Apr 17, 2013

Younger Days, Surfaced Trapped

In my younger days
I just don't know now
what I might learn later
that's what they say anyhow
I got tired of walking
before the race even begun
I'd be moving up the ladder
but I fell off the bottom rung


I have started cleaning a pool recently, skimming the surface from leaves, little clusters of Oak pollen, and a variety of bugs that find themselves surface trapped... I can never tell if they want to be there or not but I remove them anyway. I have found a lot of metaphors can be drawn from this. The task gives me a lot of time to think about nothing.  One that comes to mind with Younger Days is the persistence of trying to perfect the imperfect, this is sometimes called art.

Constantly, vigilantly, removing mistakes however impossible it is for any thing to be completely perfected, or if you managed to get the pool clean, it only lasts until the next breeze shakes the trees again. And one, of numerous, imperfections that appear in all creative writing is the cliche.

We all know to avoid cliches, but sometimes it is hard to tell what is cliche, what is derivative, and what is re-imagined. It is no secret artists use other works as inspiration, sometimes drawing directly from those sources. In literature this is called Allusion when done well, and Plagiarism/Stealing when not, the difference occurs when the source and the new material created appears as new and exciting. If the artists takes from general convention and uses common source material, we can further degrade it by calling the work cliche. Though it is interesting that what was once new and inspired can become cliche through cultural overuse. Even to the point that the distinction becomes less about the work itself and more about what seems trendy. Some of the biggest cliches we have are overused because they are so understandable. They say exactly what we mean and the metaphor works well so it is repeated naturally. Granted they aren't very creative to use, but they can be effective. There are too many examples in pop music to even begin to cite.




Anyway, for the most part it was drilled into my head to scan my writing for cliches and try to think of new or different ways of saying what I wanted to say. By the way I don't think my writing is free from cliches. One way I try to do this is by trying to write cliches in new contexts. Younger Days was written like this. I was thinking of the line from Willie Dixon:

                           In my younger days, I wish I knew then what I know now.

But that whole subject is cliche. There are so many songs that use every part of that phrase so I didn't want to simply write another song about that. I am also certain Willie Dixon, or whomever wrote the line, got the idea from somewhere else. It is a common enough phrase. Plus I am not that old so there is no need for me to worry about the past so much. What I liked was the idea of writing from now. These are my younger days.


Thought of just working
get myself a job
maybe I'd get myself together
a little more than what I got
I tried standing
couldn't even get up on my feet
some say I'm fit for losing
but I, I just really like my seat

I hadn't written the song with that beat, Jaime had evolved it through playing as a group. It is a really fun song to groove to. A machine of rhythm. Every part dances with each other. It might be hard to hear but the piano is the heart of the beat. I like the progression deviating from I/IV/V at the end of each phrase. I don't think Dixon did it like that. And the bass tone is awesome thumpy on record. Sounds like a razor live. One of the songs that really pushed my experimenting with bass fuzz.

So back to the pool and writing. It's not so important to have the pool perfectly clean, or my writing impeccable, but only clean enough to enjoy a swim without dirt interfering with the experience. No one wants to swim in a cluttered unkempt pool, but a leaf or two won't stop anyone either. At some point I need to put down the skimmer and jump in, let things happen. There is always something to pick apart. Always a phrase to revise. It's hard to listen back and not think, if I had only changed this...I would love to clean up that bit. I'd rather enjoy the result, imperfections and all.

Maybe someone out there has perfect diction, perfect phrasing, and never has to worry, but I haven't seen it yet. Everyone has mistakes, cliches, and other solecisms fluttering in, either on the surface or hidden underneath, making it easier to be less self-conscious about my own writing.


It is no use,
mama the days are ending faster
than I can keep with.
I have no one to blame
kind as she is
taking flowers from the hillside,
giving ground in tangles of auburn roots.
she almost kills me
with understanding


-rene