“Someday everything gunna be different”

Here is a secret.

I am fine, just as I am.

It is true that I have sinned and hurt people out of fear laziness and habit.

It is true, that I will do it again.

That harm is real, and must be taken into account.

Yet, just as many of my mistakes have come because I did not believe that I was fine, just as I am.

What to do?

I am deserving of my love. But I don’t believe it.

I keep my knowledge that I am fine a secret.

I keep it hidden because if I say it out loud I will be misunderstood. I keep it a secret because I may be wrong.

Here is a way in which this knowledge is not wrong. This night, I have been listening to each song with fresh ears, as if everything worth knowing about them could be laid bare by listening deeply enough. As if history and context did not matter. As if the song had inherent meaning that could be discerned by anyone who opened themselves up to it.

That technique has served me well. It is a useful tool. It reveals aspects of the songs that I might have otherwise missed. That was correct.

This is also correct: As the opening chords of When I Paint my Masterpiece” ring out, I am transported to another time. This is fine (I don’t believe it is fine, but it happens anyways so I try not to resist). Embracing context is the right thing for this song.

If I hang onto my old tool, if I try and face only what is in front of me when my eyes are behind me, I will only be twisting myself in more knots, I will failing.

That would not be fine.

I’m plummeting backwards into my memory but it’s only a problem if I resist. Otherwise I’m fine just as I am.

I’m fine.

Here is a simple truth that is hard to accept.

I was depressed for some time. It was not heroic, or unique. It was not similar to the times I am sad or filled with existential fear now. My current woes matter. But this was not that.

I was depressed and it was a big deal for me. And it was not all that special.

The opening chords I hear are simple and soft compared to everything that’s come before. No fireworks. Just the power of a folk strum.

Then the same pattern begins to weave back into itself, a deceptively intricate rhythm emerges from those same notes.

And the voice in my mind, now impossibly deep, sings

“Oh, the streets of Rome are filled with rubble
Ancient footprints are everywhere
Well you can almost think that you’re seein’ double
On a cold dark night on the Spanish Stairs”

I fall backwards into the dark center of that voice. Each note a cold dark night that reverberates through my memory.

These moments are time, captured and imprinted on my soul. What started as jagged rock has had it’s hard edges worn smooth in the twisting waters of my own introspection.

These words and these notes and their interplay are part of me. From where I stand, they belong more deeply to me then they do to the singer.

They accompanied me on nights that seemed to last forever. That I thought would last forever. During a time that stretched on so long that I stopped thinking about time. I felt in my soul that there was nothing but failure and suffering (and I suppose, this song). I did not consider how long it might last. I knew that could break me.

Giving up was not an option. I was ill.

“Got to hurry on back to my hotel room
Where I’ve got me a date with Botticelli’s niece
She promised she’d be right there with me”

I was caring for others. This is important. Because I am not strong enough to endure this for myself. If I faltered the weight of the world would crush me. And that was appealing.

But there were those I cared for, who held within them infinite possibility and potential. In whose eyes I might find my own redemption.

That is not a healthy cosmology to live by. But it is the cosmology that kept me sitting in the chair all through the night, humming this song to myself.

And so, while the voice those around me hear may not be impossibly deep, the voice that I hear, is.

After the verse, the strumming comes back, more intense now. Keeping time, but still, just a little askew. It calls out, and then pauses, skipping a beat, as if it might falter entirely. As if it doesn’t quite know if it will make the next strum, or fade away entirely. But then it picks back up again. Just enough, just in time.

Again and again, so it’s near-death becomes part of the song.

“When I paint my masterpiece”

The understatement here is the light that drew me to this tune. It is not sarcasm. Sarcasm obscures with a cruel edge. This is something else. Something sincere.

I did not believe that I had a masterpiece in me. I do not now.

But more than that, I knew with every fiber of my being, that if I did, it would not change anything that mattered.

But I sincerely held out hope anyways. I contained this contradiction. I fell in love with this contradiction.

And when I hear the song, sung to myself under my breath, or by the singer on stage, the song knows it too. It knows that a masterpiece can redeem nothing. If beauty and accomplishment are to have any meaning, it must be in their own grace.

If the song didn’t know that, it was worthless to me. But if it did, if it held all of that, and still, said “everything gunna be different” knowing full well that it would not be.

Then it was a mirror unto myself.

“Oh, the hours I’ve spent inside the Coliseum
Dodging lions and wastin’ time
Oh, those mighty kings of the jungle
I can hardly stand to see ’em
Well, it sure has been a long hard ride”

That. Exactly that. No more. No less.

Dodging lions that want to kill me. No fault of their own. We have all been placed here against our will.

My life is on the line, but more than anything I am weary.

