Can Music Be Happy and Good?

I started writing a piece about optimism and pessimism the other day, and it got me asking whether or not I even have happy music in my 36-day-long collection of songs.

Knowing that I could never go through all 36 days worth of music, I pulled a few that may or may not be happy.

Dresden Dolls — Good Day
I know it seems like I picked this song based on name alone. It took me a couple of listens to figure out whether or not it is actually happy, however. I kind of feel that it is more cynical than not happy? If that makes sense? It is basically an anthem about how strong someone is in the face of a brutal breakup that would potentially render someone uncontrollably depressed. So, a final verdict? If we are going on the A) B) options I have given myself, I would have to say happy.

Deftones — Teenager
Very symbolic, and alludes to tragedy instead of happiness. It is a song that seems to be about moving past pain and abandonment. To say that it’s pessimistic is undermining potential readings of what the poetry of this piece could be.

Deer & the Headlights — Sweet Talk
I fucking love this song. Not happy at all, and does not even pretend to be. Musically, it could be argued that it sounds “boppy” and aloof. The heartwrenching lyrics are about seeing an ex with a new lover for the first time since you separated. Juvenile? Very much, but a very relatable situation for most of us. What holds this song apart from most in the pessimism group is that it doesn’t really give the listener any sort of reprise, or even an alternate way of looking at the situation. Can I call it happy? Hell no.

Cursive — From The Hips
The most cynical song I think I have come across in my life. It is trying to make an argument that the pinnacle of human interaction is sex. The singer alludes to the idea that sex is the only time we are all truly honest and without alternative motives.

Braid — Do You Like Coffee?
I may be biased by my love for the black substance that is the subject of this song, but I would confidently put this in “optimism” pool. The song tells a tale about seeing someone for the first time in a long time. It could been seen as bitter-sweet, but still optimistic.

Livestalk & the Bodies — Pourvous
I actually forgot about this one until I asked a friend of mine about what they would recommend. I’ll probably get to their suggestion, but I want to point out the irony that one of, if not my absolute favourite song that I played on is incredibly happy-bordering-on-cute. (Don’t tell Kevo I called it cute). A song of love, confessing all manners of appreciation for all parts of the narrator’s partener. Plus, this song has the most amazing piano line written and did I mention that I love it and I played on it and I didn’t write the drum line but I wish I did am I rambling without punctuation I am so sorry.

Broken Bells — The High Road
As a fan of the bands The Shins, of course I came across this gem. The best parts of Danger Mouse cira 2010, and released just before Modern Guilt by Beck, this album combines and jangly guitar that The Shins were known for, and the trip-hop grooves that Danger Mouse produces so well. The name, and parts of the lyrics, lead one to believe that it is going to be a happy song. When you really listen to it, however, you notice that it is about someone burning out after living a great life. So, as most of the other songs on this list: cynical, at best.

The Fratellis — Flathead
EVERYBODY DANCE! FEEL HOW GREAT THE GROOVE IS! BEAT THE PISS OUT OF EVERYONE!
*ahem* This song is great. I will never get a bigger smile on my face than when I’m analyzing this one, but it hides a dark secret behind the bombastic chorus’ and bigger-than-life transitions. It’s alluding to the idea that people are two-faced at best, and horribly spoken about at worst.

The Junction — Untitled (Revised)
This song is not a great example of the album, but it remains one of my favourite pop songs of all time. I have a very hard time deciphering lyrics at the best of times, and this song is a whearwind of metaphors and complicated prose. I THINK that it’s happier than most, even though if fits very nicely in a dark sounding chasm.

The Tokyo Police Club — Bambi
This song is a coating of blunt opinions and a harsh tone over joyous celebration of youth. Maybe I am biased because of the fantastic keyboards coupled with how happy the keyboard player looked while they performed this one day, but I will forever see this as an optimistic song.

WHAT IS MY CONCLUSION? Happy lyrics are possible. Non-cynical lyrics are possible. Music is an expression of the musician’s soul, and it is easier to dwell on the horrible rather than the best of times. Hell, that Livestalk & the Bodies song is the only one out of the full album of fifteen that might be mostly unhappy.

Now, all of this conjecture is just that. I admit that I am horrible with figuring out lyrics meaning on the best of days. There are probably of happy songs. Hell, I didn’t touch ELO’s Mr. Blue Sky, Of Montreal’s entire catalogue, or C + C by Tom Vek.

