My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Carry On

When I was young, my father had this truly mammoth collection of cassette tapes recorded from other people's LPs. They took up a whole bookshelf stacked upwards on each other--sometimes two deep--and he would pop them into his high fidelity stereo with the snazzy cassette player (right below the eight track), crank up the volume, and fill the house with contemporary hits.

Of the time....

After I got over my Air Supply phase, my Michael Jackson phase, my Madonna phase, my Starship phase, My Phil Collins/Genesis phase, and then my everything-my-parents-love-must-(by-definition)-suck phase, I eventually had to face the cold, harsh reality that my formative years were heavily influenced by seventies rock artists.  It's not that I don't love the movements that have come sense--a shuffle all tour through my iPod is an eclectic journey that will have you listening to Mozart, Ke$ha, Gershwin, and Garbage, Die Form, or Covenant are as sure as Enya, Lorena Kennett, or orchestral versions of Final Fantasy Music if you are brave enough to hit "Shuffle All."

Beware the groove baby.

But something about those seventies artists always sounds extra..."right" in my head.  Their chord progressions. Their resolves. Their really shitty synthesizers. It's not that other music isn't good--despite what Facebook memes say, some modern music is very, very good. It's just that there's a place in my brain that will always hear those artists as the boy who wasn't too old yet to sit in his mother's lap and suck his thumb.

My thirties have been a pastiche of discovering love for bands I was only vaguely aware of.  Blue Oyster Cult, Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan (Oh GOD yes, Steely Dan!), Led Zeppelin, Kiss, The Clash, and of course Kansas.

I've always loved this song even before Screw The Bechdel Test Supernatural made it popular by playing it every season finale with an extended clip of scenes from previous episodes. ("Carry on Winchester sons! Another season's almost done. Don't you die no more!") Even though it's a little morbid and/or religious in it's overall theme, it seems to perfectly capture the soul of an artist. And I've always heard this song as a writer.

You don't have to know what you're doing. You don't have to have some perfect clarity of vision. You will never "make it," whether it be to heights or vision or wisdom--you can only do better than before. You just have to keep working--keep struggling.  Keep writing (in a writer's case). You pretend to know what you're doing ("masquerading as a man with a reason") and you do the best you know how to do. 

And as it turns out when you do keep struggling, and keep struggling, you look back and start to realize your creative life adds up to something. It matters. (Or you get to go to heaven...depending on how literal and religious you want to be about the meaning.)

For what could be more artistic (and really more human) than the idea that until we are feeding worms, we are defined not by our perfection but by our struggle. No one's going to sit down one day and write the great American novel.  No one.  Writing--and really life--is nothing more than the ambition each day to be better.

Carry on.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Wow did you spend all night thinking of that one?

      I think I might be into anti-fan grudge sex, so if you'll send a head shot, a disclosure of your sexual history, and your most recent STI panel to my private e-mail, we can talk about making your dream a reality.

  2. Damnit. Now I have to buy that song. Of course I know it, but it wasn't in my iTunes collection yet.

    FWIW I read an article saying people tend to favor the music they heard during their adolescence, then the music they listened to as children, then whatever is modern. It makes sense to me - I like my mother's music now, too, and I also went through a "whatever my parents listens to by definition sucks" phase.

    1. I found a Best of Kansas for like seven dollars, I think. Might have been a deal of the time, though.

      That thing about what music we like makes sense.