What does it mean to be held in the hands of a masterpiece? To draw safety and security and oxygen from it? To have it’s meanings refract within you. To know that it is flawed as you are flawed. Yet it holds itself with beauty and grace, and maybe so to do I.

The intonation in my mind remains dark, cutting, and simple. The chords are just a touch too complicated to fully absorb, even as they seem to fade in and out of existing at all. The bass comes in, holding down the rhythm when it seems in danger. A subtle booming, like explosions in the distance.

Or perhaps close… too close… perhaps it is happening so close the mind rejects it, and it can only be absorbed as with distance, real or imagined. Observer error.

The singer emphasizes bone-deep weariness at their time spent dodging lions. Yet they muster a ragged edge for the plaintive “long hard ride”.

“…wheels runnin’ through the back of my memory
When I ran on the hilltop following a pack of wild geese
Someday, life will be sweet like a rhapsody”

And still that striving that holds it all together. I stare at my loved ones. I do not wonder if life has ever been sweet like a rhapsody. I do not wonder if it will be again. I do not ponder if I even like any rhapsodies.

Instead, I feel in my bones what it would be like to believe that someday life could be like that.
When I paint…

“I left Rome and landed in Brussels
On a …ride so bumpy that I almost cried”

Why does this of all things bring up the tears? It’s such small detail, the bumps of hard travel.

Perhaps it’s the smallness of it. Perhaps it’s the singer, who finds a new register to go even deeper, as they communicate in tone what can’t be said in words. Each syllable being drawn out slightly longer. The words of the song now, repeating the trick of the rhythm, where I’m held in minor suspense… will he ever get the sentence out…

“so… bumpy…..I……..almost…….cried”

And then a moment of relief. Without changing much – the song is so simple there is little to change – the music  opens up and breathes. Like air after being choked. Not that first gasping breath. The one after. And the one after that.

When the muscles work again; before the memory has faded into its protective cocoon.

“Clergymen in uniform and young girls pullin’ muscles
Everyone was there to greet me when I stepped inside”

Of course, that sensation is a lie, and song does not indulge in it. It’s not trying to say everything is fine, and it’s not trying to trick me. There is no deception here. Just a moment of wide open space as part of the journey.

A space to imagine being greeted with open arms. To lay down my burdens. To be at ease.

I know that I only hear the singer in front of me say

“Someday everything gunna be different”

Once. Or maybe twice.

But in my minds song, the line repeats, again and again.

“Someday everything gunna be different”

I am fine.

“Someday everything gunna be different”

The words sing-song up and down, teetering.

“Someday everything gunna be different”

The words desperate and dark. I am fine.

“Someday everything gunna be different”

The words almost feral now. I am fine just as I am. At the outer edges of sanity. Again and again. And again. Into the night.

“Someday everything gunna be different”
Someday everything gunna be different”
Someday everything gunna be different”
Someday everything’s be sweet like a rhapsody.

Here is a secret.

“I said someday everything gunna be different”

“When I paaaaaiiiinnnnnttttt”
…my masterpiece”

My fall felt as if it was correct. I had set out on a journey to fix something that was immutable. How else could it end?

It was not comfortable, but it was comforting to know I no longer needed to resist the inevitable.

My fall felt perfect just as it was. Entirely deserving of my embrace.

Just, a little too fast.


These beats fill me with a sense of foreboding. They are alluring. Part of me wants to relax into their comforting embrace.

Comfort is the shade of a tree that provides well deserved rest after a long day. It is also the shady tree you lay down at and never get up.

Comfort is a story where I am the hero.

My instincts do not always have my best interests at heart.

The melody starts out softly. It echos slightly, lingering longer than I expect. Deep bass notes rumble at the edges. A piano floats over top, dancing, barely tethered to the ominous tones below. The contrast highlights the melody line rather than contrasting with it.

And so, begins a tale. Unlike the more abstract emotions that previous songs have tried to capture – this is a clear story. Or is it?

It has many of the core elements of a story I know well. It’s set in a dirty bar. It’s hero is a cowboy.

The action takes place at a card game. Our protagonist wants something.

As do I, as do I.

This is a very particular person in a particular place and time.

Games of chance and skill are not among my vices. I have never met a real cowboy, let alone been one.

Yet, as tale opens, I know this place. These tropes are so well worn, I can fall into them like a pair of old boots.

From another angle, this song is not a story at all. A story is – a man dances with a maiden, falls in love and is driven out of town by her lover, a local bandit. Unable to stand being away, he returns, though he knows it will mean his doom. He is wounded on his way to her. He falls, unable to stand. She rushes out. With one last kiss, he dies in her arms.

By contrast, here almost nothing happens. It’s a portrait then. A character study.

