Saturday, January 30, 2010

then you crumble and blow away

during my high school days, incubus came out with one of my favorite albums to listen to top to bottom, "Make Yourself". i initially purchased the album, attracted to their famous track at the time, "Drive". as it was one of two cds (the other being alicia key's songs in a minor, another good album) i had with me on a terrible summer in korea working as an intern in a random software graphic design company, and i was living with the constant bickering between my mother and her mother, i drowned it all out by listening to the album around 500 times.

the theme of the entire album truly is the idea of setting aside one's identity as apart from what the world views us to be. while "Drive" is a very catchy song, i believe that the actual title song, "Make Yourself" is its introductory song and has a lot more power and energy. you can listen to it here.


If I hadn't made me, I would've been made somehow.
If I hadn't assembled myself, I'dve fallen apart by now.
If I hadn't made me, I'd be more inclined to bow.
Powers that be would have swallowed me up,
but that's more than I can allow.

If you let them make you, they'll make you papier-mache.
At a distance you're strong, until the wind comes
then you crumble and blow away.
If you let them fuck you, there will be no foreplay.
But rest assured, they'll screw you complete til' your ass is blue and grey.

You should make amends with you.
If only for better health.
But if you really want to live,
why not try and make yourself?

If I hadn't made me, I'd have fallen apart by now.
I won't let em' make me, it's more than I can allow.
So when I make me, I won't be papier-mache.
And if I fuck me...I'll fuck me in my own way.

You should make amends with you.
If only for better health.
But if you really want to live,
Why not try and make yourself?
Make yourself.

at first listen, i suppose one could be turned off by the massive use of a certain four letter word throughout the song (which probably prevented it from being a single). however, thinking about what he's using the words for gives me a better sense that the world will not be gentle with trying to shape you and mold you. the imagery, while crude and graphic, conveys the intensity with which the song tries to warn the listener.

on the album this song actually is right before "Drive", and actually has a short transition into the song at the end of the track. i say it's a companion song because of the way they fit together. this song says that building an identity on a world generated image will be ultimately unfulfilling, and "Drive" describes how he will now go about choosing his own way in the world.

being super image-conscious in high school, i think that this song really changed my perspective and increased my capacity for self-awareness. it becomes apparent that everyone has the same concerns about how they are perceived by the outside world, and that it becomes so much more refreshing when you start searching for things that you find are true for yourself instead of others.

at the same time, i have to realize that it is also dangerous to close into oneself and believe that one's own vision for truth supersedes anyone else's. that's how crazy people operate, by acting on what they believe is true without consideration of any other viewpoint. i think that sometimes i get caught up in the idea that everything is fake, and with that, create my own ideas that i then subsequently see as truth. but i think it's imperative that we search on our own for truth, that we recognize that it isn't something we create, but discover.

Friday, January 29, 2010

jerome david salinger

The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it.
Original book jacket copy, possibly partially written by Salinger[2]

when i think about the death of jd salinger, it's strange. when we think of his death and the long life that he lived, we only pretty much think of that small sliver of life that he shared with us, those three days that he takes us through the life of holden caulfield. the rest of his youth, and the 60 years after he wrote that piece are almost considered inconsequential; i'd say he's pretty much analogous to the "one hit wonder" of an author.

in truth, jd salinger was a very weird dude. to write something like "the catcher in the rye", i suppose you have to be, especially if the book is somewhat autobiographical in nature. understandably, any one who went through the horrors of WWII during that time, especially as an artist, would be emotionally affected for life. out of this time was his character "holden caulfield" created. from a short story in 1941 to catcher's publication in 1951, jd salinger spent 10 years developing the boy that everyone who has experienced beauty and appreciates the search for truth can relate with.

the amount of self-awareness and contemplation that jd salinger has probably put into his own psychological makeup is astounding, once you fully understand how he explicates the nature of holden and the way he experiences the world. in his life, he explored various forms of spiritual outlets to try to gain insight into his own self and perhaps the general understanding of the meaning of life. however, after sharing his insights, his ability to connect with others deteriorated and he closed into himself, becoming reclusive.

