And the heat goes on...

by Nick Smith in


Sorry it's been way too long since I've written here.  Feel free to pester me if you think I'm overdue for a new post.  I recorded another song today.  I hope that makes up for it.  It's called Stroll.  It's the song I wrote about that I had written, forgotten how to play, then remembered.  Here's a link to it, I hope you like it: http://bit.ly/aq9Qzi The lyrics are in the post entitled "Completion and Incompletion" from a few weeks ago.  Wordpress's formatting is too much of a pain in the ass for me to deal with to post them again.  Feedback is always very appreciated.

It runs really long (over 6 minutes), but those lyrics were basically spilling out of me the day that I wrote it and I think they're some of my strongest work to date, so I didn't want to cut anything.   It's actually encouraging that I can write songs this long.   Means I can put together lyrics that sustain themselves over a whole song (or even longer in this case), which I wasn't always able to do.  My notebooks from high school and most of college are filled with lone abandoned verses and lines of choruses and other viscera of ideas.  I hang onto them with the silly notion that there is salvageable work in those notebooks, even though I have fundamentally changed my mindset when I write that has had a marked effect on the quality of the lyrics.  Every time I flip through one, I'm stricken by just how childish my writing was until s very recently.

It was not really until this year that I developed so keen an interest in words and how they are used.  There have been sort of 4 writers who have served as pillars of language that have influenced me into this new place.  I have probably spoken of most, if not all, of them ad nauseam in this space so you're gonna have to suck it up and read about them again.  Tough titty.

1. Comedy - George Carlin: The best standup ever to grace a stage.  He was constantly coming up with new and innovative material through a career that lasted nearly 50 years.  I wish I had been turned on to him before his death two years ago, because it would have been an incredible experience to see him perform.  At  least he left us with 14 HBO Specials, several other albums, and a few books to enjoy forever.  Throughout his career he was fascinated with language and how it is used, abused, and perverted in American culture.  What many recognize as his signature work, "Seven Words You Can't Say On Television," focused on profanity's role in our society.  Other classic bits examine euphemisms, sports terminology, and the words we use to greet each other, and in all cases, hilarity ensues.

2. Music - John Darnielle: The founder, songwriter, singer, and once the sole member of the Mountain Goats.  I write a lot about him here so I'll try to be brief.  He has a very literary writing style that brings characters to life by providing more than just emotions, but settings that the listener can visualize.  And then he spends more time than most describing the physical actions of his characters.  He delves into the emotional goings on among his characters with less frequency than one would expect, allowing the absence of emotional content and inferences from the physical action to paint the picture of what's going on in the characters' minds.  Go listen to All Hail West Texas or Tallahassee.  You'll see.

3. Video games/Webcomics - Jerry Holkins (Tycho Brahe): Co-writer of the great webcomic Penny Arcade.  The comic is a magnificent thing.  One of the two webcomics I actually follow (I'm not really a comic person).  But where he really shines is in the News posts accompanying each strip.  There, he lets loose with his magnificent brain on video games and other topics.  His command of the English language makes me wonder if I really deserved to graduate high school.  His unique way of describing things, and flair for creative violence, endear me greatly to him.

4. Sports - Bill Simmons: ESPN.com's Sports Guy.  Over the last year, I have gotten back into sports in a big way.  I blame him for being an enabler.  His twitter feed, podcast, and columns on ESPN.com is the best sportswriting I have ever come across.  He approaches topics from his own perspective as a sports fan.  His gift for using pop-culture references in his sports commentary strikes at my pop-culture weakness.  The effortless way he weaves these jokes into this work leaves me in stitches.

There you have it.  The four biggest influences on me in the last year.  If you need recommendations on work from any of them, I am always willing to provide them.  It's all good stuff I promise you.

Don't get run over, Nick

Pokemon go in.  You know what comes out?  MOTHERFUCKERS!