In that character, my own flaws are laid bare. And from that gaping maw, that open wound, I feel the ominous notes well up that tell me this is a tradgey.

This comfortable tune comes with a price.

“If I had a gun for every ace I have drawn,
I could arm a town the size of Abilene
Don’t you push me baby,
‘Cause I’m all alone
and you know I’m only in it for the gold”

I am not proud of how often I think about violence and revenge. But, I do.

These are not fantasies of justice. These are fantasies of power. Of having ENOUGH. Enough power to bring lay an army low. Enough money to solve all my problems. Enough respect to make my troubles obsolete. Enough bravado to say, “Don’t you push me” in a quiet voice, and have it reverberate down the spine of those who are tempted to defy my will. To hurt me.

I understand this impulse. I am ashamed of it. But I understand it.

But what I don’t believe, is

“only in it for the gold.”

I know why it’s there. That is the lullaby I sing to sooth my conscious. To make myself appear more ruthless than I am. It’s a easy one to get lost in it, because it makes everything simple.

It’s a clear goal. And in a certain light you can even root for it. We all want our protagonist to succeed.

He wants his gold. Why shouldn’t he?

It pushes away the shame and the doubt and the fear.

If had enough, if I really had enough, I wouldn’t need to sing anymore.

When things are quiet and I feel alone, when I have been pushed to my limits, I monologue elaborate tales that end with the defeat of my enemies.

I say to the shadows “I am going to kill you. It’s not personal, but I will do it.”

This is not my best self. Making those pathways in the brain is bad for me. Calling up those fantasies makes them more real. More likely to happen again. More likely to bleed over to the rest of my life.

This is not how I want to relate to the world.

I have complicated thoughts about absolutes like “EVIL”. But situations like this call for a word with a charge. To unnecessarily end the infinite irreplaceable universe of possibilities contained in another person is – evil.

But riding the pulse, entering the flow, letting my instincts take control also feels good. It feels real. It acknowledges the impulse and gives it literal voice as I whisper “You wish it wasn’t true. You never thought this day would come. How could you? You thought you were invincible. You thought you were just.

“But then again, justice never had much to do with it.

“Part of me wishes it wasn’t true. I wish I didn’t have to take unto myself the stain of ending you. But the time has come to end you. I do not do this with pleasure.

“…Well, that’s not entirely true either. This is no time to lie or deceive. We were on opposite sides of a line. I didn’t draw that line, but it was there. So I will feel real satisfaction at removing you. But I didn’t want it to be this way. I did not set out to end you.

I say to my unnamed opponent “And yet, here we are.”

“Don’t you push me baby, ’cause I’m moaning low.”

It’s probably worth underscoring that I am the hero of these stories. I claim this spot by virtue of being the protagonist.

My desires are good. I am kind to my mother. My intentions are good, if only my enemies would try and walk in my boots they would understand. But they don’t, because unlike me, they are evil. You can tell because of their actions.

I have within me a hero-making storyteller.

Sometimes, on quiet nights, I will ponder this puzzle:

I am a humble person. So I know that like most people I am not always right.

But about what? My views on morals are self-evident. My views on how the world works have been justified by experience. My understanding of the gods has informed everything I do, if it’s wrong my world would fall apart – so clearly it’s not. That would be silly.

I might be wrong about something unimportant, but if I am, I can’t think of it.

My hero-making storyteller is good at it’s job. But it cannot fill the gaping maw.

The gaping maw at my center spawns fantasies that corrupt everything they touches.

I am the hero, because if I wasn’t, I might think twice about what I was doing.

“Never find another honest man.”

When I was held to account, this is not what I confessed. I recounted my good deeds. With genuine tears in my eyes, I spoke about my hope that I could be of use to my fellows. What a glorious thing it would be to believe that I could change someone’s life for the better.

Were they suckers for believing me? The tears were real. The gaping maw corrupts everything in comes in contact with. My emotions are grist for the mill.

Games of chance and skill have never meant anything to me, but I know what it is to have all perspective hijacked.

Some comforts are not tree’s. Some are horses. I get on them to rest my legs as I travel, and look up to find they are riding me. I can feel the weight, but I don’t dare admit it’s there.

I’m carrying a horse? That doesn’t make any sense. So it isn’t real. I’m in control. I am a good person. I am doing this to protect… for love… and the rest of the time the horse is not even there.

Except as a cold drink of water at the end of a hot day. That is nothing. That is what I deserve. Who would deny me a cold drink of water?

I know what it is to confuse the need for a certain feeling with salvation. To equate the thing I want with life itself.

Every morning the junkie wakes up without a gold dollar to their name. Hard work, ingenuity, sacrifice – all good things – corrupted by the gaping maw. Most nights they fall asleep having found what they need to keep them going.

We are amazing creatures full of infinite possibility. We are all hero’s.

