Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Nothing else matters. . .

This blog post is dedicated to those who have (or should have!) a single minded focus. . . 

So close no matter how far
Couldn't be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are
And nothing else matters

If distance separates you, then love will not.  Being faithful and having a commitment means that you have established a level of trust that distance and temptation can't separate, can't tamper with, can't steer you away from.  As well as distance, time also becomes a factor.  How long have you been away from your beloved?  Can you last the time away?  Do you have that solid foundation of trust and open communication that all movies, literature and songs would have you believe exists and is alive and well?

Never opened myself this way
Life is ours, we live it our way
All these words I just don't say
And nothing else matters

The thing about being in a relationship is that you may find yourself being vulnerable, disclosing information or sharing feelings that you keep private from the public eye.  Of course that can only happen when you have spent time getting to know someone, making common connections and having that open communication is vital for any relationship.  There can be a mismatch as I've mentioned in previous blog posts when one person opens up more about themselves than the other.  You can't coax people gently or force them to reveal their feelings.  They need to know their own readiness in order to share what lies deep within their innermost thoughts.  Have you ever withheld words that you just don't say?  Why do you hold yourself back?  If you said something, would it make a difference?

Trust I seek and find in you
Everyday for us something new
Open mind for a different view
And nothing else matters

Being willing to listen to each other and discover the differences is just as important as finding the commonalities.  Having trust in someone is probably the most important thing in the world, far superior to love, because love can be fickle - it can come and go, it can be superficial, it can vanish within an instant, it can disappear as quickly as it arrived.  Do you have an open mind in your relationships?  Are you able to see where other people are coming from and talk quite comfortably to explore your opinions (but more importantly theirs) without coming to blows (or a communication breakdown?).

Never cared for what they do
Never cared for what they know
But I know

It's enough to not care because at the end of the day, it doesn't affect what your single minded focus should be ultimately - yourself.  Sadly, these are life lessons that you learn the hard way.  Of course, it doesn't mean that you stop putting your trust in people, on the contrary.  What it means is that life is messy, nothing is in its right place and things don't get resolved.  It's like listening to a song full of suspended chord progressions.  The only thing you can control is yourself and your own emotions.  So don't beat yourself up about things not going your way or wait in vain for something that they need to figure out for themselves.  Give yourself some self-respect, live your best life now and I hope that you never doubt yourself again.  Never forget that no matter what, you know - and nothing else matters. . . 

The reason. . .

I'm not a perfect person
There's many things I wish I didn't do
But I continue learning
I never meant to do those things to you
And so I have to say before I go

Do you have any regrets?  We sometimes wish we could take things back, have another opportunity to do something differently now that we are living with the consequences of the course of action that we've taken.  But life rarely deals us opportunities to have do-overs in this sense.  This is why when we say or do things, we need to be mindful about what happens afterwards.  We forget how much impact (unwittingly) our words and actions have on people.  We are dismissive of other people's feelings because we're too busy caring about our own and making our own lives easier.  So who gets caught in the crossfire?  People who tried to help you but you thought you did it all on your own steam.

That I just want you to know
I've found a reason for me 
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
And the reason is you

I imagine that this chorus can be seen from the perspective of the "victim" - that they will carry on and live their life, having learned from being hurt by their abuser, learning to be brave and pushing on regardless of the scars that will take time to heal - it's the emotional scars that take the longest to heal though right?  When you see these lyrics from the perspective of the "abuser" - you would hope that they would at least feel some remorse for their words and actions, but that's the thing right - abusers don't know that what they're doing is hurtful, unless it happens to them and they then become a victim, or something shakes them up enough to realise the implications of what they've done.  They begin to understand the reason. . .

I'm sorry that I hurt you
It's something I must live with everyday
And all the pain I've put you through
I wish that I could take it all away
And be the one who catches all your tears

That's why I need you to hear. . . 

It's funny that you want to catch the tears now, because you are the reason that they fall in the first place.  Do you find sometimes that when you cry, people around you don't know how to deal with it, because they're too busy thinking about how your crying affects them, rather than trying to get to the bottom of the reason for your crying.  I guess people need to understand what having empathy means, to know what having sympathy means - man I would be happier if they had telepathy, rather than apathy, because then they would at least be able to try to understand.

And the reason is you
And the reason is you
And the reason is you
And the reason is you

I hope that you don't hurt anymore people.  I hope that I don't hurt any people.  I mean I don't intentionally set out to hurt people during my normal day, that's not a way to live life, to consciously think - right, I'm going to get up, leave the house and hurt as many people as possible today.  Instead I think about the reason why I need to connect with as many people as possible - to shed some light on how, they can be the reason for someone else to change, for themselves to change and for everyone's worlds, wherever you may be, to be a better place for all to enjoy.

I've found a reason to show
A side of me you didn't know
A reason for all that I do
And the reason is you. . . 

Aerials. . .

I first came across Aerials when I started out as a high school music teacher.  It was one of the tracks that students always wanted to play for music assessments.  The thing that struck me the most was that the students loved playing the song but I would never hear the lyrics because they played the instruments - nobody was game enough to be the vocalist.  I found this to be the case quite often throughout my teaching career.  Students loved playing the instruments but very few ventured out to sing.

Life is a waterfall
We're one in the river
And one again after the fall

Swimming through the void

We hear the word
We lose ourselves
But we find it all?

The introduction begins with the arpeggiated semiquavers before the lead vocal enters.  It seems like a curious start, like you're not expecting this to be a "natural" opening to a song with the verse not being the tonic chord.  The distinctive semiquaver crotchet - semiquaver crotchet pattern also begins its sequence after the last line of the opening verse.  This song is a great exercise in analysing form and composition layout for students.  The vocal harmony is also a key feature of the song.

