I thought about the times I had made mistakes. Times I had been forgiven. A second chance granted, even if I did not feel I was deserving of such a thing. Even if I could not understand why this person was willing to do such a thing for me. I would not be where I am, or who I am, had those people not been compassionate enough to care for me in spite of my faults. That is love. That is understanding.
It is another one of the hard lessons you learn growing up. It doesn't fix everything, it doesn't make it okay, it's not an excuse. But you have to take the value of a person and your relationship with them and weigh it against the alternative you are facing. Do you take a deep breath and accept the pain? Do you try to grow from it and not give up, on yourself, on the other person, on the situation you've found yourselves in? Or do you let that sinking feeling in your stomach spread to the rest of your body until it settles into a corner of your mind that you may or may not ever be able to remove it from.
You have a choice. You won't always know which way to go right away. Life is not that linear. The answers are not as obvious as we would like them to be. There is no Star of Bethlehem for us to navigate our way in the darkness. I wish there was. I do. I really do.
I'm trying to be a better person. In as many parts of my life as I can. It is not the easiest thing to do, it never has been, and it never will be. The more difficult a scenario you face, the more meaningful it is. You become confused because you want something, but are not sure of how best to go about obtaining it. You are scared because you do not want to lose something, and that fear can be paralyzing, but do you want to look into the mirror at yourself or into the dark ceiling when it's just you and say you let the fear win? You know what you want. You can answer that question. The "what if's" and "I'm not sure's" and "I don't know's" have to be pushed to the side at some point.
The conversation toes the line of heartbreak.
"You know it's not the same. There aren't many people like you."
I try to believe this, as I believe her sincerity, but words that do not match actions are frustrating in themselves. It isn't progress. If you believe this, if this is how you feel, why are things how they are? Why is it not changing? How is this okay?
She says that she feels like a lost cause.
I don't believe in lost causes.
Because I used to fucking be one. Used to.
It only gets better if you're willing to stare it in the face, no matter how afraid you might be. And you let it know you will not let it win.
Look behind you. Look at the things you have done. Your accomplishments. Your successes in spite of defeat. Everything you have done regardless of whether or not you believed you could. Everything you have done even though they told you that you wouldn't be able to. You are building a legacy. You are writing a story.
Whether you realize it, or not.
Make it something with heart. Make it something you are fucking proud of. Make it something worth reading.
And this other girl.
Somebody who has been a constant for me. Somebody I honestly don't know how to repay for all the times she's been there for me when I had nobody else. She answers the phone when I barely have the ability to form coherent words.
She tells me, "If it's really working out, then today is the last day that you will cry."
I know she is right. It is not easy to accept, given my tradition of breaking myself to fix someone else, but I know she is right. You can fight with a person and you can fight with yourself until it turns into a catastrophe of frustration and a wreckage of a relationship that you'll never know what could have been because you didn't give it the chance you should have or because you let that fear take over your train of thought. I don't want to look back at any point in my life and feel those things, ever again. I lost too much time. I lost time I can't get back. I think about what would be different if people weren't scared, or at least scared to the point of freezing. If people followed through focusing only on what they wanted, not what could go wrong. If they really understood how little time we actually have here. I think about these things, and I wait for the brief and wonderful moments in which they actually come to life make themselves known.
I know what I want, and I know I will struggle, and I know it might hurt at times, but man, I tell you. After everything I've been through and all the times I didn't think I could make it, I did. I've made it farther than I ever thought I would, and I'm still going.
Hope isn't something you find. It finds you.
You'll know it. When you feel it. Then it's up to you to make something of it. Hope, it's just a spark. A catalyst. Once you get that, the rest is in your hands. It's your turn.
Keep waiting for that yellow bird to land on your windowsill. He's out there, he's on the way. He'll show up, eventually, if he hasn't already. Maybe you just haven't noticed. Maybe you've been looking too hard, or maybe you haven't been looking at all. Maybe you've been too busy or distracted in the meantime. Don't miss it. They don't always come back.
You'll see him when you aren't even looking. You'll see him when you don't even expect it.
I entertained the idea of not writing this, not posting this, or attempting to not even think this to begin with. As if that would ever work. I realized that I've gotten to where I am today by being open and being honest. So, this is me being honest.
It's difficult figuring out where to draw that line in the sand. When you're dealing with such a mix of emotions and confusion, you're sad and you're frustrated, you over analyze every fucking word. When do you say enough is enough? How do you decide to finally pull that trigger? There is a point in a relationship where you have a choice of moving forward, or leaving. There is no going back. There is the future, and there is nothingness. Sometimes the only option is to disappear. And I'm scared of that. I know what that will do to me. It's been a long time since I've been in a position to feel like that. But there is no middle ground. There is no gray area.
