"Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day."
Sometimes when a phrase or a couple of lines leap into my mind I'll write them down but I don't really believe they are destined to grow into anything more than what they are. I have hundreds of such lines, verses, concepts, call them what you will. It's as if the songs they belong to haven't been given to me yet. Maybe one day.
But then something comes along that is not just complete in itself...in that it is a complete verse or chorus, or something...but I know it will demand to be developed into something more substantial.
Today as I was wondering through Tribeca, where I live, these words were suddenly in my head - complete. And I know they will grow into a song. I think my recent experience of learning a lot more about my family history, thanks to Richard Tutin back in England, had a lot to do with this direction.
There’s something in my heart that shouldn’t be there
There’s something in my soul I can’t explain
A feeling that it isn’t really me there
But a fragment of someone else’s pain
It’s been there
Since I was born
It’s a coat
That I have worn
Down through all the winters of my slow decline
There’s something in my heart that shouldn’t be there
Everyone – and I mean everyone – who enters American Idol seems to think they can win. Even the ones who should have realized a long time ago they can’t sing.
Everyone who takes part in Deal Or No Deal thinks they know where the million-dollar case is. Even though two and a half years of shows have shown the odds are stacked against them.
George Bush believed we’d won the battle in Iraq the day we invaded. We were the super-power with God on our side.
And Hillary Clinton thinks the Presidency is somehow hers by right. She clearly believes she is destined to “make history.”
Let me rephrase this list a different way:
I think these are all things we need to think about and change – to feed a thought of the moment.
Talent. It exists, people. It’s real. But not everyone has it to the same degree in any given pursuit – which doesn’t make them worth less as individuals. And ask yourself why it is that ‘Idol’ spends as much time ridiculing the disasters as it does praising the gifted? We’re making ourselves feel better by watching others fail. Not healthy. Oh and have you noticed how quickly the winners have been rejected? That’s because America votes based on everything from birthplace to hairstyle. Seldom does it vote for the best talent.
Dumb Luck. There is NO talent required to play ‘Deal.’ From the moment the ladies descend the steps it is all just dumb luck. “Hey” says Howie, “you don’t have to make decisions alone you have help…let’s meet them.” Great. Pure dumb luck with advisors. Greed and the belief that luck is not dumb almost always drive the contestant to go too far – and lose. And, again, that’s what viewers really want to see. It’s why the ratings are still high despite not giving away a single million-dollar prize.
Arrogance. Fake humility is as obvious as arrogance. But a little true humility might go a long way right now. America does not rule the world, nor should it seek to. We do not have a right to impose our views or beliefs on other cultures no matter how difficult-to-understand those cultures may be. And we should never again break the golden rule by attacking a country that didn’t attack us. It’s the Department of Defense and it should behave as such.
Entitlement. George Bush felt entitled because his father had been President before him. Hillary Clinton feels entitled because she married a man who became President. Hillary can scarcely contain her anger that another ‘history-making’ individual is raining on her parade.
So what am I saying?
We need TALENTED leaders. But they will not be appointed by DUMB LUCK, it will require positive thought, action and honesty on the part of all Americans. We have seen where the ARROGANCE of a handful of men has led us and our country has suffered greatly in the eyes of the world. We all, especially Republicans, need to see it for what it was. And if we are to restore ourselves to a position of global respect it will not happen because we are ENTITLED to it. It will be because we earn it.
Unfortunately my earlier examples show that we are not good at recognizing talent or the lack of it, even in ourselves, that we often mistake dumb luck for judgment, we have blindly allowed arrogance to preside over this country for at least 7 years and many are mistaking Clinton’s sense of entitlement for leadership.
This is why it has to be Obama. He has the talent. Dumb luck, arrogance and entitlement play no part in this man’s vision.
There is no doubt in my mind that things are cyclical. The Chinese have known this for thousands of years – even measuring time with a cycle of twelve animals. I’m a Dragon. 2000 was the Year of the Dragon. And it will be again in 2012. Like I said, not linear, cyclical.
Am I the only one who feels that right now the 60s are preparing to come around again? Not the extreme, drug-fueled excess that killed the dream but the underlying willingness to be different, the willingness to reach for the moon, the willingness to reinterpret what it meant to be American.
Thanks to Barack Obama people are again talking of hope and change. People are openly discussing the need for America to take a new direction. Young people are taking an interest in politics; using their votes thoughtfully. Young people are coming to understand that many politicians truly don’t give a damn about the issues that will affect this planet after those politicians are pushing up daisies. Young people are realizing that an angry man, living on borrowed time, should never again be Vice-President. Never again should we have a puppet as President.
Hope. Change. These may seem like nothing more than words. But they are words that have not been used in this country for at least 7 years. Some would say much longer.
I have a strange sense that this is going to spill over into other facets of our lives.
I was discussing with someone only today how the YouTube video craze feels remarkably like the worst of Punk Rock to me. Remember when it was a matter of pride to admit you couldn’t actually play your instrument? Well, the energy and vibrancy that Punk reintroduced was then embraced by people who could play and only then did it, indeed, revitalize music. (Incidentally, the worst happened in the UK. I know, I was there.)
I think any minute now there will be a move back to letting our stories be told by filmmakers who actually know what they are doing. No more 15 seconds of fame from pointing a low quality video camera at someone doing something moronic! No more stupid insistence that no talent is required before inflicting your work on an audience. No technology-led craziness like thinking your cell phone is the ideal device for watching movies! The fact that they can now help me find the nearest cinema is fantastic but let the big screen drive quality back into the film.
Personally, I can’t wait.
And the few true talents that the ‘Broadcast Yourself’ era brought to the fore will succeed – as they were destined to any way.
History shows that when a nation starts talking in terms of hope and change and inspiration and possibilities, its culture is renewed alongside its spirit.
If you ask me, American culture has been headed down the crapper. So this will come not a moment too soon.
I hope the music industry, the film industry, and the students studying both in particular, make the most of the changes that are sweeping this country. I hope they take advantage of the voices being raised now that have been silent for way too long.
I hope Barack is our next President. But even if he isn’t, he’s already reminded us of why this is a great country. He has reminded us of our ability to aim higher. In all things.
Yesterday I saw a picture of a US soldier in Iraq. He had a peace sign on his helmet.
This recording represents the only time this song has ever been sung. I wrote it when my dad died and had every intention of putting it on Raised In Vain but I ended up leaving it off. I think I said to Craig, my producer, that I needed to write it but didn't feel I wanted to sing it again after doing it this one time. So forgive the tentative vocals - it's literally a first rehearsal recording.