Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Banks of the Deep End

It was just last year -- July 9, 2008 -- when one of my favorite bands, Gov't Mule, appeared here in San Jose for the first of a two night stand with Bob Weir and Ratdog. I attended both nights and made a decent recording of the gig, but later downloaded the "official" Gov't Mule recording from their web site. It's not only better, it would normally save me a good deal of time. However I decided to download the lossless FLAC files, which require some special tools. Only this week finally got around to burning CDs from them and compressing them for use with my iPod.

So here I am, listening to it again, and up comes Banks of the Deep End. The song begins with the same chords as classic Ohio by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, which I still sometimes play with my friends, and so it always catches my attention. But much as I like Ohio, the fact is that Deep End, written in 2001, is a much better song both musically and lyrically. I was listening to it carefully this evening.

I'm not going to comment on the lyrics right now, but I've included them below. Meanwhile enjoy the song!

The Banks Of The Deep End

Music and Lyrics: Warren Haynes, Mike Gordon, Joe Linitz

On the banks of the deep end
Where your soul is your best friend
Searching for a reason to go astray
Wild dreams turn to nightmares
Silver clouds turn to golden stairs
And everything that you used to know is slipping away

Here, I've got my puzzle piece
Only got it for a short-term lease
No time for asking, no going back to get hurt
I take a little from the mixture
Try to fit it into the picture
Got a place where you're standing, dig your shoes into the dirt

Trying hard to get back, running on the stones
Put you on my shoulders, we can be the only one
See the world's still spinning round, getting dizzy when we look

There's a reason to be home, there's a feeling when you smile
But it feels like it might take over, this feeling deep inside
And there's a distance down the line, far away from the station
We can leave it all behind on a rolling creation

Sit away from the window and lock the door
Can't you learn from the last time and the time before
See the world's still spinning round, getting dizzy when we look

Got to leave town
To see the yellow flowers bloom
Sun going down
It's gonna be rising soon

On the banks of the deep end
Twisted as the river bend
Searching for a reason to go astray

You couldn't hire twenty five men to do what the man could do
Just the sound of his walking could split the whole damn town in two
Into the night full of shadows, he still walks when the thunder rolls
This river ain't shallow, reminds us that the bell still tolls

Bears in the kitchen, tigers on TV
The singer's pretending that this song's for me
See the world's still spinning round, getting dizzy when we look

You took a wrong turn down by the waterline
I heard they had to drag you off the sand
Find a dune and the wind will miss you
Hold on to a piece of dry land
Got to hold on to a piece of dry land
Got to hold on to a piece of dry land

On the banks of the deep end
Where I lost my best friend
Searching for a reason
To go astray

Lyrics from Alex Allan's Lyric Site.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Crystal Ship

You know how lyrics from an old song will sometimes pop into your head and get stuck? Well bits and pieces of The Doors' Crystal Ship were going through my head all this morning.

The Crystal Ship is a song from The Doors' eponymous first album, released in January 1967. I was in 8th grade, 13 years old, and as Top 40 AM radio began to fill the airwaves with Light My Fire (from the same album), some friends and I started a garage band.

We eventually covered a lot of rock artists but none more than The Doors -- of the 11 tracks on this album, we regularly performed 9 of them, including Crystal Ship, Light My Fire and The End.

Crystal Ship is not my favorite Doors song -- I don't even like all the lyrics. But with their haunting arrangement and delivery, a few lines have always moved me.

"The Days Are Bright, And Filled With Pain"

Ouch. But that's how I've been feeling recently. Caught in the bright, harsh light of reality. The pain of slowly losing hope, of plodding through the days, of seeing my own shortcomings a little too clearly, and not liking myself as much as I used to.

"Enclose Me In Your Gentle Rain"

And I can feel peace begin to wrap me. To be "enclosed" like this is to be protected and perhaps transformed, like a caterpillar enclosed in its cocoon. The gentle rain is neither cold nor pelting, but it is both cleansing and refreshing. It softens the brightness, relieves the pain.

"Before You Slip Into Unconsciousness / I'd Like to Have Another Kiss"

I've always imagined this as referring to the sweetness of my lover drifting off to sleep beside me. But in recent years it touches my own fear of slipping into a kind of sexual unconsciousness, where the only choices are between bad sex and no sex. And before I go, I would indeed like another kiss, "Another flashing chance at bliss."

Enjoy the song.

The Crystal Ship
John Densmore/The Doors/Robbie Krieger/Ray Manzarek/Jim Morrison

Before you slip into unconsciousness
I'd like to have another kiss
Another flashing chance at bliss
Another kiss, another kiss

The days are bright and filled with pain
Enclose me in your gentle rain
The time you ran was too insane
We'll meet again, we'll meet again

Oh tell me where your freedom lies
The streets are fields that never die
Deliver me from reasons why
You'd rather cry, I'd rather fly

The crystal ship is being filled
A thousand girls, a thousand thrills
A million ways to spend your time
When we get back, I'll drop a line