It is strange knowing you will read this, but that we will probably not speak because you cannot bring yourself to do what needs to be done, and that this could very well be the last thing I openly say to you. That door is still open, but it won't be for much longer. I'm sorry if the lack of middle ground hurts, but there's no other option. I know you care, that was never doubted. But that doesn't fix everything. It's a starting point, but it doesn't make things okay. You have to care enough to be willing to work past the problems you're facing. That's life. Whether you're 25, or 50, that's life.
Go ahead and surround yourself with people who have no fucking idea what you're dealing with, and are nothing more than a cast of characters that perpetuate the issues that caused these problems in the first place. Avoidance and distraction only work for so long. Taking 22 years to realize something and then running away from it, well, you can tell me what kind of decision making that is. It wasn't enough for you to get out of your comfort zone, to be a challenge, to be something different. Say one thing, but do another. Thinking in the short term, or not thinking at all, is always the easier option. Things will catch up. They always do. Maybe it won't be as surprising to you next time, but I wouldn't count on that. History repeats itself for a reason. You can only run from so much.
I'm not angry. I'm sad, and I'm disappointed. You let me down. You've insisted on writing an ending long before I planned on having to do so.
It's particularly tough for me to give up on the things I care about. Even if it hurts me in the meantime. I become an optimist in the worst of situations. Catch me on a normal day, I'll give you all the negativity you can handle. Throw me into a situation that actually means enough to make me feel something, I'll lose my fucking mind trying to make it okay.
It's happened before, you know. You wouldn't be reading this right now if it hadn't.
They say that things get better with time. That doesn't mean it's right. Maybe it only means you've managed to push something away for long enough, to distract yourself long enough to the point of not feeling like you used to. Is that really "getting better?" Is that really doing what's right? If you lie to yourself enough, eventually you'll believe it. Eventually those feelings will fade. Time is a powerful force, for better or worse.
I take a shower. I close my eyes and I try to disappear into the water. I tell myself I'll sort it out tomorrow. That maybe I overreacted. That maybe it isn't all doomed. It's not all a lost cause. It's not all a mistake.
"It's not really her that you miss. It's the idea of her."
No, no. It's her, I swear, really, it's her. I realize how pathetic I sound. You can't just throw a switch and turn off those feelings. I don't believe I would even if given the option.
But it's out of my hands. You can only be brave enough for yourself and somebody else for so long. It is not how I wanted it, but it is not my decision. There's no negotiating with someone that just wants to be a hostage to sadness.
There is nothing more difficult in life than saying goodbye to somebody that you love, realizing you don't have any other option, and yet still having that little part of you that just says "Please, God, let this work." All those other pieces were in place. Everything was how I wanted it. And that's why it hurts so much, and that's why it's so hard to just walk away. Because I wouldn't have changed a fucking thing. Because at the end of the night, when it's just me stuck with the thoughts in my head, nothing changes. That phone doesn't ring. I still want something I cannot have. Nothing more. Nothing less.
I say goodbye. She says goodbye. I cry, I cry, I cry.
I close my eyes.
I hope for something to change. I hope for this to get better. To feel better. Somehow.
I hope for a lot of things.
I am not a man of strong faith by any means, but I would like to thank everyone that took the time to say a prayer for me, wish me well, or even just listen to me talk in circles at some awful hour of the night. Things don't always go as you plan, and I'm not doing very well, but gestures like those give me hope in a time where I feel like I really don't have much else. So, thank you, as sincerely as I could ever mean it.
No matter how much you learn over the years, some things just never get easier. You just have to keep your head up. You just have to keep going, man, you just have to keep going. What other options do you have? I'll take hope over sadness. I'll take love over fear.
Never give up.
she said that I'm a shining star in her sky
and I feel that far away
I'll make a wish for the best
of all the little things that i miss
and just walk away
Every now and again, a record emerges in the shellshocked, foxhole-filled musical landscape in which we live that reminds me of why I love music as much as I do. You get old. You get jaded. You get burnt out. And you just wonder, "When's that feeling going to come back?"
This album brought that feeling back to me. Maybe timing is everything, but God, it's like this record was specifically meant for this point in my life.
Enough said. Here are my thoughts on Charlie Simpson's debut solo album, Young Pilgrim.
"This is all so sad," she tells me, summarizing the past few days in five simple words. I can imagine her voice dropping into that low hush that it does when the conversation turns serious and no joke can be made in any shape or form. She is right. "I honestly don't know what to do with myself," I reply, and I ponder what else to say, eventually deciding on saying nothing. It's already been said. It's repetitive. It doesn't change anything. I feel like a burden, knowing the situations I have put her through before, and now here I am, spilling my guts and falling apart into a sobbing mess while she struggles to find something of some comfort to tell me. That's what friends are for.