Cause we are the ones that wanna play
Always wanna go
But you never wanna stay

And we are the ones that wanna choose

Always wanna play
But you never wanna lose

Having to make a choice but also exploring the contrary nature of what it means to be human (even though the video features what appears to be an alien figure) makes me think about the red pill / blue pill conversation between Neo and Morpheus in The Matrix.  You will come across people in your life who will be contrary for the sake of being contrary and you need to figure out how to deal with that, how you are going to cope with being able to co-exist and agree to disagree.  There's nothing worse than someone constantly trying to be right all the time, someone who always wants to be right all the time.  I mean seriously - will this be your greatest contribution?  To be the one who is always right?  Will it make a difference to everyone to be right?  To be true?  To be real?  Which of these resonate more strongly with you?

Aerials, in the sky
When you lose small mind
You free your life

Aerials, so up high

When you free your eyes
Eternal prize. . . 

I hope that if I choose to look up and see those aerials that they will be able to shed some light on the mysteries of our minds, of human experiences and not because I want to be right, but because I just want to know.  I mean don't you want to know how free a life you're supposed to be living and what the eternal prize will be?  Others are more sure about their eternal rewards and prizes, having the faith to believe in what the natural course of what goodwill towards fellow man delivers.

So tell me, when will you free your eyes?

Monday, 29 June 2015

Diamonds and rust. . .

This blog post is dedicated to people who sometimes live in the world of memories :-)

I first came across Joan Baez while I was teaching vocals at a contemporary music studio during my college years just before the millennium.  I was familiar with Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell but hadn't really listened to any of her work.  Diamonds and rust was one of the tracks that one of my students chose to learn.  At the time she was a blind 14 year old who had a penchant for folk music, something that baffled her parents who were music fans of 70s rock and didn't know where she developed this eccentric taste for one so young.  Al I can say is that I thank her for introducing me to Joan Baez as I uncovered some wonderful gems from a talented songwriter and political activist.  It is common knowledge that this song is written about her relationship with Bob Dylan.

As I remember your eyes 
Were bluer than robin's eggs
My poetry was lousy you said
Where are you calling from?
A booth in the midwest
Ten years ago
I bought you some cufflinks
You brought me something
We both know what memories can bring
They bring diamonds and rust

It can be an awkward conversation talking with ex-partners/lover-whatever-you-want-to-call-it.
You have history and memories about little scenes that may sit squarely in your memory because you felt a particular emotion, stronger than usual, more often than not - and when you have these conversations now - those memories may either have burned just as brightly back then or have dimmed somewhat in the cold harsh light of hindsight and retrospect.  I totally understand the sentiments that sit behind when memories can be compared to diamonds and rust - sparkling bright in your mind's eye, but in the current time wear and tear, as well as exposure to the elements have begun to show on those memories.

Well you burst onto the scene
Already a legend
The unwashed phenomenon
The original vagabond
You strayed into my arms
And there you stayed
Temporarily lost at sea
The Madonna was yours for free
Yes the girl on the half-shell
Would keep you unharmed

There is something comforting to know that even the most outwardly confident people., with dominant personalities are able to find solace or comfort in their extreme opposite.  Have you taken a chance and given yourself to someone else so freely?  It's quite a vulnerable state to be in, and if you do open yourself up in such a way, how would you know that it would be reciprocated?  It definitely makes me think about that mantra of 'feel the fear and do it anyway', so rather than swim in a sea of regret, why now just take the those white water rapids on a fast track to, . . whatever you want to call it.

Now I see you standing
With brown leaves falling around
And snow in your hair
Now you're smiling out the window
Of that crummy hotel
Over Washington Square
Our breath comes out white clouds
Mingles and hangs in the air
Speaking strictly for me
We both could have died then and there

This verse introduces us to a new musical idea and to me it seems to be the most poignant part of the song (at least the diamond section) as she describes a memory that seems complete and timeless.  I could wax lyrical as much as possible about it, but the fact that even the way she sings "there" at the end of this verse. it's like she tries to hold on as long as possible before tapering off, signalling the end of memory, the end of that diamond memory anyway, a snapshot in time.

Now you're telling me
You're not nostalgic
Then give me another word for it
You who are so good with words
And at keeping things vague
Because I need some of that vagueness now

I hope that you're able to have conversations with people that you once loved in your past in a way that you can laugh about those diamond moments, letting them burn brightly just a little bit longer before the rust starts to form on those memories - and then you remember why things ended.

It's all come back too clearly
Yes I loved you dearly
And if you're offering diamonds and rust
I've already paid. . . 

Unbreakable smile. . .

This blog post is dedicated to you - yes you - with your unbreakable smile :-)

Somebody told me fame is a disease 
You start singing the blues when you start seeing the green
But I think it's all about what you choose
The way you live your life, depends on you
That's when I realised I wanna make a difference
Change other people's lives, give hope, even for a moment
Use my name for good, and change the game I could

When you've figured out what your mission or life purpose is, it can take a while for you to get there.  There are so many obstacles - things and people - that can threaten you being able to fulfil this because they are meant to be placed in your pathway to see how staunchly you stay close to your chosen path.  The choices you make, even those split-second, last minute, final hour decisions can be the difference between you realising your dream or the dream remaining a pipe one.
Because to make it you think I gotta act a certain way
Be a little insane, live a little, it's okay
I guess we have different definitions of living, but you'll twist my words anyway
You'll say that I'm naive, like I don't have a past
You're the one being deceived, I see right behind the mask
Tryna to stir me up and get me mad
I smile because happiness is all I have, so

The gay community in America is rejoicing at the moment with the marriage equality law allowing gay marriage to be recognised, as is the case in many other countries across the world, including Aotearoa New Zealand, where I live.  Being raised as a Christian, I have observed on Facebook from my friends the vehement disapproval of the bill being passed.  I still choose to support equal rights for gay marriage, because despite my religious upbringing, I have friends who are openly gay, so my thinking is that, if I deny them the opportunity to have the same rights that I have - that's not fair.

