>The only lamplight at the end of the street
For those that are keeping up, the album is coming along quite nicely, if I do say so myself. It's slow and extremely tedious work, for the sheer complexity of some of these ideas that I'm exploring, but I am overall pretty pleased with the results. I have five tracks that are completely finished (that is, until I see something in one that I don't like and scrap it to start over), and the story is completely fleshed out. The general musical direction has been planned and there are these little things floating around in my head that, when I finally put them down, will be pretty sweet I think. I'm just ready to have it finished so that I can release some of it to get outside opinions, other than the 2 or 3 that have heard some of it along the way.
The album is tackling some pretty heavy stuff and has evolved into this sort of critique of the modern religious (read: church) culture on several different levels. The content of the story is somewhat of a call to action or revision of some beliefs held by many engrossed in that culture, and I think the way it is received will be as interesting a study as the project itself. I am making sure to keep it all Scripturally grounded in principal and in thought, but at the same time expanding the audience past the usual receivers of the genre. There are some very bizarre musical things happening, which will either be a turn-off or on, depending on how open you are to weirdness, but I am afraid that it will exclude itself from the CCM patrons.
Along those lines, this I can promise to let you know how much you will or won't like this endeavor: it will be impossible to like both this and, say, Casting Crowns.
I didn't mean to divulge into a self-indulgent sort of ramble, but I have hit sort of a wall in my thinking at the moment. I keep getting stuck on one or two things and frankly I hate writing the same thing over and over again. So if you made it this far, congrats. You're a champ. Ugh, this really sounds like a blog now...
I am in the process of developing this little thought process and thought that I would let you readers into the mix. I have accepted the fact that anything and everything said or written will be taken, twisted, perverted, warped, changed, misquoted, interpreted, searched for ulterior motives, chopped up and fed to the dogs that we call American society, but it doesn't really make it any easier to swallow; I am tired of also knowing that there is nothing that I can do about it.
The object of today's little discussion is one that would make what Conservatives heroically refer to as "The Founding Fathers" (to fall to an abhorred cliche) roll over in their graves: the first amendment to the Constitution. This is, for those waiting in their traps to ensnare the cynic inside of me, the sentence that declares that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." This is a statement that was written in excess of 300 years ago, so, like any proper reading of an old text, demands an aspect of understanding of the context surrounding the words.
Still buzzing from the high of rebellion and the insatiable need for reform, a panel of men assuming leadership positions in the infant country recently dubbed the United States of America felt the need for a few addenda to the newly written Constitution. Sparing you the boring details, nothing about the words has changed to this day, except for the people for whom it was written. The fledgling nation at the time was in a state of heightened unity, following the split from their mother country, and they were all breathing the fresh air of "freedom," in a time when it was more than a buzzword passed around by Fox News. This amendment was an assurance that the Government would not establish a nationwide religion, would not pass a law stripping you of yours, gave you the right to report whatever you wanted, and said that you could peaceably gather together for whatever reason that they wanted. It demanded a unity between the governing power and the body being governed, the very basis of the Republic that had been created.
The amendment still stands today, and is one of the major (and, arguably, few) things that separates us from a totalitarian society, thank God (Although it's interesting to note, as Noam Chomsky said, "In the totalitarian society, the leader says 'We're going to war' and everybody marches." Makes you think, huh?). What I don't think these men had in mind when they penned the first amendment, however, was the extremes to which it would be misused 300+ years down the road. It assumed a measure of fairness, of justice, of what was right in the eyes of the people, for it has always been "We the PEOPLE." If they had known that after the Monsanto situation with Bovine Growth Hormone being found in the milk we drink causing the unsettling consequences of it being ingested by humans and Fox News brushing it off that the court would rule, because of this amendment, that the media is allowed to say anything they want, even if it is a lie, it surely would have been reworded, at least. If they knew that because of this amendment, pornography distributors would drop materials off at schools and fight for their rights of "free speech," they surely would have thrown down their fuzzy wigs in disgust.