I'm writing this here, knowing you will see it, knowing you will read it. I donít have it in me to call you again and get caught up in my own words, finding myself trying too hard to convince you of something that you have to convince yourself. You were the background music to my life for nearly two years. It seems as if I woke up one day and it was all suddenly so different. I feel lost, I feel confused, and I feel like something is missing that I can't even begin to figure out how to replace. I donít want to replace it. I donít want to move on. I donít want to be okay and I donít want to get over it. I want it how it was. But it's not about what I want. I could insert one of a million cliche lines here which I have been told over the past 25 years of my life, and regardless of "it gets better" or "God has a plan" or "give it time" or "it just wasn't meant to be" it still feels like hell and that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach is still there. I don't feel like myself. I miss you. I miss you. I miss you.
I've been having a rough time lately, I won't lie. I haven't been around much, and I don't know if I will be in the near future. Life catches up to you eventually, and you do what you can to manage. I know I've built a public persona, almost a character, of a guy who just doesn't give a fuck about anything or anyone, has nothing to say but negative things, and could care less about the opinions of others. The few people that have actually gotten to know me realize that this isn't an entirely accurate representation of me as a person. There is only so much you can ascertain from the online representation of somebody's personality.
Everything passes. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it really, really fucking hurts. But that's the world we live in.
"You've got a sadness in your eyes. I can feel it."
I guess she was right.
And she says "I know as soon as I hang up, I'm going to miss you, and I'm going to be thinking about you." She hangs up. Nothing changes. She has always been particularly independent in a stubborn way.
There is only so much you can do. It is hard enough fighting your own battles. You should do everything you can to support and care for a person, to let them know that you are there for them, that they are not alone, and that you have faith in them. But after a certain point, it is on them to make something happen. To have faith in themselves. To put fear aside. To walk through that fire. All of the reassurance in the world is worthless unless you are willing to take the first step for yourself.
Some people are content with staying sad. With missing something. With holding themselves back. As long as that keeps them safe. As long as they aren't making themselves vulnerable. I stopped being that person after I realized I would rather take a risk than live with regret. When will be your turning point? When will you change your mind?
I turn the lights off. I stare at the wall. I listen to the rain fall outside my window. I try not to think of how things were, how they are, or how they are going to be. It doesn't work. It takes everything I have to not pick up my phone and simply say I miss you. I close my eyes and they sting and I feel the drugs work their way into my bloodstream. I sleep and I dream of you and I sleepwalk through the day and I do the same thing again and I do the same thing again.
Knowing when to fight for what you want, and when to walk away is one of the hardest lessons in life you will ever learn.
You are loved.
I am sorry.
all hands on deck, donít abandon the ship
youíll never know what it could have been
I'm probably going to appear more philosophical in the coming weeks, or perhaps just go totally off the radar. Either way, I came across this article, and it reminded me of what I had last written, and further drove the point home.
It's amazing how far we stray from concepts that are so inherently simple. And for what? Money? Attention from people whose opinions don't really matter? Fleeting approval from others we shouldn't care about in the first place? People get so caught up in such triviality, vanity, and selfishness. This evolves into a rinse and repeat, monotonous cycle of self-serving bullshit. Maybe the idealist in me is slowly coming back. Maybe the bitter and jaded, the "extremely negative person" I once was (as Gabriel Saporta pointed out, at least) has started to crack. At times it gets hard to deny. I find my mind thinking in a different way. I notice my priorities shifting.
I see more and more, every day, that makes me want to be a better person. Not just for myself, but for everyone else that cares enough to listen. For all the other people who have taken the time to think about the things I've written here over the years. To try and make an impact on the people that I have yet to reach.
Yeah, I want to be a better person. But I want to leave this place knowing I did something that genuinely made a difference.
As you grow older, people are going to leave. The terms of their leaving can and will change, but the principle remains the same. I remember she left in November, right around my birthday, a while ago. Where she went, I don't know, and it doesn't matter. The other, well, she left after the new year. I know where she is, but that doesn't matter either, still. Different scenario, same end result. When they leave, that's it. After the initial departure, it's always going to be different, regardless of whether or not they come back around at some point. You're going to have that weight on you, you're going to have that little voice in the back of your head. I've tried to learn my lesson over the years. To shore up my defenses and not let people get to me like that, but it happens. You can try to avoid it, but it'll happen.
Being on the other side isn't easy, either. You get the guilt, the self-doubt, the wondering about time wasted. It's a lose-lose situation.
And it gets to you. It's like radiation. It's cumulative. Once you've absorbed it, there's no getting it out of your system. It'll wear off eventually, but the side effects are always going to be there. I spent a year looking over my shoulder after having the people I cared about most let me down in the worst way possible. Everything I thought I knew about friendships, about relationships, was thrown out the window. Five years later, I still have moments where it all hits me. You think you've grown up, and in many ways you have, but events of a certain magnitude stay with you.
Some things, I don't think you don't ever really get over them. You just deal. Maybe someday you'll find some kind of acceptance. I don't know if I am that kind of person.
On a different tangent, I think all those feelings are part of why I started making records. It gives me the ability to take something meaningful, something that people care about, and share it in a way I feel really makes a difference. A record you love isn't going to let you down, it's not going to lie to you, it's not going to give you some sudden and heartbreaking surprise. Sure, your feelings might change over the years, but you're always going to have those memories and emotions attached to that record. It's a little piece of infinity. While a record can't replace a person, it can give you some sense of stability. A foundation.
