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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Shipwrecked

Of all the songs I've written I don't think any have had quite the "legs" as "Shipwrecked". Written nearly three years ago, and recorded about two, "Shipwrecked" has won Best Indie Song on Ourstage, was featured in the film Sneakers & Soul, and has generally been the best received song I ever recorded. And all this, at least a year after Noble Three split up.

The song has a slightly complicated origin, in that the lyrics are both a metaphor for my declining interest in pursuing music as a profession and a literal telling of a belief that has grown in me for years. I guess, I'll tackle these one at a time.

After over two years in Nashville attempting to make it in the music industry with my band Greenland, several realizations started to wash over me about my chosen field: 1.) it was way harder than I'd envisioned when I'd headed south to Music City; 2.) making music for a living involves about 20% making music and about 80% shaking hands and fake smiling and talking to lots and lots of strangers and talking about yourself and your music even when it's a little inappropriate and a lot arrogant and just generally being "on" all the time, even when you're getting coffee, or waiting in line at Walmart. It also helps if you're good looking and fashionable.

The convergence of these two realizations happened at around the time that Greenland's short, but interesting, Youtube Adventure was coming to its conclusion, which only added to my black mood about my musical prospects. What it came down to essentially is that after almost 10 years of eating, sleeping, and breathing music I'd finally wound my way to the heart of the beast and realized that I wasn't even a little bit cut out for the reality of being a successful musician. I'm quiet, reflective, afraid to perform in front of people, embarrassed of talking too much about myself, and not too keen on the idea of never being home or seeing my friends and family. These aren't excuses; it's knowing myself and what the job entails and realizing there are too many gaping holes to justify the pursuit. I realized that if all my dreams were to come true I would probably be miserable, unhealthy, and alone.

Naturally, there was a period of denial in which I pretended to still be a rock star all the while going to my full-time job, and getting married, and then having a baby (well, my wife had the baby), but the dissonance between the reality of my life and the unreality of a musician's life became too great for me to bear and I just one day stopped playing music. For the most part I haven't even really picked up my guitar in almost a year and a half.

But the last gasp of my musical creativity produced a couple of songs that I think are some of the most mature I ever produced, and "Shipwrecked" is one of them.

As far as the other inspiration for this song, I have been increasingly certain that there will come a time in my life when the call of the sea will resonate too strongly within me for me to ignore it any longer, and I will buy a boat and start heading further and further out onto the water. I have always had a coy, but intense relationship with the sea. Growing up less than a mile from one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, I understood the power of water and the beauty and the divinity. Whenever I see a pool or a lake my inclination is to jump into it. Whenever I see the ocean I stare and I stare and I listen to that song vibrating in me, knowing it is not yet time, but the time will come.

One day I will go out with my boat and I will wrap myself in the arms of Poseidon and I just won't come back. Like Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump I will yell and I will wave my arms and I will test myself, but in the end I am very small and I am only a man and the sea will rise up and swallow me and I will accept this because all men die. It is not the death that makes the man, it is the living, and when the sea calls for me and tells me it is time, I will have lived and I will agree. It will be time.

So, the lyrics of this song are using the literal vision of my own future death as a metaphor for the decline of my musical creativity. It is very postmodern and self-referential, and is probably totally opaque without the explanation...hence the explanation.

So, without further ado...enjoy.


Shipwrecked
By Noble Three
Words and Music by Tres Crow


I have grown
and I've left all I've known
unaware of where I will go.
Filled this song
with those words I was told
and now my father's told them to you.
Spent a lifetime
trying to breathe
life into all those times I have known.
I see my friends
they grow wider than tall
and I know that the same happens to me.

And as the waves lick the shore I can feel
the grave calling to me.
This youth I feel still lingering
is a play and it's meant just for me

Oh! I can feel the grave calling to me!

Life had shown
me the way to the end
in the rain on a cold autumn day.
I see those waves
as they crash to the shore
and I know that they're waiting for me.

And as the waves lick the shore I can feel
the grave calling to me.
This youth I feel still lingering
is a play and it's meant just for me

Oh! I can feel the grave calling to me!

{Ship has foundered
taken down by waves of crimson and green.
Oh so gravely
Death she claims me lovingly embraced.}

Spent a lifetime
trying to breathe
life into all those times I have known.
I see my friends
they grow wider than tall
and I know that the same happens to me.

And as the waves lick the shore I can feel
the grave calling to me.
This youth I feel still lingering
is a play and it's meant just for me

Oh! I can feel the grave calling to me!

Lyrics printed with permission of Shire Reckoning Publishing House (ASCAP)

6 comments:

Kb_Mal said...

Dude, that is major good stuff. Why aren't you bragging about this more? What a great song.

The Crow said...

Well, isn't having a blog entirely devoted to myself and my work a little like bragging? It's at least majorly self-centered. LOL! I am really proud of how this song turned out. I will prolly do a bit more blogging about each of my past musical projects because I think they all have something to teach about the industry and the actual experience of making music.

Again, thank you so much for the love.

Ben U. said...

This is a great song, Tres! As usual.

The Crow said...

Thanks Ben. Just wait, eventually I will get to some Oblivion highlights.

Misopogon said...

It would be the greatest tragedy of the 308 Shire if we have truly heard the last of the music played by you and your old bandmates.

Nate has picked up the banjo, but 3-string bass (a peg has been lost forever) now essentially plays backup to caterwauling for his kids. And among Oblivion, from what I hear, that is the most playing that still goes on.

Kentucky has served, in its way, as a bookend for this band, there to peek an unwelcome sunrise over the hill in Dynamo & the Virgin, and there at its death in the back seat of a McDonalds-bound drunk driver's car, with very loud, very bad metal music loosening sweat filled with Bud Light molecules and Huntington, W.V. grit.

Yet half a decade later, I sat around a campfire, two guitars resting on, respectively, Jason's hairless leg, and Ben's very hairy one, Nate plucking away at the 3/4 of his bass's remaining strings, and about 8 people willing to provide percussion. And out from that campfire came Lift Me, and See the Sun, and Ophelia.

These songs made up the soundtrack of the most important years of my life. There was no need to explain them to anyone present, or to look cool while they were played. The music was the 100%.

If that's what you always wanted from music, if that's your dream, then don't mourn it: Come here, I'll show you my home; you will see the world is so small.

Perhaps you'll release your blame.

Tres Crow said...

Very poetic, Miso, and most definitely appreciated. You know, life is very complicated and it is possible for one to both feel regret and happiness at the way things have turned out. I tried very hard with music and so in many ways I'm able to walk away from the whole thing without at least feeling like I left everything on the table, so to speak. Still, considering the ultimate goal was world domination, it could be said I fell a bit short.

The friendships that came out of my yearning for rock stardom are probably that period's greatest legacy, and so it is right of you to mention that, something I should probably do more often.

I have written some short fiction about my musical days, and will continue to do so because the people I met and the characters that populated the last decade of my life are some of the most colorful I'm sure I'll ever meet.

Thanks for the comment, and stay tuned for tomorrow. Your post about G-d and coffee goes live in approximately...um...14 hours.