I wrote this song one evening while baking a beer cake for a friend who was coming over for dinner. How idyllic! I thought to myself. How pastoral! Look at me– wearing my apron, baking a cake for a friend! I am truly on my way to becoming the Salt of the Earth!
But becoming a true Noble Savage was presenting me with difficulties. One was my revulsion to body odor- something which (I had read in natural living magazines) I was supposed to prefer to the sanitized smell of chemicals. And my dinner guest was kind of an artist when it came to body odor. Would this be the day he filled his socks with raw garlic to naturally defeat foot odor? The day he bathed in onion juice to remove negative thought forms from his aura? Each time I saw him, he seemed to have invented a new olfactory horror– a week of no showers mixed with jasmine blossoms– a day of sweaty work followed by a bath in chili sauce… one thing I knew is that the smell would be truly horrifying and a stomach wrenching blend of nastiness I had never encountered before.
But- he was my friend! And wasn’t I supposed to delight in the aromas of nature? On two previous occasions, I had resorted to suggesting that he eat his dinner alone on the balcony so that he could enjoy the sunset in peace and solitude, but even then, I would eat in dread, bracing myself for the moment he would crack open the door to make small talk, and the stench of pig intestines and frankincense would fill the room. But even while wretching, I felt ashamed. I imagined that Gandhi and Mother Teresa wouldn’t care if someone used apple cider vinegar as a natural alternative to deodorant. A saint would either find the beauty in all smells, or possibly have a nose so full of love that they couldn’t smell anything else.
So, I think this song grew from the conflict between my fanciful desire to place all things savage upon a pedestal, and a gut level revulsion to beastly smells. And on a deeper level, perhaps I was beginning to doubt if sprouting lima bean seeds from eggs shells was really the meaning of my life.
I wrote this song while living in Los Angeles, in the tiniest apartment ever- just 100 square feet. The name of the apartment was Egg Nest, and I was very proud of it. It consisted of a little white day bed that had tiny flowers painted on its post, one wicker chest of drawers, an easel, a miniature guitar, a tiny refrigerator and a small plant hospital. On top of the wicker dresser I would keep my stereo, one scented candle, one pink Cosmo flower, and a few animal figurines. The walls were painted pink and adorned with pastel portraits of men, whom I viewed as my protectors.
The walls in my apartment were so thin that I couldn’t brush my hair without waking up my neighbor. This seemed like a metaphor for the minds of the people who lived in L.A. On the one hand, the thin membranes of their minds were what I loved the most- everyone was so open and so willing to consider and imagine anything. On the other hand, the city was filled with industries that preyed upon these vulnerable brains, mine included. Eventually, I had to upgrade my protective portraits to pictures of the most threatening men in existence- naked ones.
A song about a king with very long fingers… I wrote this during my Ron Paul phase, when I thought my goal in life was to be a Savage Granola, living off the grid in a geodesic dome. I tried to convince James to move to Oregon with me to live off the land and sell chicken eggs at the local farmers market, and he tried to convince me that I wouldn’t actually enjoy that sort of lifestyle. But in my imagination it was wonderful- we even had a pink horse & buggy & there were ribbons tied to just about everything. I would lean over my white picket fence to brag to my neighbor (who happened to be Archdruid John Michael Greer) that the only type of batteries I used were the ones I made from my own potatoes. I always wore handmade dresses covered with flowers and I was so happy it bordered on delirious.
But in the end, James was right. The closest I ever got to being a granola was making my own soap and trying to sell it to a health food store. When they turned me down (claiming that glitter soaps are not organic!) I knew it was time to find a new dream.
One afternoon, this blue wave washed over me, and suddenly life felt like an endless sea of longing that could never be satisfied. Or as the Buddhists say (from Wikipedia):
A basic unsatisfactoriness pervades all forms of existence, due to the fact that all forms of life are changing, impermanent and without any inner core or substance. There is, therefore, a lack of satisfaction, a sense that things never measure up to our expectations or standards.
But the feeling passed, and I think Buddhists are pretty silly to claim that one emotion, one shade of blue, is the underlying nature of all reality.
Sometimes the only way of escaping an unbearable situation is through your own imagination. Or, as the magician in “Electric Company”(one of my favorite childhood tv shows), used to say: “Change your point of view. Look at things in a way that’s fresh and new. Strange, but yes it’s true… you can never be stopped if you change your point of view.”
Good advice? Maybe, but it can make you dizzy if you take it too far.
I wrote this song while living in Nashville, where it always seemed so dark and cold, maybe because I only went out at night. To make matters worse, I tried to wear only white and silver clothes and eat only white foods… why??? I don’t know what I was thinking, but I do know it cast a cold and lonely feeling over my time there. Just thinking back on it gives me the shivers.
I wrote this song while I was living in L.A…. What is the gold time? I guess it is a time of fulfillment and completion, when all the trials a person has been through begin to pay off and their meaning is revealed. It is the idea that everything, given enough time, eventually becomes something of great value. Gold is also the color of permanence… a person searches and searches, but when they finally find what they have been looking for, that is the gold time.
In high school we read Walt Whitman’s poem, “Good-bye my Fancy”, and it struck a deep chord with me. In a way, I think of this song as being a similar story, but told from the perspective of the Fancy, rather than the man.
Good-bye my Fancy
Good-bye my Fancy!
Farewell dear mate, dear love!
I’m going away, I know not where,
Or to what fortune, or whether I may ever see you again,
So Good-bye my Fancy.
Now for my last–let me look back a moment;
The slower fainter ticking of the clock is in me,
Exit, nightfall, and soon the heart-thud stopping.
Long have we lived, joy’d, caress’d together;
Delightful!–now separation–Good-bye my Fancy.
Yet let me not be too hasty,
Long indeed have we lived, slept, filter’d, become really blended
Then if we die we die together, (yes, we’ll remain one,)
If we go anywhere we’ll go together to meet what happens,
May-be we’ll be better off and blither, and learn something,
May-be it is yourself now really ushering me to the true songs, (who
May-be it is you the mortal knob really undoing, turning–so now finally,
Good-bye–and hail! my Fancy.
This song was inspired by Reinhold Messner’s “The Crystal Horizon,” a book about the first solo ascent up Mount Everest, but also, metaphorically, about the challenges a person can faces while trying to follow their own path and be true to themselves. The loneliness, guilt, and doubt, but also the exhilaration.
To me, crystals, mountains, and ice all represent that place of individuality and isolation… whereas valleys represent the warmth and comfort that comes from merging with others and following a more well-trodden path. But hopefully, when a person does come down into the valley, it will be to nourish and renew themselves, not to donate blood to a wandering mercenary.