Thank You Jesus For The Eternal Present

By Nathan Payne | pablosmoglives | 25 Nov 2023


"Part of being a songwriter is to forever live in a state of
trepidation as to what the next song may bring...
Each comes with its own inherent danger."
Nick Cave

 

It's all therapy.  Or can be.  It certainly has been the case for me.  Maybe that's why I don't understand "content creators."  They're actually doing it for the audience.  Some of them even ask their audience what they want to hear next.  And depending on the subject matter, it might even be a good question.  "I am an educational prophecy jukebox, or an ASMR person, put the quarter in the slot and dial up the topic you want to hear next."  Shall we talk about Ezekiel 38, or Revelation 6?  Do you want me to read Norse mythology while wearing a small animal on my head, or dress up like an airline stewardess and serve you drinks?

Nothing wrong with that.  But that isn't what you do with your songwriters, is it?

It isn't.  It's a rhetorical question.  Nobody does that with their songwriters.  Even the Freemasons know to let their artists write more or less what they want.  The artists may pledge allegiance to their master in their promotional materials, but the songs themselves can be about pretty much anything.  Even God.  Don't even get me started (again) on that topic.  But for me it's therapy.

 

"This may seem odd to some, because one would assume that the songwriter
has control over how the song ends up – don’t we just write what we want
to write?  But I have come to understand that the feeling of creative
control is an illusion, that the songs are predetermined and have
their own destiny, that they are not our own."
Nick Cave

 

I disagree with the part about the songs being predetermined and not belonging to the writer, but the point is sound.  "Creative control" is simply the filter on the cigarette.  That's the "craft" part, the part that knows which lines to discard, and, in keeping with the imperfect cigarette metaphor, which toxic narcotics should be allowed into the lungs.  "Creative control" knows what to chip away from the block of marble to create the Statue of David.  I think what Nick Cave is referring to is the phenomenon I describe as going surfing, as opposed to wrangling cattle.  Songwriting and musical performance is not an act of keeping a bunch of wild beasts in a pen.  Playing music is like surfing.  What I'm looking for in fellow band members is people who will help me make the waves on which we can all go surfing unselfconsciously.  I'm not looking for cowboys.  The songs are not cattle, they are waves.  We make the waves (possibly beating them into submission, depending on the song) with our surfboards (musical instruments/art supplies), and if the band is right, we can all ride the waves into shore for the amusement of the people who paid to see the show.  Ego has nothing to do with it, which is probably another aspect of what Nick Cave is referring to.  People who strut around onstage (or off, unless you're genuinely world-famous millionaires and can afford to indulge in that kind of artless posturing) WILL disrupt the waves, and bring the entire sound to a halt.  Their ego is an earthquake that creates a tsunami that destroys the coastline (the crowd), and which will in all likelihood sink the ship (the band).  There is no place for egomaniacs onstage or in a recording studio making anything resembling real music. 

People who think I'm egotistical, are themselves egotistical, don't understand the concept of "chain of command," and will destroy the music.  My band is (or was, and could be again) not a democracy; it is (or was, and could be again) a benevolent monarchy.  We are all equals here, and my job as the frontman is no more or less important than yours as the tambourine player, but I have full veto power at any given time, on any topic, without question.  That's why the band is named after me.  It's not because of ego.  It's because I'm the filter through which most of the music-smoke has been sucked by the muse, and it's my job to make sure she doesn't get cancer, by putting her sounds in the hands of a bunch of arrogant dilettantes who want to argue about everything.  Part of my job is to be cool about vetoing things I don't like, which is a skill I've learned the hard way, but nothing that the audience hears is up for debate.  I want you to come up with your own parts (for the most part), I want to hear ALL of your ideas and suggestions, and I want you to go surfing on your own surfboard, on the waves we all bang out of the ocean of noise at our feet, alongside me, as an equal (there is no greater thrill, and I love being surprised by my bandmates), but if you don't understand that I'm the captain of the ship, don't sign up for active duty.  No big deal, no hard feelings.  Start your own band.  My name is literally written on the side of this particular boat.  If you don't understand why, or have a problem with it, it's alright.

Just take your good ideas elsewhere.

Like the songs, I'm writing this article to make myself feel better.  It isn't the holidays.  I am so far gone from things, that spending Thanksgiving alone surrounded by people for whom the holiday has no meaning whatsoever wasn't even remotely depressing.  To my own surprise, even.  I got a text from some friends in the U.S., which was very much appreciated, but I spent the day alone.  I went to a Mexican restaurant, which are ubiquitous down here, and ordered a relatively-fancy meal that had no American elements of any kind.  I came home and watched some trad-wife girl livestreaming herself cooking while her kids were playing and some guy was talking offscreen, and felt a tinge of nostalgic desire for some trad-gringo companionship on a trad-gringo holiday like Thanksgiving.  Somebody to eat turkey and speak English with, would have been a luxurious, opulent pleasure.  But I didn't need it.  After a few minutes, I turned the cooking livestream off and went back to being fully conscious of my total, overwhelming solitude.  I'm not sure how to make it sound un-depressing, but it wasn't.  It was peaceful.