You see me hanging with my fam, but that don't mean I living in my bubble 
You'll find me at church, but that don't mean I can't cause trouble
Stir up a little scene 'cause isn't this what you want?
For me to mess up, so you can dress up some story
Saying, Tori, this'll sell more records
But I'd rather be a yawn, than a pawn in your chessboard
So call me boring, call me cookie cutter
Call me what you want
A matter of fact
Just say it loud and st-stutter

It can be irritating and extremely frustrating when people try to pigeonhole you or put you in a box or try to manipulate you and make you do things - so that they can have control over you because apparently you're to blame for their inadequacies and shortcomings in their own lives?  We live in a world that has become increasingly more difficult for us to just "be" - be ourselves, be whoever we want to be, be with whoever we want to be with - even if that means being alone.  I sometimes think people forget that being alone and being lonely are two very different things.

'Cause I know who I am, yeah I'm still the same
Just a California girl with big dreams
Thinking maybe they'll let me sing song about real things
And baby who knows maybe I can sell out shows without taking off my clothes
God made me sexy I don't care if only I know

La da da da dee, you're not breaking me
La de da da da, ain't got time for ya, singing
La da da da dee, you won't shatter me
La de da da da, got an unbreakable smile

I had a conversation with a fellow doctoral student about how when people in our indigenous communities reach a certain point in their education - that they start to adorn themselves with the cloak of condescension, choosing to pick away at people with the ornaments that they use to throw at people who are trying to give back to the same communities that they also come from.  I strongly believe that we are born the ethnic groups that we are in - because we are meant to be ambassadors to show other other ethnic groups the beauty of what makes us universal, but also the vulnerabilities that set us apart and makes us uniquely special.

And I'll just keep on smiling

Sometimes in the absence of words, all you can wear is a smile, when people persist in trying to break your unbreakable smile. 

I might be smiling, yes

But don't mistake kindness from weakness. . . 

Friday, 26 June 2015

Higher. . .

I've written about Creed in a previous blog post (see My Sacrifice).  I don't know if it's because I'm returning to the area of my childhood, but I have been really channelling my inner rocker as of late.  I remember as a child of the 80s fondly listening to Duran Duran, Queen, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, Van Halen, Mike and the Mechanics, Aerosmith, Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Twisted Sister and The Rolling Stones.  This steered me well later on in life when I became a music teacher and the majority of my students were huge rock fans.

When dreaming I'm guided to another world 
Time and time again
At sunrise I fight to asleep
'Cause there's a hunger, a longing to escape
From the life I live when I'm awake
So let's go there
Let's make our escape
Come on, let's go there
Let's ask can we stay?

The duality of a dream world and your actual life is something that people either subscribe to or brush off.  How far would you be prepared to go to try and make your dream match the life you lead when you are awake?  It sounds like this is more than just your average "I'm sick of my boring life" routine.  It is more about an avid desire to be transcendent in a place far removed from our current reality.

Can you take me higher?
To a place where blind men see
Can you take me higher?
To a place with golden streets

What do you imagine going higher would look like for you?  I always had this recurring dream as a child that I could fly and it was weird because I'm pretty sure that I could feel myself flying, but I think it was just me moving around and mimicking the flying movements in my sleep (like I knew how humans fly lol),  To be able to go somewhere higher and see miracles that I can't see on earth - that would be pretty amazing.  You would probably see things that you never dreamed possible, which probably explains why you would want to go higher in the first place, where you would not be judged, you would be free to be whoever you wanted to be.

Although I would like our world to change
It helps me to appreciate
Those nights and those dreams
But, my friend, I'd sacrifice all those nights
If I could make the earth and my dreams the same
The only difference 
Is to let love replace all hate. . . 

There comes a point when losing yourself in your dream isn't enough, particularly when it doesn't match your current reality.  So while you were happy with the dreams to be an escape for you to live out your fantasy they are ultimately not enough - those worlds now need to be combined.  You want to be able to feel the same way in your waking life as you do in your dreams.  It sounds simple enough but it's an extremely difficult and tricky thing to consider and act upon.  Few people could do it, but I think it boils down to how much you are willing to make your dreams, your reality.  It is also hard to think about replacing all hate with love as well.  You would need to be a special kind of person to be able to do that - love in the face of all hate.

Up high I feel like I'm alive for the very first time
Set up high enough I'm strong enough to take these dreams
And make them mine. . . 

I hope that you find every opportunity to feel alive.
There's nothing more satisfying than feeling like you are alive for the first time,
It feels like all of your senses are super heightened at once and you are able to drink in everything in your surroundings with such clarity, like nothing you have ever experienced.

I hope that you take those dreams, that you have the strength to take them and make them your own too . . .

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Fight. . .

Another blog post for you my friend +Monique Simpson (lucky I'm on annual leave LOL)

The thing I love the most about Tribal State songs is that they give me enough time to ease into a song with each introduction.  Fight is no exception.  By the time the lead vocals kick in at 43 seconds, you have a clear idea of what at least one of the motifs will be in the piece, before a variation of the same motif is played.

I was warned to be prepared for changes
Sacrifice, my new torn pages
Save your life
And don't you think to
Fight fight fight 
Don't fight fight fight

Preparing for changes can be difficult, particularly when they are unplanned, thrust upon you or they are consequences of actions that have lead you to those changes taking place.  I'm not saying that planned changes are all positive either, but at least with planned changes, you can start to minimise some of the potential damage that can be caused by any warnings received (those woe betide or caveat emptor ones). 

They said to me it's one or the other
Prepare to see, the different colours of your life
Now leave her there don't
Fight fight fight
Don't fight fight fight

When I hear these lyrics, I think about different scenarios that could apply here - being asked to make a choice between your passion and obligation is hard.  It's more than hard, it's gut wrenching, particularly when the obligation could include other people that would normally fall within your care like a partner or your children.  What different colours would be bold enough to make your life beautiful without those nearest and dearest to share it with?  You may find that your passion and obligation are inextricably intertwined and you can't separate the two because they are dependent on each other, just as the rest of the world seems to be dependent on you too.