The melody line goes quiet and high, scratching desperately at the outer range of audible. Tap tap tap.

Like a voice gone hoarse, like a scream in the distance, like thunder on the horizon, all the lost details of these notes speak volumes.

They fumble about, imprecise, wild and feral. Confused but dangerous. I do not want this creature to turn it’s full attention on me. I do not want this creature to decide that I am what stands between it and salvation.

It is not a horse. It is bigger. And it has teeth. Luckily, all I have to do to make it go away, is look away.

I am a good person. These are minor ticks, not addictions. Who would use such a loaded word? Bad habits maybe.

Perhaps the notes, like me, are afraid of what they would wrought if they fully unleashed themselves.

“I can tell the queen of diamonds by the way she shines”

This line cuts into me and I stumble in place. It reaches into the gaping maw at my center and puts its molten core right at the center of my senses.

“I can tell the queen of diamonds by the way she shines”

That is a nonsensical phrase full of abstract magical thinking.

I have told you what my vices are not. They are not gambling. I do not drink.

I smoke too much, I eat the wrong things, I make impulsive decisions, I overuse sarcasm and judgmental thoughts. Sometimes I am cruel to those I love.

And I do much worse things to avoid facing the heart of the gaping maw.

I don’t name my sins. If I spoke them aloud they would cease to be abstract. They would be real, and that would require a reckoning.

I know they are there though. I carry them with me everywhere. They weigh me down. And that seems fitting.

The right compliment can cripple me faster than the worst insult.

An insult can be deflected with armor. After awhile you don’t feel the armor. It’s weight becomes just a part of your body. Nothing compared to the other burdens.

But a compliment can come from anywhere. I try and dodge, I look up, and I see the monster I tried to forget.

I know the weight of my sins, but I dare not acknowledge them.

I would try and justify myself of course. After all, I am the hero of my story. If I have a vice there is a reason and a tight narrative about how I am overcoming it.

But if I spoke it out loud, it might ring false. Not in a grand way, just a sad little bit of self serving nonsense.

It might sound like:

“I can tell the queen of diamonds by the way she shines”

When I dispense wisdom, it might be as useful as:

“Well I know a little something you won’t ever know
Don’t you touch hard liquor, just a cup of cold coffee”

I have a gaping hole that I don’t know how to fill. It hides itself well. Life is hard and I deserve a few indulgences. So what if I have a smoke? Who minds if I take another bite? If I make a sarcastic joke.

Or, the other things I dare not name even here. They have teeth. They are not horses. Am I carrying them, or am I holding onto their back for dear life?

Mostly I don’t even know it is there.

The trick is, I can’t see it at all. I think protecting the wound is the same as protecting my life.

Metaphors about burdens and armor and claws are themselves a subtle comfort. A tree to sit under, a story to tell where I can be the hero. They make the battle between me and a creature outside of me.

The gaping maw is in me. And things come out of it more often than they go in.

And I think protecting the wound is the same as protecting my life.

“I can tell the queen of diamonds”

From this vantage, forgiveness and redemption are just as bad as heroics.

There is nothing to forgive. There is nothing to redeem. There is nothing to overcome.

Because, you see, I can tell the queen of diamonds…

The line is sung with care and affection and eerie normalcy.

“Well I got no chance of losin’ this time.”

As do I.


I fell from a mushroom cloud.

I fell rapidly past the inches I had so painstakingly climbed.

My fear was simple. I felt as if I was going to die and I did not want to die.

My fear was profound, and I struggled.

Looks Like Rain

The punctuated notes that mirror our own finite existence fade away.

In there place, the music shifts and a unbroken vibration rises up to that mirror my infinite emotions.

Love reigns supreme. In the absence of love, the absence of love reigns supreme.

There is another song that says:
“Love is an easy word to say, roll’s right off the tongue
Seems to crop up like a weed, in every song that’s sung”

I have people who love me. And there are people I love.

By loving those people I come to know myself, the universe, and everything that I value.

It is through this emotion of love, that I transverse my own inner labyrinth. It is through this emotion of love that the outer world comes to have meaning.

Without love there would be a lot of rocks floating in space. I’m not sure what else their would be of note.

The meaning of love is like the sound that emanates from the stage. Brief moments that seem to last forever, joyous, and sorrowful. Love is both all-encompassing and specific.

The vessels that give me love and to whom I give love are not here right now. Right now the people I love are far away. That absence defines my existence. That absence defines my journey.

Their existence, however it was, whenever it may be again, is an active force on my present. It is the boundaries of meaning.

Love tempts me into hyperbole.

I want to say: love redeems the indignities of life.
I want to scream: love and only love will endure.
I want to say: love makes the world go round.