The Remains {ANEWSIN 15 — JASON GARDEN}

The preceding story was written a few months ago with no plans for release. I have a different story that I am working on, and I really want to release something, so I hope this works!

The buildings were all dilapidated. The windows were broken, and the walls of the buildings were plush with the road. Frames stood proud where doors once shielded the inside from the unknown, and stood empty adorned with a hue of lapis lazuli blue.

The sky was red, like fire, but the air was cold. The wind was terrible, and cut through any attempts to guard against them was ill conceived and fruitless. Only the statues of old dared to weather out the impending storms of photons being released by an unrelenting sun.

There were no living things here.

My journey was to find you. Other things in my life may have been more pressing: more important. This need for your embrace was too overwhelming. It drove me to ignore my feelings of discomfort and allowed me to carry through this mission that, at the time, I believed to be of great importance.

Daunted by the silence, I picked up a stone. My intention was to throw it, but at that moment I was enamoured by its symmetry. It lay perfectly in my hand, ignorant of its intended fate. Who knew the reason that it was where I found it. Its story will be forever hidden from me, but I knew that this is how life had to be.

Life can be just as mysterious as the history of that rock. We jump through hoops, do things we know are fruitless and dumb, yet we end up where we have to regardless of what brought us to that point. No matter what forces we explore, and what life choices we make, events out of our control will stifle any attempts to lead a perfectly happy life. A life that we deem perfect in every way. This stone reminded me all of that. This stone, in that moment, reminded me just how chaotic everything was.

Against my better judgment, I threw the stone. I had to: I was starting to get too far into thoughts of existence. I was beginning to be consumed with expressions of impossibilities far too great to fathom. I was starting to loose any ability to maintain composure in the face of the world that I found myself engaged in. I started to notice the debris that build up at the sides of paths, and the concrete golems that line the path I was standing on.

I fall to my knees, face pointed towards the red sky. Tears flowed from my eyes as I relive all of the hate, the torment, that I had confronted over the last decade.

I had hurt so many people; either out of necessity, or greed. Never malicious, but always knowing what the outcome would be.

I had failed so many times. Some of the trials were failed out of flawed execution. Some of the attempts failed due to self-sabotage. All of them: premature.

I rose to my feet. I had to do this; I had to finish this journey. Even if it meant the end of everything, I had to find you. You deserved that, and I was the one who had to give you the reprise. You deserved the reprise, if not the world.

Is it possible that I hold you in too high regard? Have I blinded myself to your flaws and created an impossible manifestation in my mind of who you are? If that is indeed the case, will I flee as soon as you fail to live up to the incredible depiction that I have in my mind? Or, will I just blame you implicitly for all of the ways that you will fail me?

Is it possible that I am overthinking all of this?

I realize that I have stood in place now for almost five minutes. I chuckle to myself as I start to move forward. I must have looked completely broken to an outside observer. Glassy eyes, pursed lips, contemplating everything and nothing at the same time.

As I take my stride into the corrupted village, I find my mind wandering to places to distract myself from the wreckage around me.

I fixate on the eventuality and inevitably to death. A nice simple topic to dwell on. I call it that with no intent of sarcasm. People tend to dwell on the topic of what happens after. They create the grand fixations with ideas of eternal life, reincarnation, and a utopia where the good can live out a reality of there choosing. I choose to focus on the only provable direction: when we die, we die.

It is not that I have issue with every other decision to entertain the ideas that there is a greater purpose. I am envious, in fact. Call me someone with no faith or imagination, but I cannot begin to structure my life with the assumption that there may be a payoff in the end.

From everything I can see, this is it.

And, to that end, I choose to live my life as well as I can. I choose to be happier now than live as if everything I do will benefit me later. If I am miserable now, what is to matter if I live a better life later? What is even the point in self-improvement if I am not to enjoy whatever I achieve?

The streets are still quiet. Never have I dwelt on the idea that I could miss the sounds of birds, or even wind. Until you find yourself in isolation, those things are a kind of white-noise: an assumption that they will always be there. Some might even find them to be intrusive.

When they are absent, you truly notice how bleak reality can be. Paranoia sets in as every step one takes creates echos that seem to increase in volume. I keep looking over my shoulder just to make sure that I am just as alone as I thought I was just a moment ago.

