Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lyrics

I have a number of qualms about posting anything regarding my lyrics. A fixed interpretation freezes the purposeful ambiguities and withholding of judgement that ultimately allow a work to survive before it is inevitably quarantined by academic speculation which begins to replace the experience of the work. I am convinced this is the reasoning behind the elliptical and referential nature of much of twentieth century writing. Cultures and perspectives change rapidly. It would be arrogant to pretend we have an accurate understanding of what it means, and even more so to apply that understanding to a fixed moral framework.

With that said, I believe that some explanation is necessary in my case, because I have, in some regards, been unsuccessful or unable to provide an adequate variety of perspectives and responses to properly contextualize my writing in any of the bands I've played with. For example, the song "Feminism Uberalles", a satire along the lines of the Dead Kennedy's song from it derives its name, never had an appropriate "Nazi Punks Fuck Off" style retort. Another element of my decision to write this down is simply that I felt the stories behind some of the songs are worth documenting, at least for my own sake.

I Hope All Your Friends Die:
Initially written as a joke to help me to come to terms with an individual I viewed as exploiting the deaths of people she barely knew as a means of attracting attention to herself. I was hung up on the idea of death at the time, and I always felt that this was the most disrespectful act one could do. Unfortunately it is one that I've found is inherently tempting. I had never intended this to be used as lyrics. It was, as I mentioned, a private joke. However, when Robocop was recording our demo, Tom had decided that he did not want to use his original lyrics for the songs he had written before the band had formed, including this one.

Initially I felt that the song was almost a parody of unintelligent hardcore lyrics, with certain coded references. One in particular that comes to mind is the book "Towards a Philosophy of Photography" by Vilem Flusser, hinted at throughout the song. The day before the first recording session for what would become our debut full-length, I discovered that a girl I knew had been killed by a drunk driver. She was coming home from a get-together I had been invited to but did not attend. The over-whelming falseness and retrospectively contrived friendships by those in the community in its aftermath, greatly contributed to the considerably angrier tone the song took. In some sense the presence of this meaningless tragedy and its sad insights into human nature changed the course of the album and our subsequent aesthetic.

Feminism Uberalles:
I believe that if someone properly comes to an understanding of this song, they are afforded a much clearer view of my philosophy than I have offered elsewhere in my work. Not intended, as it probably appears to many, as the rewording of dittohead stupidity, the song was written at multiple levels of remove from my personal perspective and synthesized numerous strands of thinking that particularly pre-occupied me in the years prior to writing it.

In some sense, I think it is a means displaying how inaccurately applied the term "Feminazi" actually is. I am regularly frustrated by its use by blowhard talking heads as a blanket term to demean women speaking out against sexism or attempting to protect their reproductive rights. The song, which merges the nomenclature of feminism with that of fascism, highlights the absurdity of the term in its "normal" use.

The lyrics also reflect my most significant fears, and general paranoia. While the lyrics themselves are intentionally melodramatic, the point that movements or ideas I support are vulnerable to corruption and misuse is extremely frightening to me. Particularly as I see these tendencies in myself.

I think another reason I chose feminism in particular is that previously in punk and hardcore it had been dealt with simply as propaganda (something I find odd considering how complex and interesting the topic itself is). I wanted to write a song that would leave nearly everyone uncomfortable, and one that couldn't easily be written off and shelved away. In general I am distrusting of all ideology and anything that simplifies the complexities of human experience, and by imagining the corruption of something I support, I would be much more likely to retain that complexity than if it had been something I disagreed with from the outset.

Perhaps the greatest difficulty I have is to place in a linear, rational context, thought and I ideas that were derived through pattern recognition, and which if communicated properly move outward in a variety of directions. My attempts to clarify here stems from a hope that clarification will not lead to reduction of experience, but to further discussion of my work beyond the required talking points.

6 comments:

  1. In this case, I don't believe reading into the author's intention will take anything away from the experience, although I wouldn't worry about misinterpretation (seems like you chose the two for that reason; perhaps not). The Robocop lyrics were a joy to read. (Can't remember if you're behind all of them - sans, well, Ballard - but I can still talk for the ones above + I suggest that you post up the lyrics you're aiming at here, if discussion is what you're looking for.) Sure, at least in part, it is thanks to an usually uninspiring element of bands within a similar genre. That aside, the lyrics by themselves I could appreciate as a most excellent continuation, even evolution, to what might be known as the tradition of irony in powerviolence! - now, if I still can't say I got the lyrics "right", after grasping your clarifications I can say that I didn't get them wrong. While I deduced the irony in "I Hope All Your Frind Die" and "Feminism Über Alles" from their titles, some of the other... "Here comes the breakdown," pal.

    I might be as hung up on such things as you are, but I still can't seem to avoid unwelcome (and uninteresting) speculation. Merely reading the post from the standpoint of a "Robocop fan" seems nice enough. Well, it seemed so, at first. But you opened up a possibility. Can the sort of discussion that you'd like to avoid really be avoided? Anyhow, I do hope someone leaves a comment more along the lines of your intention (the reasoning behind mine is that "it can't hurt"). Perhaps some of the other lyrics can fare better.

