The Goal Isn’t To Get Stronger, But To Enjoy Life

Things have been frantic lately. The past week has been almost unbearable. But I’m feeling like I’m myself again, and I’ve gotten stronger after all that’s happened.

I really wish that my news was that I were living somewhere other than Georgia, that I were far away from my mother and that I’d never have to see my family again, but that isn’t what happened. I fantasized about it a lot though, I imagined a rock band’s tour bus breaking down in the neighborhood across the street, and while I walked to the gas station with two of the band members, I sang for them and they invited me to come on the road with them and I began living life as a musician, and experiencing all the love and excitement and youth that I’ve dreamed of.

I actually considered, closer to reality, asking Jimmy to take me back. Not as his boyfriend, but to let me stay with him. It kind of goes to show that all I’ve learned from my mother is how to manipulate people and make them feel sorry for me until they assume responsibility of me. Jimmy didn’t respond though.

I quit the job at Five Guys. I knew from the moment I walked in on the first day that it was a mistake. I don’t know how. It could be that I went in with such a bad attitude that I stopped myself from ever succeeding there. But I just knew that I couldn’t do it. I could have held on longer, but the best way to describe it is being trapped, and that was after only four days of working there. Because of an argument with my mother in which she, as usual, behaved like the mean, selfish child that she is and decided that the best method for punishing a ten-year old is to attack her on a personal basis, hurt her feelings, and tell her that she’s not as good of a child as her other children, and my response that she was acting like a bitch, as well the ensuing argument about her being a bullshit Christian (as though Christianity isn’t bullshit to begin with), during which I was told that I was kicked out of her house earlier this year for “denying Jesus Christ,” and when I replied that I don’t give a shit about Jesus Christ, well you can imagine.

She was doing this weird thing of not saying she was putting me on the street, but saying she was going to move the camper to a trailer park and make me pay to live there. When I have no money. Even had I kept the job at Five Guys, I wouldn’t have had money to live on my own. Progress is not enough for her, she expects me to go from completely dependent to completely independent immediately; when I told her I quit the job I had, she assured me her fiance would kick me out, which he did not, because I have another job lined up at Pottery Barn. I talked to one of the manager’s and he all but assured me the job, and today my mother (who is also a former employer) missed a call about a background check, so my chances of getting this job at Pottery Barn are looking very good.

It’s taken me a few days to calm down. To calm down from the panicked feeling I had a few days ago. Not panicked like a panic attack, more panicked like I simply cannot handle life. It wasn’t emotional, it wasn’t raw and open and filled with tears and yearning and longing, it was dry and frantic and I felt maimed and incapable. I cannot live here much longer. But I think I’ll do better at this job at Pottery Barn, much better, and I may be starting school here in Georgia soon. I need to be away from these people, and take care of myself. I need to have freedom.

For now, though, I’m alright. My situation seems to fairly stable enough, and I’m going to try and go back to North Carolina for this weekend, and maybe see Nathan. I’d like to walk around the block there and experience that again, with my new ability to survive out in public that a few days of working at Five Guys gave me. I did not overcome my anxiety while there, but it just stopped controlling me. And I never want to come home smelling like wet potatoes, raw meat and onions ever again. No more restaurants for me.

I got my keyboard hooked up, though the smaller amp will only let me plug in one half so I have the old problem of it being loud on one side more than the other. But playing piano has made me feel a little more like myself, maybe a little calmer and more stable, and probably relieved me of some of the things floating around in my chest and my brain.

I’ve discovered a new musician, her name is Amanda Palmer, and she is one half of The Dresden Dolls. I had heard about Amanda Palmer from a Tori Amos podcast, where someone mentioned Amanda saying that she tried to listen to Tori and wasn’t very into her; people seem to think Amanda hates Tori and having read a couple of her blogs where Tori is mentioned, she has a lot of respect for her and is completely honest about her opinions on Tori, which pretty much are about the same as mine. She sometimes hates Tori’s music and sometimes loves it, and mentions that the first couple of albums have some great songs, and that she may hate this song and love that one. That’s pretty much how I feel. I’ve tried very hard to like Tori’s newer music, but after her third album it all went downhill, with one or two songs worth listening to on an album and a lot of other’s that just aren’t worth the effort. Her music doesn’t really have discernable melodies anymore, her voice is hard to listen to, and frankly a lot of it is boring. She seems to make songs that could have some potential and then just leaves them at that. That’s how I feel about her music anyway, and having tried to force-feed myself Tori’s entire catalogue, I’m entitled to have my opinion and feel how I want to about it. The Tori magic is the 1996 Dew Drop Inn Tour; that’s where the soul-shaking stuff happens, the demon and the goddess clawing their way out of Tori’s mouth and rushing through her fingers and moving her body and screaming and bleeding all over the stage.

