Happy Birthday, You Bleeding Eyeball
Today marks the one-year anniversary of my record Cataracts.
When I first started writing this album, I thought it might be another narrative – something like Correspondence (a fiction)’s evil twin – complete with characters, plots (and plot holes, I’m sure), problems, resolves. I had the idea that it could be something analogous to the story of Hosea. All the righteous anger of God inside of me, Holy Word packed into shells and loaded into my mouthgun, ready to flick a snake’s tongue on chapter and verse about the great I AM (whose side, of course, I am on), lifting up the skirt of his bride and exposing her nakedness. Originally, the opening track –Simul Justus et Peccator – was titled “coitus,” and would set the groundwork for Gomer’s promiscuity.
Another idea I had was to tell the story of a man who had begun to go blind. I pictured him sitting in a kitchen – old and paint-chipped with smudges on a four-paned window to the left of the refrigerator – wondering what all those floating dots were… lines like a spider-cracked windshield whose legs had suddenly begun to lengthen so rapidly that he had no control over the inevitably shattering of this lens. If that’s not what unlearning feels like, I don’t know what is. I likened the creeping and chaotic dots and lines to that of a Jackson Pollock painting, who once described his work as “motion made physical memories, arrested in space,” which became the title of track three. Perhaps this man’s friend would be sitting next to him, dark cup of double-wide coffee steaming atop the card table they sat at, looking out the same window, clear as the morning beyond it, perfectly in tact.
While I would certainly call Cataracts one conceptual piece of work, I never could fit it into an actual story. Frankly, I could hardly make it anything at all. If I’d have had it my way, that record would have come out two or three years ago. Apparently you can’t force yourself to be somewhere you aren’t.
I was afraid to release this album. Hell, I was afraid to write the album. I kept feeling like a drunk man standing in the middle of a teeter-totter with two people bouncing up and down on either side of me. One was named We Are Right and the other was named We Are Hurt, and I kept taking the emotional and theological temperature of each, running back and forth as they took turns kicking off the ground, trying to keep my balance.
What I was not was a person, myself, but the summation of my fears, and my attempts to keep the people (whoever they were… all of them) happy. In hindsight, I think that pressing “publish” – finally sending the thing out into the world and letting the repercussions be what they may – was a legitimate step toward personhood. Toward knowing thyself, or risking being known. In a way, I suppose that is the gist of what LTP has always been, but it’s much easier to prescribe a cure than it is to swallow it, yourself.
My friend Kris had the audacity to claim that he liked Cataracts better than Correspondence (you may stone him for blasphemy). When I asked him about that, he said, “Cataracts is great because it’s my good friend being really vulnerable and taking chances.”
I suppose I won’t proclaim my own greatness (although I am very, very proud of this record), but I’ll certainly agree with him about vulnerability and chance-taking. From the content to the genre, Cataracts is different than anything I ever thought I’d do, good ole bleeding eyeball of an album that it is.
I want to say Thank You to those who have been a support and encouragement throughout the past twelve months (let alone, ten years) – to the social-media-posters and the email-writers and tattoed-with-my-handwriting-ers and The Fraction Club members and the pray-ers and the late-night-conversationalists and the respectful-disagreers and the deconstructionists and the reconstructionists and Alex and Andy and Caleb and my beautiful wife Brandi and the family and friends who are the closest who have seen the best and the worst of everything contained in this forty-minute-or-so record and see beneath its surfaces into the details and the days months years that are our camaraderie – thank you.
My friend Kris also said that – whether or not he agrees or ascribes to them – he respects beliefs and conclusions that have been hard-fought for. He told me that two years ago, in Canada, right before we fell asleep in bed together, watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine (haha). I released Cataracts two months later, and it is a damn bloodbath.
New life is death, and they call it that for a reason. The birth canal is filthy, but it’s beautiful, and to those of you who need to know:
We’ll get out. I’ve never had more faith in that than now.
Love you, and thank you.
P.S. To celebrate the one-year anniversary of Cataracts, I’ve discounted everything with its imprint – vinyl, t-shirts, hoodies, cds – it is all cheaper than it has ever been, and may ever be again. I’ve also restocked the rest of the souvenirs on our store, including the Roses T-Shirt, based off of that Jackson Pollock-inspired poem, and our It’s All Worth Living For T-Shirts. Take advantage of it while supplies last, here.