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Sunday, August 07, 2005

Escape to the Weird and Back

How twisted am I to avoid reading the mainstream bad news in favor of the weird news? Somehow the weird news has a comic book feel and thus entertaining and unbelievable.

So I'm listening to the Stones' Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown while reading the following stories:

This one is five miles from here and would seem much more real had I been to the beach that day. It is about a parade of sea life, mostly but not exclusively bottom feeders, who were observed in orderly exodus not far from the beach. All species swimming and clawing together in the same direction, like a fire drill. It reminded me of that scene from Steven King's Dream Catcher where all the animals in the forest. preditor and prey together get the hell out of the area when it is invaded by extraterrestrials. The first thing I thought of was toxic runoff from all the groves, plantations, golf courses and phosphate mines. Then I thought Red Tide. I was right. The people will be next.

Then there is this story about a naked swimmer in San Francisco Bay. He's in full view of diners at a popular let's-eat-and-watch-the-sea-lions spot. Not a related story. Except in my mind. I just liked how it popped up in my mind right after the fish parade.

Then there is the story about a man who lost a joust with medieval weaponry against police. Except the police played unfair. They used a stun gun. Technologies a thousand years apart only rated by the nerve of the user.

Finally, you will be delighted to know that the popular Star Trek device the Tricorder, has, in fact, been invented.

Putting these ideas together into a lyric should be such fun. Perhaps I can merge it with my sea snot lyric of a couple of months ago, in a comment to Becky. But not if I want to be serious.

I should put aside a day a week to just play with comic stuff. Today I think I'll leave out the tricorder and the stun gun joust. That's fun for later.

Here's what comes to mind today, attempting to leave lots of room around the phrases for interesting instrumental playfulness:

Evacuating sea life, Red Tide betrays
Exodus rife with bad lies and decay
Unnaturalness of nature, artificial weather
Can't afford to wait here, let's swim away together

Swim away, stripped to our skins
Swim away, forget our sins
Swim away, swim away

Now the trick is to allude to the metaphor of the sea without beating it to death. Tricky. More than a morning's worth of work.

I like it when a lyric can mean different things to different people. I like it when people tell me they are drawn to different lines of mine and they interpret them differently. One of the main objections I have to country lyrics is their concreteness. You don't have to think very hard to get a country tune and that is comforting to a lot of people. Very understandable. I'm not knocking it. It just doesn't appeal to me. Cliche is a sure sign of weak thinking skills in my opinion.

The other extreme is a lyric that's completely unintelligible. I have to laugh at high schoolers who latch on to a song because it's trendy or it just sounds good but they pretend to think the lyrics are so deep and meaningful. Too deep for them to explain the meaning, however. Lyrics like that can be very distracting to some but very appealing to others. I often wonder if it's a fake-out issue. Pretend intellectualism.

I like to walk the line between concrete and the deep so that things can be taken on the surface but it's only a tiny tilt away from falling into a whole deeper meaning. One that is personal to the listener. You can't achieve that through formula, I don't think. It just happens sometimes. If I think about it, I can't do it. That, of course, means that the rest of the above lyric is doomed but it was an interesting exercise. Not a waste of time if you learn something.

posted by Bud @ 9:03 AM

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