moments before the wind.

November 12, 2006

i never went to egypt

Filed under: authenticity, folk, live shows, music, writing — alimarcus @ 11:49 am

Here’s something interesting I’ve been immersed in all week long. I am trying to figure out how it happened, a general shift in perspective regarding our politics, and how in the flash of an instant, a tally 3,000 miles away, we find ourselves in a different context. What I mean is, after Election Day, I think everyone has noticed the optimism and relief that seems to be everywhere. Over the last few months, years even, frustration and anger has been steadily growing, and now things have completely changed course. Theoretically, anyways, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and the psychological effects of that are only now beginning to appear.

About a year ago, I decided to perform only protest songs, because I felt that it would be useful. Since then, I’ve been writing like crazy and putting the protest songs aside for a whole bunch of other things. Nevertheless, the political emotion crept into the songs I was writing, and the various ways that I performed them, or re-wrote covers. One night I read from Bush the First’s inauguration speech before playing a Mary Chapin Carpenter song that referenced it. Another time I played an angry version of Paul Simon’s “American Tune.” I sang a frantic version of “Ballad of a Thin Man,” and one day I wrote a song called “Titanic” that was basically all about anxiety and paranoid pessimism. It’s a long list of all these symbolic things, and the chorus repeats, “But that’s what they said about the great ol’ Titanic – made of the best stuff around – and now she’s layin’ in the ground.”

If I was pressed to define what exactly the Titanic was supposed to be a metaphor for, I would have had to say that it is a stand in for something American, and that the portentious chorus was a reflection of how things seem to be feeling for the country. But the day after the election, I performed the song, and I found myself on stage feeling like it meant something else entirely. All of a sudden, the metaphorical boat, buried underground, stood only for that part of America that was just ousted from the legistature. And the song became this positive force of protest. Which is not how I wrote it. But I like this too.

It fascinates me to think about, because I won’t be able to play the song in the context in which it was written. Not anytime soon, anyways. These things happen in cycles, so eventually I am sure it will return to it’s original color. But timeliness is key. I mean, what about this other song I’ve been writing – “House of marble, house of shame…” – all of a sudden I have to approach it in a totally different way. And I probably wont finish it for another few months, but the more I wait the more it will have to adapt. And maybe that’s why things take this long, because they just aren’t ready yet.

As a side note, I saw the strangest thing yesterday driving through the University. Imagine a frat house yard, the morning after a huge party, littered with cans and bottles and solo cups. And clothes, probably shoes, some chairs, some dirty couches, empty kegs, etc etc. The dirtiest, most Animal House image you can think of. Now, replace every single one of those objects with a signpost for an election candidate. The ones that have been lining all our streets. Picture hundreds of them, so thickly laid around the house that I can’t imagine how anyone can get in or out. Driving by, I couldn’t tell if it was party-affiliated or not, but it certainly was a sight. Maybe better left unexplained.

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1 Comment »

  1. I know that frat house. They do that every election year. A thicket of pickets.

    Comment by Coby — November 13, 2006 @ 12:35 am


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