Tag Archives: New York City

#14: The Truth About New York

Emotionally homeless
Drifting thru Central Park

Baseball bat in your guitar-case
Your lips on the tender dark

You were supposed to be
The new wave
Not another matchstick to save
In the world rock and roll made

They never
Told you
The truth
About New York
You never
Believe
The proof
About New York
You forget
What you never knew
Could be untrue
About New York

Ears turned toneless
By the Broadway jackhammer

The ashes of your new melody
Unceremoniously scattered

And you were supposed to be
A useful device
Sanctifying our vice
Inside candy lights

They never
Told you
The truth
About New York
You never
Believe
The proof
About New York
You forget
What you never knew
Could be true
About New York

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#8: Stem of Time

A gray afternoon
On Fifth Avenue
Where dreams and reality
Rendezvous
The homeless man
Wants to dance
With you
While you walk through
Filament truths
You thought knew

The folkies negotiate
Their record contracts
While slugging pills
For panic attacks
God forbid their truth is a lie
Like those secrets kept
Between you and I

Ten pretty lyricists
Atop Carnegie Hall
Tangled in parachutes
Thrashing for their fall
Meaning means nothing
At all

And on the stem
Of Time
You and I
Comprise a 21st Century
Lullaby
Though the roots are strong
The stem does bend
We climb and we don’t know why
For the rose
That must be our end

Another twilight
Over Riverside Drive
The fortress shines
Like it could be alive
An accident ahead
A stranger might’ve died
You are impatient
Because you need
To drive

Back to the neighborhood
You want to escape
Where they haven’t calculated love
Without their hate
And your meat is waiting
Don’t be late
For all the ways you call
Emptiness fate

And what you deem ambition
Annihilates the self
Because your happiness
Is owned by someone else
In you, I loved me
Naturally
In the age of media
Connection’s an anomaly

Now you are gone
And I drive alone
Passenger seat empty
I could call you on the phone
I want to but I can’t
And I know I won’t
And you will and you might
But you don’t

I never wanted you to be a ghost to me
We were young and we were flesh
And for a second we were free
Now I am once again
Someone like me
Rubbing static crumbs of light
Within America’s dream


City-Flower #1: Seashell

– Beginning the chronological cataloging of my songwriting material called ‘City-Flower’ with the first song I ever finished, ‘Seashell.’ My thoughts on the song and a performance below –

Seashell

This was the first song I ever finished writing. I’m fond of this tune not only for those sentimental reasons, but also because it came out pretty well. This was a combination of simple beginner’s luck (letting go into flow) and also having lyrical ideas stored in my unconscious. Never before utilized.
Even after I began taking guitar lessons, it was months before I could form chord changes competently enough to perform a complete song. When I finally reached the level of putting chords together while barely managing to maintain rhythm, Seashell basically fell out of me.

It is interesting to me how the song employs word play, which basically only happened in my process this one particular time. There’s a sense of playfulness to the lyrics owing to an existentialist viewpoint of life. That’s a reflection of myself when I wrote the song: in my early twenties. There are surface critiques on capitalism and consumerism, but they are written from a perspective of someone who has dealt with these forces on a more theoretical, opposed to actual level. But more accurately: I had encountered these barriers in my own life: but was not prepared to write about them in any realistic way.
Being an art believer was one of my positive attributes at this stage, and had inspired me to try guitar in the first place. So it made perfect sense for my first completed creative work as a musician to have an absurd energy. Why not? Why not try? And that remains true, despite everything else that has a way of changing.

The most specific lines having to do with social commentary–

You’re ambitious
You’re superstitious
The mask or madness
Choose your clothes

–Probably retain the most meaning for me. Other lines form amusing rhymes amid contradictory meanings: (serendipitous, innocuous) but they don’t have much authorial drive to them. Some lines could float away. (And I think the chord progression always does remind me of things floating away)
I’ve made several adjustments over the years. No idea when these happened particularly:

Adding the closing sentiment: “I could smile and cry at the same damn time.” It affirmed that there’s actually an individual in this song, caught between all the contradictions and expectations of the world. That makes the song more appealing to me, more emotional and less of an experiment in verbiage.
Changing the chorus from ‘Only the Seashells know’ to ‘No One Knows.’ There wasn’t any huge reason for this decision. I just thought the former chorus was too vague while the latter actually expressed a sentiment. I do remember thinking that the original lyric could be saying that natural sound is the only pure truth: a seashell recording the ocean, a singer recording a song. I did like that. But there was something about the words themselves that struck me as overly cutesy. Maybe I’m wrong about that. Anyway, ‘Queens of the Stone Age’ has a song with the title ‘No One Knows,’ and that’s always close to automatic rewrite for me. (I never want to share a title with anyone. Its just unnecessary.


New York

A concrete palace of loving malice 
Cloaked in transience 
Themes of dreams interrupted by car alarms 
And invisible ambience 

Ice winter silver snow sliver 
Dances onto chilled flesh and marrow 
Then high summer sun frames foreign structures 
In Van Gogh shadow 

To realize in eyes 
Belonging to another tourist of the fall 
Where we were meant little 
Who we were with meant it all 

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