And maybe all of that’s true enough in some cosmic mystical sense. I have my doubts.

But how does that mysticism relate to the flesh and blood creatures I claim to love?

“I woke today, and felt your side of bed
The covers were still warm where you’d been layin'”

What tenuous thread connects transcendental moments to warm bodies and fitted sheets? How do these occupy the same space? Or, do they?

Here is what I know. I have felt a thing I call love. I have been told I am loved.

And through that love, I have been changed. I love someone, and I want them to be happy. Unselfishly, without expecting anything in return.

They are kind to me. Which opens me up to doing the same for them.

I have felt warm sheets in the space where a body was and smiled.

We gladly make unspeakable quiet gifts from our time and energy and egos. We escape our small limited selves through each other.

We do this, again and again. In ways that are easy. In ways that are painful. And ways that brush up against danger. And in ways that are mistakes. We touch something that encompasses more than ourselves.

Peering directly into that is ecstasy.

This practice expands the heart. It is the foundation for kindness to others who may not return our love.

It opened my eyes to see beauty in new places. Those spaces of exploration contained new emotional contours that make life seem impossibly wondrous.

These implications are cosmic and mystical. They happen while listening to cats frolic. They happen passing food at a shared meal. They happen in quiet conversations. They happen between flesh and blood and bones and skin in mundane moments. They are whispered. They are sung.

Woven throughout this song is a long mournful line, sliding over and over the same ground.

Our bodies are the containers that loss sits in. Love is infinite, but we are finite. We give our hearts to fallible people. Again and again for banal reasons – I hurt those I love. I fail the giving, compassionate, spirit of love in favor of my small self.

And perhaps even more terrifying, sometimes it’s not my fault.

Sometimes people disappear for reasons outside of my control. And they carry part of my infinite mystical love with them.

“You were gone, my heart was filled with dread
You might not be sleeping here again”

And they are gone. And my heart is filled with dread.

What threatens to break my heart in this song, is the utter sincerity. The voice is earnest and heartfelt. Injured, but not cynical. It reminds me of my youth, when I felt things so deeply that the smallest slight could pierce straight through me.

The undying intonation provides no remove, no distance, from the subject. And the subject is really only a couple of lines repeated again and again.

The song clocks in at seven mins, but the song simply tells the same story again with the music filling in the rest.

“It’s all right, ’cause I love you
And that’s not gonna change
Run me round, make me hurt again and again”

Here is the power of love. Though I know my love is contained in broken bodies destined to disappoint, all there is to do is continue to love anyways.

“But I’ll still sing you love songs
Written in the letters of your name”

When that happens, worlds come crashing down. The thing that provided meaning has dissipated. The key to my own heart, given to another, is lost.

I face that suffering as it rings out from the long mournful notes. They pierce through the cynical protections I have foolishly designed. As if they meant anything on this stage.

Where does the bravery to love in the face of devastation come from?

From the only thing powerful enough to make the world go round. The only thing that will endure.

The small touches of bodies, the whispers barely spoken, the scent of rain. These things that let me glimpse the freedom of something larger than my small self. These moments of skin and promises that allow me to explore my inner contours. And see those contours inside someone else.

“I only want to hold you, I don’t want to tie you down
Or fence you in the lines I might have drawn

Love must exist for its own sake if it is to mean anything. If it is to reach its beyond us, then it cannot be only us. We must allow our hearts to be breakable, in fact to be broken.

Yet, of course I want to hold on to the body. Cosmic significance be damned.

“It’s just that I have gotten used to having you around
My landscape would be empty if you were gone”

I look to the future and know for certain that it looks like rain. And that tears will surely come.

Climbing the Mushroom

My search led me to a field of dark speckled flowers. Their thorns tore at me and left my hands bloody.

By the time I reached the center I was panting and had to stop to rest. It was dark. The moon and stars were hidden by the gigantic petals above.

Halfway up the stalk my arms began spasm. I paused to rest. Then again. And again. Each time to diminishing returns.

By the time I reached the top, I was too exhausted to feel relief. The room was green and smelled like summer.

The floor sagged as I stood, breathless, and waited for my eyes to adjust to the glow.

For a long time there was nothing but fear and pain. My body hurt. My mind tormented me with my failure. There were no answers, there was no way out.

As the soft light grew, I saw a pod with liquid inside. With nothing else to do I took a drink.

I closed my eyes and felt the suffering fall off of me.

In my mind I was a child at a party. I was dancing, my body moving freely with excitement. I smiled so widely the skin on my face stretched.

I saw my grandmother watching me with love in her eyes. I reached out for her hand…

And the ground beneath me gave out.

I was falling. I grabbed at the plant, but it crumbled in my hands. Down down I fell.