Just find something. Or someone. That you really fucking love. Give it your all, give it more than you think you can. Don't worry about the future. Don't be scared. Don't let trivial bullshit get in the way of something that matters. Please, don't take it for granted. It's difficult, but it's not impossible. Many more take the path of least resistance. Be an exception to that rule.
Anything you can do to make that feeling last, you should do it.
Why are more people buying vinyl? Iím not entirely sure, to be honest with you, but Iím damn glad that they are. It should be examined as to why the interest in vinyl declined in the first place. People stopped buying vinyl because of convenience. Media became smaller, so it was easier to transport, collect, and enjoy. The cassette, the compact disc, the mp3. All these formats had their part to play in slowly pushing vinyl out of the picture. While it has not been completely eliminated, and in recent years has seen somewhat of a resurgence, vinyl is no longer the dominant format by any stretch of the imagination.
We live in an age where instant gratification is the status quo. This music industry is a shining example of this. Not only do people believe that they have the right to illegally download music, but they also have the tenacity to complain when an album has yet to leak or if the leak is of inferior quality. There is a disconnect on all levels; between fan and artist, artist and label, label and fan, etc. The rocky, misunderstood, and often exploitive relationship is far more common than the understanding and sincere one. Perhaps it is business, perhaps it is human nature. Itís probably both. So when you take the desire for convenience and instant gratification and mix in the desires of all parties involved you get an absolute disaster. The cassette gave way to the CD, the CD gave way to digital media, and digital media has opened the door for blatant theft that is somehow justified in the minds of those who choose to take that path. But this isnít a piece about music piracy. This is about why decades after being nearly irrelevant for decades, large circular pieces of wax with grooves cut into them to reproduce music are coming back, and coming back in a big way.
The optimist in me wants to say that more people are again realizing that music is much more than just an ďaccessory,Ē as it has been regarded for numerous years now. I gave a fairly lengthy examination of this devolution in my article ďThe Scene Is Dead, Long Live The Scene,Ē but letís take another look at it. Is there any sort of specific or spectacular catalyst for bringing vinyl back? I am inclined to say no. As mentioned, vinyl never completely went away. I would say that the small group of people (small in comparison to individuals who do not purchase vinyl) who kept that passion for records managed to spread their influence after numerous years of staying faithful to the format. This did not happen overnight, so, how did it happen? As Hemingway wrote in The Sun Also Rises, ďGradually, then suddenly.Ē It has been a slow process over the years from those people who found value in the record for whatever reason. Something kept them hanging on and interested when they could have easily jumped ship in favor of something more convenient and often less expensive. So what exactly was it that persuaded them to stay on board when the rest of the world decided to move on and embrace the future?
In early 2011, I decided to start a record label that dealt exclusively with vinyl releases. I am but one individual in a world of seven people, but Iíll tell you why I did what I did, and why I love vinyl. A discussion came up regarding whether or not a certain album would ever be released on wax. I was a huge fan of the album in question, so I had a personal interest from the start. At the basis of all this is a passion for music. Iím not talking turn on the radio and enjoy what Top 40 bullshit is playing kind of liking music. I mean really having a love and an interest in the music that has been the soundtrack to your life. To be so invested in a song or an album, that ten years later it still takes you back and lights that little fire inside of you, just like it did when you first heard it. For me, and for a lot of these people, having a record on vinyl is the opportunity to preserve something you love in a long lasting format. Itís not just a record. Itís a memento. Itís a keepsake. Itís a part of who you have become since music has meant so much to you. You canít get that with a digital download. A compact disc is such a cold and heartless product, why would you want to keep that around? I donít even buy CDs anymore. Just not worth it.
Anyways, the problem was that all of these people, be they teenagers or nearly thirty years old, even though they all loved that music, they were dependent on somebody else to give it to them. At the end of the day, they are still a consumer, albeit one with more legitimate interest in the music than a casual fan. That was my ďfinal strawĒ moment, and I decided to start my own label to do what I could to fill in the gaps that for whatever reason had not been filled. If something I loved and wanted to keep around to appreciate wasnít available on vinyl, I would do what I could to change that. If it didnít work out, at least I was not a hapless consumer sitting around hoping that one day the record would just show up. I care, so I try. As a fan, it was not only what I wanted to do, but something I felt I had a responsibility to do. Sure, itís easy to criticize and complain. Itís even easier to do nothing. But when you have the chance to make things happen, to shake things up, especially regarding something you care so much about, I feel that your role in everything changes. Youíre not just a fan. Youíre not just a consumer. You not only owe it to yourself because you want the record or because you want the band to succeed, you owe it to all the other people who feel the same way but canít do what you can. Thatís what it takes to keep something like vinyl alive and well. Itís not easy and itís not always the safest path to take. It doesnít matter. When that passion is there, you have to take that risk.