But back to the Dresden Dolls, and Amanda Palmer. The Doll’s first album was released in 2004, and it’s the one I’ve listened to the most so far, with some really inspiring and refreshing songs. Right now my favorite is Amanda Palmer’s 2008 solo debut, Who Killed Amanda Palmer. I discovered Amanda and the Dresden Dolls when I came across Astronaut on a nifty music program called Spotify (it’s like and iTunes thrown together), and I’ve been watching interviews with Amanda and listening to her music and I even learned to play Astronaut in a very basic form. She performs the way I want to, she throws herself at the audience and the emotion and the music erupt out of her all over the room. As it turns out, she also uses Kurzweil keyboards, which is the very kind I have. It gave me a nice boost of confidence in the electronic instrument I once deemed unfit to play because it didn’t have weighted keys.

But as for the music itself, I wasn’t able to purchase anything because I have no money. I did learn, however, that Amanda’s debut, as well an “Alternate Tracks” version, and a reading by Neil Gaiman that is something of a prologue, are all “name your price” on her website, taking a page from Radiohead when they gave fans the opportunity to pay whatever they felt their newest album was worth. What I didn’t realize is that there is literally no minimum, and you can download the music for free if you want to. I wanted to support Amanda but I have no money and my accounts are in the negative, so I downloaded them for free, as well as all of the Dresden Dolls albums, which are also “name your price” on her website.

Apparently, however, the record company screwed Amanda over and she gets absolutely none of the proceeds from the sale of the album if you purchase it from any retailer other than herself, which is probably the reason why there’s no minimum on the album. If you’re going to be getting the album and she’s not going to be making any money, you may as well get it for free from her instead of donating twelve dollars to the record company, who isn’t going to give her a cent of the profits from her own major-label, Ben Folds-produced album.

Also on a related note, the other Dresden Doll, Brian Viglione, is seriously sexy. I don’t know what it is, because in truth he looks a bit weather-beaten, but he’s so well put-together and always shirtless and well-defined, there’s something extremely masculine about him, more so than in other men. I think it adds to his sexiness that he enjoys cross-dressing, and he just seems like a genuine, awesome person. I’d tap it. For sure. Although since he’s straight, I’d probably have to settle for him tapping me. I’m down.

And, get this! When Amanda goes on tour by herself or with Brian, they don’t stay in hotels. THEY STAY WITH FANS. Yep. They come and crash at your place. That is awesome. Amanda and Brian are more in touch with their fans than anyone I’ve seen in their position: they answer all questions, if you send them something to autograph they’ll autograph it and mail it back to you, they encourage you to send in your music if you’re a musician and promise they listen to everything, and if they like you they may bring you onto their label and they may let you open for them. They’re just so genuine, and it’s really about the music for them. One person mentioned that the Who Killed Amanda Palmer songbook had a binding that snapped shut, and Amanda said they were working on a new binding for future editions and that she could trade it in. So genuine!

She’s really just an inspiration and exactly the kind of musician I want to be. I don’t feel the need to mimic her either, because I just get her; she makes me want to be myself, and not copy Tori Amos or anyone else.


Moving On and Moving Forward

I have a lot of news! Firstly, I have moved further South. Yeah, it wasn’t my favorite course of action either, but as I’m back living with my family, and my family decided to move to Georgia, I really had no choice but to come along. I was a little bitter about it at first, but I’ve adjusted fairly quickly, and after all, I have always dreamt of getting out of North Carolina. Granted, I didn’t want to go deeper into the deep South, but Georgia’s a beautiful state and luckily we seem to be very near civilization. The redneckery does seem to be at the level I expected, but luckily I don’t actually know, nor plan on knowing, the people up the street who have four flags draped over their front porch (all various forms of American and Confederate, as is to be expected), or indeed our rowdy drunken neighbors. I am content to while my hours away in my room, which is located in a camper in the backyard.

