So I was thinking about writing a post dealing with the differences between writing music and poetry. For me it’s easier to write poetry than it is to write music, and I have no idea why that is. I think it’s something to do with the feeling that I find a lot of freedom on the page, but that everything amazing in music has already been written (I mean come on: Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Springsteen–it doesn’t get better, at least for me). I know there’s freedom in music too, but I’m still having a hard time working it out. Anyway, that’s not this post.
I wanted to talk about the band “mewithoutYou” in this post, and their ridiculously impressive lyrics and projects. They’ve been pegged as a Christian band, but I think that was the work of some pretty shortsighted music critics, because their lyrics use Christian, Muslim, and Jewish images and stories to explore themes about the self and relationships to the rest of life. They also take stories and images from the Bhagavad Gita, and historical events. Their album “Ten Stories” focuses on a traveling circus train that crashed in Montana in the late 1800s, and every time I listen to it, I find more and more to love about the lyrics.
“Grist for the Malady Mill” is the second song on the album, and my favorite because of the rhythm of the lyrics, and the intense images they use. Give it a listen if you’re curious, it’s pretty intense (especially that intro), but if you listen for the lyrics, I hope you’ll see the brilliant images involved in a simple story about animals fleeing from the train crash. My favorite lyric comes in the chorus “rail spikes rip like the seam on a wineskin”– it’s just the perfect image, the perfect amount of alliteration, that nice long e in wineskin. Enjoy!