Tuesday, January 30, 2007

124 : 8/12/98 Cigarette

640 ?

When I’m down in the mouth and I start to fret
I play a little game called cigarette
I say pal I’ll make you listen to me
he says that’s just not the way it’s gonna be
you always win that game with me cigarette
I’m a nervous gambler trying to bluff it through
But baby you gotta know just
what I’m going to do
Baby I always lose that bet
You know I’m gonna have another
Oh I know they hurt me
know they turn my poor lungs black
But they never ever desert me
Baby gotta give me my cigarettes back
When I’m in a slow and stupid mood
Don’t want no liquor and I don’t want food
I just need one thing baby and then I’m set
Just gotta smoke myself a

You can read an explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Friday, January 26, 2007

123 : 8/11/98 : Grand Idea

What a grand idea
The great society
All good things in abundance
Everything costs a penny

What a novel concept
Give the children food and cloths
Thank God we’ve got politicians
To figure out where the money goes

What a monumental brainstorm
Try to do the best I can
Manage not to make the same mistakes
Try to be a better man

What poetic justice
kill the fuckers with kindness
Let the best of the best set us free
Let them untangle and unwind us

You can read an explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

breaking the frames, an essay on content and form

We've secretly replaced your regular song of the day with an essay. Let's see what happens.

Yesterday I took a break from my life of ceaseless toil to knock out a lyric for the current project (number 2.633, Recycle) which contained these lines:

Nothing new comes in
but energy
information, dust
and entropy
So it's all about
Mostly carbon, nitrogen
oxygen and hydrogen

And I caught myself thinking, man, stringing these lists of chemical elements together is a snap, it's like rhyming in Italian. I had to laugh, because this was such an obtuse, nerdy thing to think - but fundamentally accurate and not, I'd think, without some reasonable linguistic underpinnings. Keeping in mind that I am a student of neither Italian nor linguistics.

But it put me in mind of the fact that, man, if anyone is reading this thing, the stuff you are in for. In less than sixty songs we'll be in the thick of my terrible, terrible recasting of Dante's Inferno, a work of 34 songs (duh, obviously) featuring myself cast in Dante's role with T.S. Eliot serving the part played by Virgil in the original. Ooh, it's horrible, partly because my soft 20th century brain can't quite negotiate Dante's stark Medieval Christianity, partly because it just seems worse when you are taking on something widely regarded as one of the great works of poetic literature, but mostly because I insisted on perpetuating Dante's terza rima structure, a rhyme scheme where things go something like this:

Ducks are very awesome
I think ducks are nice
A duck is as cool as a possum

So I will tell you twice
There's nothing as great as a duck
I'd buy one at double the price

And think of it as better luck
Than getting hit by a truck

See how that works? The important things to note are, you have to come up with a trio of each rhyme rather than the usual pair, and notice how I suck at it. English, I discovered in my researches on the topic, is what they call a "rhyme poor" language. I'm not slagging off Dante or anything, I'm just pointing out, that 90 percent of everything in Italian ends with "oh" or "ah." Add in the narrative necessities of hewing somewhat to Dante's original story arc and it winds up with a mess that was horrible to write and is all but impossible to read. If I had tried to keep up the hendecasyllable meter I probably would have gone insane. Actually I probably would have just given up, which might not have been such a bad thing, but I cling to the theory that finishing it built character.

This is the sort of thing that can end up seeming like a plan in the face of coming up with something new to write day after day after day. I'm not looking forward to transcribing this, and I doubt anyone would try to slog through much of it, but there it is: I'm a completist, an obsessive, so it will all be carried across the digital divide and presented here.

And anyway there is the central thing about a song a day: as I liked to point out about what I came to refer to as "my pathetic little inferno," the writing of the first cantica of Dante's masterwork took him 5 years of his exile from Florence to complete. Writing mine took 34 days with a full time job. However painful it is to online it, 34 postings later we will be on to new things.

I think, now, 6 months into the online project, that it will take a few years before the central object of the song of the day project - persistence - really begins to become clear to the outside observer. People I tell about this project tend, I think, to necessarily view it as an abstract: part of putting it online is to transform this into something concrete. This isn't some theory: these songs exist, for all that they ain't Dante. I question at this point whether what it is can sustain anything like a regular readership, but perhaps I can hope to occasionally bemuse the random passer-by. Back to songs tomorrow.

You can read an explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

122 : 8/10/98 : Spout

You can only get so fed up
then you gotta spout
raise your hackles lift your head up
let your venom out
You may feel justified
but I can’t see it doing any good
The poison just builds up again
That much I understood
But what confuses me
Is what any of it is good for
Why were we made with so little faculty

You can only get so strung out
before something has got to snap
When weaknesses have won out
When your one good hand refuses to clap
You may feel mystified
By the seeming caprice of the powers that are
I understand sometimes even scripture
reads no better than advice you’d get at any bar
Don’t get me wrong sir
I would not presume to test the Lord
I assume he’s got it covered
I just hope the price is one I can afford

You can read an explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Monday, January 22, 2007

121 : 8/9/98 : Ugly World

632 ?