In an extremely long winded way, I think I am trying to say that I am sick of all of this "I'm protesting because I'm a free thinker and I have the God-given right to do so" mentality. For goodness sake, stop having your Tea-parties and your Gay rights marches and stop holding up your signs that say "Bush lied, men died" and put Clinton's Blue dress situation away and quit announcing that you save the whales in the uncharted regions of the Pacific and stop being fooled by all of the absolute nonsense that is political divisiveness. It's that time where absolutely nothing that you see on TV or in a movie or read in a book or a magazine or hear on a special news report, no matter how "fair and balanced" they pretend to be, can be accepted at face value, yet we live in a generation where everything is accepted as it comes to us. We have not just the power but a mandate to test everything we see and hear, whether it be from a teacher or from the pulpit, and anything less than that is cheating yourself and making a mockery of the One who gave you, among all of the animals that He created, the power of reason.
In an age when very little can be trusted, I find it all the more necessary to trust what we know is valid, not speculative or slanted. Throw away your political views, your religious affiliation, your divisive attitudes, and understand that it is completely illogical to believe that those things are the end-all to your existence. What were we created for if not to bring an Eternal God praise and adoration, to the end of time? Surely the mess that this world finds itself in, this competitive capitalist dogma and period of moral sludge, is reason enough to believe that when we try to do things ourselves, we fail. The more we stop believing in God, the closer we inch towards absolute destruction. As soon as you put your trust not above, but in the talking heads on the screen in front of you or in the man behind a podium with the Seal of our country at his back, the true horrors of what we can become unfold.
I've been finding myself occupied recently with terrifying thoughts. I don't know how to control these thoughts either, because I feel as though they are crucial to our existence as humans living in an imperfect world, occupying the endless time of an eternal and perfect God.
These thoughts that I have been thinking are less long, eloquent diatribes in my mind that is gasping for knowledge and Wisdom and, well, answers, but more glimpses of epiphany that is to come. It is as though my processes pause momentarily and for that instant, everything around me appears totally fabricated and completely unnatural. It is surreal, really, and nearly impossible for me to explain. I see the little cars we drive, the work we attend, the politics we argue until we are red in the face, the accumulation of thin green paper that people kill each other for, and they all appear to me as this visceral realization that we do not belong here. This society that we worship and pursue and accept as truth cannot possibly be truth, for it was created by flawed humans. It is kind of like when you stare at a word for an extended period of time, repeating it over and over and it becomes foreign, almost unrecognizable to your mind. The more I think about all of this... stuff that is on earth, the more it blows my mind that it was put here by us.
With this frame of thinking, every goal and every motive you possess starts to be tossed into question. Everything here has an expiration date, so the notion of putting my trust in local things starts to be absolutely absurd. I suppose what I am trying to comprehend is the idea that I am not of this world any longer, since I have life in Christ. I know that I am not alone in these far-fetched little musings because poets, intellectuals, thinkers all throughout history have struggled to find their place in the same world that I am seeing. It is a horrifying thought for those without purpose, sort of a fast forward to 80 years from now when literally everything they have known is wrong. I glimpsed the sheer terror of this thought, but it was immediately overcome with a peace that came in the form of a whisper in my ear. It was audible, I swear to you, and what I heard (or felt?) was reassurance that I have nothing to worry about. There is nothing wrong with me having these things, because they are all gifts, but as soon as I start putting stock in them, I know that this moment will revisit me and I will be snapped back to the frame of mind I should be dwelling in.
I know this was really long and disorganized and somewhat of a rambling collection of thoughts, but I am convinced that somebody out there needed to hear it, and needed to be comforted with what are inevitably the same thoughts I am having. If you feel like having a discussion about it, please email me or something just to let me know that you're listening. Or reading. Or disagreeing.
