Be who you seek

How lost we are in these melodies

Never to be repeated

What truths we seek in the defeated

In words depleted of meaning

How weak, how weak

 

With crying voices we speak to the unopposed beats

Obstructing our philosophies

Seeking our victories

In the defeat of others

How weak, how weak

 

Be strong when you speak

The power is in speech

Reach for others only when you’ve found truth

Find your feet before you help others

be who you seek, be who you seek

You hold guitars like they are offerings

A well of words

which spill over troubled bodies

a deluge of whispered sounds

which soothe thirsty skin

soaking the silence with quiet messages

which swell the heart

 

Your music touches minds

with lullabies of good intention

with fingers that seek wounds to heal

and fill crevasses with emotion

and flakes of skin

 

You hold guitars like they are offerings

 

Your gift is incoherence

a dam that breaks with joy

your water brings comfort

a place to warm bodies

a place to meet friends

and pay homage

 

Yours is a place upon which stories grow

on which to build homes and dig moats

in which to hold the waters of your words

it holds back enemies, our memories

it saves us from ourselves

Why I Won’t Let Go

I am not graceful, but neither are you. I am not together, or cool, or all that interesting. I have not achieved great things, nor made a difference that will go down in the history books. But neither have you. I have not meant every word I have said, I have relied on clichés to see me through, I have never written anything original or life changing, that others have passed on in rapture. I have never loved all that well, or completely. But neither have you.

You wouldn’t let that hold you back. You blunder on through, you push your agenda, you believe whatever you want to believe. Your middle finger is the most elegant thing in your vocabulary.

I have never been completely sure until the moment when I realised that I cannot wait to see you again, and you were already lying right next to me. You were already there and it wasn’t enough. You are like no one I know. You are unimaginable.

These days, I think that I made you up.

I won’t let you go, not because you have made me feel invincible, or infinite, or even just a little special. I won’t let you go because I know that I am all of those things, and I am waiting for you to discover me.

We are simply human, you and I, but I think we can surpass ourselves, surpass our non-achievements and our graceless ways. Together.

Just don’t let go.

Kissing Beneath the Streetlight: Part 2

We stood beneath a streetlight and kissed. There was nothing romantic about it. There was no soft music playing, no moon to catch your face, no gentle breeze to rustle our clothes. I felt light-headed because I had breathed in too much smoke and it tangled itself in my hair until there was nothing else but the reek of bars and disappointed dreams all around me.

You were lovely once.

Buddha said, “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gentle you lived and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.

I know that you were not meant for me.

I will never be graceful.

Kissing Beneath the Streetlight

We stood beneath a street light and kissed. I felt light headed – how different you were. How different you both were, the two men who broke my heart in different ways. Your kiss was unknown, unpractised and uncertain. I wanted much more, I wanted it all right then, but thought that I had all the time in the world. I thought that you would be back. I thought that the unknown would become practised and certain; eventually.

Does it bother you that I am desperate? Does it concern you that I want to fight you, fight for you, battle out your stubbornness, your indecision, this uncertainty. It bothers me. But I am tired of being the person who is strong and dignified. I would give up that strength for a while. I would give up my dignity for a shot at love.

We stood beneath a street light and kissed. I ran my hand down your back and it hurt my senses because I already knew how beautiful you would be naked. I wanted to strip you in the street, just to trace your contours with my eyes. I wanted to gather your skin in my hands and rub it against me. I wanted the sensory explosion of your scent, your face, your hands, your smile.

Does it bother you that I cry when I listen to your music? Does it concern you that it has become my masochistic means of punishing myself, of trying to get over you, while falling for your voice over and over again. The opening chords are enough to deflate me, to push me over the edge. All I want, right now, is to lie at your feet while you play those opening chords again and again, until the edge has come and gone and whatever exists in the abyss has come to claim me.

We stood beneath the street light and kissed. I couldn’t have imagined you would never become part of my life. I never imagined that there would be a price to pay for my hope. I felt like I had been promised something. A soldier next to me, a master, a dreamer, a creator. I thought that if we combined our strengths we would be invincible. Us against them.

But it was you against me.

I don’t know where it all went wrong.

We stood beneath a streetlight and kissed. There is no one like you.

I want to go back. I want to start again.

