I'd just spent the last year or so pulling my hair out trying to finish Aries, a task I wouldn't complete for about two years yet. I'd also spent the last year or so pulling more of my hair out in the final installment of a very toxic roller-coaster relationship. We finally broke it off for good and I spent September drinking and being pretty emo about life in general.
Now it was October. I was frightened, confused about who I was, unsure about basically everything, but I'd just started hanging out with this really rad girl named Alexis. I wanted to write a love song but wasn't quite sure how to - I usually wrote songs about pain, not joy.
I got off work at my shit-detail restaurant job pretty late one night about a week or two after we met. Instead of going to the bar to get drunk and ride a motorcycle home, I decided to ride out to the secluded strip of beach I liked to go to and think.
I parked my bike at the beach approach overlooking the ocean. It was a clear night, lots of stars.
Suddenly, a massive wave of "holy shit reality is 3D" washed through me and I kinda lost it.
"Oh my fucking God, those stars are real. What? I can't handle it. That is a distance, not just holes poked in a sheet of black construction paper. The white dots are PLACES. When I look at the spaces between them I am literally looking at an infinite distance."
I was thinking out loud to the empty parking lot. Yelling, really. The fullness of it hit me really hard and I thought I was going honest-to-God crazy.
As is my most natural impulse, I had to write it down. I ripped my phone from my pocket and frantically wrote down the whole first verse as it appears in the final recording.
"Whoever hung those stars up there, whatever chose their place, is playing out a symphony with such Amazing Grace. The virgins and the prostitutes, accountants, rakes and fools, God must be an Artist if God is what made you."
The unbelievable detail of the Universe came flooding in. It felt like I was on psychedelics. I was not.
I laid back on my motorcycle, staring upward for a long time after that. All these people here on Earth, all their desires and plans, all their love and hate, joy and sorrow, all their pleasure and pain occurs with all this other stuff happening around it all the time. It's there right now, as I'm writing this. As you're reading it. It was there every time anyone has ever had sex. It is present at every death. Beyond the mere planets, beyond the machinations of any being, there is a fundamental something present. A Highest Thing, an Oldest Thing. The Ancient of Days, if you will.
I caught a terrifying but beautiful glimpse of that. I was rolling with laughter at this point, completely convinced I had snapped and gone crazy but weirdly fine with it. If it meant seeing this forever, I was into it.
The rest of the song came out over the following couple weeks. This is where the love song bits started to come through. Thinly veiled sex references, but also hints of my disillusionment with political ideology of any kind. I was losing my allegiances to the "Left", not to pick up the slack with Right-Wing bullshit but to try and escape that kind of thinking entirely. It took a while before it turned on completely, but the second verse to this song points toward it pretty plainly.
I also deliberately used the second- and third-person perspectives in this tune. It was an experiment. I felt like I used the first-person perspective far too much and wanted to try something equally personal but less "me me me." This song shaped itself as an exercise in perspective jumping, which was very fun and taught me much.
I've lost touch with that blown out feeling in the years since it that night on the beach. I'm sad about that. I get a little sensation-memory, a little aftertaste of it now as I write this. I should go outside tonight and lay down for a while.
I introduced it to a version of my live band when I lived in LA, I think we may have played it at the Troubadour gig and definitely played it at Indie Night at the Federal to a very unenthusiastic audience. When I play it solo now, sometimes I get a pretty cool response.
I hope you like it.