I'm only trying to begin,
don't turn out the light
The pulsing bass, the double-stopped ringing of lead guitar-its all about that open-E- the angular spastic rhythm, the whirling organ, all build Don't Turn Out The Lights to a state of innate eeriness. Something that reminded me of a horror movie. The music pulses in the anxiety. This song was another written in the studio. I wrote the chorus with Jaime literally minutes before we made the final take, and it was the sound, the atmosphere, that fed the lyrics, usually I work with lyrics first but it's fun to change things up.
When I work that fast, there is a certain level of worry because the song doesn't have a chance to marinate, to grow into itself, the way Shake Ya had for instance, but the anxiety, the pressure can also be fuel. I try to remind myself that there never is a right or wrong action, only actions taken and actions lost.
It took me a long time to figure out I am not the world's protagonist, and a little longer to learn to be OK with that. It is more fun to be a supporting cast anyway, a character of uncertainty than the flat-stock hero. It's possible that I can have moments where I feel like I'm the lead, but that can all change in the turn of the page. More often I feel like I am one of the faceless mob, a person perhaps lost in the first moments of a narrative, or a seemingly unnecessary hanger-on. But even they are able to drastically change the course of the story at the last second, if I move at the right moment.
Every character's resolution is often determined by the simplest of choices. That is what I was thinking of when I wrote the words to the chorus. Imagine all the times in a horror film when we yell at the screen not to do something that seems so insignificant, Don't Go In There! Turn Around! Look Out! In that simple choice, comes the finality or extension of their existence. I'm sure you've either been the person yelling or heard someone do this. I find myself yelling from inside, Don't do it! every time I'm about to be reckless, but the voice isn't always right and my audience-mind doesn't always have the best answer.
Guessing is the great fun of the game. Maybe walking into the dark alley is certain death, or maybe it is the safest place to be. Only the next scene will tell, but people love to pretend to know. So now looking back at the song, and where my life was when I wrote it. I think I was telling myself something. Sending a message from the audience, giving myself an answer. Sorry to be vague, but only vague prophecies are worth a damn. And the message?
what am I telling you...
What I was telling you... the questions, knowing the details, descriptions, scrutinizing all the adjectives, can make us feel secure but they don't actually help the situation, and only help to heighten the stress. We progress in verbs. Doing/not doing. Choices. I am always a fan of the compassionate choice, ones that puts life ahead of everything else, but Don't Turn Out The Light isn't about which particular choice to make, only about the need to make a choice. Not wanting to feel stuck in the details of a story, in the dead space. Repeating passages of my life over and over, and never finding a way to move along the arc, never committing to a choice: Don't Turn Out The Light.
So what decision to make? I guess I'm a hippie, in that I like to feel my way through life. It is only when I look away, when I leave life unattended, that it seems to really get going. When I'm vigilant, trying to force things to happen, I only get myself further stuck. Like a quicksand pit, life fights back, trapping me, reminding me no matter how strong I think I am, control is not for those who try to win it by strength and reason alone.
at the end
a brass nob
dulled by decades of turning
waiting to be touched
wanting to be still
*image from: http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lkfizfM5hd1qh2z2xo1_400.jpg