Yeah, you can probably see why I was not too into this move at first, but to my surprise, the RV is quite cozy, and I can listen to music, watch movies, or really do anything, as loud as I want, any time of the day or night. It is quite like having my own place. In a rebellious-son-in-the-back-yard kind of way. And I keep the dog outside with me at night, so at to protect me from unmentionables like wayward confederates and, of course, the various creatures of the night.In exciting musical news, Florence + the Machine have FINALLY released information about the upcoming album, and we’ve been treated to a beautiful new single, What the Water Gave Me. This song, along with Bedroom Hymns, has been floating around YouTube for a bit with recordings of live performances, but here we have the real thing: complete with Florence’s customary vocal acrobatics, choirs, harps, and strings. Due to a combination of not having my own computer with which to keep a music library organized (you have NO idea how badly I want my iTunes back) and not having a debit card on file, I have not yet been able to buy the single, but it will happen.

And now we get to the even bigger news I touched on, the new album!  Florence’s second album is either still as of yet untitled or the title simply has not been revealed, nor has the cover art, but the release date however, has been confirmed as November 7, and the new album is available for pre-order in Florence’s official store. Also, to my elation, there’s a two disc DIGIPAK (squeal!!) deluxe edition, featuring a second disc with B-Sides, remixes, and previously unreleased material, and as a bonus for ordering from the official store, a poster! I cannot properly convey how excited I am about all of these things.

As it turns out, Autumn 2011 is a good season for music, because in addition to Florence’s new album, we’re going to be treated to new albums from some other great artists as well: Evanescence returns from a SIX YEAR hiatus to release a self-titled third album. Amy Lee came out of marital seclusion after spending years putting together this new album, and the band’s lead single, What You Want, shows a growth in style that feels like Evanescence. It’s not like they’ve gone and become We Are The Fallen or anything.

Tori Amos is releasing a new concept album called Night of Hunters, which is said to bear resemblance in many aspects to her third album, Boys For Pele, that dark masterpeice that I consider the cornerstone of her musical career. Tori has even treated us to a track-by-track narration of the story told by the songs that is, as is to be expected, something like a hallucinogen trip. The legendary Bjork comes out of hiding as well to release an album, Biophilia, that is being released in both standard album format and as a series of interactive applications. I’m even hearing tale of a new Kelly Clarkson album. There’s a lot of good music to look forward to, and all within the next few months!

I Only Dream of You

That is a beautiful album cover. "Don't leave me, reverse merman!"

I’ve discovered a new artist! Well, new for me anyway, but since she’s from Denmark, she may not be so well known here either, and since I cannot find a place other than iTunes to purchase her debut album (not even eBay or Amazon have more than one or two copies), I’m going to assume she’s not so well-known here in America.

Her name is Oh Land, and her debut album in 2008 is called Fauna. I happened across it by accident; I like to search for a song that I like, usually Tori Amos songs, and then listen to all the various covers by different bands. A choral cover of Crucify led me to choral group Vocal Line, and there are actually a lot of choral groups on iTunes, I like to cherry pick which songs I want from them. Anyway, I went on a little “you may also like…” sidebar adventure, and I came across Oh Land. I listened to some samples and they were beautiful, but the one that really got me was a song called Heavy Eyes.

Heavy Eyes is the only Oh Land song I’ve heard completely through, multiple times, and I’m really impressed with her. The sound of this song is something of a mix between Bjork, Florence + The Machine, IAMX, Jem, and Adele. What’s not to like about that? I highly reccomend checking her out. If I can bring myself to do it, I may just have to buy a bunch of iTunes cards, because as much as I want to buy her album, there’s another that I feel the need to get…

You can't tell how beautiful that cape is from the cover photo, but it has a hood and everything. It's very "White Mage."

Florence released a live album! This is not the first time we’ve heard live performances on an official release, but it is one of the first times we’ve heard live performances that weren’t acoustic. Among her two live EPs and various deluxe versions and re-releases of Lungs, most of the live songs we’ve heard have been in an acoustic setting, and I frankly got tired of hearing Drumming Song and Girl With One Eye doing acoustic a long time ago. They’re beautiful songs, but the energy is not the same.

I haven’t bought the album yet, but since I am a devoted follower of Florence’s music and gladly shell out money for anything she releases, it’s only a matter of time. I even took all of the 30-second sample clips, put them into my iTunes, arranged them in the proper order, and gave them their proper names. See? You didn’t believe that I’m a fanatic until now, did you?

