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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Hussalonia Song #9: What Will Become of Me? [Second Appearance]

I have previously mentioned that the first appearance of this song on "Ernest Evans Hussalonia" was probably one of my three personal favorites. However, after writing the last entry on this blog, and about to go to sleep (once again, I am up much later than I ought to be) I felt the urge to give this track a fresh listening. I do not know, as I had wondered about in the earlier post, if I can say anything here all that wildly different about this recording of the song as opposed to the one appearing earlier in the album. Nonetheless, I felt so struck by listening to it just now I decided to postpone some much-needed rest and go ahead and write about it while I feel so energized by the recent listening.
I've already mentioned how this song and merely the title of it seem to embody the experience of anxiety about the future for me. My listening experience of moments ago is very much connected with a particular experience I had recently, so this entry may be a bit more on the personal side, a subjective expansion of the more general sentiments expressed on the post about the other recording of this song. As for more specific commentary on the song itself, I would like to add this: it impresses me very much how all three recordings of this song manage to feel, to use a word probably bandied about too often these days, "epic." There is are unique forms of grandeur in both the faster and slower tempo version, and the final appearance of the song, which I'll be writing about later, is such an amazing synthesis of the two. It is a testament to [The Hussalonia Founder]'s talent that he was able to turn this single song into three unique and uniquely beautiful recordings that all fit so well together on the same album.
Now, for the anecdote portion of this post:
Being someone who has written for many years, admittedly with long periods of literary inactivity (as well as general inactivity), I have always veered towards writing odd little stories that resemble, if anything, the fiction of Kafka (I refrain from using a certain much-maligned descriptive word that I nonetheless have no problem with myself). I've never had much expectation that any of these stories would be commercially viable, and as I've slogged my way through college attempting to earn a creative writing degree (because, frankly, I couldn't think of anything better to do with myself that would be any more productive and yet tolerable or inclined to give an illusion of productivity) I feel even more increasingly aware of how unlikely it is that my best work will ever be profitable in the monetary sense. Further, I become more and more worried that selling them would be some sort of betrayal of my principles, in my belief of whatever worth it is that they have. If something is a labor of love, if the aim isn't, at heart, for a physical, material purpose, then should one really try and make money from it? If anything, I don't know if I feel the need to even spread these stories publicly, but rather pass them around individually, in keeping with my philosophy. We've all got to make a living somehow, and I'm still not sure how I will manage after college, but I feel even less confident than I initially felt that my serious, blood-sweat-and-tears literary efforts will ever provide me with food or shelter and other necessities.
Some time ago I decided to do two things, embodied in one project. One of the things I had tried years before, the other thing I had never tried before at all. The thing I had tried years before was releasing my literary inhibitions and just writing things for the fun of it, purely for self-indulgence. The thing that I had never tried before was writing something with the specific aim of making it "commercial," making something that might be marketable, publishable, and capable of allowing me to make a living some day, after years of rejection and perseverance.
I don't regret beginning this series, and I don't blame myself for that aim of making money, though I find myself struck again by paranoia of working in an industry built on corporations and demographics and focus groups and all of those things that some people seem to really believe are worthwhile. It might be presumptuous to worry about success when I have no real guarantee of it; after all, who am I? That's part of the problem though; I hate the thought of playing to the standards of popular opinion. Say, if you will, that this is merely the rambling of an insecure nutjob who is afraid of rejection; I can understand anyone viewing this that way. Nonetheless, the feeling persists and is sincere, and I wonder if I ought not keep writing as a passion reserved for spare time and not something that I attempt to convert into a career in pursuit of that illusive "actually having a job you love" ideal. It all leads back to that question: What Will Become of Me?
I recently asked an illustrator online, who offered to do drawings for a very reasonable fee, to sketch one of the characters from this (originally, at least) "commercial" series. The result nearly knocked me on the floor; the sketches were absolutely beautiful, and they gave me new drive to write these stories, just to live up to the images she created. All the while, it is past 3 AM, and I'm pondering a friend's accusation that the narrator of the series is a manifestation of my own suppressed desires (furthered by an embarrassing Freudian slip on my part), and the character from those sketches is staring into my soul. When I listened to this recording of "What Will Become of Me?" the element of triumph that I perceive in it seemed to outweigh any element of despair even as that despair was still the instigator the triumph. I have tried, lately, to overcome future-anxiety, to live in the present, to cease to worry and deal with things as they come. Perhaps, despite this swirl of sleep-deprived mania and insecurity, the feeling of exhilaration given to me by listening to this track reflects a hopeful move towards inner peace. If not, it is still a really great song anyway, in all three tracks in which it appears.

