1-12-2013 6-58-30 PMThe lyricist is an idiot-savant bobbing perilously in the waves. He is a Rare Earth soul indeed, a flotilla-of-one balanced between port and starboard, fore and aft, wisdom and eccentricity. Music, like the ocean, registers the indent of a universal emanation. Sound is adjudicated by moon, stars and celestial rhythms. The floundering figure at best emits percussive splashes. Think of a snare drum in a bathtub. If he succeeds in making things a bit more interesting, he averts the ocean floor for a time. This is a gift. Glorious. Precarious. Short-lived.

So, a wide berth is sought around the adjective workmanlike. Craftsmanship is no less troubling a term. Trumpeting the attribute of madness hardly propels a curriculum vitae to the top of the candidate heap. And yet insanity is what our inspired-distressed swimmer must possess. We’re talking about an appointment to mimic flotsam then sink like a stone, not some dry-bone ascension into a corporate suite.

Pin a lyric to a book page. It lies on its side like a flopping fish starved for suspension. Here’s where poets often giggle, though this is not to denigrate the lyricist and his breathtaking capacity for sublimation. No asylum-seeker wishes to be chased through the halls by an orderly wielding a straitjacket. Unable to lash out at his demons, our nature boy will suddenly mimic composure. He will be tidy. He will be properly fastened and all squared-off. The administrators will speak of small victories notched one harness at a time. However lyrics do not lend themselves to the triplicate green form. Procedural matters are a tiresome book tossed at a drowning man. His head is kept above the surface by sympathetic ears detecting God’s breath in his sails. New-fangled propulsion systems, clever studio work, mean nothing to a proper ancient mariner.

So stop telling stories. Quit angling for that long-sought promotion. Please a knowing few with a dolphin’s grace, then drown in a spray of gurgled excitations. What a rare appointment! The music requires no less.

–Notes from an Unsung Stranger

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