I’m at the front end of a migraine–everything feels really intense and loud and trippy, but there’s no pain–so take everything I’m about to say with the grain of salt reserved for someone who is like “wow, man, everything is clear,” but I was listening to the radio this morning and I decided that there’s something really interesting about Jason Isbell’s “Alabama Pines.” I was trying to decide if it has a rhyme scheme and I finally decided, “no,” but there is something going on with sound in this song that’s a lot more thoughtful than you get in most songs.
It seems to me there are three crucial sounds to this song–“eye” “ooo” and “aye”–that repeat in every stanza–and then another set of sounds we’ll get to in a second.
So, I’m not going to bore you with doing the whole song, but let’s just take the first verse:
I moved into this room, if you could call it that, a week ago.
I never do what I‘m supposed to do.
I hardly even know my name anymore.
When no one calls it out, it kinda vanishes away.
I can’t get to sleep at night. The parking lot’s so loud and bright.
The a/c hasn’t worked in twenty years.
Probably never made a single person cold,
but I can’t say the same for me. I‘ve done it many times.
See how those sounds repeat? I feel like it tricks your ear into believing there’s a rhyme scheme, but it’s just these sounds coming round and round again.
But that’s not the most brilliant and beautiful part. It’s how you know where the emotional heart of the song is not just because of the words–which just read like we’ve finally gotten to the core of the matter–“I needed that damn woman like a dream needs gasoline”–but because it sounds so different than the rest of the song–so full of “eee”s: “needed,” “dream,” “needs,” “gasoline.”
But the “eee”s make an interesting backbone of the song–“week,” “sleep,” “weekend,” “speed,” “Springs,” “needed,” “dream,” “needs,” “gasoline,” “beauty,” and “liberty.” A lot of the “eee” words are things the singer identifies as necessary, but often only recognized as such by him.
It’s just incredibly well-done wordplay. And I like it.
Yesterday, someone at work was laughing about this.
Some things make me feel like I am wearing a disguise I forget I have on. People look at me and assume that we’re the kinds of people for whom that must be so foreign and weird.
It’s a strange feeling–not being the person the person who’s speaking to you assumes you are.
Since the Butcher was out playing with a puppy last night, I had a chance to really dig into it and do a major rewrite. This involved reading the whole thing outloud to myself. This was kind of tedious, but I couldn’t figure out any other way to make sure that it sounded right. But since “sounding right” also involves a lot of trying a word, reading the sentence, deciding it doesn’t sound right, and then trying another, it was kind of ridiculous.
The thing is that I have an idea about what I want to say–and it does feel really political. I mean, I do have an agenda.–but I fret both that I’m not good enough to pull it off and that no one gets it. Or worse, that they get it but it’s not that profound.
The toughest voice nagging at me right now is the one that says there are already so many brilliant people writing that I should just go ahead and let them and I could turn to…. I don’t know… not finishing afghans or something.
But I think this is good. At least, it’s as good as I can do.
But what if what I want to do is out of fashion?
Ha ha ha, you know, writing is the perfect thing for me, because I both get to do something creative and fret over shit I can’t control.
2. This is pretty dang insightful into the state of the TNDP.
3. Oh, hell, I’ll add a third. So, the other day we’re sitting here and a commercial for some new “I have super witchy powers, but I have to choose between being evil or being good” movie comes on which is supposed to be set in the South. The lead character opens her mouth to speak and, I shit you not, she has the Bill Compton accent. Now, I’ve always assumed that Bill talks like he does both because the actor who plays Bill doesn’t naturally have a Southern accent and because he’s trying to make him sound like a Southerner from 150 years ago. But I fear/hope that other people in Hollywood don’t get that. And now, the fake Hollywood generic Southern accent–which had been heavily Hee Haw–is changing into the Bill Compton. It’s both terrible and awesome.