Thursday, December 3, 2015

Coarse and Fine

Wearing thin and getting old
clichés worn to the glow of fool’s gold
Good intentions heard that one before
A mirror meets a window meets a door
An overture of a sketch of a notion
Such a small bucket such a large ocean
forgotten all the movements I imagined
forgiven and forgiven and still I sinned
The story of the journey, the story of the bell
the story of the forest and the story of the well
the story of the tale and how it was told
of the man who sold them water for its weight in gold
the rising action the parabola
the gripping climax and its dénouement
the people as they carried it six thousand years
revealing every mystery as it appeared
I’m weary of the argument inside my head
of silently refuting all the words he said
of biting on my tongue all the live long day
And so I say and so I say
I’m going to pass over this bitter cup
I’ve had enough I’m going to give it up
it will never be finished I’ll never be done
I will never understand

I’ll never be the one

whither the Tower of Reproach, eh?.. the posting is about to be 70 days behind, the "Summer break" backlog I cleared in a handful of megaposts all but built up again, and this time I've run out of prefab transcriptions.  Anything I want posted still needs to get typed, for a long while at least (the songs are all written longhand).  I'd been making a habit of keeping up with the new material, another faltered habit, that effort even further out of date, well on to near half a year since I kept up with transcribing the output. Side project experiments like the tumblr are working on years abandoned.  The space a habit of these things occupied was devoured by, not to put too fine a point on it, common labor.

And the hub of the thing itself, the songs of days? Is zero days behind schedule, indeed has been over 50 days since the last time I missed a day and had to make one up...

I think about shuttering the blog and taking it offline entirely, or making it invite only to see who actually bothers signing up for it.  Or just letting it stagnate, the zero effort alternative.  The neglect isn't quite into unsalvageable territory yet but it's certainly whistling its way through the neighborhood.  It's all hilariously irrelevant because its impact in any rational sense of presence online is so miniscule.  I mean a couple people follow it but compared to the scale of the effort behind its creation it starts to look like nothing so much as just a form of obstinance.  Well that has ever been one of the themes I suppose.  Not much of a conclusion.  I will continue to keep it fairly secret.  Say no more, for now, and see what happens.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


The Golden Age series was built on a simple premise, to attempt some command on this staple of the pop idiom that is largely and conspicuously absent from the Songs of Days: the chorus.  I took as my guide a segment of the so-called "Golden Rule" from the KLF's The Manual (look it up: it's like there's a rule on the internet that anyone can host a free copy of this late 80s artifact of British punk/pop music culture - a description I'm sure would fill someone with shaking rage - but it has to be in some sort of eye-bending, Geocities era visual presentation - so it's not hard to find):

Thirdly, [your aspiring number one hit song] must consist of an intro, a verse, a chorus, second verse, a second chorus, a breakdown section, back into a double length chorus and outro. Fourthly, lyrics. You will need some, but not many.

My interpretation of this formula was to write a hundred and one (which were meant to be a hundred but I discovered long after the fact that I accidentally wrote number 30 twice) songs of the formula verse chorus verse chorus, sometimes a lyrical bridge, chorus chorus.

The experiment was a failure, I'd say, I never felt my choruses really fit, somehow, and I certainly didn't go on to integrate the form into my ongoing writing. It bums me out, I love a good chorus. I just don't seem to have the knack, though if I say so myself I scribe a winsome line from time to time.

There's quite a bit more to the Golden Rule as dictated by the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, all to do with the music - oh right, the music. The rub, right there.  Lotta lyrics, but I've never been too great at creating music.  Not prolific. Not very sophisticated. And I suspect while not grasping the exact mechanism that the chorus problem is totally bound up in that deficiency.  It is the chorus that binds the words and melody, binds them up with the rhythm into a single shining braid.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

(If 4,460 Trees Fall in the) Forest

This is a solicitation: it has been a long time now since I did any serious recording: I'm determined to change that relatively soon by commencing on the composition of the third Songs of Days album: The Bootstrap Gospel 2: Black Feedback.  I aim to establish a higher level for this recording in every respect, which means it's probably going to take a long time.

Support, and interest in the Songs of Days project in general, would speed things up.  If you're a friend of the song of the day - if you're interested in seeing this thing as it goes on - here are three things you can do to help me.

1. If you haven't partaken of my recorded work, head over to Bandcamp and pick up a copy of Only the Very Greatest Hits. It's available as a "name your price" download, and thus is designed to fit any budget, including a budget of nothing.

2. Share Songs of Days - I've written a new introduction for newcomers.  Post it somewhere online.

3. Leave a comment on the songs. Share. Follow on Google Plus, Tumblr or Twitter. Drop me a line if I haven't heard from you lately (or ever).

And many thanks to those who have heard a few fall in the forest.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Restless Stop

Opened the current volume of Songs of Days: the Second Series (volume 17, "The Right Book") to discover with moderate surprise that I was a couple of days behind.  Dashing off a couple of rather unstudied sketches I also briefly forgot that I was still quite early in on a fecklessly proposed 500 song series on the theme of optimism.  I wrote two songs without an inkling of this in my head, remembered, went back to look them over and decided some tenuous thread of this theme had persisted, so maybe it has gotten ingrained in me somewhat, or then again maybe I'm just inferring things that aren't there under the influence of some sort of emotional pareidolia, it's a pretty vague theme anyway and I've been kneeing and elbowing its boundaries pretty hard as it is, and who knows, I may certainly have already forgotten it entirely in some past entry and filled one of these putatively optimistic songs with a pure stream of pitch black vitriol.  I'm only 66 songs into it, and starting to remember that hey, 500 is actually a really big number... half the length of the original project for crying out loud.

