Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saturday Song Salute

My blog page misses me, you guys miss me, my mommy misses me. I haven't been writing lately, ya know? I have my reasons, but instead of sharing them I think I'll keep you in a dispirited state of wonder instead. Mean, Mick, very mean. Today is Saturday Song Salute though, and I intend on letting the world hear one of the greatest songs ever created (the world = half a dozen bloggers). The band is Bright Eyes and the song I've chosen is called Four Winds (from their 2007 album Cassadaga).

Here we go, this is what music is all about. Four Winds has it all, folks. It soars musically with a wonderfully catchy tune created by a slew of instruments, i.e. guitar, mandolin, banjo, organ, lap steel, percussion, violin, etc. Upon first hearing it I found myself intrigued by the "country" feel, but when Conor enters and begins singing in his rhythmic cadence, everything changes. And this is where the lyrics take over and my brain begins dissecting the importance of the song. What does it mean? What is Conor singing about? Well, let's pick it apart, shall we?

Overall, I feel Four Winds is a song about personal confliction over religion and the history of mankind. The lyrics begin by highlighting the fact that humans segregate themselves (via class, caste, country, sect, tribe) and develop a sense of superiority over those who are not like their own, and from there they just keep getting stronger. Multiple references to religion throughout, as well as a shout-out to Yeat's poem, The Second Coming, in the line "and it's the sum of man slouching towards Bethlehem", which uses Christian imagery as an allegory for revolution. In the bible, book of Ezekiel, god discusses the Valley of Dry Bones and makes reference to the "four winds" that will blow and breathe life into the dead bodies of Israel. It's very possible Conor was raised Christian (like I was) and at some point departed from his faith (like I did) and turned towards spirituality and mysticism. His reference to Cassadaga (and his naming of the album) says quite a bit, as does the opening monologue on track one that speaks of a life journey and a search for inner tranquility. Cassadaga is a world renowned spiritualist camp in Florida where mediums, psychics, shamans and spiritual healers congregate and learn from each other year round. This place was an obvious inspiration to Conor during the creation of this album. Another section of the song I especially love are the following lyrics: "And I was off to old Dakota where a genocide sleeps, In the black hills, the bad lands, the calloused east, I buried my ballast, I made my peace, Heard four winds leveling the pines." This was an inspiration to me during my travels across the U.S.A. I was drawn to Deadwood, South Dakota because of its dark history of violence against the Native Americans, so I camped out there for several nights and "listened" to the lost voices of the Black Hills while my campfire crackled in the night.

In closing, I guess this song means a great deal to me because it hits on all the things I think about in life too. I share similar thoughts with Conor and can appreciate what he's singing about here, and I thank him for creating such an important song (that I've listened to no less than a thousand times). Listen and enjoy, my dispirited readers:
Four Winds

Your class, your caste, your country, sect, your name or your tribe
There's people always dying, trying to keep them alive
There are bodies decomposing in containers tonight
In an abandoned building where

A squatter's made a mural of a Mexican girl
With fifteen cans of spray paint in a chemical swirl
She's standing in the ashes at the end of the world
Four winds blowing through her hair

But when great Satan's gone, the whore of Babylon
She just can't sustain the pressure where it's placed
She caves

The Bible's blind, the Torah's deaf, the Qu'ran's mute
If you burn them all together, you get close to the truth still
They are pouring over Sanskrit on the ivy league moons
While shadows lengthen in the sun

Cast on a school of meditation built to soften the times
And hold us at the center while the spiral unwinds
It's knocking over fences, crossing property lines
Four winds, cry until it comes

And it's the sum of man
Slouching towards Bethlehem
A heart just can't contain all of that empty space
It breaks, it breaks, it breaks

Well, I went back to my rented Cadillac and company jet
Like a newly orphaned refugee, retracing my steps
All the way to Cassadaga to commune with the dead
They said, 'You'd better look alive.'

And I was off to old Dakota where a genocide sleeps
In the black hills, the bad lands, the calloused east
I buried my ballast, I made my peace
Heard four winds leveling the pines

But when great Satan's gone, the whore of Babylon
She just can't remain with all that outer space
She breaks, she breaks, she caves, she caves

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Love In Reverse


I fall in love with things I cannot have, or with things that are only temporary. Great distances have kept love at bay, as has the swell of life as it rushes in and swallows everything in sight. I've come up for air on the other side of things, looked out across calm waters just in time to see a fin disappear beneath the surface... followed by a ripple, a dark descending shadow, and then... nothing. There's not much to be done at this point except wait. I'll watch the sun as it taunts the children at the playground with intermittent streams of sunshine, I'll listen to tree branches moan as they bend in a steady wind. And in the waning days ahead, I will think about my new lover fighting an old war on the precipice of formatted principles and I'll just... breathe. Slowly in and out again, breath for death on the front line of my mind. This war-torn patch of dirt is full of pock marks and machine-gunned dreams, littered with traces of love just out of reach. On the other side, a general readies his troops while a ram comes down from the mountain. Both have horns and wage a sure-footed war against an invisible enemy that lacks the understanding of what this is all about. Hooves trod heavily in the dirt kicking up dust and debris, raising questions as to why any of us are here at all. Across the still landscape a mother gives birth to child, and in an instant, a baby's first cry is the cease fire we've been waiting for.

Break rank, fall out, this war is dismissed.

Holding these bookmarks that quietly made their way through thousands of pages of solitude, I am reminded of stories that managed to capture the love I cannot have. I've been part of long misadventure, an evening by the fire with General Buck Naked. Stories of baby hearts feeding the need to live forever, of romance shaped like civil unrest. We sit with wine in hand, talk of strategies that might win the love of another. We reminisce during requiem and pour our hearts out like liquor over an open flame. I feel silly sitting, so I stand and salute all the love that's been lost at sea. I am silence. I am a lamb in a lion's den. I am hugged from behind, suddenly. Tears wet my neck as my spine becomes a canal of regret. Finishing my wine I decide it's time to leave. I've discovered no secrets, I'm no closer to the truth, I am still a stranger here.

I used to believe in the idea of forever. I imagined growing old and loving that same smile, those same eyes always. I pictured the porch we would sit on and the yard that resembled a rolling ocean of green. A tree down near the fence line with long, out-stretched branches sweeping low to the ground; the place we chased each other until the sun went down every night. I used to see that tree and smile. I tied a rope and included a knot for every time we said "I love you". There's no room for any more knots. After you went away the idea of forever faded and that tree began to sag. I sat up on the porch and watched it wither. The rope now touches the ground allowing bugs to crawl up. I count them, the bugs, not the knots. They are being mislead, they are on a false flag operation. When they reach the top they will realize the distance they've traveled is twice as long as love itself, and that the only way to go is back down. We all have to back down at some point. We all have to let go, no matter how many knots.

I'm writing this ahead of time. This is my way of telling you how much I love you before the first note is ever played. The band will march on, your music will be the pride of intense encampment and all will be forgotten. A writer will live in solitude, a lover in distress, but these words will march forth like soldiers across the paper of time, and the music you make will carry them forever. And I will love you, forever.