Recovered Voices, Artistic Cooperation

In between hacking homebrew D&D variants together, tweaking the css for my profile page, and wishing I could afford Aion, I was reminded of something I wanted to do a while ago. Well, months ago now. Maybe even the better part of a year. In fact, as I check it, apparently it's been more than a year, which is slightly scary.

Anyway, it's been a long time since I wrote a song (mostly because it's just easier when you're a whiny, romantic religious teenager than when you're a happy, lazy married antitheist adult. I'd been getting kind of melancholy about it - feeling like somehow I'd lost something I treasured - and that led to me really trying to write again. Moreso, it made me wonder if there was a place I could look for people who, like me, were only halfway good at writing songs. The opposite half to me, that is. I'm horrible at writing and reading music; it just never clicked with me. I love to sing and I love to write, but my music is terrifically uninspired.

I didn't find anything at the time, as you might gather. But now I'm here and, presumably, so are you, so how about it? Are you a composer looking for a lyricist? I'm a little bit folk, a little bit alternative, a little bit j-pop, and a lot rock. If you've heard Tim Minchin, I am hopelessly rock and roll nerd. If you haven't, open YouTube now. Listen to "Not Perfect". I'll wait.

Ths song is not as good as that song, but give me a break, it's been a while. The rest of this post is what I wrote when I posted it on deviantArt (yeah...), minus the desperate pleading for bitchy preteen christians to withhold their comment-based judgement. The song itself is, as the cool bloggers say, "after the jump".

I'm sure I used that wrong.

I wrote the original version of this song in 1999, and worked on it over the next few years, usually in the period of self-reflection that came upon me after one of my friends lost somebody close to them. It was pretty much finished and I was happy with it - the old version is posted on my website.

Then, for some reason, it was running through my head earlier this week while I was working. In retrospect, I realised something I never would have when I first wrote it - I essentially had on my hands a song about atheism. I thought that was really kind of cool; there are a shitload of religious songs out there, running the gamut from powerfully beautiful classical music to cutting modern poetry (despite my ideological disagreements with them, I do think Five Iron Frenzy's lyrics are divine sometimes) to utter shite (most Christian rock bands are pure pap IMO). But there's little to be had in the way of atheist music and verse.

Of course, I'm not so vain as to claim this could be some kind of atheist anthem - even as I post it, I have the nagging feeling I'll want to change a thing or two in the future - but I was overwhelmed by the desire to write something for my cause which is as beautiful as the religious works I have enjoyed. Atheism is a stance which takes tremendous courage - and though I know I'm going to have people flaming me in response, it's my firm opinion that most people embrace religion out of fear and low self-esteem. I wanted to write something to point out how beautiful that courage is, and I think this is a start in that direction.

Like most of my songs from the time I wrote it, the original version was built around the refrain - Life begins every time you close your eyes/And if you don't wake up, you live forever - and other key phrases I thought sounded powerful and poetic. To me, there's a lovely kind of irony in the way that line is now used ironically - as opposed to almost literally, as my young "spiritual" self used it. Another change I thought worked really well was the shift in the use of "Tell me now if you're leaving"; this was originally phrased as in "tell me if you're going to die" (like in the first verse of the new song), but is now used mostly as in "if you're going to die, answer me this". The difference in tone it creates between the chorus of the old song and that of new was quite delicious to me.

Live Forever
Lyrics (c) Fox Lee 1999-2008

These roads are hard to follow
With every day life brings us down
I saw us holding on sometimes, I wondered why we do
I looked for answers; I looked to you
And you said

"Life begins every time you close your eyes,
And if you don't wake up you live forever"

So tell me now if you're leaving
And let me have the time to cry
You think we'll meet again tomorrow
I think I need to say goodbye

These days are long and hollow
With every breath our hope wears thin
The morning is a future we might never live to see
You look for courage, but you can't look at me
When you say

"Life begins every time you close your eyes,
And if you don't wake up you live forever"

So tell me now, if you're leaving,
Why are you still afraid to die?
If I am lost and you beloved
There ought to be a reason why
Why do you still, as night is falling,
See all that blinded human eyes?
When there is nothing but the darkness,
I'll wish that you could tell me why

These years, we've lived in shadow,
Every moment waiting for the day,
Sometimes reality's so hard to get your head around,
We looked for freedom, and freedom's what we found

Lies begin every time you close your mind
And if you don't wake up they live forever

So tell me now, if you're leaving,
Why are you still afraid to die?
If I am lost and you beloved
There ought to be a reason why

So tell me now, if you're leaving,
Why were you looking to the skies?
You think I never understood you
I think you never meant to lie
So much for all your talk of justice,
How is this fair in heaven's eyes?
What could you fear so much you needed
A greater reason than just life?

Remember me, I will live and die with pride
And no-one needs to live forever

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Comment by Kitty on September 20, 2009 at 11:38am
This hits personally, which is what good songs will do. I like it's ringing triumphant and sad simultaneously. As my drunken friends say, "Good on ya!".

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