Listening to a record on vinyl is much more of a process and experience than listening to something digitally or on a CD. This is the reason for the shift toward convenience and instant gratification. Everyone has a computer. Everyone is online. Once that album leak hits the Internet, a few clicks and there you are listening to it in all of its 160kbps transcode glory through your shitty laptop speakers or iPod earbuds. A lot of people enjoy the art that comes with a record, and I believe thatís an important part of the overall experience. A lot of people say the sound of a record is better than that of a CD, which may or may not be true depending on how the record was created and what sort of system you are listening on. Still, I feel like the heart and soul of what makes vinyl so special is something beyond these tangible aspects, as nice as they may be.
I am not a casual listener. I would even dare to say that I donít listen to music for fun. I listen to music to feel. Tin can speakers and piss poor quality wonít do it for me. I deserve better, and so does the artist who poured their heart out into the record you just stole and are now listening to on a setup so terrible that it actually makes Phil Spector glad to be in prison. And yeah, I get it. Youíre teenagers. Youíre poor college kids. Youíre starving artists. The economy sucks. Of course you canít afford some glorious audio setup. The fact is, you donít need that. You need some basics, and then you need to *gasp* buy a physical record. Youíre done. Plug it in, put it on, enjoy. Are you telling me you canít cut back on the Coors Light or the shitty fast food or the fashionista handbags enough to buy yourself a turntable, receiver, and speakers? If you are, thatís because you just donít care. Go listen to your compressed AAC files, disregard everything Iíve said, and carry on with your life. In the grand scheme of it all, thatís what really matters; whether or not you as an individual care enough about not only having something for yourself that is actually of value, but also to support the artist that you say youíre a huge fan of. You can always buy a turntable. You canít always find a copy of a rare record. You canít more music from a band that has broken up because even though everyone claimed to love them, not enough actually supported them. I donít expect everyone to start their own label. I donít expect everyone to spend all their disposable income on music. I do believe that people could do more. A lot more. Buying vinyl is a part of that, but itís also the tip of a really complex and misunderstood iceberg called The Music Industry. The point is do what you can, while you can. If you really love the music, prove it. Stop making excuses. The record industry and the music community do not exist in a vacuum. The decisions you make actually do matter, and they impact more individuals than just yourself. If you would rather give your money to Philip Morris, British Petroleum, McDonaldís, or Monsanto that is your choice. Just be quiet when a band breaks up or when ten years down the road you canít find the music you love.
And please, please, please, stop buying songs from iTunes. I know most 13 year old girls are totally okay with listening to Justin Bieber through the overpriced Dre Beats headphones daddyís credit card got them, but that doesnít mean you have to fall into that trap as well. I donít expect a worldwide revolution against the current popular formats, and surprisingly, I do believe that digital has a time and a place. Steve Jobs and company do not need, nor deserve, anymore of your money or the money that should be going to the artist. Go look up how much Apple takes from an iTunes purchase, and then look up the recent profits that Apple announced. It speaks for itself. These people donít care about music.
Support bands. Support labels. Support physical media.
Not much for me to say with this, as the music speaks for itself. A terrific live acoustic version of "No One's Gonna Need You More," off their new album War Paint, which is currently my favorite album of 2011.
The Dangerous Summer are doing with War Paint what Brand New did with Deja Entendu.
Times have changed, no doubt, but this album and this band, they make me feel as if they actually haven't. I can hardly begin to explain how refreshing and exciting it is to hear a band make music that on the first listen, already feels timeless. Like it could have fit perfectly in that unforgettable span of time from 2003-2005. The honesty. The no bullshit approach. Just focusing on the music, the words, and crafting songs that not only sound fantastic, but have so much heart and emotion, projected in such a sincere fashion when the current musical landscape is drowning in a sea of gimmicks, hacks, and phonies.
This isn't misplaced nostalgia. This is praise for a great group of musicians making outstanding music when so many other bands aren't. This is a band doing it for all the right reasons, and doing it incredibly well. These guys just fucking get it.
It crosses my mind sometimes. How it all felt. The way the days all seemed to blend together. Not in the worn down repetitive blurry sense that modern living is all but completely responsible for inflicting upon us whether we like it or not. Not like that at all. A comparison and a contrast of how life was then and how it is now. A disbelief in how much can change. How fast it can change. And why after so many years, I still don't have the answers for so many things.
It was in a way where I couldn't remember when the beginning really was, where all of these people who would eventually become important to me came from, what time the nights would end, or if they would end at all.
There was something in the air. I don't know what it was. Contentment. Naivety. Happiness. Love. Hands in your jacket pockets and soft hair brushing against your face. September October November. These aren't just months. These are places you can go back to. These are people who have turned into ghosts. These are memories that you question whether how much the sting has faded. A sense of something that transcends nostalgia. Song lyrics burned into my mind along with the voices that I used to sing them with. I try to appreciate those moments for what they were. I don't miss the people. I miss everything they gave me.