>Sometimes it takes sitting in the dark of my room listening to my playlist on iTunes that I have spent a tremendous amount of sweat and effort making perfect called "Oh! So Epic" and indulging in great conversation with new friends to realize just how good I have it. I'm listening to everything from A Day To Remember to Emery to The Classic Crime to David Crowder to freaking Yellowcard to Django Reinhardt to Dogwood to The Early November to Edison Glass...even some Fall Out Boy thrown in for good measure. ahh.
I'm moving in with Matt and Ryan very soon to what will soon be the sweetest duplex that has ever happened. The creative energy that will be contained within the walls, if bottled, could provide Coca-Cola with enough material to advertise every new product they come out with or revitalize between now and when soft drinks are replaced by holographic representations of delicious thirst quenchers.
I'm also going back and forth between iTunes and this new track that's happening, the third track in the sequence of 12 that are going on the new record. This one is called "Swine," and takes place at a very specific moment in the main character's life. I am straight up jazzed about this track, because it is taking very drastic turns and is pushing me musically and creatively, not to mention stretching my boundaries at mixing and part writing.
Sometimes, it takes the most innocent and routine things to bring about incredible change. Today, it was the rain interrupting the heat that has been scorching our land for the past week. It has put people's minds at ease, it has quenched the thirst of the ground beneath our feet, it has moistened our dry spirits. It's very true: there is nothing quite like a summer rain.
>Impulsivity is the essence of who you truly are underneath all of the crap under which you attempt to bury everything you want to change about yourself. The beauty of spontaneity is that it nullifies every mask you can wear, every persona you can adopt and every thought you can filter, becoming the truest essence of self you can acheive.
I know people who don't like this philosophy, because they believe that man needs to wear these masks to hide the inherent ugliness underneath, to "clean up" their image or to make a publicly suitable version of themselves. The root of this is completely true, because every one of us is congenitally evil. We are all human, and part of the deal with being human is that you are going to mess up almost every minute of every day. So many have come around through the years with the solution to this problem, aligning chi, doing their good deeds, following pillars of faith, obsessing about chastity or simplicity or meekness or any number of things that we have quite literally worshipped throughout history. None of these things are bad things, but none of these things will save you from the wicked existence you are born into...
And I digress.
Because none of these things will save you, we are, each of us underneath these masks, the exact same person. We are all on a level playing field and all have the same potential for greatness, and all share the common love of a Savior who sees beyond colors of skin and cash in wallets and educational backgrounds, who asks only that you accept this free gift, merely a part of which is restoration from all of the flaws we possess, quite literally a replacement to the ugly underneath all of the gilded grandeur.
I say all of this to say that every action that people perform throughout their days is one stemming from a deliberate thought process (if not in that moment, previously) and is, therefore, a powerful insight to who they are underneath all of the paint.
I was thinking about all of this today through a bunch of little situations and some off-handed comments pointed my direction and I came to this little realization that I don't think I'm taken seriously most of the time. Probably my fault, I know, because I enjoy thoroughly making those around me comfortable to be in my presence though not necessarily because of me, but because I try to take the pressure off of them to be a certain person or to impress me or anything. Unfortunately, this comes across as arrogance and, as a result, I'm just another voice in the clamor.
So here I am, saying I'm going to do all I know how to do to get some of that respect I want to deserve. Respect as a thinker? Musician? Writer? People Person? Comforter? PokeMaster? really whatever I can get, I suppose. There's part of what's under this facade: that underlying yearning to be respected for something. What about you, my 7 faithful readers? What's under there for you?
>For so many people, change is something that terrifies them to a point of debilitating hopelessness, and for good reason (at least to them). With change comes the inevitable uncertainty of what comes next, whatever that "next" happens to be. Perhaps a "next" place to live, a "next" car, a "next" paycheck, a "next" girlfriend, a "next" best movie in the world. These are all important things to certain people, each holding a place of unparalleled preponderance in the daily lives of the individuals that hold them up on their undeserved pedestals. The word "next" implies an almost unilateral view past the present and into the future, it infers an almost tunnel-esque vision into what is yet to come.