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  2. the tl;dr version of zmaj: the author is dead. hooray for postmodernism!

    maybe it's because i've been binging on old naked aggression records lately, but i really miss the balls out (pardon the expression) of the riot grrrl 90s. back when punk bands were unabashed on things like rape, abortion and domestic violence. it feels like those issues have faded into the background somewhat in punk (and most definitely in metal). i fear the boys' club mentality will limit us all.

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    1. Please... Page is obviously alive. :P

      Postmodernism? I guess we can call this circle jerk that. Nobody else gives a damn, that's for sure; no academic pretense. It does matter to me, if I am the author, whether I'm a person (with or without identity) or an ethereal cluster of some abstract, cultural history, with its own hierarchy. Balls out is cool, if preceded by thinking, although I was never much into such lyrics, or preaching (if it seems like yelling "I am honest!" makes one honest, we're fucked). On one hand, a commendable opinion on "rape, abortion, etc." has definitely become a given, but if not questioned (within "the scene"), it becomes ideology, and, as such, vapid. I'm bound to comprehend it so if I interact with the reality of "the scene", where ideology is aesthetic most of the time, yet pretends to reality (wank wank). As for the writings of postmodern wankers, erm, writers: for one close to some vaguely anarchist ideal (all in regard to punk, huh), look at Hakim Bey. I see no difference between his bullshit, and the bullshit of a TV clairvoyant, except for one big academic paper watching his back. Self-gratification after the Act. Masturbation where nothing better could be done, than what had been done (if anything), by someone who is not - or, who's everyone but - the author (I do not mean that he should be doing better things than writing, but that his writing should be better). Naturally, I don't know how to wrap up this bitter jumble. I think I wanted to say that I look for poetry in art, which might be a damn vague thing to claim, but there is certainly a music behind the music - at least as long as we cannot have absolute rationality (thankfully?) - not dissimilar to the book behind the cover, the process behind the book, and so on...

      The above text might lack sense.

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  3. I will be replying in a more intelligible manner later, but I wanted to say for now, that I agree with you Andrew. In the context of this band, I don't think it would make sense to tackle those issues directly, or in the same manner. I don't feel like they are a means of adequately engaging me or the listener. I filled in a peace punk band on guitar a few years ago where the singer had decided to write a number of songs about women's rights, worker's rights, etc, and while I support her beliefs, I can't stand music where someone is yelling at me with "I BELIEVE IN _____". Instead, I think people need to be confronted so as to reevaluate what they believe in and why. Essentially I find myself presenting arguments and counterarguments against my own beliefs in my lyrics (at least int he context of this band).

    Which is not to say some bands can't pull it off (I think naked agression rules). Its just, I'm the most conflicted and paranoid person I know, and if I tried to put forward something that was meant to have one inherent meaning, and that meaning was directly related to my own values, I would feel like I was being disingenuous. My values shift, and I see endless possibilities for corruption.

    I don't know, I am mostly just disgusted with how mindless people repeat slogans, and with punk it feels like it can easily become lowest common denominator chanting (ie, "Fuck Cops!"). I think you all are much smarter than that and if you are going to take the time to read what I'm saying I don't want to wast your time. I think that has been a general trend for me...

    Anyway, I'm sure that was mostly repetitive and uninteresting, but like I said, coherent replies later.

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  4. i agree with ryan. actually i was kicking back with dk's bedtime for democracy today and satan bless them for writing songs like "chickenshit conformist" and" where do ya draw the line" that directly confronted punk's mindless, calcifying sloganeering (way back in '88).

    i think my poorly articulated point was that i don't hear important issues being addressed much at all any more. punk has been, largely, green day-ified into mindless pop pablum about "oh i'm so miserable and i'm such a weird loser." i know people who think of avril lavine when you mention punk. i think against that backdrop it's kind of refreshing to hear a confrontation person just step up and say,"hey asshole, this important. please pay attention."

    but all of that could just be pointless nostalgia for the music of my youth too. thankfully, punk is a wonderfully varied thing and you can make pretty much anything you want out of it and as long as it's honest it's valid.

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    1. Its unfortunate. Its just that punk is sort of prime for that because it stops being a primal response to the all of the horrible shit about the world that is often obscured because we don't want to think about it, and ends up essentially being an excuse to make lazy music. The people who are simply into punk rock because it is easy generally don't have the most informed perspective on the world.

      The worst part of that cycle is when they decide they've grown out of it, and deride it as childish and irrelevant. Its like "Well, perhaps you wouldn't view it as childish, IF YOU HADN'T BEEN SEEKING OUT/WRITNG THE MOST CHILDISH BANAL MUSIC IMAGINABLE"

      In general, I just don't think most people are capable of thinking beyond their immediate impulses. I don't know if it was always that way, but I find most people to be ignorant, so I don't mean to say I think punk rock is more so.

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