Let the Mystery Be

Last week (week 46 of #songaweek2018) was a disorienting blur for me. My laptop – which has become a sort of exterior brain that I depend on daily – needed repair and was out for most of the week. My main guitar wouldn’t hold tune very well so I dropped it off for some badly-needed routine maintenance. These are the two solitary items I’ve actually named when asked, “what would you grab and run with if your house started on fire?”

But I still had my classical guitar and a pen and notebook, and a few hours one day to write a song. It came together pretty quickly. Not one of my favorites of the year, but I felt pretty good at the end of my writing session.

Then the next day I was rehearsing the song and my son yelled from the other room, “Mom! You’re stealing another song!” He sang back to me the exact melody and rhythm I was singing for my first two lines. They were identical to Carly Rae Jepsen’s first two lines of “Call Me Maybe.”

I already had a sense that parts of the chorus were derivative of other songs, and knew that overall, the chords and rhythm were very simple and stock. I debated whether to change the melody of those particular lines, and decided that yes, even if legally I didn’t have an issue, artistically I did. Especially when I sang the song for my daughter later (who wasn’t around when my son made his observation), and she identified the same song with no hesitation when I asked, “does this remind you of another song?”

Ugh. I’m not happy with any alternative I tried for those two lines of melody, including what I sang for the recording. Good work, Carly Rae. That’s a catchy tune you came up with.

The lyrics are about those ineffable experiences we’ve all had – dreams, visions, moments of insight – that can’t be put into words, and that call us forward into the future, outward from our comfortable existence, onward to the next and the new.

Saturday I had both my laptop and guitar back, and employed them together to make this video.

I had a dream in the dark
It made a beautiful mark
In that moment between sleep and waking
But if I try to explain
It’d come out mangled and maimed
All of the treasure consumed in the taking
Shook in the shaking out

Let it live in peace
Let it live in me
Let the silence breathe
Let the mystery be
For another day

There’s things you’ve seen and heard
Can’t ever put into words
But when you’ve talked it all through they keep speaking
There’s music nobody wrote
More than the sum of its notes
The heart of every atom is beating
Faithfully keeping time

Set the music free
To sing in you and me
Let the silence breathe
Let the mystery be
For another day

Some things I’ll take to my grave
But that is not where they’ll stay
They’ll sprout and grow
and blossom and bloom
and wither and fade away

And scatter their seeds
Beyond you and me
Who in the silence breathe
Let the mystery be
For another day

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