Those bands stopped singing ages ago.
All those girls.
They've got new names. They've got rings on their fingers.
I can remember how it all felt. That feeling in the air.
I just can't find it anymore.
Either it's gone, or I am.
Some nights I lean more towards one than the other.
I suppose I find myself writing this as it turns out to be somewhat of a more common occurrence than I initially realized, and I was bothered in a sense. It's nothing earth shattering, but for someone like myself who loves music on a level that not everyone can understand, it stirred me enough to feel the need to write something.
What are we talking about? The mixtape. We could cover the in's and out's, the do's and do-not's, the unspoken and the spoken rules. The sorts of things that Rob Gordon would have scribbled down on a piece of notebook paper sitting on his cluttered and disastrous desk to double check before he put the finishing touches on his current creation to hand off to his latest Number 5 With A Bullet.
But we're not going to cover those. Not right now at least. At issue is the recycling of the mixtape; the reuse, almost always partial, as few people who value the power of the mixtape are ignorant enough to make a true doppleganger of a mix and hand it off to another person. To another girl. Surely people are not/never were that naive.
So what's the protocol? How much is too much? Two songs? Two or three songs in sequence? Perhaps there's an intro or an outro that you've found to have a magic feel to them and you just can't resist from using them again. Where do you draw the line, and when does it get to the point where it becomes a personal issue and point of contention? In this day and age, if you hand a mix to a girl, chances are she's going to copy it to her computer. She's going to listen to it. It will probably be mentioned in order on some sort of social network where she will also be giving in depth and insightful commentary to these songs and how much they mean to her.
Your ex girlfriend will be sitting at home in a pair of sweats from whatever sport she played in high school, hair unkempt, the blue hue of her Hewlett-Packard value priced but exceptionally shitty monitor illuminated her makeup-less face at 3 in the morning. She will be pressing the refresh button as fast as human possible. She will be viewing the page of this new girl, wherever it may be. She will become filled with rage and hate and begin a relentless and absolutely unstoppable descent into madness.
And why? Because you used the same songs. Because those songs were for her. You've transferred something that was personal to her onto another person. Onto another girl. Perhaps you do not have much experience with ex's yet, but the general rule and the point that should be understood is that anything now being placed "onto" a new girl that was once placed "onto" the previous girl will potentially cause a fuckfest that you just don't want to deal with. This goes well beyond mixtapes and can be applied to numerous things. Get creative.
So, what's the point? There isn't one. People are ridiculous. People are emotional, needy, messes of skin and bone and electrical impulses that compel them to say and do crazy things. At this point I don't find myself asking "Why?" ask much, rather "Why not?" Insanity is almost expected to a certain degree. The fact of the matter is that these songs, while they may be the same for various people across various mixtapes, or portions of them may be identical.
The fact is, it doesn't fucking matter. These songs evolve as the relationships you have evolve as well. You can have memories attached to a specific song that that meant the world to you in 2006 mean something completely different in 2011. There's no one usage only rule. Music isn't stagnant. Neither is emotion. Memories and nostalgia, well, what else triggers those things more than emotional music that you've loved for years? Picking up the faint scent of a fragrance a certain somebody used to wear might make you think about that individual for a moment, but with a song that's been ingrained into your mind year after year after year, you get the complete flashback. You're 18 again it's the early days of Spring and you're in love, sitting on campus waiting for her to show up before class. You're 21 and you're crying in a parking lot, too drunk to stand and too fucking sad to care. You're 25 and you're trying to figure out just what you're doing with your life. These songs don't belong to anybody. They belong to everybody. Share them. Become connected to them.
The song might be the same, but the meaning is something that can, and often will, change. As you grow older you find this happening more often as life is put into a different perspective. It's not a bad thing. It's just how it is. It's just how things go for somebody who holds music as close to them as they hold people. The two are bound to intertwine. Embrace it. Don't avoid it.
But who are we kidding? It's not the songs that they're upset about. It's the moving on. It's the being replaced. It's that feeling of inadequacy you get when somebody you care about does the smallest thing to indicate that somebody else just might be better than you. Maybe they are. Perhaps it's one of those, "live and learn," "better to have loved and lost," "growing pains" sort of things. Maybe it isn't.
And the best part?
Is when it's you.
When you're the one sitting in the dark. Spinning the same sad songs over and over, one after the other. After she leaves you. After that "one time with that one guy." After the "there's something I need to talk to you about" conversation that hits you in the fucking gut like nothing else can and nothing else ever will. Yeah, you know what I mean.
They're not so jealous of those songs then.
Simple words connecting thought
Just pieces of the background until they're gone
I was only there to sing your song
What were you protecting yourself from?
Well guys, here we are. I've been been teasing "big news" for a while now, and it is finally time to let the proverbial cat out of the proverbial bag. It's not just one grand announcement of awesomeness, but also a series of other bits of news and updates as well. Ready?