For those of us for whom drama and tragic noise have historically been a way of life, there was nothing in me even remotely capable of feeling bad about it.  I was indeed grateful for the day, and glad to board the Ship of Thanks, the captain of which demands gratitude from the crew.  It was an enjoyable show we played alone, all me and us together, Jesus and the angels.  But I've had to deal with some personal administrative tsunamis over the last 12 hours or so, and so I've decided to write this article in lieu of a song.  The Irish riot article was an afterthought, albeit one I believe in, but I've been meaning to write this article for a couple days, for the purposes of sharing 2 videos which, by now, I forgot I even made.  The instrumental photo-montage "Holy Smokes" above, from which I had to edit out the subliminal vintage nudity, and "New Sun," pasted at the bottom of this article.

So, as usual, I'm writing in hopes of re-inspiring myself to a state of gratitude and peace. 

It's working.

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I'd write a song about it, but the personal administrative tsunamis have overwhelmed the port, and all the song muses have had to escape to higher, drier ground, in order to survive.  Or maybe they didn't survive at all.  In fact I think they may have drowned.  Years ago.  I did almost break my guitar out yesterday, in fact, but decided against it.  I need more space to write songs.  I need a new computer, and room to record them.  I'm not going to do it in this small, blessed house.  Not for free.  I've done it hundreds of times.  In cars, vans, on couches full of loud people playing video games.  In the presence of all kinds of distractions, for free, because I had to.

It's sad on the surface, but in fact it's peaceful that I don't have to write songs anymore.  I would if I believed in my environment, and had the room to stretch out.  I can't write anything while folded into the ashtray of the world like an origami cigarette butt, smoked down to the filter.  Not anymore.

I appreciate any audience God has chosen to bless me with, but I'm not here for thee/them/ye.  I didn't write the songs for them and I'm not writing these articles for them.  I don't make gospel "content," and I'm looking forward very much to transitioning into being inspired to write for reasons of MASSIVE PRAISE, but at the moment, writing is still therapy for me.

Not that I've never done it.  Write songs from a place of massive praise, I mean.  Of course, the song might be titled "Sad & Lonely," which speaks volumes.  But it ends well.

 

"Lord I'm so free and happy
I am not under condemnation
I will shout it until I die,
'Jesus Christ is Lord.'"
Sad & Lonely

It does end well, doesn't it.  For the Jesus freaks, if no one else.  I have no idea why people aren't flocking to Christianity in droves.  Maybe they are.  I dunno.

Whatever the case, thank you Jesus for the eternal present.  Not only this eternal moment incarcerated in a cinder block of time, but also the gift of eternal life.  Which is to say, forgiveness.  There is nothing more valuable.  Your presence in my life is the most important thing I could possibly ask for.  Thank you for helping me overcome my ego, and for showing me how small the things I would build for myself actually are.  My "legacy," my big important work, my pride.  My needs are like a flea riding a cracked surfboard across the Pacific Ocean of your abundance and provision.  Please don't ever leave me, and don't ever let me let you go.  God forbid it.  Please.

And thank you.

And while the sentiment of the song "New Sun" is indeed encased in creepiness, trapped like a hummingbird in the amber of a bad, obsolete joke only the forgotten and fatherless could possibly find funny, it does make a good soundtrack for the film Thank You Jesus For The Eternal Present.  Which, according to some guy I've decided not to credit (for reasons of not knowing his name) but who is surely easy to find with a cursory internet search, "deliberately seeks a hidden order in randomness."  I don't believe it.  It sounds like somebody is having a deliberate laugh at the expense of the audience.  Such is the world of modern art.

It makes a good music video though.  Something to do in lieu of drowning in the tsunami of administrative nonsense, if nothing else.

Thanks for listening.

 

New Sun

A new sun is shining
over our heads
pull down the covers
and get out of bed

Clear away the cobwebs
turn on the light
dry all your tears
we finally made it through the night

     And take off your murderous clothes
     open your mouth
     and keep your eyes closed
     you talk to people no one else can see
     but nothing ever really sets you free

Morning has broken
broken in two
the day is in pieces
there's nothing to do

Hold onto the railing
squeeze it 'til it bleeds
follow the circus
wherever it leads

     And take off your murderous clothes
     open your mouth
     and keep your eyes closed
     you talk to people no one else can see
     but nothing ever really sets you free

I wanna take you away to that imaginary world behind the bushes

 

©2013 Nathan Payne

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Nathan Payne
Nathan Payne

I am a songwriter and bandleader who travels the world in search of the golden ticket. http://www.pablosmoglives.com


pablosmoglives
pablosmoglives

Replacing my blog at http://pablosmoglives.wordpress.com

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