Down past the inches and feet I had so carefully climbed. Down past the places I had rested in fear.

Nothing to hold onto. Nothing to control.

Down into oblivion.

Ramble On Rose

Nothing is pure.

And so, the music is not pure.

It is ethereal. It is luminous and a pure expression of itself. As are we all.

The voices harmonize and echo and refract off each other. Each word, each note, stretching so that they swirl into each other.

There are breaks in the facade. There is a yearning. This is an activity undertaken by humans. And the breaks create a sense of nuance.

Nothing is pure. Nothing is just one thing. We are all too vast for that.

Still, if I had to distill my experience of the song, the word that comes to mind is – whimsical.

The feeling is – jaunty.

Everything is – light. It bounces. I begin to bob up and down. I smile. I smile.

“Just like Jack the Ripper
Just like Mojo Hand
Just like Billy Sunday
In a shotgun rag-time band”

I am lost as I wander from simile to simile. Comparisons ricocheting off each other. Words calling forth myths. Who then merge into each other, but they are larger than life and cannot be subsumed. Jack the Ripper. Mojo Hand. Each made concrete, each made distinct, by how they reflect off each other.

Conjured up and dismissed. And the song goes on.

What happens when they become slightly more abstract? My brain to twists and strains to make connections that aren’t there –

Logic fails and something like whimsy seeps in.

At least when it’s put to this beat.

I ask my brain to make two things fit that don’t fit… except, of course, that they do. Everything is everything. It’s all connected.

Although, I give special attention to the “shotgun rag-time band.”

And most of all, “Jack and Jill.” Climbing climbing climbing the hill.

And as the cascade of words come together it becomes all too easy to see how “sitting plush with a royal flush; Aces back to back” is exactly like “Jericho.”

Extreme experiences, dependent on luck, courting disaster. As is much of this abstract thing we call life.

I wander through these disconnected images, smiling and exploring. I find myself rambling.

Sometimes, when I feel threatened, my body tenses and my mind narrows. All I can see is the problem, all I can feel is the threat. I appreciate nothing.

If I remember to put my hand on my heart, I can sometimes notice how trivial the trigger is.

Putting my hand on my heart is nonsensical woo woo self-hypnosis.

But why then, does it work so well?

My inner life operates mostly on borrowed ideas from the culture I live in. And that culture says that the brain is logic, and the heart is love, which is wisdom, and everybody knows that touch really does matter.

I secretly love the lungs, but that’s another story.

I touch my hand to my heart and I let a smile form on my lips, and the world around me expands.

The music is a smile. It has a bounce.

I have traveled for days, and seen nothing when my mind was closed. I have seen the universe in a drop of water when my mind was open.

To ramble, to explore, I require an attitude of friendless.

To embody Rambleing Rose is no small thing.

There are things I have learned from others, and things I have learned from thinking.

And I like to think.

It’s easy to think, “I should approach life with ease and openness.”

It’s easy to think, “These defenses no longer serve me.”

It’s easy to think a lot of things.

It’s a different thing all together to know. To take something into my bones.

To be changed by experience it helps to put my hand on my heart.

I wonder what would need to shift to let me smile and ramble with ease and grace?

Nothing is pure. There is fire that fuels that whimsy. And when the song turns in on itself there is a sense of danger. Just as when I start to turn in on myself. The mind examining itself is the only thing that can bring understanding. But it is not easy to look clear eyed in the mirror and be changed by what we see.

“I’m gonna sing you
A hundred verses in ragtime
I know this song
It ain’t never gonna end
I’m gonna march you up and down
The local county line
Take you to the leader
Of the band”

When the singer says “I know the song ain’t never going to end” it feels a little bit like a threat. Although it’s not clear who it’s directed at.

The rest of the band? Me? Is it a threat to themselves?

All these seem like possibilities, but what I do know what I know for certain… what I know beyond any reasonable doubt… is that being brought up to the leader of the band is not an honor.

Being brought to the leader of the band is to be called to account for your sins. And I suppose your honors, if you have any.

When words fail to convey the experience of listening to music it is easy to lay the blame at the feet of music. Music expresses something abstract, just as our lives are often abstract.

To try and talk about that experience seems futile. It is more than our thinking brain.

That is true as far as it goes, but I would also like to lay some of the blame at the feet of words. For life is abstract and words are cumbersome. Words fail all the time, even at descriptions much simpler than music.

I can tell you about Crazy Otto. I can tell you about Jack and Jill and climbing a hill. And I have an idea, or an image, or a feeling, in my head. I am trying to draw forth the same one from your brain. So I use words, I use symbols, and it bring something out in you. Whatever you think is based on your experience and your thoughts and your world and your hill’s and your Jericho’s.