After all the time I have spent over the past seven years on Absolutepunk, I have come to know many incredible people, and I have had opportunities and experiences that would have never been possible without such an amazing community. While the industry and state of music in general may always be changing (and not always for the better), Absolutepunk is pretty much the best representation of whatever the "scene" still is today, and without that outlet, things would not be the same for many, many bands, and many, many individuals. Myself included.
Not long ago I decided it was time to do something else. Something more. Yeah, I realize I get a lot of attention on AP. But that's not what this is about. This is about doing something more than sitting around and simply talking about music. Something bigger than the individual. A reputation. This is about giving back what I can to the people and the community who have given me so much, for so long. This is the least I can do.
That being said, here's the big news: I've started a record label. You can check it out at American Dream Records
Things came together not even two months ago, and working with another AP member (Ryan from the band Augustine, you'll get to know him eventually) we progressed from what began as a post on the message board to a legitimate record label already working with several bands. Currently, we are focusing on vinyl releases for bands, both active and no longer with us, that for whatever reason were unable to give their records the treatment they, and many fans, felt they deserved. While the vinyl format has been making a comeback as they say, I feel that many are still intimidated and confused by the concept of owning records. In a world of digital everything and instant gratification, that is understandable to a point, but we will be doing whatever we can to help change that.
As you have seen if you clicked the link to our site, our first release is with The Graduate. It has been a pleasure working with them, both from a personal and professional standpoint. We are proud to bring you the exclusive release of their new album, Only Every Time. The record is gorgeous, both musically and visually. There's a bonus track included as well, and I have to say it's just as good as the rest of the album and the b-sides they recently put out. The band has been awesome to work with, and we couldn't have asked for a better record to have as our first recently. As a little bonus, if you grab two different colors, you get entered to win one of the test pressings, which are extremely rare. If you buy all three colors, you'll get two entries. We're already at work putting things together for the release of Anhedonia. The Graduate are heading out on tour this week with The Dangerous Summer (who have an acoustic album coming out in a couple days that I strongly recommend), Sparks The Rescue, and The Scenic. I highly encourage you to check out this tour, and the band will be selling the record at shows along with all their other merch.
We are also proud to announce we will be releasing The Agreement by Lakes. We will have a pre-order on the site as soon as the artwork is finalized. I'd also like to announce that the band will be releasing an EP in the very near future, followed by their next full length. If you were ever a fan of Watashi Wa and wondered where they went, Lakes is the answer you've been looking for. We're excited to work with them on The Agreement, as well as some other projects which we'll keep under wraps for now.
Last but not least, and I don't mean to be too much of a tease...just kidding, I really do...There's something else amazing that I'm waiting a bit longer to announce, but it's something that a lot of you are going to love and we absolutely cannot wait to bring you the final product(s). It involves a band/artist that's been around for a good amount of time, so we are very much looking forward to bringing you something we feel is long, long overdue. We'll let you know soon enough.
I want to thank everyone who has helped make this happen. I also want to thank everyone who kept this very secret up until now. It has been an amazing and exciting experience, and the support and interest we have already received even without anyone really knowing this was happening has been astounding. There are so many other things already in the works, we are amazed and we are thankful. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. If you're a band and you think we can help you out, let us know!
She asks me about some past relationships. Short answers. I try not to think of these things. They've been etched deep, but for the most part I'm consciously able to avoid recollections of past affairs. It's usually a nightmare, a smell, a place, a song, a book that triggers something subconsciously. Other times it's just words that might have been said by another person at another time. I'm thrown into a flashback. I get the sinking feeling in my stomach and the ice in my veins even if there's no reason to feel so. Perhaps some things are just ingrained in you too deep to ever really forget. When do you know when you're really over it? Maybe there really is no Eternal Sunshine. Maybe you don't get over it. Maybe you can't. Maybe you're not supposed to.
And she tells me she's not happy, and she tells me why. I think to myself, this could be worse. This has been worse. This is worse. It might not be good for her, but maybe she doesn't know what the opposite end of the spectrum is like. She could be taking things for granted. Everyone does. You get used to it. It becomes routine. You settle for things you shouldn't and you don't thing about the big picture. The long term. If you complain about not being happy, but aren't taking all the steps you could to actually obtain that happiness, then what are you doing at all? You're only wasting your own time. Just stop. It's not easy and it's not supposed to be. But do something. Otherwise just let go.
You might feel like history is doomed to repeat itself. You'll never get what you want. You never have, you never will. Maybe what you wanted wasn't what you needed. Just because it didn't work out before doesn't mean it won't work out this time. Or the next time. Or the next. The sun used to be the center of the universe, you know. Ask Nicolaus how that turned out.
Eventually you get to a point where you have to focus on yourself and new opportunities. New faces. New places. Living in a world of "what could have been's" and "maybe this time around's" gets you nowhere. You've got your whole life and it could end tomorrow. Stop wasting it. I'd prefer to focus on myself than deal with the problems created by other people.