This journey would be so much better if I was not alone. It has been days since I last spoke, let alone spoke to another living being. Every now and then, I will talk to a tree or a rock. I do this to make sure that I can actually still speak. It doubles as a reminder that the world still knows that I am here, as well. 

Patreon Update

I cleaned up the Patreon (clink that link to consider helping out) site as much as I could. No new categories were added, but I removed the redundant ones.

Keep in mind: you still get a place in the “Thank You” section of the end of my book for continued support. I am not going to say when the new book will be done, but I have given the three chapters to a couple of friends of mine for opinions. They see where I am going with it, and are rather excited to see where it goes*.

*Their words, not mine.

A New Branch of Government

Maybe I just missed it in my research, but I want to start a section of municiple government that looks into local bylaws regarding disability.

What would that cover? Things like industry complying with laws that govern accessibility. Resource management for individules. Set up and manage wheelchair transportation.

Yes: I know this would govern a small population in any city.
Yes: I realize that a good portion of what I am proposing should be set up by private companies and it DOESN’T exist right now because the demand is so low.

The idea that this branch doesn’t even exist*, again, upsets me very much. I am more than willing to take up the mantle if no one else is. In the case where it does exist: please give me the information for me to, at least, check in: to see if there is anything I can do. I have mentioned in this blog before, but I want to be a contact for people. I have little to offer, in the way of legal connections. Sometimes, all you need is a helping hand. I feel as if the connections I DO have are very solid, and a few are mildly ignored.

If I had unlimited money, and political power, I would create accessible housing options. As it stands, there is very little in this region. Actually, there seems to be very little in most, if not all, regions. My wife and I have been looking and, unless we want to go back into an apartment (which we don’t), there is always at least 2 reasons not to keep looking. It’s disheartening. It’s depressing.

I want to take action assuming that I will not be in the chair forever. This has become more of a passion thing, for me, and if I see no return (but break even) I’ll still feel like I had a minor win.

Independent Book Sales

I have not talked much about my book in a while.

I assume that, if you are interested, you have already picked up a copy. After a conversation with a friend of mine on Twitter, I realized that I should really stop thinking that way.

So, I re-edited and re released my book back in March. I expanded it with several short stories, and moved it from 73 pages to 195 pages.

On the physical copies, I have made the cover art black with white writing, but the opposite is still true for the digital.

I have been pushing towards buying from Friessen Press for two reason: They pressed the book, so they are going to have the proper copy. AND I try to damndest to support private and independently run storefronts, whether digital or physical.

NOW, FOR SOMETHING MORE DOWER.

I know I expel the great parts about being independent often, but the bad parts are starting to become to big to handle.

Since the initial release of You’re Not Dead back in 2016, I have made a total of 832.89 in total sales. For one month, that would be decent, but we’re talking a period of over 4 years. Considering by outgoing was 4878.93, I have not even made a full quarter of my outgoing back. To top everything off, that payout doesn’t include things like web hosting, facebook ads, or physical copies to be reviewed on the international stage. The real number is closer to 6000.

Anyway, the point of this post is to ask that you at least consider looking over my book. There is a review posted on the linked page, and you all have a feeling for my writing style by now.

Morning Person/Night Owl

I will start this post by exclaiming that all of this will be conjecture and observation. More of an expression of my own experience than fact, so take my words as “fun” rather than actual truth.

I have noticed a discrepancy in the labels of “morning person” and “night owl”. In western society, anyway, we toss those terms around to describe either someone who is good in the morning, or seems to perk up as the day continues. I wonder, however: can you be both?

I am rarely in bed before midnight, and I am usually up around eight in the morning. I usually get the mandatory eight hours of sleep, and I don’t have a nap most days. I am able to stay up later if I am stimulated, so I often get the label of “night owl”. This ignores the fact that I am most productive in the morning, where my evenings are reserved for entertainment and waffling. One could say that I am a “morning person” most days. From simple description, I fall into both categories.

While dwelling on this fact today, I got analyzing categories, in general. Whether they be to define sexuality, or personality types like into- or extrovert.

Society, as a whole, seems determined to place everyone into boxes. I am not immune to this, but I do not use them to judge people. Some people seem to wear them as a badge of sorts: proudly declaring to the world which camp they belong to.

