Thursday, May 8, 2008

the parenthetical year

I have to write one more song for this record.  I have declared several times that I am finished writing it, but the problem with taking a year make an album (for so many reasons I had not expected), is that you change so much in the course of a year.  Everything from my taste to my outlook on life has changed a bit each day, and I want to say it all!  And right now I know that I have one more song to write, and that is a happy song.

When I was a kid, a year was such a long time.  I can hardly express it, but I feel like I lived a lifetime before being enrolled in kindergarten, and I feel like another lifetime passed as I made my way through each school year, doggedly trying to wake up each morning, worrying about the trivial things, the tests and assignments that came and went and came again and went again, and when spring hit, keeping track of the days, and minimum days, and holidays, left in the school year, and graduating and going off to college, and going on tour, and changing schools and quitting school, and recording, and getting flown around the country and then touring for a full year, and then... the beginning of June, last year, it was over.  That stretch.  They say you have your whole life to write your first record, but what they don't tell you is, once you've finished that record, and the cycle on that record, that life is over.  And come last June, when I was spit out of it, the time that had once moved so slow, began to race. 

I was left with only one direction to begin this next stretch.  It was time to make a new record, that's all.  I didn't know where to live, or where to begin, and I had all of these songs that I had written on the road, all of these songs that had been outlets for things I couldn't express in a van with people I had to be civil with, all of these songs that had been little exorcisms of all of these feelings that came from all these elements that were out of my control.  All of these angry little songs.  I didn't think they were angry at the time, but my friends did, and my management did, and none of those people ever offer criticism of my stuff unless they really think I need to hear it.  I listened to my year-old demos a little while back.  Man! I was pissed off.

Now, I think I'm entering that next phase of life, the phase I've heard 'adults' talk about for so long, the phase where you blink and a decade has passed, cause I don't know where the hell this last year went.  And if my existence were a short paragraph, for the last twelve months I've been stuck in parentheses. I've just been getting everything together, cutting the fat, laying a new foundation and setting new goals.  I've done and seen and experienced so much, but I don't yet have anything to show for it.  Sometimes it just takes a while.

That is sort of a drag, but there is so much I enjoy about right now.  I like that things are no longer black and white.  I see that everyone ends up in the same place in the end and no one knows when they'll get there, so it isn't about where you end up, it's about where you are now, and how you feel about where you are.  

A year ago, I felt like a failure, for reasons that were beyond my control.  Now I realize that within any defeat there will be a thousand little victories, and within any victory there are bound to be a million little defeats.

Nothing is ever one thing.

I don't know why it took me so long, but now all that is so clear to me, how everyone is influenced by so so many forces and no one has a real clue why they do anything they do, that they are not so much thinking about what they think of me, but more thinking about what I think of them (just like me!).  We spend so much time trying to be different, but are so concerned if we do or feel something that might be abnormal.  We hardly know ourselves.

AND we make up rules, long for guidelines to govern something so abstract as human life and interaction.

AND you always know when you're fucking up, but sometimes you need to fuck up.

All of this makes me feel pretty good about being anywhere, and doing anything as long as it feels right for me.  I needed to hang out in the parentheses for a little bit, and I think that I am almost out of the woods, but you never know.

Okay. I'm going to go work on this happy song, I have about a week before my final stint in the studio.  It has to be good.