Monday, August 29, 2011

Crying Out Of Both Eyes (country song)

When I met you
I didn't know myself through
I didn't know the meaning of love.

But you felt good to me
I was too blind to see
You weren't my angel sent from above.

We went out every night
Had too much to drink
We kissed, and maybe more,
In the dark
It all felt so right
You holdin me tight
I never thought that we would ever part
But reality came
When you took my name
Now everything's broken
Including my heart

Our first big fight
Was on a summer night
And you broke the handle
When you slammed the front door

The next times were worse
You hit me with your purse
And broke all our glasses
On the kitchen floor

Well one of those shards
Hit me in the eye
And one hit me deep in the heart


The tears they came pourin
From the pain in my right eye
It teared up all night
And in the mornin' after that fight
I decided it was time for goodbye.

And now I'm crying out of both eyes
You can't say that I didn't try
And I just want you to know
That the last thing you could throw
Away, was my heart
I'm crying out of both eyes

(repeat chorus)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Head Over Feet

There are a lot of reasons why I love this. Firstly, it's a great song (in my opinion). It's an expertly crafted pop song, but the lyrics in their specificity give it a greater meaning.
To craft a great pop song (lyrically), I feel like an artist could either speak in generalities that can be interpreted in many different ways to gain a broader appeal, or speak intimately and on a small scale (first one that comes to mind is Bob Dylan). Writing about the small things in relationships between people is difficult; it demands a very intense focus on experiences that you are supposed to lose yourself in with another and breaks them down and examines them. This focus is my favorite part of novels, and can often be the main focus or purpose of a novel; to slow down the rush of feelings that accompany intense moments and preserve them in a fashion that shines light on our human experience. 36 seconds into the song, she sings "You ask how my day was". Before this line, it was a general account of a man pursuing a woman, but that one line zooms in on a part of the pursuing that is important to one person, in this case the author of the song, which would be the one singing it. It takes an abstract idea and brings it closer to what all of us experience in one way or another. There are general things that I find attractive in a prospective mate, but it's those small things that really make the relationship blossom or break the relationship from blossoming. Something as small as smiling when I walk through the door and asking how my day was can save a relationship when times are tough. This theme of taking a general idea about relationships and then focusing in on a small part of what makes it special and what makes it work goes on throughout this song. At 1:55, "You held your breath, and the door for me" is another example. So to move on now from just looking at the crafting of the song, let's move to the video. First of all, it's all one take. This is rare for a music video. There are artists (and directors) that try to create this, but also allow for the shots that make it possible for post-editing to create the illusion of a one-take shot if it wasn't possible for it to happen because of a number of factors... extras, inconsistent delivery to the camera, any number of reasons. So seeing that it's one take, you think of how many takes it took to get the one that was decided upon as being the best. This might take away from a music video for some, but for me it adds to it. 
The music video is an inherently dishonest experience. I think by now everyone knows that the audio track that is heard on top of a music video is just that... on top of the video. It was recorded before the filming of an experience to go along with the song; the video is an after-market piece of advertising to help sell the song, thanks to MTV. That's not a bad thing, just the way that it is, and I think some fabulous pieces of art (yes, art) have come out of the niche of adding moving pictures to music. But when we see Alanis moving her lips and tongue on the screen, it's not the same thing as her singing in the studio recording this song. This video and her performance does a great job of highlighting this psuedo-experience. She is completely inconsistent in what she lip-syncs to and what she doesn't. She begins with a delivery that matches the delivery of the audio, and then lets it go. They're not trying to fool us into thinking that the video is the experience of the singing of the song.
This does two important things: It allows us to disassociate from the video to listen solely to the song, and it allows us to disassociate from the song and focus on the video. This may be the most important part of a successful video. It makes us want to watch it multiple times because the song and the video have two different aims. I almost want to compare it to a live concert. There is the music, but there's also everything else going on around you. There's a dichotomy that's happening in the brain, and being limited as we are, we can only focus on so much at one time. How many concerts have you been to that you wish you could go back and experience so that you could either pay attention to only the music or only the concomitant happenings? This video allows us (because it's preserved) to go back time and time again to narrow our focus to different segments of the experience.
What may be the most important factor is Alanis Morisette herself. She starts by looking into the camera with no fear. What I mean by that is that she stares as if she's looking in to YOUR eyes, not a piece of glass. She's giving herself up for inspection. I think this is the most important part of a person who is successful in performing. This could be Alanis Morisette, Freddie Mercury, the guy that does karaoke at your local bar. You feel like you're allowed into another person's life, and it's such a powerful experience, because most of us don't let ouselves go unless we're completely, completely sure and have some measure of control over the audience. Think of yourself when you meet someone for the first time. You won't necessarily give all of yourself to that person, you want to keep up the image of yourself that you want to portray. It's not until later that you feel comfortable enough to let yourself go enough to let them know who you really are (if you think that they're worth it). Maybe that's why we have such a celebrity culture... We idolize those people that are able to give themselves to us unconditionally. Maybe that's why Jesus is such an enduring personality. He gave all of himself without expecting anything in return (and now I'll just steer clearly away from Jesus). There are so many moments of her performance in this video (not the song) that she shows (what I perceive as real) her own psyche. I see in different parts of her face and her delivery almost all of the parts of girls that I've been in a relationship with. I have a few examples that I want to highlight.
