A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Song: "The Insane"

The last few days I've been working on a song I've only just named "The Insane".  This song started out as another song and has gradually morphed into this one.  I wanted to write about psychosis.  That's what many of my unrecorded recent songs are about.  Reading the lyrics straight without the music can be problematical.  Songs are poetic, but not necessarily poetry.  The lyrics' success lies with the musical treatment of it, in the rhythm of the guitar and the voice and with the subtle tonal shifts, especially of the voice.  I can emphasize one word or a group of words all at once.  When I get into it, it can be a visceral experience.  Unfortunately because this song has been changing over time, I'm not ready to record it.  That might be an excuse.  I think I'm afraid to record it in case it doesn't come out, which is dumb.  How can I improve it unless I hear it?  I have a beautiful portable studio machine that I don't use.  I spend a lot of time just tinkering with the basic structure of the songs I write.  I just sit down with my electric guitar and my amplifier and fool around.  I've been noticing that I have been avoiding setting up the portastudio. Is it just that I'm afraid to sound like shit?  It's a dream of mine to make another CD with the songs I've been working on for the last five years, but first I've got to get over myself.  So here are the lyrics of "The Insane".

The Insane

The pleasure and pain of the insane,
We walk on the line all of the time
Falling from side to side,
It's not like we haven't tried
To keep the balance in our heads,
To keep the sea from turning red
(Bloody red.)

Sometimes we look real normal,
Sometimes we don't.
Sometimes we're talking to thin air,
Sometimes we won't.

And take your medication.
Find a therapist
Who will make you care a bit
About you.

You've got to care about yourself now,
You've got to care about you.
If you don't care about yourself now
How are you gonna break on through
To the other side,
Where sanity is many miles wide
And you don't have to hide anymore.


That's it.  I play around with the rhyme scheme.  As you can see it shifts a lot.  There are internal rhymes or rhymes that occur within one line and then alternating rhymes that occur at the end of a line.

I have a book of Joni Mitchell's lyrics and I was looking at a few songs last night.  She plays a lot with straight rhymes and unusual rhymes.  She's extremely skillful and talented.  Her rhymes are supremely intentional.  My rhymes often are accidental.  So it's long past due that I get more formal in my study of how to make a song.  I almost entirely create my lyrics while playing simple guitar, but I've been thinking lately that I should have a song workbook that I keep with me in the living room apart from my guitar.  I need to see what it's like to write first and then apply what I've written to music.

About the lyrics themselves, I'm hoping that they speak for themselves.  I did take the phrase from The Doors - "break on through to the other side". If you don't understand them, feel free to say so.  And thanks again Karen and my dear old friend for leaving comments.  I'm trying to make it a habit to print up my blog entries with the comments included so that I have a handy copy and can refer to it several times over the course of a week.
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