The thought of a junkie looking for his next fix conjures the image of a desperate man or woman who can do nothing until he obtains that fix. Again, the power of "next."
The problem with this word, despite the (?)positivity of constantly looking forward is that the present is simply nonexistent. I've never been much of a marathon runner myself and I doubt most of you have either, so imagine with me a runner on that final stretch of their grueling race, at the crest of the final tumultuous hill along their quest of endurance. The peak of the white banner signifying the end starts waving in his field of view, and all that stands between the agony the runner has endured thus far and the sweet and welcome relief of rest is a comparatively measly 100 yards. You tell me what this runner is focused on - the people that have flooded out of their houses lining the streets, the vast number of volunteer workers who have given up time and money to supply water, tables, powerade stations along the side of the course, the signs of encouragement held up by friends or family members running alongside them, or are they focused on the next steps their legs are going to take, how many of these next steps they need to reach their goal?
Do not get me wrong. I wish I could know for sure and I greatly respect those who do know, but I imagine that the sole focus of the runner at this point is on the banner waving ahead and the weary legs beneath their exhausted body. All surroundings, all implications of that runner's "present" are nothing but a blur, even an obstacle, in reaching their final goal.
Please please do not get me wrong or misunderstand me by thinking I'm telling you to live in the moment only, because that person is more supremely misguided than the one focused solely on the future. I do, however, believe that it is necessary to constantly be aware of where you are in the present, because there is no other place you can possibly be. You cannot be in the future. You cannot reside in the past. God has given each of us the GIFT of free will, a gift that can be used neither in the past nor the future. It is a the gift of our choice NOW.
A gift... or a present, if you will. Of course, we are to use this gift for His glory, but even that is left up to us to decide. But how can you be expected to use this gift of the present in the place where you are if you're trying to live in the future?
I guess what I'm trying to say, as trite and horribly cliche as it is, is stop and smell the roses. Recognize who it is that has gotten you where you are and be freaking thankful for everything that you have, because, as the government is proving daily, what you have can be taken away so quickly. Safety is nothing more than a fleeting warm spot in a freezing cold ocean; comfort is a word thrown around to represent what takes us off of our feet and down from our guard; hope has become a catchphrase thrown around by politicians of the right and left wings alike.
Love is a term used more frequently by 8th grade girls than married couples of 30 years.
Be sure you know what it is around you that stimulates your mind, that inspires or leaves you awestruck, that gives and takes away, understand the fragile line between life and death, and take all of the steps towards the only one that can make both life AND death as meaningful as anything you could possibly imagine.
>I just made a disgusting beat. I have discovered recently this little techno-ish side of me, and I must say that I'm quite enjoying it, even though I loathe the very utterance of the word techno.
Ok, I'll spill the beans. I have begun work on the second album, and I believe that it is this album that will be the one that defines me as a musician. It will be dark when it needs to be dark, moody when it needs to be moody, light and airy when the time calls for it, heavy when the mood fits, and at all times intricately interwoven together. I am not going to disclose the subject matter for this one yet, because frankly I don't trust people to not steal the idea. However, do hope that all who listen to it acquire a deeper sense of who they are, how they interact with the people around them, their perception of God, etc.
For the most part, the influences of this record are different than for Muses. That was a much more light-hearted, acoustic driven compilation of songs, and was, for the most part, instrumental. This will have instrumental sections, too, but there will be moments when even the vocals will be just another instrument thrown into the bunch. Think the passion of Showbread's Anorexia/Nervosa. Think the production of Nine Inch Nails' The Downward Spiral. Think the intricacies of Say Anything's ...Is a Real Boy.
This musical silence is working, and to be honest, I completely recommend it to anybody who feels like they have hit a creative bock. Despite these influences, the album will still be very "me," the way any work should be. I really hate tooting my own horn, but all I'm saying is watch out guys, cause this one's gonna be hot.