When I tell you what I experienced while listening to this music you are imagining your childhood, your grappling with power, the times that you were unable to get someone else see what you saw. This disconnect can be lonely.

Nothing is pure. The notes and the voices layered on top of each other are luminous, but they are still notes stacked on top of each other.

There are instruments that create long unbroken passages. But these are not those instruments. As the voices fade away and the tension builds this becomes more and more obvious. This is a line created by dots and dashes.

Dashes and dots. Dashes and dots. They feel like they’re going somewhere. The dashes and dots feel like they know each other. I ride them and each time I fall into the gap towards oblivion they catch me, hold me, carry me, cradle me.

Not just me. They feel like they are protecting everything. Because they know exactly what they’re doing. These notes know how to relate to each other with kindness and sympathy.

There is beauty to the human voice. There is beauty in seemless flowing notes.

But there is also beauty to things that don’t quite connect but still go together. Deep low notes rumble and ramble underneath. Piano keys wander about on top.

My life is not one thing. It is one thing after another. From a great distance it can seem as though I am on a path. It can seem as though I have always been heading somewhere. I can tell that story. I do tell that story. It is beautiful. And in it, because I know the ending, I am often at ease.

Another truth is this: I have wandered from thing to thing. I have encountered larger than life figures. I have paced the walls. I have met Crazy Otto. I have climbed hills. As I live these experiences they are often one shock after another.

I live I fear of being called to account. I am not at ease.

I can tell a story about my life as a line. But I live it as a series of dashes and dots.

I wander, but I do not ramble. And I wonder. I have thoughts, and I learn things. And I wonder

…what do I need to know in my bones in order to move with ease? To smile? To take live with whimsy?

The song breaks open. Or does it narrow in? Does the song do it, or have I just put my hand on my heart and now I can see what was always there?

Regardless, it feels like its denouement.

“Goodbye Mama and Papa
Goodbye Jack and Jill”

Words alone are insufficient. A woman’s voice, before now heard only in harmony, comes forward and: wails.

“The grass ain’t greener, the wine ain’t sweeter
Either side of the hill”

That is freedom from want. Freedom from fear. Freedom from being judged.

When I was younger, I thought so many things might help… the right friend, the silver and the gold, the cake, putting words in the right order.

I was afraid of so much, and so I explored so little.

We are all gunna be dead soon anyways. Goodbye Jack and Jill.

It’s not that it’s not worth going to the other side of the hill. It’s that the act of expecting anything in particular from it detracts from the rambling.

May I be changed by this. If only a little.

the first one said to me

said to me,
“the world you know will burn.”

I said “I know.”

The next one I went to see,
said to me,
“the world you know will burn.”

I said “this place is vast. So, you’ll have to be a little more… specific.

The last one I went to see,
said to me,
“the world you know will burn.”

I said “the loss is deep and unmanageable. Do you have any advice?”

The last one I went to see,
said to me,
and fell to there knees.


Feel Like A Stranger

At first the song seemed awful.

The piano was relentless and artificial. The lyrics evoked lust across a barroom floor – unfulfilling and empty.

It’s often not wise to simply accept what the world gives. But…

I decided to take it for what it was, and look deeper.

The tinnyness of the piano faded and what came through was the relentless aspiration. The striving.


Through some evolutionary quirk I have developed an ego that doesn’t understand itself. It strives against all reason to live forever. It is trapped in flesh and thinks that it is separate from everything that is not that flesh. That separateness is pain and suffering and fear and death.

And so I want to scream and I strive to be able to connect with something larger than myself… with other humans… with love.

That is what Feel Like a Stranger is about. At first glance it is a song about seeing a body across the room.

The song does not hide the fact that we have bodies and desires that are not simply philosophic abstractions. They are physical. They are meat.

There is no clear line dividing body and mind. Love and lust. Dividing the sacred and the profane.

I strive for beauty and grace. My methods are crass and human.

After the narrator establishes a spark, he says “Let’s Go” and the repetition that was grating becomes essential.

“Ifin this were love then how would I know?
How would I know?
How would I know?
How would I know?”

The song’s setting is grounded in flesh and yearning, but the scream is existential.

Even if I found love, even if I found a true connection, even if I found that mythical mystical moment of true connection… a connection to someone outside of my small self… something with the ability to break down this illusion of separateness…

“how would I know?”

The build and release of the piano. Still artificial but striving, reaching… aching.

And then back in on itself. As if it has nowhere else to go.

Is there any way to get out of our own heads enough to appreciate what we have?

The is awareness of the other person – of the sacred potential – is embedded throughout.

“Inside you’re burning
I can see clear through”

Of the other bodies agency

“You keep firing glances across the room

And I can’t stop wondering
Just what you got”

The band does not answer “How would I know?”