what his reasons were for closing himself off were unclear to me, perhaps he became embarrassed by sharing too much of himself or he felt that audiences were wholly misinterpreting his work. throughout his life, he fought any other adaptations of his work, maybe to protect the absolute purity of that which he created into becoming something different entirely. to be honest, i felt like he despised the very "phonies" who wanted to make something off his work, or who liked catcher for superficial reasons. being somewhat of a snob myself, i know there were plenty of people i considered the "phonies" holden was talking about, high school douchebags, if you will, who claimed they absolutely LOVED catcher, but i may have felt like they lacked the emotional depth and intellectual capacity to really be truthful of that statement.

salinger had a need to protect his work from being adulterated, and he took that with him to the grave. as recently as last year he challenged an author from writing a fan-fictiony novel about holden (an old holden 60 years after the events of catcher). though i may not fully understand his ways, i admire salinger for creating and fighting for his art, and keeping it the way he intended, instead of letting others trample on it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

i stole this from someone

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

Phillipians 4:8

you can probably guess which whatever is ______ was my favorite.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

random crap i found on my xanga

just looking through some old blogs and i found that i did make random crap besides a rap video two years ago...

going to try to be musically creative on sometime in 2010, i think. or at least die trying. like what a big time artist said. or was that about something else.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

she fell in love in the first place

eighth grade and the subsequent freshman year of high school was a time of transition for me. it was a time when i started to develop strong opinions on love and loyalty. it was a time of new experiences and the beginnings of my ambition of making a difference in the world. but it was also at this time that i believe i lost of my wide eyed optimism and started wondering about the world around me outside of my sheltered little bubble.

so, during this time, it was almost no wonder that the following song resonated with me completely. in 1997, the verve pipe came out with their one hit wonder single called "The Freshmen". you can listen to the song here.

here are the lyrics:

When I was young I knew everything
She, a punk who rarely ever took advice
Now I'm guilt stricken, sobbing with my head on the floor
Stop a baby's breath and a shoe full of rice now

I can't be held responsible
Cause she was touching her face
I won't be held responsible
She fell in love in the first place

For the life of me
I cannot remember
What made us think that we were wise and we'd never compromise
For the life of me
I cannot believe we'd ever die for these sins
We were merely freshmen

My best friend took a week's vacation to forget her
His girl took a weeks' worth of Valium and slept
Now he's guilt stricken sobbing with his head on the floor
Thinks about her now and how he never really wept he says

I can't be held responsible
Cause she was touching her face
I won't be held responsible
She fell in love in the first place

For the life of me
I cannot remember
What made us think that we were wise and we'd never compromise
For the life of me
I cannot believe we'd ever die for these sins
We were merely freshmen

We've tried to wash our hands of all this
We never talk of our lacking relationships
And how we're guilt stricken sobbing with our heads on the floor
We fell through the ice when we tried not to slip, we'd say

I can't be held responsible
Cause she was touching her face
I won't be held responsible
She fell in love in the first place

For the life of me
I cannot remember
What made us think that we were wise and we'd never compromise
For the life of me
I cannot believe we'd ever die for these sins
We were merely freshmen

at the time when i listened to the song, i wasn't completely aware of the sexual implications embedded in the song. i could however definitely connect with the song's central message of regret, that the illusion of invincibility that comes with youth can blind us from the consequences of our actions. i fell in love with the idea of their repentance and their acknowledgement that innocence isn't something that can be renewed without a price.

i suppose this one of the first songs that i came across that made me more conscious of meaning and emotion in music and perhaps started my interest in music outside of my exposure as a classical musician. i wouldn't say that this song singularly sparked my interest in alternative rock and becoming a rocker (which i still want to do, secretly [or not so secretly, now]), but i just remember loving the raw emotion you can feel at the end of the song during the last chorus.

looking back, i still think this song rocks, now even more so realizing the themes of abortion/suicide/drug use and how that ties into the mistakes they made as foolish young kids. it's something that i think everyone can connect with, how simple mistakes you make in life can spiral into a catastrophe. i do feel that the song is somewhat less validated because the artists are pretty much only known for this one piece (i tend to also look at songs compared to an artists entire body of work), but i think any piece of art that has a powerful message is worthwhile.