My goodness what an ugly world you’ve made
Seems kind of unfair that you’re so well paid
Well the people don’t seem interested
in rising up and pulling you down
not my place to make their
choices for them, not my place
to bring the hoi polloi around
All you revolution comrades all you libertarians
I’d rather live in a world run by librarians
You get whatever you pay for
that setup’s pretty fixed
They bought the lives they settled for
They drank the drinks they were mixed
And if it’s not my cup of tea
I guess that’s just too bad for me
But what else can I do but mind
The life that I am buying
In the end I’m just another one
Walking when I should be flying

You can read an explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Friday, January 19, 2007

120 : 8/8/98 : Best of the Best

Through the trials eighteen years
Many call but few are taken
As we measure every man against his peers
Few stand firm, most are shaken

All around the world the tournaments are held
Anywhere on earth a young man can rise
Strive with honor, till every foe is felled
stretch his hand out take the prize

Then in the final arena
The finest are gathered to compete
Demonstrate their talent on the concertina
Show proper deportment and grace on their feet

That’s how we choose the best of the best
That’s how we find the season’s darling
That’s the young man who passed every test
That’s this weekend’s sacrificial starling

You can read an explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Thursday, January 18, 2007

119 : 8/7/98 : Sisyphus’ Reprieve

When I received the word of my reprieve
confess that I could scarce believe my eyes
7000 years of confusion toil and tears
He dropped the letter off and didn’t even tell me why

So good to be rolling I hear the great bell tolling
Changes at the top they said it was
Ol’ Tantalus received the work
Climbed right on his trusty surfboard
Said don’t ask me I don’t know who cares? It’s just because

So good to be moving my lot’s finally improving
So good to be rolling rolling home
7000 hard ass turns
My God the way the time just burns
Away into vanishing ephemeral sea foam

What will I do now I’m almost feelin blue now
Freedom is a heavy load after so long
confess in all that time alone
I almost learned to love that stone
Not that I paused a minute
I’m gone
so long

It’s good to be traveling
That fearsome knot unraveling
My trusty stone will carry me away
Up out of the valley
You’ll see my backside, pally
This is my first birthday

You can read an explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

118 : 8/6/98 : In the Box

I’ve got a box to live in
and a box that rolls me home
A box to fester in 8 hours
The man throws me a bone
I’m livin in the box
I’m pleased as punch I’m mad as hell
I’m rollin in my coffin
Lord I know my boxes well
I guess that I complain too much
and look too little for escape
I guess I choose to sit in here
Another braying jackanape
There’s one box that I’m stuck with
carry with me all the time
a sack for all my memories
a clock to count the time
A bobbing grinning jack o lantern
resting on my neck
A box to keep my ego in
to hold my wild spirit in check
I could jump outta this
insane rolling coffin
I could jump outta this
silly maze I’m lost in
But I know the smallest box
is something that I’m stuck with
Guess it thinks it’s got a good thing going
Guess it’s not the box to fuck with

You can read an explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

117 : 8/5/98 : Burning Coal

Well we’re doomed doomed doomed
that’s all I have to say at last
we’re doomed doomed doomed
To constantly relive the past
The words I say are wicked
And my mouth is full of lies
Yet I’m better than the average
This brave new world is festering with flies
Lord put a hot coal on my tongue
I’ll start the prophet gig today
I don’t know why you’d bother
The people never listen anyway
Lord doom this wicked race
I want to see them run before you
Lord move this vile people
Want to see the ashes scattered too
Lord move my wicked heart
Do not harden it against your word
Lord make my speaking pure
I just can’t credit everything I’ve heard
Lord justify this sacrifice
The cup’s too much I cannot drink it
You’ve gotta have a plan for me
the alternative’s so bad I cannot think it
Lord I’m doomed doomed doomed
Please God put a hot coal on my tongue
Lord I don’t want to be doomed
I just need light inside to see the next rung

You can read an explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Sunday, January 14, 2007

116 : 8/4/98 : Virtue

I must have thought I was some kind of friend to you
I must have thought I would fly round the bend for you
I must have thought I was a dangerous guy
I must have thought I had virtue in your eyes

I must have thought I was a smooth operator
I must have thought I would see you later
I must have thought I had a pretty good plan
I must have thought I was twice the man I am

Where is the virtue in this world?
Where is the method in this madness?
When will I see the freedom flag unfurled
When will the creator end the sadness

I musta thought I was a man on a mission
I musta thought I had x-ray vision
I musta thought I was made outta gold
I musta thought I was immune to gettin old

I musta thought I had a secret objective
I musta thought that truth was subjective
I musta thought I had a sensible goal
I musta thought I had an ace left in the hole

