A little goofy, a little sparkly-dreamy, a lot of synth for week 35 of #songaweek2016:
During week 26 of #songaweek2016 I’ve been traveling with my parents & kids to visit relatives out east. No guitar, very little alone time, no special recording equipment. “But I said I’d write, so I’m writing right now . . .” and this one got recorded on my phone in the car on the way back to my uncle’s house from a day at the Jersey shore.
When writing my Week 24 song for #songaweek2016, I was feeling the weight of hate in our country – the Orlando shooting, Donald Trump rallies, comments sections and Internet memes of all stripes.
Tried to write something coherent, but I think I felt most strongly the wordless singing part. Not my best week, too squeezed for time this time, but I’m committed to doing this every week and posting it here, so here it is. With electric guitar by Nathan Bloom.
This can’t go on forever
this can’t be all we’ve got
this summer afternoon that’s raging
bloody blazing hot
but does that mean that nightmares
are clinging to its heels?
and for the thousandth time the moon
looks sadly down on killing fields?
Aah . . .
I wish you hope and courage
and strength and wisdom too
I wish you all the healing balm
that love and peace need to take root
and when your heart attacks you
with fear and dull despair
I wish you hands that hold your own
and voices vowing, I am here.
Some of us are just destined to do most of our work in the dark. We choose it – sort of – and it seems to choose us too. Not much spotlight, not much sunshine – but oh how we glow in our finest hours – alone in the studio at midnight, on a stage in front of five actively listening people, putting the finishing touches on a poem in the corner of a busy coffee shop.
My song for Week 19 of #songaweek2016 is dedicated to all the introverts, melancholics and not-so-go-getters who persist in loving this noisy, busy, sun-worshiping world through the deep, dark, luminescent art they faithfully create.
I’m the glow after the blaze
More subtle glance than open gaze
i like my coffee black
i like a strong dark beer
and if you want to be sweet with me
I’ve been singing in the shadows
From the day that I was made
I’m luminescent in the moonlight
but in the sunshine I just fade
Don’t cover me in kisses of pure joy
I cannot play along
mix them with tears
be salty sweet
My daydreams never hold a candle to
All the beauty I dream in the dark
Keep your sparkling diamonds
I’d rather have stars
I can’t tell you why I’m like this
It’s just always been this way
I’m luminescent in the moonlight
but in the sunshine I just fade
Grabbing some moments at the coffeeshop and combing through old computer files, felt like it was time to post a little something. So here, a poem about poems:
One Poet to Another
2/18/13 Julia Tindall Bloom
When I remark that my poems are not as good as yours
I am not denying their breathing reality.
They are real-live poems
I know, I was there at the birth of each and every one.
I am only admitting
That I love them too blindly
Keep them too close
To see them straight
And seeing the healthy bodies of yours
Independent of your protection
I recognize my babies still have some growing to do
And so does my love.
In the soundless depths before dawn
you are with me.
You are not only in the lightening of the sky
but also in the embracing dark of this room.
I wait for you
and the morning
like the night
^What I wrote this morning,
what I read:
“To preserve the silence within – amid all the noise. To remain open and quiet, a moist humus in the fertile darkness, where the rain falls and the grain ripens – no matter how many tramp across the parade ground in whirling dust under an arid sky.”
And also this:
“Is your disgust at your emptiness to be the only life with which you fill it?”
^Both quotations from Markings by Dag Hammarskjold
Read any good books lately (besides your own)?
Frederick Buechner said, “the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” It is exhilarating to discover this place and then get to work in it, pay or no pay, day job or not, published book or engaging tweet.
But without a healthy sense of self, a grown-up level of security in our personhood, we creative-types* can begin to identify ourselves with our work. We become the work we make. And then, instead of celebrating the good work that other people do in our same field or genre, we start to compare our work (ourselves) with theirs, become annoyed and critical, and sometimes just stop listening to, looking at, or reading other people’s work altogether.
Nobody can tell it, write it, sing it, film it, or whatever your thing is – like you can. But you are one voice among hundreds or thousands, maybe even millions, depending on your particular medium – and each of those voices is also unique. Some of those creators are better at using their voices than others, some are still working to find their own voice at all. You are in there too, somewhere on that continuum.
There will always be people who make better work than you do. “Better” is wildly subjective and depends on all sorts of things like budget, public opinion, connections, aesthetic, age, experience . . .
But as I’ve listened to and learned from creators I consider to be “better,” I’ve seen a common thread. These are people who pay attention to other people’s work. Musicians who rave about other musicians, poets who immerse themselves in other people’s poetry, filmmakers who go into great detail describing how other people’s films have inspired them. And they tend to seek out work they consider better than their own.
That takes a healthy sense of self, a realistic perspective on one’s own work and calling. It’s humbling to remember that other people picked up guitars and made up songs before I could tie my shoes – that I was not the one to discover music. Sounds crazy-obvious and astonishingly arrogant when I say it like that, but these are the sorts of unvoiced exaggerations self-delusion sneaks into our minds if we don’t acquaint those minds with the voices and work of other people (I know, because I’ve been there).
And so, I think that one significant mark of maturity in a creative life is when you can be moved, inspired, and challenged by the work of another (especially a peer, someone living and working in your field, even in your particular circle of influence), without feeling threatened, jealous, hyper-critical, or compelled to copy.
I’m not saying that these feelings shouldn’t surface as we interact with other people’s work. In fact, they almost certainly will and should as we mature, but if we recognize them for what they are and continue to create in spite of them, they will prove to be very helpful teachers and teach themselves right out of a job.
So hit the library and grab a book of poems, subscribe to somebody else’s blog, go out and hear another singer/songwriter at your local coffee shop, go to somebody else’s gallery opening. And feel your mind broaden, and say a little word of thanks for all the brilliant voices in the world.
* In this post I’m writing specifically from my perspective as someone who tries to create on a regular basis, but these ideas could probably apply in other fields of work as well, and I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on that.