Friday, January 8, 2010

the emo holy grail

towards the end of my senior year a band called dashboard confessional was becoming pretty popular. even during my superemo days, this band was even too emo for my usual enjoyment. when i first went to college, downloading infinite amounts of music on a cable line became all the rage however, so i downloaded their albums.

i have to say though that when one is an emo mood, one can do no better than to gak it up with their first big song (and prob still their best, except maybe "Vindicated", there's only so much you can do artistically as an emo band) "Screaming Infidelities". you can listen to it here. here are the lyrics:

I'm missing your bed, I never sleep.
Avoiding the spots where we'd have to speak
and this bottle of beast is taking me home
I'm cuddling close to blankets and sheets
But you're not alone, and you're not discreet
Make sure I know who's taking you home
I'm reading your note over again
There's not a word that I comprehend
except when you sign it,
"I will love you always, and forever."

As for now, I'm gonna hear the saddest songs
and sit alone and wonder how you're making out
but as for me I wish that I was anywhere
with anyone, making out

I'm missing your laugh. How did it break?
And when did your eyes begin to look fake?
I hope you're as happy as you are pretending
I'm cuddling close to blankets and sheets.
And I am alone in my defeat.
I wish I knew you were safely at home
I'm missing your bed, I never sleep.
Avoiding the spots where we'd have to speak.
And this bottle of beast is taking me home.

As for now, I'm gonna hear the saddest songs
and sit alone and wonder how you're making out
but as for me I wish that I was anywhere
with anyone, making out

Your hair... It's everywhere.
Screaming Infidelities, and taking it's wear.

like every Chris Carrabba song, this song is about some sort of relationship gone sour. for some reason (perhaps it's because he was an emo pioneer and so this kind of song wasn't overdone when he came out with it) the song works and serves as a good example of something with sincere emotion.

there's vulnerability that he shares of how he deals with the situation that no one ever really admits. most breakup songs are like "omg, you really messed up because i'm all that and he/she doesn't compare yadayada", but this one goes through the real actions and thoughts we have when we go through a breakup from someone who's hurt us.

the power of the song i think is amplified (albeit he does this all the time with all his songs) when he sings the song in a lower register about the stages of pondering that he goes through, taking you through his logical thought process as he tries to work out why things happened the way they do. then as he becomes more involved in the emotions he feels the song carries with him tonally and dynamically until the great finish at the end, which i think is exceptionally well done.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

just to be with you

i suppose there are SOME christian songs that i do like, so i'll devote this entry to one of them.

during my junior year in high school, i went to a praise night that was held in a neighboring town. there was an older guy (who i estimate now probably to be late twenties, he seemed really old though when i was a teenager), who performed a song called "Love Song" by Third Day. i remember him doing all sorts of funky jazzy elements to the song which probably made it even more awesome in my mind, to this day, i don't think any rendition i heard (even my a cappella group in college did it) covered it as well as that first time i heard it.

you can listen to the song here.

here are the lyrics:

I've heard it said that a man would climb a mountain
Just to be with the one he loves
How many times has he broken that promise
It has never been done.
I've never climbed the highest mountain
But I walked the hill of calvary

Just to be with you, I'd do anything
There's no price I would not pay
Just to be with you, I'd give everything
I would give my life away.

I've heard it said that a man would swim the ocean
Just to be with the one he loves
All of those dreams are an empty emotion
It can never be done
I've never swam the deepest ocean
But I walked upon the raging sea

I know that you don't understand
the fullness of My love
How I died upon the cross for your sins
And I know that you don't realize
how much that I gave you
But I promise, I would do it all again.