Right away, at 00:23, there's her slow sleepy eyes as she says "You treat me like I'm a princess" immediately follwed by a genuine smile. At 00:40, she stops singing along with the song, which helps seperate this from most other music videos. She looks away and down to the side. You could extrapolate and say it's related to the lyrics of the song, this part, because this is the first time in the lyrics that she's admitting that she may have already been won over. I've admitted this to people I've been interested in before, and it's something that's hard to say while looking someone in the eye. You want to look away so that if you are rejected, the full force of the denial doesn't hit you directly in the heart. She also starts to shake her head along with the shaking of her right leg. Is this her natural reaction to letting go of part of her ego, telling someone how much they mean to her? Or is it just impatience and possibly boredom in singing the lyrics to the song however many times it took to get this performance in one take?
At 1:20, the second chorus, she stops singing along again, but this time doesn't look immediately away. This time she looks directly into our eyes. If you've told someone once that you were invested, and weren't turned down, the second time you may be a little more bold. You give a little more of yourself, but maybe not all. And now she has no relation to the camera at all at 1:29. This can be like any number of girls I've been in relationships with, and there's a secondary reason that makes this point in the video so compelling. I'm not going to try to cover the first point, but the second reason is that she's not perfect. This is the point where you can see and start to notice that her hair isn't perfect. There are strands that don't quite make it into her ponytail. Maybe after you notice that you notice how little makeup she's wearing. You can see the small slight perfectly imperfect bumps on her face that make her not have a perfect complexion, but make her that much more human. I don't expect perfection from everyone I meet in life, but I find myself expecting it in my entertainment. If a girl in a video or a movie is not perfetly gorgeous all the time, I notice it and I find myself wondering why she's not perfect, because it seems as if that's the standard that we have set. At 2:03, we have the harmonica solo. I'm not totally sold on this part of it, but everything else in this video makes me okay with it not being totally great. I think it's another example of this director highlighting the difference between recording a song and making a video, because it's obvious that she's not actually doing the harmonica solo. This may be a time filler so she doens't just stare into the camera for 20 or so seconds, but I would have preferred her just staring into the camera for that time.
At 2:35 is the reason that made me fall in love with this video. She comes out of the harmonica solo, and is just singing for us. The line is "You're my best friend, best friend with benefits". It's a damn cute line. What makes me fall in love with it is that I smiled at that line the same way that she did. I think this is why I love this video so much. If we can have similar smiles to a line like that, then she's enjoying herself as much as I am. I said earlier that part of why I loved this video was the light that it shined on the difference between the recording of a song and the making of the video for promotional purposes. This sharing of an expression between myself and the artist makes me feel less like a consumer and more like a partner in crime. It makes me feel like she is enjoying the song, and enjoying performing it for the benefit of the camera, and the camera operator, and the director, and is yet another example of her giving up part of herself; the honest enjoyment in an experience that makes certain performers so compelling.
3:23 is just another example of the difference between the video and the song, where she's talking to whomever is behind the camera, instead of to us, the prospective audience, with no relation to the song that is still going. It's a beautiful sign of strength in the director and in the artist herself. This entire video has been concious of itself, but it's here that it expressly expresses itself as only a representation of reality, not reality itself.
From 3:45 to 4:22; Alanis, you have pretty eyes.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


In the mood to write something something something. Got to think of something quick before I lose the urge, before I feel tired, before I check Facebook and get lost, before I run out of booze. Should I write about my life?
No, that's boring. I think I can put a good spin on it, but everyone who would read it already knows about my life.
Should I write a poem? No, I hate poetry.
Should I write a piece of fiction?
Maybe. I hope to write fiction one day, and be a successful novelist and live in a fancy house and wake up whenever I want to and just write and make love to my wife and play with the dogs and the kids but what fiction do I write? Do I start the idea I had the other day when I was half-dreaming/half-hallucinating on the couch? Where characters came to me that I was actually interested in and wanted to know more about? No, I shouldn't write that on here. I should save that and work on it for myself, in preperation for me being a successful novelist. Should I write some little piece of fiction?  A short story perhaps? Perhaps... But mostly I feel like rambling. Stuck in the place where I'd rather talk about what I want to do or don't want to do instead of doing or doing something else.
Crafting a short story is hard. Do you fill it full of action, or do you make it a meditation on a very small subject; or not neccessarily a very small subject, but a small fragment of time that pertains to a large subject? Let's give it a try.
Thinking (smoking a cigarette and drinking my gin).

