MP3 J C Allen - Rise
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8 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Roots Rock, BLUES: Rockin' Blues
A professor I once took for an introductory composition course began the first discussion of literature by stating that âThere are two subjects in literature â sex and deathâ. I laughed to myself, thinking that this proposition might be a little overstated. After all there wasâ¦., or maybeâ¦, well what aboutâ¦
I was stunned. I couldnât think of a decent example. My mind raced across the dozens of authors I had read as an eternally-grounded-to-my-room-thank-God-they-let-me-have-books-child. From the Holy Bible to The Shining to Dr. Seuss to Snoopy, he had summed it up. There was, in successful work anyway, some element of sex and/or violence in everything I could recall. This was true even of non-fiction (which he later stated did not exist). Recorded history itself is an epitaph of sex and violence.
Earlier tonight I played a show downtown, and took my three kids with me (my road crew.) Facing a mixed crowd, I played various songs alternating from faith, hope and love to sex, drugs and violence.
As we loaded up, my eldest daughter spoke up with a fair amount of lucid determination in her voice. She is the analyst of the group, constantly weeding out tough inconsistencies and keeping the huddled masses honest.
âDad, you have a lot of songs about killing and stuff. Whatâs the deal?â Her face bore the look that says âthis had better be good, or you will never hear the end of it.â
I told them all the story of the hidden track on this c.d., (track 13 â Like a Bird) for which they happened to be part of the inspiration. In the song, a tortured soul creeps into a pawnshop to buy a wedding ring, comes out with a guitar, and eventually burns his bride-to-be alive. Jaws dropped and tongues stuck out in unison.
âTake it easy, Iâm not finishedâ, I said. âDonât judge the book by the cover.â The crowd was astounded, disgusted, and getting tougher by the minute. The next ten minutes of the conversation was a crash-course in symbolism to three pairs of ears ages six, eight, and ten. They got it pretty quick, too.
âSo,â I continued, âin the song, I am telling the story of my own struggle with fear and self-pity â symbolized as my future bride. You see, I had decided to become one with the fear, just like marriage, and to give in to it and feel sorry for myself, thereby letting my dreams die.â
A flood of confirmations filled the car from every listener. They truly did amaze me with their deep understanding, and I was humbled, realizing that I was well into adulthood before I was able to comprehend what it actually meant. I got excited, and went into detail about the dynamics and desperations associated with pawnshops, using my sonâs favorite video game as an example of what one could lose in those dreaded places. That really got him going, and his sisters chimed in with angst for such usury.
âAs I contemplate my marriage, I see an old guitar (my dreams hanging on the rack) and pull it down, as it calls to me in that one irresistible voice that nothing else can truly mimic.â
I continued with the story, relating again and again how the bride-to-be is not actually a person, rather she is a personification of: fear, self-pity, resentment, insecurity, impending doom, emotional crisis, resignation and depression. I told them how I entered a recording studio two years ago to play for the last time a collection of songs so that they, my kids, would have something to remember me by should anything morbid ever happen to me.
The engineer loved the music, and persuaded me to complete an album at the studio â hence my first release. The evening after that first session, I went home and wrote âLike a Birdâ. The small effort that I put into playing music for the sake of something meaningful â albeit a little misguided by the melodramatic idea that I would thereafter âhang up my guitar foreverâ â was powerful enough to destroy the power of the fear of failure (or fear of success, depending on whatever psychosomatic philosophy to which one may currently adhere) and set me on a stream of new inspiration that has since proven to be life-blood.
My eight year old son was moved to tears.
My youngest daughter was ecstatic, and outlined various examples from all corners of intellect and imagination that shouted out the same concept to her.
My oldest daughter was satisfied with the answer, and made no comment except âbut did you have to burn her?â
Yes, I did. I had to burn it down, in my sonâs own incredible closing words, to âCinders and Ashes.â
It is not enough to try to squeeze in some positive thinking around all that negative trash. It has to be identified, called in to question, and incinerated.
Am I living my dreams? If I am not, then I will certainly be living my nightmares.
Enjoy the music, and enjoy all you have to offer. Your dreams are your contribution to The Great Reality.
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