To listen to "Fight" - check out https://www.reverbnation.com/tribalstate 

I pray to see your face
And I pray to show them how we got to stay together

I really hate having to constantly prove to people my measure as a person.  When you have to prove to people that you have every right to be in the same room as them. because they have such a high opinion of themselves that they know nothing about you.  I mean, it's totally cool if people don't know anything about you that you don't want them to, but when they completely ignore what you have to say or bypass you by asking other people for information - that's just plain rude and unnecessary.   

I was born to be prepared for changes 
Sacrifice, my born pages
Save your life
I'll take you in
I'll fight fight fight
I'll fight fight fight

I guess the only thing that changes in life - is change itself.  We constantly change, it's just that we are at different rates or paces of change.  We can change faster than other people, and that causes frustration when we are trying to get on with progressing an important initiative or project that has potential to save multiple lives.  So what can we do about this?  We just need to continue to fight and keep working hard to do what drives us, what fuels us.  It's more than what gets us out of bed in the morning, it's what stops us from sleeping at night - because if we fall asleep we aren't awake to make things happen fast enough (but that could just be me trying to explain away my insomnia haha).

I'll fight fight fight 
I laugh and I cry
And I pray pray pray
To be shown the light
They try try try
To break us down
I'll fight fight fight
I'll fight fight fight

The background vocals serve like an underlying choir lurking beneath this chorus upon repeat.  The frenetic pace of the song shows great use of compositional techniques, particularly when you consider the layering effects in the use of instrumentation and guitar techniques with the distortion.  

I hope that whenever you need to fight (because we all know the struggle is real) that you have people close by rooting for you in your corner.  I think that even if people are always going to try and break your spirit and make you question everything you stand for, you come across those people who try to hate on your dreams and sabotage all of the good work that you do - don't bother fighting those people, they're not worth your time and energy.  Pretty soon they will fall by the wayside and realise that everything you sacrificed was always going to be beyond their comprehension and appreciation.

And I pray pray pray
To show them how we got to stay. . . 

Hopelessly coping. . .

This blog post is dedicated to anyone whose struggle is real. . . 

Forget about your name
And your reputation
Put down your occupation
And your education
I heard what you said
About it being complicated
It ain't simple either way
Yes, a dream will make you pay

Have someone challenged you on your occupation, education, basically how you live your life?  You will come across people in your life sometimes who make you think about things in a completely different way; they expand your mind and make you question everything you've ever believed in - in a single conversation.  Connecting with people comes with preconceived ideas about the assumptions and deep-seated beliefs that you might have about them - dependent of course on where you choose to group them.  Trying to make a dream come true, comes with sacrifices, struggle and perseverance that few of us rarely exercise unless we're in extreme circumstances that test our humanity.

Somebody out here counting on you
To break through somehow
Somebody out here counting on you
To break through somehow

Do you get tired of being the one that people count on?  There will be others who could help you but choose to pursue their own selfish endeavours or only come to you for help when they need you (for their own benefit, rather than for the greater good).  I think you couldn't survive life without those people, because they were placed in your life to teach you those lessons.  It's not the best thing to feel during those times, but a necessary evil, if you will.

Cause you don't even know it
Where you are going?
Or haven't you noticed
You're hopelessly coping

The chaos that kicks in the chorus is reflected with the drum and bass that accompanies the lyrics.  What does it mean to be hopelessly coping?  Can you imagine going through your day, your week, month, year, just going through the motions, paying attention to the minutia in your life that takes up your time and distracts you from what it is you actually want to do - why should be cope with being hopeless?  What or who systematically dismantles our inner brilliance and threatens to steal any hope that we carefully constructed?  We lose our child-like innocence as we age, see too much of the coldness that the world offers sometimes because everything becomes about money and business rather than people and generosity.

Settle, settle, settle down

Instead of running, running around
Settle, settle, settle down
Instead of running, running around
Settle, settle, settle down
Instead of running, running around

This section of the songs reminds me to stay focused and do the things only I can do.  Life can be full of distractions that force you to lose sight of what's important.  I've become increasingly aware of constructive connections taking precedence in my life.  The negative connections that may often cast a shadow across my pathway - I deal with on a case by case basis.  I mean, there's no point in letting your thoughts and actions running wild around in your mind, when your life calls for stillness and contemplative reflection.  This is probably why I hate it when people are so "busy", talking about what keeps them busy and stopping them from living their best lives.  At the end of the day - I strongly believe in creative solutions that aren't tied to excuses that people offer to mask the inadequacies that they've let form and solidify, replacing the niche where hope once stood.  This is where now where hopeless stands.

So why play it safe?

What you mean "just in case?"
Well of course you might fail
But that's what it takes
Can't run from the doubts
Either way you're gonna struggle
Look in the mirror and argue
Then tell yourself it ain't worth the trouble. . .

There's a balance that must be achieved here.
Talk to your inner self -
a) the carefree side that you don't let loose often enough because you work too hard,
b) the serious side that you probably use too much, it needs to calm down and have a break.

I hope that you think long and hard about what you do to cope with stress, pressures and chaotic situations that you obviously didn't create (unknowingly created but worst of all - those ones where it's symptomatic of your decision making) - how much longer will you go on hopelessly coping. . . 

Lost & Found. . .

This blog post is dedicated to +Monique Simpson 

Relationships are tricky things to navigate.  They can be like running through a meadow with flowers in full bloom and fragrance swirling around you or they can be like running away from demons chasing you down a dark alley (oops sorry that's a scene from Ghost).  It takes a lot to put your trust in someone to go on this journey together that you need to navigate, because it relies on team work, communication, being honest and real about your own deepest flaws, secrets and desires.  You would disclose this information over time to help build that trust and make common connections to lead to a relationship.  But what happens when that relationship cracks?  When you awake from the reverie of a relationship that you finally realise was a crazy nightmare that you can no longer ignore. . .

