb and the young…
you’re the man who knows best for everyone.


When will the punchline come?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Team Love

Purchase It Was the Worst of Times, It Was the Worst of Times here

Maybe it’s semantics but I don’t believe in love….
as a noun
I think it’s only a verb
because I know I can’t run out of it,
I know I can’t hold onto it,
but I can own the conduits
and make sure they work.

Well, well, well
well sometimes they do
and sometimes they don’t
and sometimes you have to fix the come and go

I’m just a bit addicted to the tops and tails of loving 
it starts just like a sudden rain
on fields of baked and brittle crop
and ends just like a housing market crash
when delusions finally stop

Ahhhh
I love those twin peaks
that help suspend that thin bridge 
which spans across the most impossible love

But everything between I seem to struggle with
when everything is calm I feel inadequate
I get passive.
Loving’s never passive.

No, no, no, no
I never really learned to love effectively
I only seem to love in ways I want to be
I don’t aim right.
Loving should be precise. 

When love was just a noun I could run up a tab lying down
coasting on the fallacy of constant love
but in reality I think we love in fits and starts
and everything between is just a promised heart. Hey!

I know it’s not romantic but sometimes I think we never truly love another being so much as the sensation of loving 
Perhaps the height of happiness is nothing more miraculous than optimized giving and receiving in perfect rhythm

and it’s hard to find…
it’s so hard to find…
it’s hard to find someone with rhythm like mine.

If I want to be a great man, (if I wanna be a great man)
I will be forever working, (I will be forever working)
and I’ll be fixing up my inputs and my outputs
I will learn to love and be loved from any direction

If I could do that 
I would never be lonely
If I could do that 
I would be so patient
If I could do that  
I would never withhold loving
If I could do that 
I would never concern myself with reciprocation

I’d never let someone be a bottleneck of my loving.
I’d learn to feed the world and by the world be fed.
If I could fix the stitching of our broken language,
I could be sewn into the soil rather than hanging by a thread.

We have one word for so many different relations…
from child love to inanimate objects 
Now is this because we don’t value love?
or because we know it’s a concept so simple and binary
it’s easy to confuse it with the memory or the promise of 

impossible love.

Expensive Love

Purchase It Was the Worst of Times, It Was the Worst of Times here

There's a drip in the tub that I just can't fix
and I can't find a rug to cover up the skidmarks from where your feet kept losing ground.
You were carving up a tomb from the home I found.

I could afford the surgery,
and I could absorb the cost of drugs,
but I just needed some sort of guarantee
that you'd see me through

Dear Lu
Loving you is so expensive
Loving you is so expensive, darling 
Loving you is so expensive, Lumey,
I knew you had to go but didn't know it'd be so costly 

You got a little bit sicker when you came on tour
but still you stood right by me 'til your legs were sore
and it was hard to leave you out in the van some nights…
sometimes you gotta do wrong to make the long term right.

But then you got much worse when I took the job -
I had to leave work late and get up at ungodly hours to get out of all the debts I owed.
Maybe you couldn't see the man for the brand new clothes, 
but everything else was much improved.
We ate our weight in brand-name foods.
I became the father you never knew 
but it was too late

Dear Lu
Loving you is so expensive
Loving you is so expensive, darling 
Loving you is so expensive, Lumey,
I knew you had to go but didn't know how much it’d cost me
Loving you… 
Loving you… 
Loving you…
I knew you had to go, 
but didn’t know
I didn’t know
didn’t know
I didn’t know

I didn’t know

Where Is the Fire?

Purchase It Was the Worst of Times, It Was the Worst of Times here

Everyone says to forgive myself first,
but my heart is as dark as the dirt 
in your black fur 
in the deep hole
in the dark night outside
I don't want forgiveness I just wanna see you again
and I would burn in hell just to hold my friend.

If I'd got there a little bit sooner…
If I'd shut my fucking computer…
You'd still be here 
painting our house with your dander and calm.
Maybe I was trying to keep from feeling out of control
but now I would burn in hell just to feel at all.
I’m so numb I can’t resolve.
So where is the fire?
Where is the fire?
Where is the fire?
Bring me the fire.

Will you remember the middle of things?
Or will I be judged by my butcherous endings,
all clumsy and wrong?
My book-ending shame
I’d sell for a song
to sing in your name.

Where’s my heart in all this?
Is it speaking?
I’ve not heard a thing…
Am I just holding on too tight?
Or letting go too easy?
Nothing feels quite right…
my everything is freezing.

Where is the fire?
Where is the fire?
Bring me the fire.
Bring me the fire.
Where is the fire?
Where is the fire?
Where is the fire?
Where is the fire?
Where is the fire?

Where is the fire?