Just to be with you, I've done everything
There's no price I did not pay
Just to be with you, I gave everything
Yes, I gave my life away.

at first glance, it's not that complicated of a song; a first person narrative of the crucifixion and its implications. but what i like about it is that it actually is also a commentary about love songs in general and how they are filled with empty promises of fulfillment. as i agree with ben folds' philosophy that writing love songs that are genuine and real are very difficult, the song's theme of discrediting authors of banal love songs that are written everyday resonates with me completely.

i also like the emphasis on the idea of the limitations of human relationships, and how no person is capable of loving someone indefinitely and perfectly. perhaps i'm cynical and feel like ultimately everyone has/will fail me in some way at some point, but i'm also cognizant of my own short comings and that it doesn't compare to the source of the infinite.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

so i lied

so i failed many an attempt to be creative over break because i'm

a) lazy
b) uninspired
c) clouded by crap in my brain

so...i still wanted to write about stuff. i think it's worth it for my own personal interest to continue with my songs idea stuff for my own personal way of logging things about the way i think about music and what not. so here goes. the entries won't be chronological anymore, just whatever i'm moved to write about at a particular juncture, so it'll probably involve more songs that i'm particularly in touch with currently.

i started listening to sufjan stevens a lot during my junior year of college, ironically when i started becoming more cynical about life. maybe that's why i listened to the song about the biblical apocalypse ("Seven Swans", maybe i'll write about that next) on repeat when i was studying for tests (other than the fact that i just listen to music on repeat).

the first song i ever listened to was off his Illinois album was "Predatory Wasp of the Palisades". at first i wasn't too particularly excited about this song, because the style was not anything really i was used to listening at the time. but giving the song another listen or two, after listening to more of his other stuff, made me realize that sufjan stevens is a genius.

you can listen to it here.

here are the lyrics:

Thinking outrageously, I write in cursive
I hide in my bed with the lights on the floor
Wearing three layers of coats and leg warmers
I see my own breath on the face of the door

Oh, I am not quite sleeping
Oh, I am fast in bed
There on the wall in the bedroom creeping
I see a wasp with her wings outstretched

North of Savanna we swim in the Palisades
I come out wearing my brother's red hat
There on his shoulder my best friend is bit seven times
He runs washing his face in his hands

Oh, how I meant to tease him
Oh, how I meant no harm
Touching his back with my hand, I kiss him
I see the wasp on the length of my arm

Oh, how I meant to tease him
Oh, how I meant no harm
Touching his back with my hand, I kiss him
I see the wasp on the length of my arm

Oh great sights upon this state, hallelujah
Wonders bright, and rivers, lake, hallelujah
Trail of Tears and Horseshoe Lake, hallelujah
Trusting things beyond mistake, hallelujah

We were in love, we were in love
Palisades, Palisades
I can wait, I can wait

I can't explain the state that I'm in
The state of my heart, he was my best friend
Into the car, from the backseat
Oh, admiration in falling asleep
All of my powers, day after day
I can tell you, we swaggered and swayed
Deep in the tower, the prairies below
I can tell you, the telling gets old
Terrible sting and terrible storm
I can tell you the day we were born
My friend is gone, he ran away
I can tell you, I love him each day
Though we have sparred, wrestled and raged
I can tell you, I love him each day
Terrible sting and terrible storm
I can tell you

although soothing at first, this is not a song that can really be listened to casually, it's more like an experience as stevens takes you through a moment of time in childhood, showing his vulnerability in describing his friendship. he captures the very essence of the purity and enjoyment of untarnished friendship in a simple camping story.

stevens mixes times in different parts of the song gives the song a waltzy, dance like feel. it makes it seem like the moment he does talk about is ephemeral, hard to truly capture again completely, giving it a potent sense of nostalgia.

songs like this remind me of my constant struggle to fight for this lost innocence and to try to fit my world in this hopelessly optimistic box, like a wannabe holden caulfield. everyone wants time to freeze in these moments where nothing is judged and it's easy to love and be loved. maybe one day we'll all get there again someday.