Come upstairs and I'll show you where all my
Where my demons hide from you
Just look at who I have become I am so ashamed
You were the one who made me feel the way that I do

If you invite people upstairs to your mind - would they understand what you will show them?
Sometimes you might even struggle to understand what you think about yourself, about how you want to be in the world, let alone about yourselves in a relationship that threatens to make you as a person or breaks you into a million pieces so that even you can't recognise where to begin when you go to put yourself together.

You broke and taught me
To truly hate myself
Unfold me and teach me how to be
Like somebody else

These lyrics are repeated often throughout the song and I imagine the singer sitting in a corner with a tear stricken face, mascara and eyeliner streaked, lipstick smeared, hair disheveled and clothes unkempt - repeating these lyrics.  The variations on these lyrics betray the depth of the emotions in the tone that bleed out each time they are sung.  I think I've mentioned before in previous blog posts about the beauty that I find in pain.  I think it's because it's painful to endure, that it is beautiful.

\And I felt strong enough
I was discovered by the love
I had been waiting for so long
You told me none of that was real
I cannot hide how low I feel
To know that you were never wrong

Would I blame someone for making you feel this broken?  It's easy to do that and something that people often do to cope with how embarrassed they feel about how they handled things - and it's not because they don't want to be embarrassed in front of an audience but more to do with the high standards and expectations that you would place upon yourself for allowing yourself to get hurt, to allow someone in who wreaked havoc on your emotions.  It's that sense of betrayal that you don't think about when you choose to take a punt on love, throw caution to the wind in the pursuit of happiness.

You are lost and found
Falling out my babe
Broken down
Broken down. . . 

At 2:26 the music changes and I can't imagine the song without it, before it returns to the familiar refrain.  To me this signals that in relationships, you will come across that plateau that allows you to see things with such clarity, with such conviction in the knowledge that you know you have been mistreated, but you allowed it.  So rather than engage in that form of abuse towards yourself, you need to create improved parameters for how you will love, how you will connect in the future, so that when you are broken again, you won't be broken down forever, but just long enough to heal, to acknowledge that you have been lost for a little, but remain hopeful that you will be found again. . .

Wait for more. . .

This blog post is dedicated to +Monique Simpson 

I've written about Tribal State in previous blog posts (see Fun, Bliss).  I have eclectic musical taste and what usually grabs me in a song is what I hear in the music, how lyrics are sung and expressed - basically how the music is packaged so that it contributes to an overall question that I use to gauge my reaction to any song I listen to:  How does this song make me feel?

I'll wait for more, yes I'll wait for more, yes I'll wait for more with an empty cup
And fill me up again because I'm never drunk and fill me up again and I will never run
My vessel is dry, and my vessel is dry, and my vessel is dry like many times before
And now I find myself sitting next to a whore, in a corner of regret that I cannot ignore
Yes I wait for more, yes I wait for more, yes I wait for more oh

Have you had those times in your life when you lose yourself in endless streams of bad choices that it all rolls into one massive blur and the days bleed together?  No amount of drinking or indulging in some other mind-altering or oblivion-entering phase will erase what it is you're going through.  It might numb the senses for a little while, but all it does is delay the learning and healing that you are destined to experience to ensure that you enter your next growth stage.  When you start to realise that this vicious cycle is in play and you're ready to stop it - then you're ready for the real pain that lies ahead, the real pain that comes with confronting the reality and pushing through.  This is the 'more' that you've been waiting for.  I didn't say it would be an 'easy' more, it's just the 'more' that you need to go through, so buckle up.

Gotta get this feeling, you've got it running through my veins
You've got to take it way back to where I started to see how I'm living
You've got to free my mind to know, dilute my heart of stone
You've got to take it way back to where I started but first I wait for more, yeh yeah

The thing with feelings is that they can sometimes dictate your actions (if you let it, more so than duty).  But other people can be responsible for inspiring feelings within you - feelings that can be divided into two basic groups - either positive or negative.  Of course you can define positive or negative in your own way, I mean simplistically speaking, positive feelings - things that make you feel good and negative feelings - things that make you feel bad, is usually the best place to start.

I'll wait to see, yes I'll wait to see, yes I'll wait to see with an empty cup
Ad fill me up again because I'm never drunk, now fill me up again and I will never run
I feel so alive, I feel so alive, I feel so alive like never before
And now I find myself standing outside your door, in a corner of regret that I cannot ignore
I wait for  more, yes I wait for more, yes I wait for more oh 

Ah we've come to the door of realisation now, or at least to the doorstep of the person from your past responsible for this next stage of development or the doorstep of the person in your present who is responsible for pushing you to the next stage of development to prepare for your future.  You can't ignore the regrets that act like pitstops on your path to enlightenment, in fact, moments of self-pity are necessary enough to serve the purpose of the consequences of poor-decision making and the price you pay for your stupidity.

Check out "Wait for more" on this page  https://www.reverbnation.com/tribalstate

Gotta get this feeling, you've got it running through my veins
You've got to take it way back to where I started to see how I'm living
You've got to free my mind to know, dilute my heart and soul
You've got to take it way back to where I started but first I wait for more, yeh yeah

When you attribute feelings to someone else who can cause them to run through your veins, on some level, you have allowed that person to infiltrate your secret borders that you normally set up to protect yourself.  If you allow someone to see the real you and allow them to see where you have come from and why you are the way that you are in your current reality, it does make sense now as to why you would wait for more right?  If someone completely understands you (sometimes better than you know yourself), it's a sense of overwhelming emotion that swirls around, threatens to take over and let it permeate everything that you do, think or feel -  it totally explains where addictive and obsessive states of emotion can begin.  If not managed well, it can be devastating dangerous, on one extreme even fatal.  But what a complete sense of death right?  I use the word death here in the sense that you cease to exist because you're now on another astral plane where nobody can see you anymore,  You've crossed that state of consciousness that no longer puts you among the living mortals, or at least among the world that seeks to steal away your focus and distract you from your higher purpose.

