Bondi Beach, Sydney, NSW c. 2002

Tue, 09 Aug 2005 7:54 AM (GMT+0000)

I've just learned a few hours ago how to play my favorite Live song, The Distance. I usually don't develop favorite songs from the lyrics - it's almost always all about the melody, progression, and harmony. Hell, half the time I don't even know the right words to a song until I look at the lyric sheet! Having spent so much time staring at this song, though, I guess I got conditioned into a certain path of late-night meditation. Why is it that we have so much clarity lying awake in the darkness, yet it scatters like blackbirds when the lights come up?

It seems pretty likely that Ed Kowalczyk is talking about the search for God considering the traditional Christian themes to so many other songs. In fact, it seems that just about all of Live's lyrics have to do with either religious themes or whores. I won't try to analyze that. The good thing about song lyrics, or poetry, or sometimes even prose is that everyone can construe his own meaning from the words. The meaning I find in The Distance isn't explicitly religious (then again, neither am I), but it is undeniably spiritual. I guess that's my fundamental problem with modern religion - it feels so disconnected from spirituality. This is probably part of the reason why I rejected the religious interpretations of the song.

I was sitting here playing for more than four hours straight tonight. I learned a few songs and practiced some of the old ones, but mostly just zoned out in the EAB progression. The sound of my new nylon high E string has such a sweet sad timbre that it starting prying loose everything that I've been busy burying again for the last week and a half. It's good that my media PC is fried - this is taking long enough as it is.

For me, my job is little more than heading to the city to find my lucky penny. Consulting changes someone's way of life so drastically that it's almost unsurvivable unless you can brave the spiritual desert and the scorpions in your hair. If you're distant and disconnected when you get into it, this job only makes it worse. It's ironic that despite how many more people I meet than if I had a normal job, I still feel like I hardly know anyone.

Mine is not a unique problem. Cities are just an icon for the progressing steamroller of technology. Outside the red states, the new city life is inescapable. Even those city dwellers that aren't suffering out here on the bleeding edge face the same disconnectedness that breeds in the sterile hospice of modernity. Maybe the Catholic church was really on to something when they were excommunicating Galileo. Is it even possible for spirituality to survive in this world?

The song says the distance isn't doable in these bodies of clay, my brother. That sounds about right to me, and not just in the sense of physical distance. I can easily attest that 300 miles aren't doable. 3000 miles are clearly impossible. 30,000? Forget about coming home after that kind of a round trip. The spiritual distance is impossible to maintain, too. There is such a fundamental instinct for making emotional connections that no matter how long you try to focus on material goals, even if they involve creative processes, eventually something is going to happen to make you realize how unimportant things actually are. Then all you can really do is either try to get your life back onto the same old track or try to spread your wings and fly.

I think Kowalczyk's wings are angel's wings. In the traditional Christian sense, we don't get our wings back until we die and get back to heaven. However, the idea of spreading one's wings to fly in the material world is inevitably equivalent to suicide. There does seem to be a very dark interpretation of the song that mortal life is just suffering (the mortal distance just makes us uncomfortable). Is this life only just holding out for something sweeter? Is the something sweeter that time when we get our wings, or is it just the time when our suffering ends?

Clay doesn't float; we are locked into these bodies. It seems that what happens every time I try to fly is that I end up back on the ground again, digging to bury those wings even further than the last time just in case I get that stupid-ass idea again. Back on the track. Back out into the desert. Trying to put in a little more distance this time. In reality, it seems I'm just holding out for something sweeter, because I know damn well that that'll make me try out those wings again.

This whole long distance of my life, seems all I've been doing is dreaming of the someplace I'd rather be tonight.


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