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in a sepia tone aww yeah.

Dave Shaffer
Age: 22
Gender: Male
Location: Mansfield, PA
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some poetry

1927 Max Erhmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.
today is a day for celebration
Thursday. 3.30.06 7:24 am
Why? Because I am ecstatic. Not because anything good has happened to me lately - although many good things have happened recently - and not because I'm consciously overlooking some sadness that I'm trying to remain oblivious to.

No, today is a day for celebration because I listened to the Goo Goo Dolls song "Name" today and it made me remember a thousand things about growing up. I remember the things I saw and the way I used to feel about stuff, and the way I could listen to a song and be awed by its power. There have been a lot of songs that have done that to me lately. "99 Luftballoons", ANYTHING Wayne Krantz, "Breathing" by Yellowcard, etc. Not all of these are what a music snob would call "high art" or anything.


Now that that's off my chest. Thanks, I'll continue. I've been listening to songs lately and being just unable to explain why they're so sticking. Every guy in a band wants to be a huge rock star and I am no different there. My band has a big show coming up on Friday and we are so far gone past excited it's unreal. Anyway. Every guy wants to be a rock star, and in order to do that we have to write a song that captures people's imaginations and emotions. The quintessential "perfect song" that has a timeless message that people of all ages can identify with in some way. Or from a business perspective, the song that sells the most records. Why does it sell? See previous statement. Anyway, getting back to the point - god damn I ramble a lot - I want to write a song like that.

I live with my one roommate, Dave. He's a very close friend of mine and the singer in our band. He's also kind of my mentor in a way, at least that's how I look up to him. Basically we talk about four things: business, parties, music, and boobies. He gives me advice on chicks and we bat musical ideas back and forth to each other. Also we drink. Severely. So, Dave is your average 25 year old guy, and a cool motherfucker at that, with one exception: he is quite possibly the greatest songwriter in the world. And about this, I am fucking around in a manner only expressible by calculus involving limits approaching negative infinity. Dave is fucking amazing at writing songs and that's a fact.

I have a good song or two to my name. I wrote a couple of songs for my bands back in high school, and in college I have probably written 7 or 8 really decent solo songs, and as it stands I have 2 band songs that really rock - most of you know the one called "Holding My Breath" - and that's it. Dave, on the other hand, writes amazing pop songs like he's taking a dump, and by that I mean it would be no trouble for him to easily create two or three in a day. He wrote this one song we're playing tomorrow night called "Into Your Life" and it's practically the same chords as his song "Morning Light" except that he reordered them and made a different melody. I know you are probably thinking, whatever, but that's JUST THE THING. Dave can make melodies that stick with you and chords that you can't help but rock out to. And the point of this, before it starts to sound like I want to have inappropriate man-relations with my roommate, is that he shares that ability with the people who write the songs I was talking about earlier.

He's no superhero and neither are they; they are just gifted with an ability to tap into the supernatural unconscious of people with music. And we can all feel that when it happens. We all know the music we grew up to because everything about it was perfect. I know some people disagree with me on this but I think perfection is subjective. In other words, it is possible for two opposing things to be completely perfect, and it is possible for two very similar but ultimately different things to be completely perfect. So, that said, the music we listened to growing up was perfect even if the players missed notes once in a while. There are some famous flubs on popular recordings, notably Ben Folds Five's album Whatever And Ever... is just littered with mistakes and notes off key, but who cares? We accepted the music as it was, an expression of emotion and thought put together in a perfect pop song context. The people who wrote music like that did so because they were like that. And that's the problem we have today, and I am more guilty of it than I want to admit sometimes, but everything is so caught up in the image of it and the idea of "absolute" perfection, i.e. every note perfectly pitch-shifted, every drum hit and guitar stroke perfectly lined up. I'm not even saying these are bad things in and of themselves; of course you want your music to be as solid as possible, but the bad part is that then it stops being about the music, period; the music becomes kind of a footnote.

But I reject that, and I think lately people have been rejecting it too.

That Yellowcard song I referenced earlier is kind of poking me in the brain right now because I can definitely hear sections where the singer's voice is very obviously auto-tuned and Yellowcard is definitely part of the pop-punk-emo revolution that happened a year or so (shoot me in the fucking head). But that song even by itself is still pretty good if you just listen to it as a good song and don't buy into any of the bullshit that Yellowcard's record company is trying to sell you about the band. Hell, even Britney Spears, the antichrist of sophistication to most people, has some fucking awesome songs in her collection. "Toxic", for example. Holy shit that song rules. And again, the only way it's listenable is if you can momentarily forgive Britney Spears for culturally turning 5 year olds into whores (and if you can momentarily unforgive her for putting thin, fit girls with great boobs on a pedestal they oh-so-rightly belong on) and just listen to it for the sake of enjoying the energy that that song has. It's got a great beat, an awesome bassline, a terrific hook, and the chords in the chorus are slick enough to satisfy any jazzbo.

It's certainly not my model pop creation of course, but I thought that song deserved a fair defense. I can do without the sampletastic breakdown in the middle though.

It's all the same though. Somebody had to write that song for Britney, and the only thing most of the other artists we listen to have over her is that they write their own stuff. But the music keeps getting written. It's so possible to get cultural and social issues out of music, and I think it's possible to express every emotion, old, new, collective, and unknown, through music. The Zeitgeist, if you will. Music has a power of healing that can barely be described short of actually experiencing it. And as someone who is on the inside of it, it is impossibly hard to write music if you're thinking about any end further than just saying what you want to say. And that's a mistake that I have made over and over again. A mistake I have made, over, and over, and over, and over again.

(By the way, that's Ben Folds Five lyrics right there. From the song "Mess." You'll know if you know it.)

It's a hard cycle to break out of, too. It's so hard to write music as a listener and not as a musician. But that's exactly what you have to do.

Well I'm an hour late for work so I guess I'm going to wrap this up. Basically all I am saying is that I love music and today is a day for celebrating that. If not for everyone then just for me. But it's all about me anyway, right?

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