Cos I wait for more, I wait for more
Cos I wait for more, I wait for more

I hope that in the process of waiting for more, that you think about what you need to prepare for the 'more' once it arrives.  Would you even know what it looks like when it gets here?  How would you know that this was what you were waiting for?  I think the feeling that you just have to have that is running through your veins isn't attributed to someone else, I honestly think it's always been inside you all along but it reaches out to other like-minded people who answer the call that your feelings have propelled outwards from you without your knowledge.  I mean, why else would you want more?  That would be the only reason I would want more; you want want 'more' of something and are willing to wait for it because what is within you, seeks it out. . .

Monday, 22 June 2015

Get out and get under the moon. . .

When you're all alone any old night
And you're feeling out of tune
Pick up your hat, close up your flat
Get out and get under the moon

Getting out in the midst of a different town is one sure way of beating the blues.  Sometimes all you need to change your perspective is to immerse yourself in the midst of strangers and just watch what's going on.  Of course you can't do that tonight in downtown Wellington right now, it's too cold and everybody will be asleep (or at least closing up shop).

Underneath the bright silvery light
You'll be feeling better soon
Pick up your hat, close up your flat
Get out and get under the moon

When was the last time you were under a silvery moon?  There's something about gazing up the moon and wondering if that infamous man lives up there as nursery rhymes and movies would have us believe (or you spot some random cow jumping over it).  

Look, look. look at the stars above
Look, look, look at those sweeties love
Oh boy, give me a night in June
I mean it

Are you a people watcher?  The best way to watch people is to sit in a quiet spot and have a vantage point where you see everyone walking past you in a sweeping glance (there's nothing worse than being really obvious with it and creeping people out with your stalker eyes).  I mean, there is a subtle art to it, like watching parents interact with their young children - that's always a favourite scene to watch, because the parents engage with their kids by teaching them new skills or playing games with them to elicit giggles and laughter that can warm my heart.  Of course that would happen more during the day in a park situation - not under the silvery moon at night (kids should be well in bed by that time).

All you gotta do, any old night
When you're feeling out of tune
Pick up your hat, close up your flat
Get out and get under the moon 

I hope that when you feel that you're not feeling quite right, when nothing sits quite right within yourself and you feel like you need to escape, just get out of the house and go do something, be somewhere, see something, hear everything.

I hope that you get yourself in tune as quickly as you can.  There's nothing worse than feeling out of sorts, the feeling of unease that comes with not feeling in tune, in harmony with yourself, your surroundings, where you find yourself in terms of the events you are escaping from or trying to find resolution, a solution, a little less mind pollution.  I hope that you just  get out and get under the moon. . . 

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Tapa'a. . .

This blog post is dedicated to anyone who is trying to quit smoking - PSA from Tiama'a!

I've written about Tiama'a in a previous blog post (see E le matalasi).  I note that people really like reading about the Samoan posts or read the Gagana Samoa page so this post is an effort to address the demand (according to Google analytics lol).

It is always difficult to put together a Samoan language post because nobody posts the lyrics online and there are no translations.  So I have to spend time listening to the tracks quite a few times (reminds me of the interview transcriptions I did for my BA (Hons) research in Anthropology - interviewing church ministers, transcribing their Samoan responses and then translating them into English!).  I guess more than anything I will attempt to post some more Samoan songs only for the pure fact that there aren't enough up online - so this is a good way of preserving the songs.  I welcome any corrections and the translations to the song lyrics - just add a comment at the bottom of the post and I will update them.  Sometimes when you translate lyrics into another language, it literally does get lost in translation, syntax is different and it loses the meaning and then it sounds better in the original language anyway :-)

If you have signed up to my blog, you will know that I have created a playlist of these songs on Spotify - under ManuScript and my name.  The problem with the Tiama'a songs on there is that the tracks have been given the wrong names.  So if you're responsible for labelling the songs - can you check for accuracy?  Because the Tapa'a track on there is not what is found on YouTube. . .

Talofa Samoa, ua ou sau e fa'amatala Greetings Samoa, I have come to explain
Le tapa'a - e aafia uma o tagata About smoking - that affects everyone
Ua ou faalogo atu, a o aofia le mamalu I have heard, with everyone present
Le tapa'a, tu'u ese ne'i mu lou fatu The cigarettes, put it away in case it burns your heart

Mo oe le lapata'iga, totoga ne'i afaina For you this warning, in case your organs are affected
Fa'ama'i o le cancer ua e iloaina You are aware of the cancer disease
Soli pala ia le tapa'a, toe faafou lou olaga Stomp out the cigarettes, and renew your life
Faasao o nai seleni na o aso le leaga Save your pennies for rainy days/ bad days

Liuliu - o se tofā Turn (transform) - your choice
O lo'u taofi e sili ona tu'u o le tapa'a - e le aogā My opinion is that you're better off giving up smoking - it is of no use
Tau ose mea, e iloa ai Just one thing, you should know
O lo'u alofa ma le aano moni ua ou sau ai My love and the honest truth is why I have come

Le tapa'a ua fai ma agaga, i le toatele o tupulaga Smoking cigarettes has become a past time, for the majority of youth
Ua pele iā ia o lea taumafa The consumption of it is precious to them
Mo'omia e le māmā, o si olaga oi lena The lungs hold it, it is a sufferable life
Fiafia fa'aali ile tagata ulaula Happy to show people who smoke

O le toatele o nisi, ne'i maua alu loa saili There are several others, who have it go in search
A leai, ua faatau mai ile aisi If there is nothing, they buy it by begging
O la'u lea faitioga, o le asu fo'i ia e o'ona My feedback is, the smoke itself is also poisonous
Tulelei, pe a tali mai ua uma Fighting, when the answer comes that it's finished

Uso e, e peleina, tumau la'u talaina Brothers, who are dear, my message remains
Le tapa'a - ia ta'ua sou faia'ina Smoking - your defeat must be stated
Ae le o le so'ona fai, le ioe ua malepe ai It is not the abuse of it, but affirming it that ruins it
Alu 'ese - ile tapa'a, ou te le auai ai Get away - from smoking cigarettes, I will not participate

E Melody. . .

