I’m a little disappointed in myself for missing a week while I was on vacation. I had recorded a video in advance with the intention of uploading it while I was away, but the beach just kept calling my name, so I’ll just have to live with knowing I took a by week.
“The Book Was Closed” is your typical relationship gone wrong song from several years ago. Tricky thing with songs like this, if you keep playing them people (and sometimes you yourself) wonder if you’re really past everything that went down.
But still playing this song some years later, I’m satisfied with it. I think a sign of progress from a falling out is being able to look back on things with an outside perspective, and see what you couldn’t see while you were in the thick of it. If a song is too caught up in the moment, it becomes relevant only to the time it was written. I feel like this ended up being insightful enough to age and still have proper meaning with everything now well behind me.
So if you’re a regular viewer of these videos, you may notice they all start with a number in the top left corner. As you might have guessed, that number is a chronological order for when the song was written. It also plays into the goal of this little video project. I’m approaching having 100 songs written, and would hope to reach that goal before I run out of songs to make videos for.
This song is 1., though that’s not ENTIRELY true. I didn’t start making writing a regular practice until I was in college. Prior to that, in my high school years, I took a stab at writing a few songs before shirked away from the idea for a few years. When I went back to the drawing board, I reexamined the old work, and decided for the most part they didn’t make the cut. Of that first group of songs, this is the only one I saved. So while I don’t think it’s technically the first song I’ve ever written, it is the oldest song that I still had on hand when I started logging them. Sort of amalgamation of the Bob Dylan, Beatles and Tom Petty that I had started off playing.
So as a boy, who like most boys, grew up with a lot of toys. Army men, transformers, and plenty of ironically dubbed “action figures”. All that wonderful hard plastic, virtual immobile guys. Imagination was in no short supply, so the great battles that took places still had their grandeur, despite the stiffness of the participants. It’s a recurring theme among lots of those toys. The more “realistic” they’re supposed to look (I’m looking at you with those quotations, Barbie and Ken), the less mobile they seem.
Then there’s Raggedy Ann and Andy, laying limp until you do something to change that. But when you play with them, you have complete control of them. You’re bringing them to life, in every sense of the word. Go back and watch Toy Story again, and compare Buzz and Woody. Buzz’s appeal comes from all the lights and sounds and fancy things he brings to the table, but Woody’s significance comes from him being so real to Andy.
This post is spinning away from me a little bit. I like the idea of patchwork dolls. I find them a very apt human metaphor. Made up of all sorts random experiences, constant sufferers of wear and tear, and capable of just about as much as our imaginations will allow.
It’s something I’ve been referred to as many times. I don’t argue it, and few who know will either, so that leaves what the song is about to be pretty self explanatory. But there’s a story about writing it.
It was actually some silly thing on Facebook (imagine: Facebook having something silly on it!), back when you had a random list of your friends generated on the side of your page. And there was this game going around where people filled out lists based on the visible list of friends (what animal would <first person on friend list> be? what kind of car would <second person on friend list> be? etc.). Then the idea was you tag the people mentioned, they make their own silly list, and it becomes world wide Facebook fun. Very clever.
ANYWAY, the point being is that one night I had been tagged in one of this lists, inquiring what kind of drink I would be. The friend referred to my old soul-ness, suggesting that I would be cognac. I enjoy the comparison. That night, around 3am, the image came back to me of the old soul metaphors, and so quietly strumming as to not wake my roommate, I went to work. Cognac became brandy in the song, as cognac is not a very musical word.
The irony is of course that 3am is way past an old soul’s bedtime, when the song was being written. Though I suppose restless nights could be considered a fitting trait.
The best songs are always the ones that come naturally, and this song was no exception. I may not be sure how I’m planning on living the rest of my life, but I at least know how I don’t want to live it. So, yeah, process of elimination I guess.
The song definitely same with a Bruce Springsteen feel in mind. I felt like it was something he could have been caught singing about in his youth as well, though he probably would have put it more eloquently, with commentary about our country’s economy and misguided policies. The song was written well after the start of Strangers and Liars, so while I lives well as a solo tune, it was written with the band in mind and in fact, became the title track to our second album!
“Funny Business” was written when the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement was still at large. While I agree (more so now than then) that the issue of poverty and wealth distribution in our country is in dire need of repair, I was not a fan of the ‘Occupy’ movement. While I commend those involved for taking action, I never saw hope of anything getting accomplished by their means. I think people’s ability to ignore other people (ESPECIALLY wealthy people’s ability) was greatly underestimated.
The song isn’t to decry what the movement was all about, or offer a better solution. Just my take on the situation.
I once got caught in a rainstorm while I was out riding my bike. It was magnificent.
Growing up, Calvin and Hobbes was my favorite comic strip. Between then and now there’s been some good ones, but Bill Watterson still stands alone when it comes to insightful humor and heart warming associations to childhood.
This song was a stand against the war on imagination. I’m not in any position to tell anyone how to raise their kids, but I can at least speak from my own experience. I grew up bringing stuffed animals to life. I grew up with armies of toys waging epic battles. I grew up believing in Santa Claus. I also grew up through the front end of the video game boom, and if my parents hadn’t stepped in and said “this is becoming a problem, you’re only allowed to play video games on weekends”, I probably would never had picked up a guitar.
I still play video games on the regular, so it’s not that I’m saying they are all that’s evil. But at a young age, I will say they can be absolutely stifling to one’s imagination. All of the creating is done for you. It can still be a fantastic experience, but imagination is all about creating, and there is very little opportunity for a child in front of a screen to create.
Gosh, I didn’t intend for the post to get so personally thought provoking, but here we are. In simple terms from the song: “if you never let them tell you what’s real and what is not, you never have to give up what you’ve got.”
One of the newest songs I have written, it’s a different style to an old adage. Bob Dylan said “the times are a changing”, and plenty of other people echoed the message after him. I’m also sure plenty of songwriter before him had that to say as well.
What’s interesting about the journey from “what has been” to “what will be” is that while every generation makes that journey, no two generations are having the same journey. There can similarities, but what becomes the new world to one generation will start as the old world for the next generation, and they will move into a new world after that.
How times were different is not necessarily what makes a generation stand out. It’s the journey that travels through a great change. We go through life with a certain understanding of how our world works, and then as time passes on, we watch that understanding be rewritten (often for better and worse). The time that one resides in is only a fraction of the story. The world behind them and the world ahead of them is the rest.
“The world stops for no one”
That always seemed a little dramatic to me. The message or metaphor is easy enough to get. Yes, my singular problems are not enough to warrant the rest of humanity taking a day to acknowledge me. It’s supposed to make the world sound unforgiving in a sort of realist’s way, but I also think it’s supposed to be a little passive aggressive towards the recipient.
I’m not big on change. My phone is old. Most music I listen to was written before I was born. I don’t like being busy or hurried, or be in big noisy cities where you only get to see slivers of the sky at a time. I’ll stick with a laptop and you can keep your tablet. I’ll stick with a book, and you can keep your kindle. The world changes, and I’ll change too, but I’ll do it when I’m good ready.
The world stops for no one, not that I asked it to
As you might have noticed, this post is on a Wednesday instead of a Friday. Wednesday is going to be the new regular post day so that aside from the song of the week, I can post if anything is going on this weekend. So here we go!
Opening night for season 4 of the Songwriter Sunset! The show is from 7 to 9 at the Edinboro Lake Resort, featuring Gabe Poland and Jay Baumgardner
I’ll be playing solo at the Edinboro Hotel Bar from 6 to 9pm
Strangers and Liars will be playing from 7 to 10pm at The Edinboro Lake Resort