You Fought Me

You are a radical in all you do

Even in love, it is “at first sight” or not at all

You play guitar in the corners of rooms

And I ran, I ran to you

I found you in a cushioned cocoon

 

Flailing about in my lily white skin

Your skin a decaying artwork of pain

The only manifestation of your burning lungs

Too beautiful, so beautiful

I wanted to trace you with my tongue

 

I held onto your body in the street

As the waves of change came over me

There was happiness in being part of our human collective

But I could not feel nor look at you

Your blue-eyed stare reflective

 

Of what you believed

 

You fought me

You thought you could see all of me

But like others before, you weren’t looking for me

You were looking for you

And for what you believed me to be

 

In the end I still have that seed of me

And my dignity

About the coolest thing that can happen

I had my first radio appearance today. And before you think that I’m famous, let me tell you this, it had nothing to do with fame and everything to do with luck. Not only that, that luck is only lucky if 10 people were listening. My friend’s father has started an online radio station in the sleepy village of Hout Bay, in the Western Cape, fondly known as the Republic of Hout Bay due to its seeming detachment from Cape Town and the tendency for villagers to stick to their own. “Republic Radio”, as it is so wittily called, maintains a prevailing focus on 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s music. A strong commercial slant predominates, which makes me feel a little apprehensive. But I am now listening to some of my old “History and Appreciation of Music” songs and starting to think that the term “commercial” could encompass just about anything. With Jimi Hendrix one minute and the Beach Boys the next, I realise that it all belongs somewhere. And let’s face it, radio stations were good once and the music they played wasn’t always mucky and one-dimensional.

So my appearance was actually linked to a potential job, without a salary, but with a lot of the cool factor thrown in, enough to keep me interested. And due to my absolute and all-consuming love for music, it’s actually a little prize for all my hard work being The Ultimate Fan. The chance to be a radio presenter, with a rock show, where I get to choose the music: The Ultimate Job (without the money). One downside: I am limited to commercial rock from back in the day. Perhaps I am lucky in that rock from back then was diverse and progressive and damn fine music. You see where I am going with this – I scored big time. I am now determined to get to a play a little Metallica.

My musical education was a whole lot of DIY, with the occasional formal learning taking place; such as the aforementioned “HAM” course with I took as an extra credit at University. That course for some was an easy credit towards a BA, but for me, it was four hours a week of complete submersion in real information, with an introduction to the weird and quirky. I have totally forgotten everything that I learnt in the classical and jazz sections, but have gleaned a few quality anecdotes about rock music. The best thing about HAM was that it was a real course, with real lecturers who knew their stuff, where you were expected to learn how to appreciate music through listening to it and perhaps discussing a bit of the history for an hour every week. The fact that I was expected to listen to music repeatedly, so that I could recognise songs within a bar (something I am still particularly bad at due to a memory like a sieve), just seemed to be too good to be true. My time at University now seems slightly surreal and undoubtedly peculiar too.

While HAM was a formal way of learning about that thing I love, rock music, the DIY aspect involved a whole lot of reliance on the circles of people I ventured into. While my childhood had been ruled by “East Coast Radio”, a provincial radio station as commercial as it gets, I was lucky to have been a natural fan of music from the day I was born. Talking about music has always been my favourite kind of conversation and I know now that I will always be open to anything and everything to do with rock music: any discussion, any book and any band. Along the way to this very day, I have spoken to more band members than I care to list, have read just about every biography on Jimi Hendrix (and have started a collection of books on various bands) and spent thousands of hours discussing music with the few friends who care enough to have a worthwhile opinion.

But the best way to learn about music is to listen. Of course. It may seem like an obvious piece of advice, but there are a great number of people out there who don’t listen. Of course they listen to radio, but their minds do not filter or process what it is they are listening to. They don’t often absorb the right information, such as where a band comes from or what the lyrics are saying. And this is the way you kill music. Music is not supposed to be one-dimensional. It is not supposed to be something which is merely sound; rather it is a feeling, a story, a sign, a protest or a journey. It’s a lot of things which the general public seem to misunderstand or not really care about. The thing is, the public dictates what happens, so in many ways, we need to pander to their whims. Music is a business now and you have to sell music as a product, not a feeling.

It is of course really ironic that I am currently reading a book by Irish rock DJ, Dave Fanning. Dave is an institution, if you get my drift. He discovered a good many bands, he had a hand in their advancement and he was always true to his first love, music. Of course, that’s what the book says, but I believe him. More than that, I admire him greatly. So far, I have learnt a great deal from him – that’s it’s okay not to like what everyone else likes (hence my dislike for electronic drivel) and that music should come before pride. He has also taught me to do what you love, but work hard at it. There are no half measures allowed.

The trouble is, my heart sinks just a little when I realise I will never be a Dave Fanning. For one, I tend to enjoy commercial rock, have shied away from the very obscure genres such as psychedelia and punk and have run away screaming from Indie Rock, the latest rock to emerge from the radio waves. I am way behind when it comes to rock trivia and I will never ever catch up. Music is always undermining my confidence, although I owe a lot of that to people I encounter around me. Truth is, there must be a million bands out there and there is no hope in hell that I will ever know all of them. A large part me wishes that I didn’t give a shit.

When it comes to this radio show, it’s about the coolest thing that can happen to someone like me. I have to simple hang on to whatever integrity I possess and play music for the sake of the music, with just a little thought given to the audience out there. But damn, I am nervous. So, to ease the nervousness I am going to make myself this promise: that I am also going to be true to me. I mean, that music that I really don’t get, I can miss. No big deal. No one will even notice.