This blog post is dedicated to everyone who is crafting their own melodies on the daily yo :-)
Another one for you +Monique Simpson 

I have written blog posts about Emily King before (see Georgia, Distance, Walk in my shoes and Colorblind).  There's something about her voice that appeals to me and each of her songs is distinctive enough to show off her vocal prowess.  The thing I love about this song is that she cleverly sings short snippets of a wordless melody so that you know that this melodic motif will recur throughout the song in some shape or form.  Her vocal harmonies complement these melodic motifs and add some textural density and become part of the call and response nature of the song with the various vocal layers.

All these questions running through
Where to turn what's the truth?
Even in a crowded room I find myself alone
All the pressure it's hard to see
Live on stage starring me
And my life is like a movie, everyday's a scene

How do you deal with pressure?  I've witnessed people deal with pressure in many different ways.  It's interesting to watch because there are so many positive ways to deal with pressure - but I've mostly seen negative experiences because they weren't able to create what I would call a 'resilience plan' to know how to counter the 'pressure triggers' that are significant to them.  Everyone stresses about different things so you need to be able to know yourself extremely well to know the symptoms of pressure building before you explode.  So how do you escape from your life that now resembles some B grade horror movie and you look like you're the first person that usually gets killed in the opening scene?

I have my days they come and go
My ups and down they help me grow
I'm learning how to play the game
You're as good as your word and your name
When friends come over bringing smiles
Then all this work is worth the while
When all is said the day is done
The main concern is having fun!

It's important to let off some steam, cut loose, surround yourself with people who know that you need to play hard, just as much as you work hard.  It can be extremely tiresome trying to play the game, because it requires more effort in a pointless exercise (especially if you're forced to play the game against your will and there was no point in the game starting in the first place), but someone always has to win, even when it's not a competition; someone always has to be right, someone has to be wrong.  I say put all of that behind and go enjoy life for a while. Someone reminded me to "smell the roses" more often, because being busy steals precious time away from your priorities.

It's so deep I get lost between the strings
And I create a world of music far as the eye can see
So true what a song can get you through
It's like a love that's new that's feeling good to you
Oh yeah!

If you're not a musician, you can still relate to this analogy.  Find what makes you tick creatively and go with that, creating something that will keep you centred and focused on the healing that you might need. This bridge speaks to me about the newness of things that you can attract into your life, new beginnings, a new love, a new way of thinking that you can develop to become more resilient.  Sometimes you can't do any of these things without losing yourself between the strings.  Everyone's strings are different and can last for different periods of time - but once we get lost, we need to refrain from being in a state of panic and gain our bearings about our surroundings - and figure out a way forward, a way ahead - because thought it doesn't like it right now - there is always a way out of the dark. Trust yourself to know how to get yourself out of there.

And everything brings E Melody
Yes, everything brings E Melody. . . 

I hope that you find the strength, courage and wisdom to create melodies that you will inspire yourself, even when you are lonely or going through difficult times.  If you can't surround yourself with reliable friends and loved ones to carry you through your stressful times, find people who can be there for you, who know and understand how to support you in a way that lets you know - you are loved, you are important and that you are an important part of this world.  Even when you haven't realised it yet.  You will soon see that everything will bring you your own melody, your own song that we will marvel at, enjoy and appreciate for many more years to come. . . 

Moved by you. . .

This blog post is dedicated to one and all who move me.
Thanks for the painting +Shannon Vulu - you are a true artist :-)

I love the fragrance of your voice
You're the colour of Loyal
My favourite sound is your smile
I'm intoxicated with joyful

I don't know who you subscribe to - the higher being that you place all your faith in to make you understand your existence, the purpose of your life and who helps you realise your destiny on this earth.  But at this point of my life, this time, right here right now, there has never been a more overwhelming sense of gratitude and immense responsibility that has been juxtaposed in my life.  I have suffered tragedies that I know were destined before my birth and have been placed in my life to help me grow, to help me become a stronger and better-than-I-ever-dreamed individual for a greater collective.  I have felt that there have been people placed in my life who have been given sweet voices for me to hear, to show me their true colours of loyalty, to show me smiles that quickly turn to peals of laughter that get me drunk on the goodness in life.

I feel you on the bottom of my feet
The very blush in my cheek
I love the taste of the words you don't say
You're the very meaning of peace

I have conversations with You, mostly in my mind and I know that the thoughts that sometimes spill out of my mind seem tinged or inspired by the divine or I hear it in other people's conversations with me and I hear You speak through them, or through song.  Sometimes I will catch it in the glances that people give me in those conversations and I can surmise what they are thinking with the silence hanging in the air - something in their eyes can relay back to me the peace of mind that I search for in my world of "a beautiful chaos."

I am a ten thousand petal flower
Unfolding in this moment
I feel so vulnerable and so empowered
It's everything, it's nothing, it's perfect

When we are in a world where we constantly look to You for guidance, for signs that You exist and watch over us during our times of trials and triumphs, I am still grateful for everything, for nothing (just being) and for perfection.  I choose to look at everything as a lesson on the face of this earth and when I start to come to grips with a new lesson that I have learned, those petals on my flower start to unfold.  One of the greatest gifts anybody can give me - is something that they have made, that celebrates their talents and gifts.  I have received two more paintings from two other artists. I have had performances of songs dedicated to me, but no songs composed from fellow musicians - which is weird - considering I'm a musician!

This image below is of my wonderful friend +Shannon Vulu and the picture she painted for me last week entitled "A Beautiful Chaos" - a gift to me about my life.  She painted it while talking to me on the phone. Shannon explained to me that I am the flower that is surrounded by all of the drama caused by people and events that pulls me into different directions, but despite the full gamut of emotions that I run through - the anger, the sadness - I still remain strong and grow.

