My Whole Expanse I Cannot See…

I formulate infinity stored deep inside of me…

Archive for the 'Thoughts on Music' Category

A song for no reason

September 02nd, 2014 | Category: Life,Opinions,Random Thought,Thoughts on Music

This song just came up in my mix after a really really long time. When you’re shuffling four-hundred songs that suit a melancholy mood, you get surprises.

It’s amazing how a song can take you to an exact moment, can make something that happened years ago feel like it’s happening right now.

Let Me Know by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs is one of those songs…

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Tattoo #78

August 17th, 2014 | Category: Life,Opinions,Tattoos,Thoughts on Music
Tattoo by Colt, Doc Dog's Las Vegas Tattoo, Ybor City

Tattoo by Colt, Doc Dog’s Las Vegas Tattoo, Ybor City

So, this tattoo, my seventy-eighth, is from an Elliott Smith song, Pitseleh, off of one of my favorite records, XO. It’s a wrap-around tattoo that’s pretty much impossible to photograph. I’m pretty much out of flat open spaces, so my leg had to do.

It reads:

“They say that God makes problems just to see what you can stand before you do as the Devil pleases… Give up the thing you love.

No one deserves it.”

To me, the lyrics are saying, it seems like God pushes, and pushes, and pushes, until you break and make decisions that make life even worse.

The last few years have felt like this, but I don’t literally believe it’s God’s fault that absolutely everything in my life has gone to Hell. Really, sometimes bad things happen for no reason, and sometimes when life turns sideways, we break, we make bad decisions, and our own stupid decisions wreck our desires. It’s not my fault the state of Florida destroyed my independence, nor is it my fault I had to move and leave the room I spent nine years crafting, but it is my fault I lost the woman I love. Bad things happen, we have a vast capacity to make everything worse. God doesn’t go around sticking it to people. Still, I think that that’s something people of faith worry about, especially we with Catholic backgrounds, though not practicing. We wonder, My life is shit. Does God just hate me? I’ve had the thought often enough, when it seems like life goes the opposite of all my prayers. Tivoli once wrote me, after I died but didn’t, and I was scared of losing Sara, “I still don’t believe God hates you, but I’m beginning to think He likes fuckin’ with you.” God hating me has always been just one of my host of worries, but not a belief (usually).

So, why the tattoo?

Because I think the words are beautiful and I like having them with me. Because if I manage to dig out of the hole I’m in, the words will remind  me of how deep the hole was, how far I had to dig to find someplace beautiful again.


Tattoo #76

January 30th, 2014 | Category: Life,Opinions,Tattoos,Thoughts on Music
Tattoo by Kyle, Doc Dogs's Las Vegas Tattoo, Ybor City…

Tattoo by Kyle, Doc Dogs’s Las Vegas Tattoo, Ybor City

So, the way that this tattoo wraps around my leg, it’s basically impossible to photograph, properly anyway.

It reads…

One day I know…

One day I’ll be…

Looking back on me…

It’s from a Priscilla Ahn song, One Day I Will Do, which is off of her really excellent second record, When You Grow Up. The entire record is worth buying, but I’ve gotten really fond of One Day I Will Do.

To me, it’s a song about a life that’s in a drift, and then regretting that drift. You know you could do better, could be better, but you’re not. You’re just not. You know that at the end of everything, you’re either going to to see your life as a giant waste, or as something that was good and beautiful. Knowing that one day you’ll look back across the expanse of your life and might find it lacking, could easily find it lacking, is a sobering thought, a thought that could lead you toward someplace that feels… right.

I feel like this song, I’m scared of that look back on myself. I’m scared I’ll see ruin and waste. These words are kind of a prayer etched into my flesh, a prayer to remember to be better, because at the end of me, I don’t want to look back and see the waste I’m living now stretched until my last then.

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My favorite Christmas song

December 24th, 2013 | Category: Life,Opinions,Thoughts on Music

So, this song is so beautifully written, part of it is tattooed on me. It’s not a “I’m one of those Christmas lunatics, I have ho ho ho tattooed on my face,” thing, the lyrics are just that good. Tattoo good.