(finding some good background music)

(Mozart, but still smoking.)

Lay down. Soft. Adjust. Exhale. Was that a noise? No. Voices. Engine. Is she home? Oh my God. Go to the opening! Wait for opening to move. Is she here!? I hear you! I hear you! I'm here! Where have you been? I'm here! How did you leave why did you go come here now i want you i need you

That was a dog. That was my dog. I'm not happy with that. It's the creative process. I really don't want to leave it up, but it's already there. Don't judge me.

It would be a lot easier to just write about what happened with my day. Because it happened, and I don't have to make it up. The older I get without exercising my imagination every day, the more it goes away. What did I imagine as a child? Well, mostly fighting scenarios... pirates vs. pirates, good vs. bad, ninjas vs. anyone. Any plot could be written, you could make up anything from the wild west to space to dinosaurs to war..., to love. But does the plot really matter all that much? My favorite novel is about a 40-ish man kidnapping and raping a 12 year old girl repeatedly (I can't believe I just wrote that sentence). It seems like the story is secondary to the style of the writing. Nabokov said something to that effect, so did John Popper. "It doesn't matter what I sing, as long as I sing with inflection."

Olivia. (looked up most popular girls names last year, and that's my favorite of the top 5) What does Olivia do? She's a bartender. Maybe she goes by 'V'. She really doesn't care that much what you call her. She's about 5'5", and thin. She doesn't try to be thin, it's just the way her metabolism and her genetics have worked out. She's 26 years old. She has dirty blond hair. It's naturally curly, but not to the extent that she usually styles it into. When younger, she kept it long, and straightened it in the morning before she caught the bus for high school. Her parents couldn't afford to buy her her own car, she never had a boyfriend with a car in high school, and she didn't get along with many girls. She likes her hair shorter now, and if straightened it might reach her shoulders but she loves her curls, and every ex that she respected at some point liked her better in curls. After she gets ready to leave her house her hair reaches down just below the tops of her ears. It's a dirty blond color, but it looks more like brown with lots of blond streaks on top. She doesn't dye it, but she knows that there's more of a contrast in her hair when she stays in the sun for an extended amount of time and she loves the contrast in her hair without having to do the work of dying it. She likes to wear t-shirts and jeans. She is caucasian, but has a skin tone on the darker side of that spectrum. She spends a lot of time outside, and is pleasantly tan. She loves to wear pastel colors on top, and they compliment her skin very well. She's not a fan of wearing black. She wears t-shirts with ironic messages or pictures.

Okay. That's Olivia (for now). She works in a bar. What does the bar look like?

This is a suburban bar (meaning it's in a shopping center). It used to have more than one entrance, but the other has been closed off so that one of the dining areas can be semi-secluded. The main entrance is in the center of the space that the bar has taken up. It has a double glass door, but the right side stays locked and only the left side opens and closes. When you walk in, the first thing you notice is the dining area. It is immediately to the right. There is a floor to ceiling wall on your left. You are in between 2 walls; the large one to the left and the half wall to your right. The 'hallway' is 6 feet wide and lasts for about 15 feet. The half wall abruptly ends and the dining area is open. The dining area is probably 30 feet wide and 40 feet long. There are 12 tables, circular, low, and made of a richly stained wood. Directly in front of you is the main bar (of the front area).

Listening to Pandora, and the ad just totally threw me out of it. Dammit. I can see this bar, but there's so much to it I don't know how to describe it the right way. Maybe I should take a narrative walk into the bar, in someone who has been there before, not someone who is new to it. Look at it through the eyes of someone who sees it as a feeling more than a place.

So this is me doing work. I'm inventing my life, and the life I want to invent is that of a writer. I'm trying to write every day, no matter what it is. Fiction, non-fiction, reviews, critiques (yes, I think there's a difference between those last two).

And now I'm tired of writing. If writing was my job I think I could pump out a whole lot more, but it's not, so maybe I can pump out more in a shorter amount of time with more practice.

I wrote something something something tonight, so I'm happy for that. I like Olivia, or V. I'm going to spend some more time with her.