Monday, January 20, 2014

Everyday Barf

"Everyday Barf" is an essay by Eileen Myles. Better than that essay, though, is her poem "Snakes"

Her book, Inferno, is pretty cool, too. It's a little scrambled, but there are some vivid NYC poet moments and fun takeaways. Takeaways like James Schuyler saying to Myles that she has to put objects in her poems -- real things, like cans of Pepsi. 

Anyhow, I've had barf on the mind. Yesterday, in the afternoon before a show (that's how the day seemed, leading up to the show), Brianna, with kindness, stopped the car because after Munchie's birthday event, I had to throw up. I'm a thirteen year old boy. I forgot to have a good dinner and did not take enough water. So I splashed all over the road with my whole core clenching up. It is so weird when I puke. Every part of my body gets involved. One of my eyes started watering, just one, and my crotch, if I even have crotch muscles, they also winced and lurched into the effort.  

So the sun was out shining on gray snow and I emptied myself out onto this angular slice of Kedzie with people passing and our friend Paul in the car getting a good view. That's OK. I like to watch my friends sing, and I don't mind seeing them throw up. As long as they're better afterward and don't do it too often. Just part of the getting-to-know-you experience. 

Paul and I just finished a song a few days before and called it "Everyday Barf". The song crept along to get ready for it's 9pm showcase. Since we had to write five songs in three weeks, I hustled the lyrics and the title together. If it were to be submitted to an institution I would count it as plagiarism.

The words come from the maxims of Herakleitos and one William Carlos William poem, "Pastoral", and the title is Myles. I like the circular quality of Herakleitos' phrasing, and WCW is just so cool in his knowing the neighborhood type of thinking. 

Some lines I took and rearranged and mashed to meet syllable requirements ("ingenuously", whoa), and messed with for setting purposes.  

  • The river we stepped into is not the river in which we stand.
  • The bow is alive only when it kills
  • The little sparrows / hop ingenuously / about the pavement / quarreling / with sharp voices / over those things / that interest them. / But we who are wiser / shut ourselves in / on either hand / and no one knows / whether we think good / or evil. 
When I think of what I'm doing when I'm not sitting with my friends talking it is usually writing a zine. When I was 15 I remember wearing thick corduroy pants and my blue St. Rita polo. I was leaving school on some stupid February day with definite gray snow crusting the landscape and I kept telling myself, you are a bass player, you are a musician. After maybe 13 years I know bass playing is something I do but the comfort or patient carelessness I feel for zine writing I do not feel with songwriting. 

How good is a good song? A comic artist told me I should not think of ideals when I work on a piece. There are no ideal songs or books or paintings. Still, you play a set, another band goes on, you think, whoa, now that's a song. I get a little fussy about and start babbling in the 20mins leading into and out of a set, but I'm excited by the prospect of trying to not take it seriously. Most of the time, I think, the songs I shake out are accurate representations of where I am. 

When we were finishing the set list for last night's show, I kept thinking of the Bob Dylan interview in a 2012 issue of Rolling Stone. I'm not a true or devotional Dylan fan, I only know his hits, but I love to hear longtime artists talk about songs and music. If Diana Ross or Joe Strummer would go on record about these topics, I'd read that, too. 

RS - Before we end the conversation, I want to ask about the controversy over your quotations in your songs from the works of other writers, such as Japanese author Junichi Saga's "Confessions of a Yakuza," and the Civil War poetry of Henry Timrod. Some critics say that you didn 't cite your sources clearly. Yet in folk and jazz, quotation is a rich and enriching tradition. What's your response to those kinds of charges?BD - Oh, yeah, in folk and jazz, quotation is a rich and enriching tradition. That certainly is true. It's true for everybody, but me. I mean, everyone else can do it but not me. There are different rules for me. And as far as Henry Timrod is concerned, have you even heard of him? Who's been reading him lately? And who's pushed him to the forefront? Who's been making you read him? And ask his descendants what they think of the hoopla. And if you think it's so easy to quote him and it can help your work, do it yourself and see how far you can get – It's an old thing – it's part of the tradition. It goes way back. These are the same people that tried to pin the name Judas on me. Judas, the most hated name in human history! If you think you've been called a bad name, try to work your way out from under that. Yeah, and for what? For playing an electric guitar? As if that is in some kind of way equitable to betraying our Lord and delivering him up to be crucified. All those evil motherfuckers can rot in hell.
RS - Seriously?BD - I'm working within my art form. It's that simple. I work within the rules and limitations of it. There are authoritarian figures that can explain that kind of art form better to you than I can. It's called songwriting. It has to do with melody and rhythm, and then after that, anything goes. You make everything yours. We all do it.