The song, Calling On Mary, is one of two original Christmas songs written by Aimee Mann for her Christmas record, One More Drifter in the Snow. I know I’ve mentioned the record before, it’s a Christmas staple for me. I feel like Aimee really captures the melancholy beauty of Christmas. In adulthood, Christmas still retains its magic, its fun, but there can be romance, loneliness, lost love, introspection, experiences that come with age. Drifter embodies all the facets of Christmas through eyes that have seen decades of Christmases.

There’s still time to enjoy it, buy it on iTunes!

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Tattoo #74

November 21st, 2013 | Category: Life,Opinions,Tattoos,Thoughts on Music
Tattoo by my man, Colt, Doc Dog's Las Vegas Tattoo, Ybor City

Tattoo by my man, Colt, Doc Dog’s Las Vegas Tattoo, Ybor City

So, this tattoo, my seventy-fourth, is from one of my favorite Elliott Smith songs, Talking to Mary, which is off of the posthumously released two-disc set, New Moon.

Mary is the kind of woman that you’re lucky to ever meet. She knows you better than anybody ever has, or ever will; She can hear what you’re thinking like you were saying it right out loud. You love her so much, you’re scared, always, somewhere in your head, of the day she might go away.

I know this woman, that feeling. Nothing feels so bad, and so purely good, both at the same time.

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Tattoo #73

November 07th, 2013 | Category: Life,Opinions,Tattoos,Thoughts on Music
Tattoo #73, by Jessica, Deja Vu Tattoo, Baton Rouge

Tattoo #73, by Jessica, Deja Vu Tattoo, Baton Rouge

So, I wrote about this tattoo as part of larger narrative, but I also want to write about the tattoo itself.

This tattoo is from the song, I Can’t Get My Head Around It, which is off of Aimee Mann’s, The Forgotten Arm, a record that isn’t just a collection of songs that share a theme, rather, it tells the story of a washed-up junkie ex-boxer, his girlfriend, and their totally fucked up relationship. To me, the songs definitely stand alone, but you don’t get the full emotional impact of the record until you listen from beginning to end, at least once. It’s a really beautiful, really sad story of a relationship in which love just isn’t enough to make everything okay. I was smack in the middle of that sort of relationship right around when The Forgotten Arm came out, and while I absolutely love the record, certain songs, I still skip them sometimes.

Anyway, this tattoo had been on my list for a long time, these lyrics really hit me the first time I heard them, and ever since. I guess I was just waiting for the right time to do it, which ended up being my trip to Baton Rouge for an Aimee Mann show. Baton Rouge was one of those I’m either going to go, and die, or it’s going to be a fucking blast trips. I felt like shit the morning we left, I spent the previous day in the hospital getting a fresh trach, I was exhausted. Still, nothing was going to make me not go. I would have had to die to not go. It wasn’t easy to go, but I wasn’t going to miss Baton Rouge, seeing Aimee Mann, being there with someone I love.

“…kicking is hard, but the bottom’s harder…”

Kicking is hard, but sinking into cold nothingness is worse. I’ve hit bottom before, physically, emotionally, but I’ve always been able to kick my way back up. One time, I won’t be able to, but we’re not there yet.

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Bonus Concert Video

October 14th, 2013 | Category: Life,Opinions,Random Thought,Thoughts on Music

This is Aimee Mann singing Ghost World, which is off of her really spectacular record, Bachelor No. 2 (Or, The Last Remains of the Dodo).

I have really nice memories tied around this record, it was Tivoli’s favorite Aimee record. We’d listen to it straight through, on those rainy Summer days, talking about the songs.

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Baton Rouge: The concert: Aimee Mann at the Manship Theatre 2013

October 14th, 2013 | Category: Life,Opinions,Thoughts on Music

I woke up the morning of the show feeling like hot garbage, definitely not top-form. Like I expected, I slept in, and I didn’t feel much like hitting the town. I just kept saying to myself, You’re fine, everything’s fine, the show’s going to be awesome. We mostly just hung out around the hotel, went for a cajun dinner.