An unanswered question is a powerful thing. Like the music, it too mirrors the unsatisfactoryness of life.

Some profess to prefer questions to answers. I think this is bullshit.

The inability of the universe to offer answers is a source of unending tragedy. There is a difference between accepting a limitation an admiring it.

Still, if all we have is questions, we might as well shout them into the wind.

Not just one voice, but many.

Not just questions, but a declaration. A promise. Striving to influence what it can.

“It’s gunna be a long long long crazy night.
It’s gunna be a long long long crazy night.
It’s gunna be a long long long crazy night.”

The question and the promise overlapping. Echoing off each other. Again and again.

How’s that for a cry above suffering?

At first glance it works as a commentary about the song itself, about this event itself.

It also works in the narrative of the possibility of finding someone – at least for the night – or the concert.

And in so doing, finding a moment of joy, however fleeting, however impossible. It is crazy to build a promise on that, to believe it will last.

But maybe it can last a night.

The music interweaves itself throughout all of this. Bending and stretching time as it seems to declare that those moments of connection – whether through music or with another person or simply from having gotten out of your own head can – can seem to last, if not forever, for at least one long crazy night.

It is fitting that it descends into a shamanic chant again and again

“Feel like a stranger
Ifin this were love and then how would I know? Long long crazy night”
At one point singer… Howls.

Crazy night… What does it mean to go crazy?

To take leave of your senses. To be enthusiastic. To feel out of place… out of time… Unconstrained

Or… to even though you are fully human, as human as everyone else, nonetheless feel like a stranger.

Like everyone else I have ever known, I feel slightly out of place. Slightly not at home. Slightly like a stranger.

A stranger yearning for connection, a stranger ready to embrace a night that is crazy. Perhaps if it is crazy enough then I won’t feel quite so strange…

Or perhaps more accurately – the night will become strange like me and I will feel at ease.

For me at least the musical jamming is a place of introspection. I’m looking inward. I’m relating all of this to myself. I identify not just with my body or my ego, but also with the music.

I exist not in the crude realm of thoughts, as the music moves it moves with it the realm of my emotions. I feel things within me for which there are no words, shift and move.

There is structure. There are drums. And yet above all, what I sense is exploration. Curiosity is what moves within me.

And thoughts, like rhythm guitar, come and go, fluttering across my consciousness. As a commentary upon the music itself I can’t help but look forward to something later in the night like Dark Star. Which would shed even more of the ground and float in pure exploration.

These are thoughts. Thoughts are not a mistake. They simply occur. Hanging onto them is the mistake.

The jam is everything and it is nothing. I’m thinking some thoughts and not others simply because of the context, the wrapper, this song – this moment – comes to me in. Something like Dark Star is more spacious because the container is more spacious so the possibility space is wider – more abstract. Less tethered.

The jam itself is of all time. The jam itself is nothing. The music is not talking about Feel Like a Stranger or Dark Star. It is responding to the universe as embodied in this moment in these people.

Or maybe not. But I can tell you this for certain – it is a mistake to look ahead to Dark Star now. Now is the only time that exists and so I return. This moment. This meeting of minds and bodies. This music, being created spontaneously within a structure before me.

And something within me writhes. Moves. Reaches out. All along, I have seen the song has taking place in a bar, laying my expectations on it. It takes place in the dance. Something within me dances as well.

And now, the guitar having been absorbed into myself… having seen myself in it… having imbued the music with my own spirit…

Begins echoing the riff from the beginning of the song… Now it is anything but inauthentic. Now it is me. Now it is a particle and wave. Now it is natural and supernatural.

Now these words are hyperbolic and nonsense. They are ravings. But they do not feel untrue.


Bee’s sense the world through electromagnetic waves.

What does they see? What do they know?

Music moves through time. Time is how the mind interprets a certain kind of movement.

The world we see is a hallucination, tethered to our ego. In ways I’ll never really understand, my mind prioritizes a futile attempt at survival over a true understanding of reality.

All of this is unsatisfactory.

The music starts chaotically. Deep notes resonate. Melody’s flutter in and out of existence. Evoking chaos – but chaos does not sound this good.

The underlying dissidence mirrors the unsettled feeling that permeates my life. Only better, because it seems to make sense, it seems to be beautiful. Music only exists in time, but it doesn’t have to be a consistent monotonous beat.

It can swing, and more… time can unwind. Perhaps even your ego can unwind, if only a little. Coming into harmony, then falling apart, then coming together, and falling apart.

None of this is quite satisfactory. There is no ground to stand on. It is the perfect place to start.

There is relief in having this unsatisfactoryness acknowledged.

On and on. It says everything. It says nothing. It melds into something else. Says something else that is also everything. It is beyond words.

And out of the primordial jam comes Feel like a Stranger.