Friday, September 24, 2010

And so it is...


I'm a writer. When I was in elementary school I started writing my little short stories, each time pushing the bar upward on page count: 20, 30, 40. They were horrible, just horrible. I actually came across one the other day and except for the stinging wave of melancholy nostalgia it was pure, and utter, crap.

Now, I'm a journalist. I'm "published." I've scored a few freelance jobs and have a couple of certificates on the wall.

I'm a piano player. From the time I was 8 until I turned 16 I had a weekly lesson on Monday's with Joyce Montgomery. My sister began teaching me the notes when I was 6 so when I first rolled in to Joyce's house with my fresh CTR ring on my finger she didn't have to bother with the flashcards, I was good to go.

You wouldn't think that it would make that big of a difference, but most of the other 8-year-olds that started the same time I did never seemed to catch up.

Even at that age, I was a cynical kid. I knew that if you were a mormon, and could play the piano, then you would be constantly called upon to grace the ivory's for a special musical number during sacrament meeting or even worse, accompany the tone-deaf men in priesthood. One way or another, all good piano players played cute spiritual hymns.

So, at the young age of 8 I made it a point to choose recitals that were loud, rambunctious, and preferably in very minor keys. I played well, but I sure didn't play pretty.

It worked. And in time the mood-neutral Beethoven's Fifths made way to the more aggressive Zug der Zwerges, mountain kings, and Rachmaninovs. Sure I had to play the occasional Sweet Hour of Prayer, but no one ever asked me to take the stand after the bread and water.

I kind of went off on a tangent there, but what I really wanted to talk about is how I'm a writer, and a musician, and yet for the life of me I've never been able to write a song.

Believe me, I've tried. I started three during my 2-year sojourn in Brazil but could never quite put into melodic prose the depths of my confliction. I wrote one on the way to my friend's wedding in Boise last summer and even went as far as try to apply it to some chords. It was about a girl (duh) and when things didn't work out with her, I never really bothered with the song (it was never very good anyway, the paper is still next to my piano).

Poetry has always been a weakness for me. I appreciate the skill involved, and I recognize the talent in (some of) it. As I type there's a printout next to my feet of Anis Mojgani's "Rock Out" (youtube it, you'll be glad you did).

But I can't do it. I've tried to write songs when I feel like I can take on the world and when I'm crushed with my heart is in pieces on the floor (there's more in the latter category) and everything in between.

So, to finish, I've had a song in my head all day. Since I can't write anything this good, I'll post it instead. This is Damien Rice's "The Animals Were Gone." If you don't know Damien, get on grooveshark as soon as you can.

Woke up and for the first time the animals were gone
It's left this house empty now, not sure if I belong
Yesterday you asked me to write you a pleasant song
I'll do my best now, but you've been gone for so long

The window's open now and the winter settles in
We'll call it Christmas when the adverts begin
I love your depression and I love your double chin
I love 'most everything that you bring to this offering

Oh I know that I left you in places of despair
Oh I know that I love you, so please throw down your hair
At night I trip without you, and hope I don't wake up
'Cause waking up without you is like drinking from an empty cup

Woke up and for the first time the animals were gone
Our clocks are ticking now so before our time is gone
We could get a house and some boxes on the lawn
We could make babies and accidental songs

I know I've been a liar and I know I've been a fool
I hope we didn't break yet, but I'm glad we broke the rules
My cave is deep now, yet your light is shining through
I cover my eyes, still all I see is you

Oh I know that I left you in places of despair
Oh I know that I love you, so please throw down your hair
At night I trip without you, and hope I don't wake up
'Cause waking up without you is like drinking from an empty cup

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for the accolade - albeit unnamed. You were my best (and only) student.

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  2. Ah. I heard you play at PoBev. Spectacular. I can write music, but I'd give it away in a heartbeat to be able to play like that.

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  3. Hey, thanks Alee. I guess it went all right :-> We'll have to jam sometime.

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