Tag Archives: original

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.

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The Journalist

 

We were crossing the street/You said it was yours/The parks, avenues, and alleyways/You told me true love/Is a sense of place

I wrote it down/It’s my career/Those are my words between the advertisements/ I’m the substance beyond the veneer.

I’m like you/ Owing reality seven payments/Are we so different/Should you judge/My artistic estrangement

(chorus)

You cute little romantic/You said I stole/Do you deserve a merit badge/For trying to fill you soul’s hole.

I guess I wouldn’t need to keep you honest/If you didn’t have to hate my existence/As an inconvenience to your passion play/ You’re the kind of person who tells someone to go/When you want to beg them to stay/


To Play

Actors, athletes, writers and painters

Policemen, lawyers, fire fighters

Does the mind assessing those groups

See them as grouped and feel

A different feeling while

Assessing each

What is the difference?

Between the two groups?

Why assume they are groups at all?

Immediately

Maybe it’s just a bunch of words

Coincidentally placed together

A meaning from meaninglessness

Created because meaninglessness is such

A lame old time

 

Did you see an actor standing next to an

Athlete on a street corner, both of them bumming cigarettes

From a writer who needed to run home quickly because

His mother is folding his clothes and that idea

About chapter five could actually work

So why not ditch the coffee and lend these two

Similar people cigarettes

 See, they must be similar

But are an actor and athlete, similar?

Well, is it because how they look?

Is it the familiarity of their aura?

Are they known?

Are they celebrities?

Did they want this?

Was it their destiny to be

Thrown

Together

In the dictionary of meaning

 

Well, they play, don’t they?

 

They sit and play and think and dream

They throw their bodies around

And they accept cigarettes from writers with knowing nods

As if to say, hey

We’re from the same planet, aren’t we?

The actor says to the writer, you know

We stood together at Toot’s Shor in 1950

Right next to this guy, yeah this guy

See, it’s Joe DiMaggio, and we’re distant cousins

And it’s because we play

And that doesn’t necessarily make us more important

But it may make us more interesting

Then Toots spilled a beer onto my shoe

The athlete said, and we all laughed together

Oh, DiMaggio, said the painter

Who had been observing the scene, you see

He had been analyzing the angles, and the way the sun

Reflected off DiMaggio’s fedora in that certain way

That made him appear like an Italian Knight on temporary leave

From his mission ordered by the Pope

To give hope to the nation through

The exuberance of running down a fly ball

Before crashing into the monuments in center field

Oh, DiMaggio, said the painter

You’re beautiful

I don’t know about interesting?

I mean, from a level of pure human behavior

Could it be said with certainty that DiMaggio has a more interesting career

Than a policeman, patrolling the streets for intoxicated civilians

Who vomit on their personal page of American History and are looking

For a fight

As means for transcendence?

Is he really more interesting than a doctor, or better yet, a surgeon?

Yeah, a surgeon, they are doctors, too?

Is he really more interesting than a surgeon tasked with removing

A bullet from the brain of a victim

On Saturday?

Is he really more interesting?

 

Well, I suppose if the perceptions of society were removed

Said the writer, who looked like a cross between a ghost and

A shadow

I suppose if the perceptions of society were removed

We’d all have to agree that we’re equally interesting

After all, a person can only go on living

Due entirely to conditions entirely beyond his control

Way

One second early or late

One moment of anger

One accident

One reflex action

One little step on the metaphorical land mine of odds

One singular slip

And we’re gone

Where?

Who the hell knows?

Danger is so ever-present

That humor was created as a coping mechanism

Hey, you can’t say that for sure

Says DiMaggio

You can’t say that with certainty

You’re right, said the writer

It’s conjecture, but who are you to say anyway?

You don’t have a sense of humor

Anyway, says the painter

I get the sense that you might be trying to express

The fallacy of vulnerability

Something about consequences being unavoidable

And all we can do is react

The best we can

No, I was just trying to say

It’s a certainty that

Eventually

We won’t be here

Standing on this Manhattan street corner

After midnight

We won’t be able to talk to a friend

In a fedora trying to do something special with his life

We won’t be able to talk to ourselves

 

So, are you saying we should really do nothing?

Says the painter

That it’s wrong to try?

No, I’m saying it’s wrong

It’s wrong to be afraid

Fear is inevitable, says DiMaggio

That’s why we have policeman

Lawyers

Fire fighters

I’m just wondering

Said the writer

If I’m keeping track or

Getting swallowed up

You didn’t mention religion

Said the painter

Who, me, mention?

You know, at the beginning

What beginning?


My Impression of a Helicopter taking off

 

see what I did there? 


She

She who smiles

Upon the face of the moon

My worries, my anxiety, my hubris

My doom

She who smiles on the face of the moon

Please consume

This paralysis that’s part of me

 

She who dances

In the empty room

My stress, my delusion, my arrogance

My tomb

She who dances

In the empty room

Make it bloom

This silent strength that’s part of me

 

She who sings melodically

Upon a deep morning groove

My neurosis, my impatience, my insecurity

My gloom

She who sings like a bird

Upon a deep morning groove

Let it resume

This beautiful life that’s a part of me 

 


Amigos

It’s 5 AM in the morning

And Johnny, well Johnny

He’s stumbling down the boulevard

With a stolen piece of italian bread

Hanging out of his mouth

Me and A are quick struttin’ ahead

Steamin’ toward the deli

I’m starving for a bacon sandwhich

He’s mumbling about caserole

And how he can’t stand it

Adam’s already beat us inside

He’d been flirting with the bar tender all night

When he asked her what time she’d be free

She said, “Boy, why do you keep lying to me?”

On the search

For home

We were together

We were alone

And our bodies

Were on loan

Searching for a truth

Unknown

Well these artificial tanned girls they look like mermaids

If you’ve plied yourself with enough alcohol

And there’s these junkies and creeps haunting the third bathroom stall

Well we have each other, and our familiar acidic laughter

We play dirty jazz

And form broken chords together

And they all have a good laugh

When I cue an obscure soundtrack

We laugh at life and intimidate death

And say, “we’ll never fade to black.”

During the search

For home

We were together

And we were alone

And our bodies

Felt like they were on loan

Searching for a truth unknown

Well, it’s closing time

And suddenly I’ve realized

We’ve built a beautiful friendship around poison

And it’ll never be the same

We played such a foolish game

Well, we can’t have this time back

We were so close to being known

Now even when we’re in the same room

Our dirty eyes feel alone

Well, file out

The taps are shut

The windows are boarded

Too much will never be enough

Well, I never needed to escape

I just needed to love who I couldn’t

That was myself, and I knew she

Wouldn’t

Well, we’re on the search

For home

We were together

We were alone

And our bodies

Felt like they were on loan

And the truth I searched for, it was always written

On your face

While I refused to see

You were me

I was you

And all we needed

Was Us


His Heartbeat as she approaches then walks away

 


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