Friday, January 16, 2009

Dedicated to You, But You Were Napping

How do you feel?
Do you feel now?
You lie, the final vessel of a life full
Wrapped in blankets of earth
Kind bedfellows--smaller points of life pull
Gently sharing your old form for what it's worth

What do you see?
Do you see now?
A mass of many units tightly clinging
As they relax what was so you abandons form
A million pieces wild and beautiful and singing!
Whirling knowingly and madly in the storm

In the spinning cloud of [---] the patterns rearrange
Here death and life are one and nothing finds it strange
I hope you felt no fear accepting senseless night
Existence is not limited to life

` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `

Sarah's comforter cover, purchased for our new apartment, makes a special appearance in this picture. The punning title of this one finds its roots on the Soft Machine's second album. For a more obvious hint, also see Matching Mole's first album (Robert Wyatt is the source of both). If you still can't figure out who it's dedicated to after that, say ten 'Hail Mary-s', take 5 aspirin, and call me in the morning.

This one reads a little bit dark, but in reality it's more of a celebratory song, dedicated to a deceased loved one. Spoiler alert: Things are about to get pretty hairy and philosophical. If you'd rather explain the song for yourself, skip to the last paragraph. Death is a departure from the sense- and identity-filled existence we're all currently leading, and that departure frightens a lot of people. Rather than see death as a mournful occasion, though, I'd prefer to see it as something truly glorious--a more complete return to the awe-inspiring mass of matter and energy from which our 'unique identities' sprang in the first place (and were only illusorily separate from, for that matter).

As living things, we humans tend to take the characteristics that are unique to living things (humans first, animals second, plants third) as what is good or ideal. Since we have no experience of death and can't conceptualize the experience of the quaintly-titled "inanimate," they constitute a black void of fear. Really, though, it's fairly arrogant to think that human consciousness is the only type of consciousness in this crushingly-huge universe that we infinitesimally understand. So, why not think of death as a chance to experience existence on a very different and more universal--if inconceivable--level? To me, that's not only heartening, it's exciting.

These ideas are partly inspired by a story from chapter 18 of the Zhuangzi in which Huizi finds Zhuangzi mourning his wife not by weeping, but by pounding on a tub and singing. Classic stuff.
The "[---]"s indicate wordless vocals--musical symbols for the jump from a fearful "Oh no, I can't feel anymore" to an entirely different experience. I've actually written all the music for this one--fingerpicked acoustic guitar in DADGAD tuning, for the interested. For many reasons, I personally consider this song one of my best accomplishments of the past several years.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Haunting lyrics!