By evening I was feeling pretty great, it was like I got fresh batteries. My ear opened up, I could finally hear. I watched the Baton Rouge sunset thinking about someone I love, her touch, her smile… her kiss. She’s with me even when she’s not, I never feel like I’m completely by myself, even when I am.

Sunset in Baton Rouge, thinking about a girl…

Sunset in Baton Rouge, thinking about a girl…

Our hotel was right near where Aimee was playing, the very stylish Manship Theatre, so we decided to walk it. The early evening air was cool, but humid, a freshness unique to Southern October nights. It was a nice walk, though on that walk down a bumpy sidewalk, toward the Manship Theatre, toward backstage passes, I started getting nervous. It was a happy kind of nervous, I wouldn’t have wanted to not be there. It was just, the first time I met Aimee I didn’t have the little plastic tube in my throat, my language was voice, not text. I wanted to say so much, I was just scared I wouldn’t be able to type quickly enough, or maybe I would have to use my fake computer voice and it would just sound stupid. My computer does text-to-speech, but I try really hard not to use it. I prefer to have people read my text, or at least to have someone that I’m with say what I’m typing. The digital voice just makes me cringe, it’s cold, it mispronounces words, it’s definitely not the voice I hear in my head. I don’t like pushing the idea, disabled people sound like robots, and I really didn’t want Aimee to remember me from that night on as the first robot she’d ever met. I just wanted everything to go well.

Ted Leo!

Ted Leo!

Ted Leo opened for Aimee, and he was a great start. First off, he’s really funny. He’d tell a story between songs, and they were all pretty great. It was never like, “Oh, God, you’re more boring than Dune, either shut up, or go die in a fire. Please.” Of course, his music was great, that goes without saying. His guitar is super fast.

Aimee Mann and Ted Leo (The Both)

Aimee Mann and Ted Leo
(The Both)

Then, Aimee joined Ted for a few songs, playing together as their new band, The Both. They’ve been hanging out so much on tour, writing songs together, that they decided it’s worth starting a band and putting out a record. Together, they sound really great, their songs are totally worth a record, totally worth paying cash for said record. Their stage chemistry was also fantastic. So long as Aimee doesn’t quit writing solo-records, I’m down with The Both.

Finally, Aimee took the stage all by her lonesome and opened with a solo, beautiful rendition of Freeway, and took off from there. I’ve seen Aimee play three times now, and this show that I drove eleven hours to see, drove eleven hours after a previous day in the hospital, drove eleven hours all the way from Tampa to Baton Rouge to see, was absolutely the best of the three. Aimee’s voice had never sounded so clear, so decadently lush, sadly beautiful.

Aimee Mann, with Paul Bryan on bass, and a spectacular piano fellow whose name escapes me…

Aimee Mann, with Paul Bryan on bass, and a spectacular piano fellow whose name escapes me…

After Freeway, Aimee was joined by Paul Bryan on bass guitar, singing accompanying vocals, and a really great fellow on piano whose name my addled brain forgets. It was an intimate show, the instruments only complimented the crisp vocals. They played a few new songs off of Charmer, but mostly she sang older songs from other records, which was totally fine by me. All her songs off of all her records are great, there isn’t a single song that would have had me thinking, Ugh, not THAT song. I only think she avoided Charmer because it’s a loud record, but this wasn’t a loud show. It was two guitars, a piano and vocals. It wasn’t a rock show, it was a cozy and close acoustic show. A pretty much perfect show.

Aimee Mann is a brilliant writer, none of her songs are throw-away songs. She writes beautiful lyrics, beautiful stories of addiction, loss, stories of people hanging on by the tips of their fingers. She writes stories about lives that bend sideways, lives that take bad turns, that don’t go the way they were supposed to go. She tells complete, beautiful, honest stories, in way under five hundred words. To me, she writes flash fiction set to gorgeous music. It’s the sort of writing I aspire toward. Her words are art, I carry them with me always, in my head and on my skin.

