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Build Soil – a lyrical explanation

January 8, 2015

I used to be very against explaining what I write. I figured it was better to leave it up to interpretation and not limit it to my own. But, then I realized, I enjoy it when my favorite songwriters a little back story to their lyrical concepts. For example, if I had never heard Andy Hull describe his thought process behind Manchester Orchestra’s song 100 Dollars, I would never have grown to like it as much. I also enjoy the discussion even if it is with myself, so why avoid it?

The Attic (From Which is Desire)

This is based off of a William Carlos Williams poem with the same name. In the poem, the narrator has a comparatively religious experience while sitting in his attic and looking out of the window at a neon “SODA” sign. I was thinking a lot about wealth at the time. It’s a common issue of complaint about our culture, and justly so. If you are born into wealth and are not a minority, things come easier for you; but if you are born in a low-income family, it is difficult to climb the rungs of the class latter, and certain institutional laws and regulations are designed to keep you down there.

At the same time though, wealth tends to blind people. If you are rolling in money, and can buy whatever you want and more, you have no need to seek such joy out of a bare beam of light. You often miss out on the moment. Your joy becomes reliant on your wealth.

Heaven can be a to an extent be place on earth, it just depends on our individual perceptions, which bleeds into all other aspects of life. If you are poor in material wealth, you have the opportunity to be rich in spirit and no one can effect that, but you.
At the same time, “but still we wait.” We live in a broken world. You must embrace your sadnesses and the down parts of life. Heaven cannot be here all the time. You must go through your brokenness in order to see your joy. You cannot escape unhappiness. It is a part of life. It is part of what makes us whole. If you ignore it, it will build and come out. Just because you do not acknowledge it does not mean it is not there.

Build Soil

“It needn’t wait on general revolution.
I bid you to a one-man revolution
The only revolution that is coming.”

Robert Frost, Build Soil

Another song based on a poem, with the same title. This one, Robert Frost. It’s an epic poem – a conversation, a political pastoral.

The best way to change the world, is to change yourself and your immediate surroundings. Change will not come through whoever is president, or through government, or celebrities, etc. It will come through each of us, individually.

There are plenty of injustices in the world and reasons for protest. There are plenty of reasons to fight, and plenty of people to blame, but these things are time wasters and smoke-screens. Do not try to fix them or fix the other – instead fix you. Fight your own demons and shed the excess weight of fear, self-loathing, anger, greed, etc. and watch it spread. Build your own soil so your crops will grow healthy and strong. This way, you do not have to rely on the control of others. A house with a strong foundation will stand the test of time.

Over and Out

This is a song of acceptance and of living life relationally. I used to fear what I believed to be sin. Back in the day, I thought if you smoked cigarettes or drank too much beer you were a bad person. Turns out, the fear of doing those things gained control of me and caused me to judge those who developed such habits. These so-called sins became forbidden fruit and had a power of me that prevented me from growing. I was focusing so much on what I was not, that I forgot who I was, until I decided to start smoking and I began drinking quite a bit – nothing too out of control grant you, but I began to feel my heart loosening up. It was a process that lasted several years, but my judgement was replaced in large by love.

I’m not promoting cigarettes in this song. I think cigarette companies, for the most part, are out to get you. I mean, cigarettes can kill you, there is just no way around that. But, tobacco has its use. Step outside of a bar and ask for a cigarette and suddenly you’re in a conversation with a stranger. It’s an easy way for people to relate to one another. “It’s where we’re at.” Drink a few beers with someone, and the conversation loosens up. You drop your guard and allow yourself to be unfiltered.

Live life relationally. You’ll be surprised what you’ll learn. 

The Way of Ignorance

In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
– T.S. Eliot, “East Coker”

I wrote this song shortly after reading the Wendell Berry essay with the same title. This song is about accepting what you do and can know, along with what you don’t and cannot know. Ignorance can be a healthy thing, for example, when reading or watching a good story, ignorance of the future circumstances keeps you engaged. Berry quotes Kathleen Raine in the essay saying, “we cannot imagine how the world might appear if we did not possess the groundwork of knowledge which we do possess; nor can we in the nature of things imagine how reality would appear in the light of knowledge which we do not possess.” Accept what you cannot comprehend and embrace mystery. This is, in part, what the chorus of this song is speaking to.

Ignorance can also be an evil. It can be something you choose, like when you turn a blind eye to a homeless person (something I did last night in fact), or when you choose to ignore the consequences of your destructive behavior. You can choose ignorance out of fear, or out of confidence or arrogance, or materialism, and so on. I encourage you to read the whole essay for the full meaning.

We can climb from the top of this mountain, we can fall from the bottom of the sea. Our vision and our perception of what is, was, and is to be is limited. There is infinite room to climb and infinite room to fall. Accept what you are and grow in your own skin. Build Soil

Grace and Love.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. humphreyking permalink
    January 9, 2015 5:03 am

    Reblogged this on happy souls in hell.

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