If you are living scared, then you are not really living. Trust me on this one.
And she asks why I don't write anymore and everyone asks why I don't write anymore. And I say I won't write about not being able to write, and I won't, because that's redundant and useless. It's pathetic. It's self serving and it's self destructive. She asks why it's been so long. What's changed? Everything has changed. What hasn't changed? You know why I haven't written? I haven't felt it. It hasn't been there. I haven't felt that fire, that burn, that need to get it all out into word for people to say Oh he's such a great writer and for the people to say Oh he's the cause of all his own problems and he should shut up and do something with his life. For all I know both crowds are completely right and completely wrong.
I tell her that it hasn't been there lately, at least not like it was. Maybe she understands, maybe she doesn't. Then I tell her, it hasn't been there lately, but it's still there, somewhere. Wherever it hides, takes time off.
It doesn't ever really go away. And I'm sorry, but you either have it or you don't. There might be phases of how much or when, but it's still there. You don't lose it. You might lose your mind. You might lose your friends. Some money. A girl. It'll find you again. If you're one of the blessed, the cursed, the chosen, the fortunate, or the unfortunate that have this in whatever sense of having it you may, it is up to you to figure out what to do with it before it is just too fucking late. You missed your chance kid. You blew it.
"there are worse things than
but it often takes decades
to realize this
and most often
when you do
it's too late
and there's nothing worse
You don't lose the fire. You burn out before it does. The fire does what it always has. Grows, inspires, amazes, consumes.
I feel as if each time I write a blog these days (weeks, months), I should put a disclaimer that it very well could be my last entry on the site. Burn out or fade away. I do not write like I used to, and I do not know why. I have the time, I should have the energy, but something is off. That urge of necessity to get the words out does not appear as often as it used to. Maybe I've grown up, maybe I've learned. Maybe I've begun to accept things which I previously could not. Maybe I have the people I need. A lot of people want a lot of things, but in all honesty, it doesn't matter what they want. It matters how things are. The world does not run on good intentions. It is doubtful there would be enough to run the whole thing if this was the case, regardless.
Charles, you see, people like him are somewhat of a rarity these days. Too few, I would say. Not enough, unfortunately. Not too many, thankfully. There are people who understand, who you do not have to say much of anything to, or even anything at all sometimes, and they are okay with that. They are not happy, they are not particularly sad. They just are. They know what it is like to really feel, and what it is like to feel alone. These emotions, memories, and sensations, no matter how terrible it all becomes, these people just keep going. It takes a special kind of strength and a certain sort of intuition to balance out these feelings, emotions, whatever you might call them. The human brain, as wonderful of a creation as it is, can become so filled with such sadness and evil and darkness and loneliness that you can't even remember what it was like to be okay. That yellow bird? You won't find it. That spark? You won't feel it. You have nothing to lose but yourself, whatever dignity you've accumulated, your mind, and your reputation if you believe in those things. So really, what do you have to lose? How about what you have to gain? The easy way out is rarely the best way of managing the situation at hand.
But how can you know what is best? You can't, not right away at least, and possibly never. Maybe we weren't meant to. You can't appreciate the good in people and the beauty in life until you've truly been on the opposite end of the spectrum. Until you've experienced how vile people can be and how hopeless you can feel, you just don't have the capacity. Don't talk to me about love or loss or sadness or what you wish would happen.
Tell me what you're fucking doing to make things better. Tell me what you're actually going to change.
People are not good to each other.
Perhaps if they were, the nights would not be so dark. The sheets wouldn't feel as uninviting. Perhaps that aching feeling which you can never quite tell if it is your gut or if it is your heart would not linger like it does, even after you assure yourself that you have done all there is to do. Maybe you have. Maybe you're fucked.
You may reach a point where you are more concerned with the happiness and well being of somebody else more so than yourself. Maybe that's okay. Maybe that's what love really is. If after so long, you feel like a lost cause, or you feel that it's just not going to work out the way you had planned, then maybe taking what time and energy and focus you do have and investing that in somebody else is the right thing to do.
At times, the only things I miss are the frozen air of the final, drawn out evenings of late 2004, the few people I spent those days with, and the feeling that even though we hadn't a fucking clue about where we were going, it was all going to be okay no matter what. I am unsure of when that soul crushing epiphany occurred, and while I could perhaps look back and figure out when it took place, it changes nothing. Maybe it was one of those "gradually, then suddenly" affairs. For the most part, the past is best left buried in archaic journal entries, decaying small town landmarks, and whatever part of my mind where memories, ideas, and people go when they are no longer of use to me. I wonder if everyone really is replaceable, or if every now and again someone comes along that has something you will never find anywhere else, and if you fuck it up, you'll never forget it. You either never know the answer to questions like these, or you know them after it is far too late. Great White Buffalo. You know how it is.
Keep going. Hope and faith are not bad things, nor are they useless things. But they need something to support them. A foundation.