Some things, I do understand. Race, sexuality, gender, disability… these are all things that are discriminated against and identifying as one is not a choice. Taking a stand with a label like this is announcing a kind of political stand in regard to the discrimination faced by these minorities. I do honestly wonder if people who do not belong to one of these categories are jealous in a way. They, therefore, attach themselves to ideas and regiments that are supposed to benefit, for example, introverts.

The other way I have been contemplating is that this is a way to employ people. If you work in a high-interactive environment where your employees are talking to potential customers all day, it is easier to ask if someone is an extrovert as opposed to running down a list of questions to figure out if they would be a decent fit. That, however, doesn’t explain the rampant obsession that goes along with these, seemingly arbitrary, labels.

Like stated in the first line, this was a concept, and far from scientifically backed. If you have insight, leave it in the comments below or on my FaceBook page. I will respond to every one of them, even if they are unrelated and talking about pants.

Classic Album Review :: Bran Van 3000 — Glee

This is an example of one of those albums that I honestly can’t help myself but to recommend. I never feel like I sell it very well, and I feel incredibly upset that it has seems to have been forgotten.

Then again, it is a Canadian hip-hop/alternative album. Yes, there are examples of things thriving in that catagory, but for every success there are hundreds of flash-in-the-pan albums. Unfortunatly, this is a latter. It’s unfortunate, simply for the fact that there are so few albums that explore the corners of musical expression that this album ventures into.

As previously mentioned, this album could be placed comfortably into the hip-hop genre. That does not define it, however. Yes, they use samples and turntables for a large percent of the music, but where they explore other instruments is where they differ themselves. The single (placed below because it’s amazing) toys with an expression of someone who is strung out. The entire album feels like it was made by that group of stoners that you saw in high school. Harmless, brazen, and always saying or doing something interesting.

This is one example of why I have a hard time vocalizing why you need to listen to this album. On paper, it sounds like like drivel. Or, at least, mildly annoying. The fact is that this album has so many ideas. Everything from electonica to folk, dance to metal, and it works as a gateway into a world of unliited possibilities. This album is a gateway into everything this band has in the long term, and things only get better and weirder.

That’s right, I’m recommending an album to recommend another album!

Discossis is the next album they put out. It’s somehow more chaotic yet more intentional. I digress: listen to Glee. If you like it, pick up Discosis. Thank me later.

It’s probably bad form to include a song from a different album, but I need to share this. Second part, in particular.

What is your normal?

The title of this alludes to what I want to discus today.

We speak of normal as if there is a ridged and long lasting definition for what it is. If we went by the first time I heard it in relation to someone’s life, it would include accepting the Gulf War and Bill Clinton is the president of the USA. Human rights were discussed but not universally implemented, smoking was far from being ban in most countries, and grade 13 still existed in Canada.

Social changes are inevitable, so what does it mean to lead a “normal” existence? It could be argued that the nuclear family, a steady paying job, and aspirations that are achievable are normal. Ironically, that cuts a huge swath of the population out of the definition. I mean, by definition, single children families, single parents, and the disabled would all be cut from the definition. Collectively, they make up a greater majority than the sample size. Would they no longer define normal?

This is why I choose to define normal for myself, in that I just define it as being comfortable in life.

Now, where this gets tricky is when people decide to compare and contrast. All because I cannot walk does not mean that I cannot have a normal day by my standards. This leaves me to wonder by what metric people are gading “normal” when it does not exist?

There are plenty of studies showing how 99% of the wealth is held by 1% of people (cite). Their lives are the ones portrayed in movies and TV shows, so are they the definition of normal? If majority reigns, normal should be living in destitute conditions under a communist regime. (looking at current populations of China and India [India is not communist, but does have a large population in poverty according to the World Vision poverty calculations])

I vote we all define our own normal. Our own place to keep our minds at peace. We have to survive this world, we should be able to dictate what we consider normal.

Something Old

This is a video from 14 years ago! LOOK AT HOW SKINNY I AM!!!!

I miss playing in this band. It was incredibly fun and formative. Not just as a musician, but as a person.

Being in a band teaches you how to interact with people. You have to get along with bandmates, you have to get along with promoters, and you have to get along with fans.

This show, in particular, predated our last album.