are my paint
limits of reality change
with each
you move me
like a song
i open my mouth
not decide
where my voice begins
and when yours ends, or
when the silence

Words by Lucinda Williams

Another song that’s on my mp3 player at the moment, “Words” by the poetic and beautiful Lucinda Williams.

I would rather suffer in sweet silent solitude
Deathly defiant from drowning out
Filthy sounds stumbling ugly and crude
Between the lips of your beautiful mouth

Deep down within me words move in phrases
Frozen and still ’til they decide
To melt and drip over the pagers
Until that moment they live inside

My words enjoy the feel of the paper
Better than mingling with your consonants
Once they get going they never waver
And they slip in between your if, ands, and buts

When my words are hiding between the lines
Then I’m afraid they won’t hear me call
What if they fail me without a sign
What if they hardly surface at all

Screaming and throwing your weight around
My words choose knowledge over politics
You can’t kill my words, they know no bounds
My words are strong and they don’t make me sick

They still remain my only companion
Loyal and true to the very end
They’ll never ever completely abandon
Ever give up the paper and the pen

Window Seat: Groupthink

Ever since I got up this morning, I’ve had a song stuck in my head but I couldn’t quite tell which one it was. There was just this meandering voice and hypnotic beat waltzing from ear to ear. Then I realized which song it was: Window Seat by Erykah Badu. Until I looked up the song on Youtube, I didn’t even know it was Eryka Badu who sang it. Lately I’ve been listening to a CD my dad burned and stuck in the car with various artists on it.. Needless to say, “Track 17” (or, what I now know is “Window Seat”) has been the popular track in my tape/CD deck.

I first stumbled onto Badu’s Window Seat from this post by Jay Smooth. I know the video and post have been out for a year already, but I don’t think the message of either really got to me until today: “look how far we’ve come, look how far we’ve got to go.” The world we live in (patriarchal, racist, ableist, classist…) survives by a machine that squashes differences and the drive to connect with one another. When we’re old enough to want to ‘fit in’ then we learn fast that we already fit nicely into the categories of “straight” or “brown” or “woman” or “other,” and there’s no easy way out… These mechanisms of oppression prevent us (because both privileged and oppressed ‘us’ are held back) from entering a world without hate. Groupthink and oppressive cultures posit us against each other.

So with this social consciousness in mind, I commend the bravery, passion, apprehension, fear, courage, and dedication that Ms. Badu employed to make her music video for “Window Seat.” Imagine: you’re a completely nude black woman walking downtown in Dallas, TX. If we are post-racist, then why is that such a scary thing to do?

Take a look at the video then check out Jay’s post. I’d like to hear what you think.

Erykah Badu – Window Seat

Jay Smooth’s post:

My taste in music: Medium Raw

I’ve just finished Anthony Bourdain’s latest book, Medium Raw. Strangely, instead of hitting a Food Network marathon or going to the kitchen to experiment with something tasty, I’m thinking about music.

You see, the literary arts are very similar to music; they require balance of contradictions and a disciplined mind to focus otherwise ephemeral, nonsensical notes into melodies. Within the fretboard of a guitar alone there are about 132 or 138 possible notes, but it is the creative genius of Stevie Ray Vaughn or Albert King (or for pure pleasure, both) that pulls, from the fathomless combinations, beautiful blues riffs and cascading cadences which slip into the back of the mind, eyes closed. I don’t compare Bourdain’s content to that of a guitar demigods, but I generally share the tastes of his age and rebellion – and his passionate love for sentimental things.

Unlike many of my peers, my taste in music is not something off the “Top 40” list. Any “pop” streamed songs found on the airwaves or in suburban hard drives does not usually make it’s way to my ears on conscious command. Usually I come along “mainstream” music by way of reverse engineering: a friend plays the song that presumably everyone knows and of which is a new discovery to me.

Instead, I can be found with an iPod full (it’s only 1 gigabyte) of songs I listen to for five years at a time. I like to explore albums already made and written about. Like a miner I search for gold – but through the dust. Sure, there is a pleasure that comes with wearing the most fashionable clothes, but I am a stubborn believer in the satisfaction behind dirty pants and a hard day’s work. I think that’s what I share in common with Bourdain: an appreciation for the real. My peers would accuse me of being boring.

So while I’m looking for a new book to put before my eyes, you can find me jamming to the tunes of Ray LaMontagne, Norah Jones, Rachael Yamagata, John Mayer, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Hendrix, Albert King, Neil Young, Weezer, Lauryn Hill, Dylan, Jann Arden, MacLauchlan, Priscilla Ahn, Clara C, Lucinda Williams, Michael Jackson, and the Mountain Goats. To name a few.

Innter turmoil and the struggles of mind

An open mic night at Gallagher's Cafe in Port Moody, BC

Maybe it’s my own hang-up, but I haven’t played a live show for half a year. The buzzing world of a musician appears to constantly take the form of a life forever on the go. And maybe that scares me.

There’s a critic with my voice that lives in my head and he constantly reminds me how doubtful he is that I can make a career out of this thing called music. He lobbies evidence that my best moments are always in my bedroom, unrecorded and raw. And when I sit down to put pen to paper and write lines to a song, he so sourly grins as I forget just what I sang.

This world craves the musician who can stand boldly and authentically, delivering the gratification to those in sorrow. Or maybe it’s all in my head. But when I think about it on a day like today, the time away from the stage just seems to grow. A passion for playing music and singing from my heart seems to be overshadowed by the upkeep of daily practice. A fire that once sustained me, at times, now has me working to sustain it.

My vision of a “successful” artist is so warped. I sit down with a feeling that I want to translate into chords and then suddenly I’m contemplating having to deal with fame. No one who understands fame wishes it upon themself. And so I put my future on hold for another ten minutes, distracting myself with video games.

Inner turmoil has a funny way of manifesting. A loss of focus, absenteeism, an out-of-character outburst…all of these are simply cries for help. And I’m not really that twisted inside. I can sit in one spot and meditate; I come to class; I don’t even punch my pillow anymore. But sometimes, especially in winter, there is this apathy that I like to imagine is death’s silent hand in the balance of life. A moment of freefall over the crest of a hill in a car, about to hit ground. An animal at its end, accepts fate’s nudge.

There is a wish I have, to rise from my shell and slip away from my crumpled body; fly into the dark wintry night. Free from the burdens of flesh, the necessities and troubles of life. And into the cold, sit forever in the snow counting the stars.