Hussalonia Song #8: Kindle For the Red Coats

"Kindle For the Red Coats" is a song with a truly impressive premise: a young nerd invents a time-machine and drastically alters history by traveling through the centuries to the Revolutionary War, where he provides the British troops with a modern electronic reading device. It puts both Ray Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder" and every single novel written by Harry S. Turtledove to shame.
That, folks, is my belated April Fool's joke! Happy spring time!
Yes, a whole month gone, and still no word. Well, here is the word. Word up.
While I realized in beginning this blog that I would likely not be very productive in writing it, I had hoped to release at least one entry a month. Lo and behold, that ship has sailed. Somehow I find myself already in the midst of April. Nonetheless, we must press forward, we must keep buttering the bread, we must keep trimming the sails, and we must keep chug-chug-chugging along.
It may be worthwhile to mention that I'm currently suffering from some sort of cold. I won't let that stop me from writing now that the busy days of March have finally yielded to a decent-enough amount of time and frame of mind to do so. However, if this one does turn out to be a bit more incoherent than usual, consider that you have been warned.
As usual, before I begin, I'd like to cover relevant Hussalonia news.
I missed it due to my lack of productivity last month, but March saw the release of an excellent new Hussalonia album, titled simply "Alonia." One might argue that this is first "traditional" album (though perhaps that term is relative) that Hussalonia has released since 2008's "Satan Amongst The Sofa Cushions." Specifically, I believe that since that album and until the release of "Alonia," all full Hussalonia albums either involved robot voices, animals reading letters, instrumental covers of eastern European national anthems, and some strange, sometimes hilarious sound collages. While I love those albums, it does delight me to hear [The Hussalonia Founder] once again providing vocals to Hussalonia music.
This month, continuing the endeavor to release one thing per month, Hussalonia released yet another new album. I've only just discovered it and so have not heard it as of the time of this writing. It is titled "Attention Deficit Recorder" and features the unique property of being designed to be played in any order while maintaining a flow between the songs. I very much look forward to hearing it! With it, this blog's scope seems to get bigger and bigger. Will I ever get anywhere near catching up to Hussalonia's productive output? The answer is a resounding probably not, accompanied by an undaunted sense of perseverance in the face of failure.
Lastly, Hussalonia is now offering a most unique opportunity: a personalized song that will be owned solely by the buyer. The cost is 100 dollars, and there are some strict rules to abide by if placing an order. Nonetheless, the thinking behind it is absolutely brilliant. Anyone reading this blog is strongly encouraged to read the page of the Hussalonia website detailing this offer. If I may be permitted a further divergence from actually writing about "Kindle For the Red Coats," I would like to say a bit more about this.
It has often occurred to me how simultaneously wonderful and terrible shared culture can be. There is a pleasant sense of community one can find in forming a new acquaintanceship or friendship over shared interests and the topic of favorite music is always a popular focus in such bonding rituals as these. One's mind could get absolutely boggled when considering the countless times that proclamations for the greatness of a popular song have served as icebreakers between strangers. I have had this experience a good many times in my own life. I can't say that I find any particular experience such as this regrettable.
Still, the existentialist, the individualist in me must, as in so many other cases, rebel against accepting this too idly. Though I may never have really regretted striking up a conversation with someone based on the shared love of a song, a movie, a television show or a videogame, I can also remember many times in recent years how, to some extent, it disturbs me, and gives me a sense of being too tangled up in the crowd.
I feel that this new offer from Hussalonia and the free-for-everyone release "The Public Domain EP" are, in a way, two sides of the same coin. "The Public Domain EP" provides, totally free of charge, four excellent songs that a person can have total freedom with, freedom to change, to alter, to build upon, to profit from, to enjoy, to do just about anything. This personalized song offer has a definite set of terms and conditions, many of which are the polar opposite of the freedoms allowed by the open terms of "The Public Domain EP." Yet it offers a different kind of freedom through these strict rules: it offers one the ability to truly "possess" a song in a way that is entirely individualized, that sets one apart as an individual from the entangling web of culture. The song one obtains through this offer is one's own; you can't start a conversation with a stranger based on a mutual love of it. You'll never hear it in a movie or on the radio. You can't go out to the store and buy a new copy. You will be left alone with it, yet in a way more truly so, perhaps, than any other song you will ever hear. I bow once again to Hussalonia for such a unique offer, for providing art for the individual even as art for the masses has been provided for. In a world mired in industry, in culture shared but not freely, Hussalonia has covered all of the bases. I cannot help but feel inspired, and my intent of spreading Hussalonia awareness through this blog feels ever-increasingly worthwhile.
Now, finally, I shall write about "Kindle For the Red Coats." I fear that my comments on this song will be quite skimpy, especially compared to the rambling I've just done.
I have long found this song's meaning difficult to grasp. I am able to pick up on the imagery of the stage, but somehow I feel drawn into the music itself and not far into it my ability to concentrate on the lyrics is absorbed into a trancelike state. The music is certainly excellent. However, this is one of the songs on "Ernest Evans Hussalonia" that I play very infrequently. The "list" that appears not long after or around the one minute mark features some of [The Hussalonia Founder]'s most unsettling vocals that I can currently remember. Not there is anything wrong with being unsettled by art; it can very well be a sign of great success. Still, even as a success, when this effect is achieved (whether or not intentionally) one can expect that a listener/reader/whatever will probably feel reluctant to return to that work of art very frequently.
Some years ago, about a year after the album "American IV: The Man Comes Around" by Johnny Cash was released, I was speaking with a friend about how much I enjoyed it. She told me that she didn't really like to listen to it much at all. This offended me to some degree. Upon my questioning her, she explained that the most of the songs on it were just too dark and too intense, and while they weren't, in her estimation, bad songs, they weren't the kind of the songs one listens to often or outside of a certain mood that is particularly receptive to such music.
This always bothered me, despite and perhaps increasingly because of her explanation. Nonetheless, I must concede that I do see her point. "Kindle For the Red Coats" is not a bad song, and it is arguably very evocative and effective; still it is, for me, rather difficult to listen to, perhaps due to the very fact that it has such a strong effect upon me. As the words "pathetic mother…movie theater…" are sung in that (to me, anyway) eerie, strained way, I feel like something in my mind could break, like the Gates of Hell are about to open. I am not really sure what about it is about this section of the song that affects me this way, and so strongly, but every time I listen to it I continually get that same sense of being overwhelmed. Perhaps the fact that I've never really comprehended the meaning of the lyrics adds to that feeling of being overwhelmed, of being lost in a confusion, running against a constant deadline to make sense but seemingly without hope of doing so as one's emotions come crashing down upon oneself. It is very powerful, very strange, and a bit too much to bear. Likely I've missed the real intent behind it, and I don't think that in writing this I'll be able to work out what that intent might be. I'm left only with that overwhelming intensity that it seems to convey to me.