Speaking of things that can be divided evenly by 3, the total number of songs proposed for this, the Second Series, is not one of them.  At 10,000 the nearest integer to a third then is 3,333 which happens to be the song number I wrote today (after dusting up the backlog).  Hitting this milestone is more than a little daunting.  On one side that is a really large number of lyrics and I'm supposed to do this over again, twice?  And then again, where has the time gone?  I know the whole series is supposed to take around 27 years at which point I will not be by any stretch of anyone's definition a spring chicken (unless the Singularity comes along and makes 85 the new 27, in which case maybe the whole thing will just seem like a youthful indiscretion)... So if I'm a third of the way through it 9 years have got behind me, by God!  Of course I know I started in 2005 and I know it's 2014 and I'm capable of subtraction in addition to division so I can't honestly call any of these numbers a "surprise". Artificial divisions of time.

But there it is.  Song number 2.3333, entitled: Antumbra.  Look for it on the Tower of Reproach... on June 18, 2020.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


A day or so ago I embarked on what is intended to be the longest series within the Songs of Days, second iteration - titled "Endless Axis," its premise is that every song in a continuous series of 500 will be optimistic.  It's a little bit of a tall order for me as any brief perusal of the lyrics from pretty much any angle at all will quickly reveal.  I don't know, I embark on these things impulsively, write a number and decide I'm committed, though I've left a nascent series or two abandoned by the wayside... But generally I follow through.  I guess when the critical number is 10,000 (and nearly a third way through) the rest all seem relatively small in comparison.

If any series is going to crash and burn, though...

I pretty much gave up caffeine in the midst of making all sorts of changes in my habits geared toward trying to resolve persistent digestive problems that have plagued me since a child and gotten acutely worse a few years ago.  Altogether these changes have mostly worked wonderfully well but they have also rather stripped the last possibilities of self-indulgence out of my regimen; it has been many a year since I considered getting drunk or high to be any kind of a viable decision and certainly smoking cigarettes is a virulent pathology I scribed indelibly into my brain by becoming starkly addicted to them in my early teens - I can't and don't touch tobacco or nicotine in any form.

Caffeine, though, I viewed as more of just a hedge against tummy trouble but I tell you, I was in a restaurant with my wife and they didn't have decaf coffee so I ordered a cup of regular.  The waiter kept topping it up and I probably drank about three cups.

Almost immediate gastro consequences followed by 5 hours of near crippling depression and anxiety.  It seems at some point, in the midst of all my efforts at self-improvement, my psyche has become a surly beast that will not suffer anything but a scrupulously clean kennel.  So I guess this marks the beginning of an era for me as an absolute straight edge... how this will mesh with an effort at at least a tiny interlude of enforced optimism every day, I don't know.  We roll along...

Sunday, April 13, 2014

the way that becomes a way

Sweet concluded a series of 81 songs based on the John C. H. Wu translation of the Tao Teh Ching. I continue to read the Tao regularly and find it to be an enduring enigma.  What I remember about these songs is that they were almost effortless to write, but in rereading them I find them... oh, underwhelming.  But perhaps it is just that they are mild, and flavourless... appealing to neither the eye nor to the ear.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Late in April of 2009 I started writing a series of songs of days based on the (arguably satirical) instructions about writing a pop song from KLF's The Manual.  I bring it up because I'm hauling these across the digital divide now, also because I recently restarted my sometimes habit of posting the odd cryptic line from one of the songs I'm currently transcribing from their origins in handwritten books on Twitter.  I've tried other things on Twitter in the past, including cross-posting the songs I'm actually putting online at the moment - as opposed to songs that will go online in a year or so (as of now, I'm trying to increase my backlog and eventually catch up, after that I don't know what I'll post...)  I don't know what I'm doing.  I will maybe probably talk more about this series of songs when it actually comes along.

Anyway I came across something new among in the annals of How I Can Screw Up the Songs of the Day: so I'm going through, transcribing these songs into digital documents, occasionally being stumped by my genuinely abysmal handwriting, when I find myself confused by the numbering of the songs in the series (there are (were, was supposed to be) a hundred of them and they are all numbered (1/100, 2/100, etc.) and the numbers I'm transcribing start not matching so I have to go back and figure out what happened.  It takes a minute but it's not complicated, when I wrote the songs I wrote number 30 twice.  Wrote a song and called it number 30 and wrote another song and called it number 30 as well.  I've written a lot of series (I'm posting one now) and this is a new one.  As chance song number 30 (the first one) is titled "Repeat" but I don't think I did it on purpose (doing so out of some obscure motive and forgetting is not outside the realm of possibility).  What to do?  I didn't feel like trying to go back and relabel everything so I just relabeled the second 30 as "30b" and called it good.