You're the eyes of a child
You're a horse running wild
You're the cracking open of a heart
You make me feel so alive
I am honoured to know the twinkle of your star

When I think about this verse, it makes me think about all of the beautiful things that I can feel and do in the world if I only copied Your example - to see things with innocent eyes and be cheerful even in the presence of ill will, to run free when I need to escape and revel in the freedom of being able to run far and wide before coming back home and even being a heart that has been cold and lonely and hard to keep open.  I see the twinkle of Your star in the eyes of people who care, in the smiles of people who show me genuine warmth.

I give thanks for my time upon the planet Earth
By all of your beauty 
I am so inspired
You love has baptised me by fire

I think it is only by being baptised in fire, feeling that pain that only comes with burning sensations - that you are able to rise from the ashes of the setbacks and tragedies in your life.  When I think about so many of the world's problems - the most recent being the tragic deaths of 9 church members in an iconic Charleston church in South Carolina - I think about the examples of the families of the deceased who are calling for peace, who are calling for forgiveness.  I cannot possibly fathom the loss of that depth, to have lives taken at the hands of an individual who was welcomed into a prayer meeting.  I can only say, that such tragedies inspire me to live the best possible life that helps to move others, as much as I have been moved by You. . . 

I am moved by you
Oh I am moved by you. . . 

Friday, 19 June 2015

The man with the child in his eyes. . .

I've written about Kate Bush in a previous blog post (see Woman's Worth).  This track is from her debut album. The attached video is from a Christmas special in 1979 that she recorded.  There is an official music video that you can watch but I wanted to focus on her vocals by including this video, as she has a unique sound that I haven't heard emulated by other female artists since.

I hear him 
Before I go to sleep
And focus on the day that's been
I realise he's there
When I turn the light off
And turn over

Music is a huge part of my life.  I don't think I can remember my earliest memory of it because I honestly believe that sound has been a part of my life and my consciousness before I was even aware of what it was called.  Before you go to sleep, are there are some rituals that you perform?  It's those little things that you do, on auto pilot, almost like a process of shutting down your computer at the end of the work day, you go through each stage, turning things off, then take one last sweeping glance before you leave.  I always reflect on the day that has been, think about my reflections on those days and think about how the week has been.  I always listen to music before I go to sleep.  Song selection is important because those songs play out in dreams when my eyes are closed.

Nobody knows about my man
They think he's lost on some horizon
And suddenly I feel myself listening
To a man I've never known before
Telling me about the sea
Oh his love is to eternity

I've been listening to a lot of men that I haven't known before in recent weeks.  It's always great to come across artists and bands that I haven't heard before and really listening to their music.  I guess you could say the same for when you meet new men and have a real listen to what it is they're trying to say.  You could say the same for when you meet new women and have a real listen to what it is they're trying to say too.  I think trying to say is wrong, because they're not trying, they're actually saying it.  When I sit and listen to people talk about their passions and what they obsess about in their own lives, it's fascinating to me.  When people tell me about projects and ideas, but mostly their own insecurities that float about in their minds but haven't really been able to express until they've said it out loud, it does make me think - why are you telling me?  I must have a sign over my head saying - bear your soul to me.  But then I've been told I'm a good listener, I can take what people say to me and act as a mirror or sounding board - and bounce back/reflect what they're saying to me.  I guess this process helps give people assurance (or reassurance) that they are making the right decisions, because they trust your judgement, based on the successful judgements that have evidenced themselves as success in your own life.  Wow. . . just realised that's what I've been doing this whole time.

He's very understanding and he's so 
Aware of all my situations
When I stay up late
He's always with me
When I feel I hesitate
Oh I'm so worried about my love

Even when you can't rely on people to be what you need them to be, what you want them to be, you seriously need to consider the things that are constant and can sustain you when people can't.  It might not even be their fault that they can't be there with you - there are extenuating circumstances beyond their control that prevent them from staying up late with you.  For me staying up late doesn't necessarily just mean in the literal sense, but someone who, when they are able to stay up late with you, it means that they are there for you when you need them the most.  Music has always been that main constant for me, when people haven't.  I can instantly rely on a song that I can lose myself in and help to shift my mood to where it needs to go.

Back to the context of this song however. . .

They say, "No, no it won't last forever
And here I am again my girl
Wondering what on earth am I doing here
Maybe he doesn't love me
I just took a trip on my love for him

The realisation of the mismatch of emotions - when someone doesn't love you as much as you love them.  It's not unrequited love, because that means the other person doesn't even know you exist or wouldn't even consider you on an equal footing in a relationship.  Instead we're talking here about the imbalance of love in a relationship.  It's how we choose to react after that knowledge rises to that surface that maps out how we will proceed.  I would say, take a trip on that love anyway.

I really like this song because I think the orchestral arrangement really complements the piano.  Those subtle melodic motifs that feature solo instruments like the cello, flute, oboe, French horn and trombone during the verses highlight particular feelings that are wrapped up in their tones.  It's probably one of the main things I loved about exploring instrumentation while studying music in high school.  We would spend hours a week listening to different pieces of music and learn to pick out specific instruments as we became familiar with their timbre.  This made me appreciate a conversation I've had recently with a friend who sadly didn't have formal music education in Samoa, in the way that I just described about my own experiences.  But he persisted with his love for music, despite the lack of resources in his home country.  I could see the child in his eyes then.

Oh he's here again
The man with the child in his eyes
Oh he's here again
The man with the child in his eyes

I hope that we never lose the child in our eyes wherever we find ourselves in our lives.
I hope I never lose the enthusiasm, passion and desire to express what I love about what the world has taught me, what it continues to teach me, sometimes what it hasn't taught me, even when it hurts me.  When I look at the world with my child-like innocence, I can be as resilient as I want to be. . .