Justin Currie is a rather prolific, insanely gifted singer/songwriter, and sometime blog/essay writer, living in Scotland.
He writes amazing, apparently personal music under the gravest of self-imposed conditions, perhaps the most serious being that he never allows himself to be spared from his own disenchantment, especially in matters of love. He is always the lowest cad in every relationship story he tells. Having perfected this art of creating lush verbal self-depreciation, he marinates his songs in this vinegar, then tosses his head back and laughs when people pucker at the taste. Everything about him seems to scream, "see how awful
I am?" followed by a charming, "trust me, darlin’, you’ll want no part of this".
He refers to his gorgeous compositions as "thunderously dreary dirges", and when asked to describe them, he’ll dash any hopes of discussion by saying among other things, that it sounds like "when a fridge full of Heineken is thrown down a mine".
In other words, he’s brilliant. And, in what would appear to be the most tragic turn of all, he appears to know, perhaps very well, that he is, indeed, brilliant.
Of course he knows
. He has to know.
If he didn’t know, then he might actually talk about things like what guitar he likes to use, or some chord progression/drum crescendo/ harmony part, or where the inspiration comes from (besides heavy drinking, which is his stock answer).
But he doesn’t talk about those things.
In all his talking, writing, and singing, you never hear the man casually saying things like, "oh, I heard this old song on the radio and it reminded me of the time in my youth when blah, blah, blah, happened, so I sat down and wrote a song of my own about it, and was lucky enough to get Fellow Musicians A, B and C to come out and play, and their contribution was fantastic,"
which is a version of what pretty much everybody else says.
He never does that. The writing process for him seems to be...well, it’s actually like the man has barricaded himself inside a huge "everybody please fuck off and leave me alone" fortress, from which we hear the occasional announcement of, "No peeking! Oh, and I’m sending out a song I wrote. It’s awful. You’ll hate it. Now please leave."
Of course, we don’t leave–we stay on the safe side of the tall brick wall and wait, and the song is never awful, and we never hate it. In fact, it is beautiful and amazing and lush and brutal and encapsulates the human experience perfectly, and we knew it was going to be that way all along, which is why we didn’t leave.
Listening, we just don’t know the big secret about how all of this music happens, and he’s not telling. It appears that all of this audio nitroglycerin was imported directly from some great unknown, happening to merely surge through Justin on its way to us.
How on earth could one explain that experience? Really
explain it? Well, you end up spitting out coy, no-answer answers like, "it’s like when a fridge full of Heineken is thrown down a mine". Strangely, the unconventional definition satisfies.
It is a bizarre picture that surprisingly illustrates a lot things involved with writing, or creating. For example, faith that you can even do it in the first place. Is this even possible? Of course it is. Yes, the actual act of filling a fridge and dumping it, is quite possible.
But it is absurd!
One would need to be prepared to answer a million "why?"s to even begin such a thing. And also know that there is no simple "why".
The "how?" is actually the easy part.
It takes a certain fearlessness and determination to act upon inspiration. And a fair amount of lunacy, knowing full well that what you are doing is kind of a pain in the ass, could potentially piss someone off, creep them out or hurt them, but also that nobody besides you may ever really understand it.
Going bowling tonight? "No. Staying home. Alone. Drinking. Writing."
Sounds like such a drag. Why would you do that, if not forced?
Maybe "forced" is not the word I was going for. Let’s try "compelled."
Lately, I have felt rather compelled, myself. More so than usual. Trouble again? I got a funny fortune cookie about how love turns everyone into a poet.
I wondered: the turn you into a poet thing--is that before, or after
it turns you into an irritable, distracted, and yes, compelled
wreck? And are we sure that it is the love that turns you into the poet? Maybe what inspires you is the sudden and total loss of everything
leading up to the love, as you enter some kind of twisted new reality where YOU are fabulous and amazing in someone else’s eyes, or perhaps only in your own infatuated dreams. How much of what you are now are you willing to give up to become this thing you envision? Maybe, you’re really mourning the old you, or maybe you are remembering all the other days leading up to this one–days that you spent NOT feeling this good/bad/compelled. How could you have wasted so many years settling for something that wasn’t THIS thing? And what the hell IS this thing? Maybe, it is just hormonal panic, and all you really need to do is talk yourself down before you do something stupid. Or, maybe, you’re just desperately trying to define your own willingness, with all your mad scribbling, and are not so unconsciously spelling out your intentions to your beloved, while praying that you get a thumbs up on your grand plans of togetherness and perfection.
Dustin Hoffman asked Sir Lawrence Olivier his opinion about what compels people to get into acting, and Olivier leaned in close, looked Hoffman square in the eyes and said, "Look at me. Look at me. Look at me. Look at me. Look at me..."
So it is with all of love’s poetry. We put ourselves out there on display with high hopes, and beg the object of our desire to look our way in between the lines–to hopefully see exactly whatever it is that will make them want you as badly as you want them, and come running. It is a mating dance of self-exposure, and to do it properly, you have to present the up-until-this-moment absurd
idea, "you and me, babe, how about it?", with a perfectly straight face, prepared for a million "why?"s, all of which you will answer, with prose snatched from your own great unknown.
Love/Lust/Want. The very core of inspiration. Motivation. Makes you, you, only better. Stronger. Faster. Smarter. More talented. And then scares the hell out of you while you frantically try to make sense of all your new and exciting powers, deciding what to do first, while a clock ticks loudly over your shoulder, reminding you that a window of opportunity is closing, and the girl/guy you want will soon be gone forever.
Funny, aren’t we? Society dictates that we can’t always have everything that we want, when we want it, even though the open and active pursuit of it brings out the best in us. Better. Stronger. Faster. More Talented. It is only through our efforts to be "nice" or "kind" or just not damage the people around us with our super-human strength, that we lock all of that volatile stuff away. We don’t necessarily want to piss someone off, creep them out or hurt them–we’re just trying to be understood, aren’t we? Isn’t that the point of this whole earthly exercise? Why then, do we constantly allow all our personal bests to become bundled so tightly in things called "relationships"? Later, when we become compelled to let them out, in these spurts of romantic pursuit, they behave like an avalanche, burying anyone unfortunate enough to be caught off guard. This is the danger of "kindness".
I do envy Justin’s complete lack of pretense about being a "nice" guy. Personally, while I never set out to be unkind, I do find that when things are bad, and there is no benefit in continuing, for any of the people involved, a swift, cold act on my part ends up being the kindest cut. I don’t particularly feel like the courageous and loving one at the time–more like the lowest cad in the relationship story. In retrospect, though, I know that I did everyone a favor.
Which is more caring, after all? Forcing someone to languish in the grey? YOUR grey? Your foul mood? Your distracted irritability? Or turning them out into the world of color, alone, to do as they wish?
Sounds like a cop-out. That whole "you’re better off without me" thing. Yes. Why is it though, for some reason, that nobody ever believes you when you say things like, "trust me, you’ll want no part of this"? What possesses a person to disregard such a statement?
So much of the big talk on this blog lately! Heh..Sorry...I have a head full of dynamite right now. It’s raining and blasting cold here in the North, and the days are spent alone. Nothing to do but think...
Labels: In Which She Drones On And On About Justin-f*cking-Currie