Watering the Soil

Purchase It Was the Worst of Times, It Was the Worst of Times here

On the stone I carved your name
on my heart, the chiseled flame-like 
permanence 
but there's no permanence
that’s just some shit we say in fear
to help us pass the years

I was lost and couldn't sleep
with you distant from my feet,
my perfect son,
what have I done?
I put you in the ground tonight
out beside the house 
by the window light

I laid out there in our blanket
and imagined you were kicking in your sleep
just three feet below
where your father weeps

In the morning I came to
Did you hear me calling you
I listened then
with pressing ear, 
"You're not alone - I'm here,
watering the soil

just above you, dear"

Underestimate Me

Purchase It Was the Worst of Times, It Was the Worst of Times here

I felt you leaving
in November
after I drove up to see you
I read between your thinning lines of texts
and busy weekends
I knew the truth but I asked you to give it to me straight
but you underestimated me

I know that boy
is so pretty
with his New York sensibilities
I know you float
on a tide of lusting users
so you don’t see how I could feed you like all of those youthful things
but you underestimated me

‘cause I would provide for you
(maybe not in the fiscal sense)
but I would provide for you
(uh, baby no more than just two kids)
I mean… I’d make a space for you to be 
the wonder you are to me
the wonder you are for me
the rare thing you are to see
the best person you can be

Now that you’ve blazed me
once again 
I won’t be running back to Washington
I won’t be hoping that you’ll understand
I won’t be begging you to choose…
My throat is tight, my heart is loose.
So I’ll just remember how you made me forget the world all around me

while the world still reminds me of you.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Letter to a Young Lyricist

Hi Matt, 
Thanks for taking an interest in my work! Congrats on your decision to pursue music. As I'm sure you're aware, it's a long painful journey with lots of sacrifices but more fulfillment than the average career, I'd bet. 

I suspect that my lyrical proclivities are a bit abnormal, so I'm not sure my approach is worth replicating, but I'm happy to tell you my personal philosophy and opinion in regard to prose/lyrics:

1) Read everything. A writer without a thorough grasp of the english language and the myriad of ways brilliant people have been exploiting it for centuries is like a drummer without rudiments... she might hit a few nice pockets, but she won't have the means to get acrobatic and will work much harder at phrasing than one with a diverse vocabulary and historical knowledge. Watch people like Van Dyke Parks, Joni MitchellLeonard Cohen, Tom Waits, and Bob Dylan speak in interviews. It’s not a coincidence that they are some of the greatest lyricists of all time.

2) Listen to everything. Dissect the lyrics that really impact you. Figure out why they were so effective. Early in my development I was impacted by the lyrics of Rufus Wainwright, Joanna Newsom, Perry Farrell, Black Thought, Thom Yorke, Pharaoh Monch, Mos Def, Bjork, MF Doom, etc., but it took me too long to understand why. As someone that wants to increase my lyrical arsenal, it would be wise for me to listen both as an average listener and as a word engineer, and articulate why a phrase impacts me the way it does, so I can apply it to my work.

3) Live through everything. A lyricist is just a journalist in a poet’s jacket. Even fiction writing is based on first hand experience. Every few years I run out of stories. When that happens, I have to accept that I've lost my input/output balance; I'm writing more than I'm experiencing. This is a very common rut for artists, but seldom do they address it for fear of losing momentum. Stop writing, go out and have a breakup, or a car accident, or a crappy job, or a baby, or a protest... to "refill the coffers" with life stories that you can translate and relate to other people. The world doesn’t need more songs about how enjoyable dancing is. 

4) Be curious about everything. The most important and effective lyrics are those that tell the listener something they already know, but do so in a way they could not previously articulate. When you do that you are doing the listener a big service, and thereby creating value. Essentially, you are just drawing lines between things that other people had not connected before. This is the essence of good poetry. If I tell you that “love is like a burning flame in the chest” your response is most likely, “Yeah. Thanks for the incredible perspective.” If I tell you that “love is like having a bakery follow you around” you will stop and consider this, and may think, “Huh, it is kind of like that… walking near a bakery lifts my spirits with the smell of comfort. If a bakery were to follow me around, I would constantly feel like that. What a strange but accurate comparison that I had not thought of. Here is my money, GavCaz.” 
The way to train yourself to make these connections between disparate experiences easily is to learn about as many different worlds as possible, and take note of everything, especially how an experience makes you feel, so that you can find the parallels and intersections. Be curious about all things and people. Read, read, read. If you get good at it, you shouldn’t have to turn on your poetry cap… it will always be on. The goal is to live poetically. If you achieve that, lyrics will come easily. I’m not there yet, but I’m closer than I was five years ago.

5) Don’t worry about rhyming so much. Rhyming has ruined more lyrics than it’s improved. First learn how to write great poetry, and then worry about making it rhyme. Rhyming is easy when you have a dense vocabulary. Effective messaging is hard. Effective messaging with tasteful rhyming is the final step. 

That’s about all I got. Good luck - recognizing that your lyrics are a weak spot already puts you ahead of 98% of the artists out there, so stay at it and keep the long view.


Gavin