That night, she played so many songs, it was a spectacular setlist. She sang stories I know by heart, stories of loneliness that always make me feel a little less lonely. While I was totally happy to hear whatever she’d play, there was one song I really hoped to hear. For days before the show I kept thinking, I really really really hope she plays Looking for Nothing. Yes, I actually thought “really” three times. Looking for Nothing is my favorite song, not just my favorite Aimee Mann song, it’s my favorite anybody song. It’s off of @#%&*! Smilers (Smilers for short), which also isn’t just my favorite Aimee Mann record, Smilers is my favorite anybody record, it’s full of melancholy, vivid songs. Looking for Nothing is a song about feeling lost, something I’ve felt most of my life. I didn’t feel so lost that night, but the song will always be a part of me, will always resonate with me. I just wanted to hear it that night, in that place, a place that was very different from the place where I heard it the first time. Aimee played other songs from Smilers, she didn’t skip the record entirely. She played lots of songs, all great. She left the stage and came back for an amazing encore. She didn’t sing Looking for Nothing.

The show was over.

The evening, however, so wasn’t.


Tattoo #71

September 20th, 2013 | Category: Life,Opinions,Tattoos,Thoughts on Music,Thoughts on Writing
Tattoo by Kyle, Doc Dog's Las Vegas Tattoo, Ybor City

Tattoo by Kyle, Doc Dog’s Las Vegas Tattoo, Ybor City

So, tattoo #71… is a lyric from a really kind of cryptic Elliott Smith song, No Name #3, which is off his first record, Roman Candle. The font is actually Elliott’s own hand-writing, I got it from a little pdf lyrics book that comes with the Remastered version of Roman Candle from iTunes. Elliott liked writing songs on bar napkins, scraps of paper, hotel stationary, anything on hand when an idea hit him. He didn’t just write obscure barely recognizable versions of songs that would eventually get cleaned up and put on a record, he’d write an entire finished, ready to record song on a crumpled piece of junk paper. He was the essence of chaotic genius.

As a whole, No Name #3 doesn’t make a ton of sense. I don’t think, as a whole, it’s supposed to tell a story. To me, it reads like scraps of poetry that convey an overall theme. No Name #3 is about being tired, totally exhausted, spent. Worn. Worn and just wanting to rest.

My favorite section goes…

“Watched the dying day

Blushing in the sky

Everyone is uptight

So come on night”

It’s a really gorgeous piece of writing, so much emotion in just a few words. It’s the sort of writing I aspire toward. I really like the imagery; watching an end of day sky, the kind of sky that goes from deep blue to hot orange to soft pink, waiting for that blush to be enveloped by darkness, black sky filled with stars that look like watchful angels. Wanting night to come because the day was just so Goddamn fucking tedious. It’s sad, it’s beautiful, it’s honest.

I feel this a lot. The day can be so tedious, so oppressively empty, I just want the quiet of 3 a.m. At 3 a.m. life isn’t bringing me down, the quiet is soothing. I get waves of intense sadness, loneliness, but after those demons leave , and all’s silent, the things that I want start to feel possible again. Sometimes I make them possible when day comes, sometimes I can’t, but night gives me the will to try.

So come on night.

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A Good Twitter Night

August 29th, 2013 | Category: Life,Opinions,Thoughts on Music,Thoughts on Writing

So, last night was a good night on Twitter

Aimee Mann favorites one of my tweets, again!

Aimee Mann favorites one of my tweets, again!

It’s so cool that today we really have a shot at interacting with our heroes. I count song-writers, only the best song-writers, in the same vein as novelists. To me, song-writers are akin to flash-fiction writers, and good flash is just as powerful as any novel. Aimee Mann is one of my top six writer heroes, her use of craft is beautiful. Her words make me want to push my craft as far as I possibly can, then just a little further. Many of her words are etched into my skin, they’re always with me, they’re that important to me.

I’ve met Aimee in person once, and she was totally kind, totally, just, real. I’ve also gotten to tweet with her a bunch of times, she remembered me from seven years ago, she’s always absolutely nice, and three times now… she has favorited something I wrote! I swear, each time is so exciting, I could just fall over.

Yes, I’m a nerd.

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