19 April 2007

i have the sniffles.

so clown bible closed, this week i put finishing touches on the recordings, they are lovely and the cast and band is just absolutely astounding...so many little touches that i never would have thought of. zappa calls adding these touches "putting the eyebrows on"...and these songs are bushy bushy with them. what a delight.

so the show itself, pretty overwhelming feedback to the tune of the ending being too serious/unclown/avantgarde opera/reverent. its true, its true...it was a beautiful ending to a completely different play. however, the charge that ive had the most fun picking at is "too reverent"...one piece of feedback said "i thought we had agreed to be skeptics for the evening"; a good friend said he was surprised by the reverence because he "knows mg and i"; another email feedbacker wrote "i still came away from your show with a message similar to that of conventional Christianity: The Old Testament is burdensome law and the New Testament is forgiveness and renewal. I don't think you intended that."

didnt i? yes the play was too serious at the end, but too reverent? what i find funny here is the classic old reversal of conformity and revolution...that liberals watching a piece on the bible created by liberals are expecting to have their own educated, higher tier "religion is bullshit" beliefs confirmed- expecting us to conform to the revolution. now some of this is because of an expectation we set up earlier in the show...i think our old testament god veered too far to lampooning at times, setting up an expectation of no holds barred irreverence. but i think theres something deeper at work here, this "enlightened skepticism" that actually creates just as much of a dogmatic wall as anything else. "i will not sit hear and listen to someone blasphemy my blasphemous beliefs!" etc.

heres the dirty little secret- i got no problem with christ, as hes presented in the gospels. none. i think hes beautiful, and i think every little crazy word of christ's is just jawdroppingly awesome. this is not a religious belief at all..i got no interest in finding a personal savior, and i am not a believer in anything so literal as christainaity, but storywise, storywise i think jesus's shit is fucking great...confusing and fierce and demanding and so real, so knee scraping visceral. and the things he says, his advocacy of asceticism and compassion, really fucking fierce let them beat you up compassion, his eyeplucking out solutions to the problems of desire, its all to me so clearly the answer, and so incredibly fucking difficult to do. i like my spiritual paths strict and crazy. aesthetically, just aesthetically you understand...i love my wine women and song too much to follow any road to enlightenment, for now i can just delight in the idea of it, the promise of it, and live another few lifetimes suffering in the sensual.

so yeah, if im gonna write a play about christ, its gonna be reverent. i revere him. not to say that i dont wanna have some fun with him...theres already a new tune in my head about jesus learning about his new human body: "ill betcha jesus cant dance, oh no oh no"...but belittle him, play the exhausting petty game of pointing out the contradictions? ugh. some skeptical knowledge of how these texts were actually written informs me here...believing that this is not the word of god but instead accounts written by imperfect observers and passed down over centuries lets me not worry so much about the odd line...and actually the strangeness, the incoherence is where i find so much of the compelling in christ, the baffling fig tree burnings and sword brandishing. fuck yeah, bring it, you imperfect man you!

it just exhausts me here that people cant seem to to make the next jump, the next big leap after cynicism...everyones so fucking extreme, either its the word of god or its a laughable piece of shit. cmon, cmon, back here in the center, im sittin in the center of town, at the top of a big beautiful marble lion and siren fountain, and you can see absofuckinglutely everything from here.
come the fuck on!

07 April 2007

i have the sneaking suspicion that as a lyricist, no one knows what the fuck im talking about. and this is because i, as a music listener, sometimes go YEARS without hearing the lyrics of a song.

today on a rainy bike path ride into albany, a mist of drizzle slowly but steadily covering my face with a fine film of running-to-the-altar-too-late rain, built to spill's "you were right" came on:

You were wrong when you said,
Everything's gonna be alright.
You were right when you said,
You can't always get what you want.
You were right when you said,
It's a hard rain's gonna fall.
You were right when you said,
We're still running against the wind,
And life goes on after the thrill of living is gone.
You were right when you said,
This is the end.

Do you ever think about it?
Do you ever think about it?
Do you ever think about it?
Do you ever think about it?

god i do! i do think about! but all of the sudden, all of the sudden. i had never really heard those "jack & diane" lyrics until this mornings ride made me discover them...because in hearing them in the built to spill song, i recognized them but couldnt place them, and so got to play the hilarious game of trying to remember one song while listening to another, all while still riding in this romantic rain. eventually, it snapped in, oh mr cougar of course, and then suddenly i really heard it>

life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone.

thats beautiful!
and so sad!

and true, and wonderful, and clever, especially the wordplay of the two meanings of "to live".
and i have sung along to this song for years, it was a childhood favorite when it came out (with all the cool picture frames bubbling in and out in the video...and cougars freezeframed punch!) but i never thought about what he was saying..i just let the delight of the syllables alone fuel my love for the song.

and ive had this experience several times, the sudden revelation of whats actually being said. theres some people that this doesnt happen with...like dylan, im listening to dylans lyrics the first time through, cause ive just been conditioned to know that thats what to listen for. but then a hall & oates song comes on and for all i know im singing along to the words of mein kampf.

sometimes i get it...ive been an advocate of billy joel actually having some pretty amazing insights into human loneliness and insecurity for a long time ("the stranger", "shes always a woman", and especially "an innocent man"), once i got really mad at my dad because he asked me if i knew what the lyrics to "born in the usa" were about (this is when it came out, 1984). i was irritated by the question and in a smart ass mood (yeah, i was 8) so i said "life liberty and the american way"...to which he laughed and then with my sister started to make fun of me because of course the song is in many ways about the exact opposite, its a fucking cynical song. but i knew that! that was the thing, i had actually gotten that, even at 8, but was just being a smart ass. but my reputation as a close listener was smashed. oh well. dad, lara, i forgive you.

but then much of the rest of time, yeah.
and so when i write songs, why should i expect any more of my audience than i can actually give?
especially in a theatrical setting, where you get to hear it once, just once?
words are hard, hard to hear.
do you ever think about it? do you get it, do you get it?

oh, i gotta go dry my hair.