There is no virtue in this place
evil minds speak evil words in every corner
I’m no better than the rest of this wicked race
still I feel like I’m the only mourner

You can read an explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Thursday, January 11, 2007

115 : 8/3/98 : Tips on Waiting for Miracles

Quiet is the essence of this little fishing trip
Try to keep your mind blank stay quite still don’t rock the ship
Waiting is the game you’re playing such a simple strategy
Watch the sunrise watch the sunset eat your dinner drink your tea
Your imagination’s not your friend this time around
Keep your lowest profile and your ear down to the ground
Terra incognita is the definition of the prey
This is not a war that’s won by living in the day
Make a stalwart effort not to look to your resources
Make sure not to count your blessings to their subtle sources
Hold out for the great big thing and keep your spirits low
Never ever let another tell you what you know
Waiting for a miracle I’ve done that road before
Guess the time goes by I guess the wind gets through the door
Don’t know what the difference is what makes it stick tonight
Just keep trying to believe that everything will be all right
Wish that I could I sincerely wish that I could find
A way to look beyond this rutted circle in my mind
Waiting for a miracle’s a tough habit to break
Still I gotta wonder how much shit I’m gonna hafta take

You can read an explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

114 : 8/2/98 : Good Intentions

Somebody told me the road to hell
Is paved with good intentions
and priests’ skulls

Somebody told me the way to heaven
Was straight and narrow and
sealed with seven

I’ve got good intentions and
a pain in my skull
I’ve got a soft spot for a parable

I’ve a good idea that I’m in it thick
Wish I had some clue to
What it is that makes me tick

You can read an explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Monday, January 08, 2007

113 : 8/1/98 : Red Ink (Red Ink 3 of 3)

618 ?

This is not an exercise
this time is for real
This red ink is drawn in blood
Pain is all a nerve can feel

This is not an accident
This is by design
Heaven didn’t make this up
this one must be mine

I seem to be swimming in red ink
I seem not to know what I should think
I seem to be made of bad investments

I’ve had better years I’ll warrant
Some times trouble comes in torrents
I seem to be made of bad investments

brother can you spare a cup
of anything to make me feel right
brother can you spare a light
to wield against this endless night.

You can read an explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Saturday, January 06, 2007

112 : 7/31/98 : The Account Must Be Drawn Down (Red Ink 2 of 3)

You can’t run away forever
The night will come at last
When you’re thinking of the past
When you’re looking for the lever

To pry up the hidden places
The trapdoors in the floor
When you’re looking for the door
You’ll remember all the faces

Of the ones you really failed
All the red ink of a life
All the memories under the knife
The well intentioned deeds that paled

In the light of hard truths saying
The horn must one day sound
The account must be drawn down
And I’ll be the one who’s paying

You can read an explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Friday, January 05, 2007

111 : 7/30/98 : Table of Contents (Red Ink 1 of 3)

The goal the means the method
the resources the plan
the summary the statement
of the condition of one man
the best worse case scenario
The way it all came out
The best laid plans screw up sometimes
I guess that’s what it’s all about
I guess my voice is never certain
I guess I teeter on the fence
I like to think I’m making progress
like to think I’m making sense
My books won’t seem to balance
even the contents are in red ink
My tables all are turning
And I just do not know what to think

You can read an explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

110 : 7/29/98 : Magic

Don’t seem to find myself
praying for magic so much anymore
Maybe I’m getting old pray
for a good night’s sleep
a good day...

Rest back little fool
I’ll tell you what to do
once you have what you need
you won’t want magic

Spirit of forest spirit
of light spirits that
travel by day and by night

was it ever real
the magic I wanted
so badly

You can read an explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

109 : 7/28/98 : They’d Like to Pinion Me

They'd like to strip me naked
and toss me in a pit
they'd like to gamble for my clothes
they'd like to make a game of it
they'd like to get inside my skull
I know they'd like to shave my head
they'd like to put a bullet in it
swear to God they'd like to see me dead
But instead
I think they'd like to pinion me
I'll teach them
some goals aren't reached so easily
I'd like to push the button
and watch the fuckers smoke
man the way that things are going
that's not such a funny joke
I'd like the world to know
just exactly what they give
my God this mess is growing
soon there'll hardly be the space to live

You can read an explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Monday, January 01, 2007

108 : 7/27/98 : Purple (Secondary 3 of 3)

612 ?

In his purple phase
the young artist sure could turn a phrase
Isn't it so cool to be among the elite
Culture was fragmented rents were low
the average starving artist could still buy nice clothes
every righteous brother did his time out on the street

In the purple period
the artist pondered myriad
issues of enormous purport
He let his hair grow down his back
and set himself a choppy tack
times were good
he had no lack of support

Little did he know
the royal hue was poisoning him
Cobalt lead and cadmium
all burrowing inside
slowly he grew more scattered
forgot the things he thought had mattered
Only spoke of purple anymore

You can read an explanation of the origin of these lyrics here