The album is available exclusively on iTunes, and there’s also a film version, but you have to buy the two seperately. The album is priced at about $12.00, which I would probably complain about except for the fact that most of the songs are over five minutes long, so it’s fair. This live performance features every song from the regular edition of Lungs, with the exception of the sexy, dark powerhouse that is Girl With One Eye. It also features Heavy In Your Arms, Florence’s post-Lungs single released on the Eclipse soundtrack and later in two of Lungs’ re-releases. Also making an appearance is the new song Strangeness and Charm, which showed up on the Lungs re-release “Between Two Lungs” with Heavy in Your Arms. Both of these songs are great, and it’s nice to finally be able to purchase Strangeness and Charm in the US.

The arrangements are awesome, for example: Kiss With A Fist is the song that usually stands out from the others. It doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the songs on Lungs, it’s a good songs but even Florence has commented that Dog Days Are Over is more her sound than Kiss With A Fist. I’m really happy with what they did at this show, Kiss With A Fist has an introduction with piano, guitar, harp, all of those great Florence staples, and I imagine that helps it to blend a bit more. The album also features a ten-minute Blinding, My Boy Builds Coffins with the full band, and a nearly a capella Ghosts (or I’m Not Calling You A Liar). We also FINALLY have a live recording of Howl available for purchase; Howl is one of the standout tracks on Lungs, and we rarely ever get to hear it on any of the official releases other than the album itself.

I would, however, like to point out something: iTunes needs to get with the freaking program already. On top of selling music that usually has big 5 second pauses before songs start, they also can’t seem to wrap their minds around a proper tracklisting. I mean really, does no even check to make sure the tracks are labelled properly? “You’ve Got the Love” is labeled “You’ve Got to Love,” “Strangeness and Charm” is labelled “Strangeness,” and “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) is just labelled “Rabbit Heart” (that one I’m almost okay with, but the other ones not so much). Come on people, go to a freaking Wikipedia article if you’re not sure what it’s called!

Tori says, "Get some bootlegs. You KNOW you want to."

But that’s today’s music news. I’ve just been obsessing over these things, along with restlessly exploring bootlegs from Tori Amos’ Dew Drop Inn tour in 1996. Seriously, if you haven’t become acquainted with Tori bootlegs, you really need to, the Dew Drop Inn tour has an energy unlike anything I’ve ever heard. Go here to download some shows for free.

That’s really all from me today! I’ve been saving up to buy a new laptop (mine is most likely beyond all repair and I’ve been using my mother’s laptop for months, and it’s falling apart too), although I may have to make a dent in my savings today by getting some of the aforementioned music on iTunes. I’m also going to be in the bookstore later, and I’ve been really thinking about starting Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles over again. The books can be very dark, and sometimes long-winded, but they really inspire creativity in me.

I lost all of my Vampire Chronicles books (which is okay really, Interview With the Vampire was the only one in decent shape, the others must have got left out in the rain or something because they were warped), so I’m thinking I might have to buy The Vampire Lestat (which, along with Interview with the Vampire and Queen of the Damned have been re-released for like, the third time, with new cover art), as I stopped reading the series halfway through that book.

another pilot down

Not The Red Baron
Tori Amos

not the red baron
not charlie brown
think i got the message figured
another pilot down
and are their devils with halos
in beautiful capes
taking them into the flames

not judy g
not jean jean with a hallowed
i see that screen go
down in the flames
with every step with every beautiful heel

not the red baron i’m sure
not charlie’s wonderful dog
not anyone i really know
just another pilot down
maybe i’ll just sing him a last
little sound many there know some girls
with red ribbons
the prettiest

I’ve been listening to Tori a lot lately. She’s such an inspiration as a performer, and in many ways, but when I see her performances from the first three tours (especially the Dew Drop Inn tour in 1996, which promoted Boys For Pele), I am so inspired. The way Tori lays bare her soul at the piano is something I’d like to do, and something I love doing when I get the house to myself and sit down in front of my piano. I pretend that there’s a crowd of adoring friends watching me, who find me to be an inspiration, who think I’m beautiful, who think that music has meaning, who see and love that weird boy who played in the yard by himself when he was 12 years old, who spoke into his pillow and masturbated every night and spent the weekends covered in his semen, the boy who walked in the woods on the train tracks, the boy who gasps and hisses when he plays the way Tori does.

…but who isn’t a copy. Who is original. Who is special. Who has so much to say.

So much.