The Freelance Mentalists.
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
 
(This is the tweaked version of my Thursday 06/24 post, which I deleted, to pluck those nasty typos, mostly. But also a few other changes.) For my debut as a regular, a garrulosity incited by video of Big&Rich's "Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy." Hark ye! At the very dawn of country video, midgets appeared. (Aye, on TNN's family value theme park,long before MTV's l'il sister CMT first rolled out of her cabbage leaf.) In the midst of a misty boardwalk, country Osmonds were faced with a malevolent Munchkin, in hideous homage to TROUBLE IN TINYTOWN. Donnyless, Mariefree, they went more than a little bit country, and collectively kicked the (Mormon for decaffeinated fudge)out of (a dummy, I hope)(Come to think of it, when they then flogged it with a hitching post, must've been to reassure us that it *was* a dummy!) The very best current cowboy midget usage, however, is actually in D12's "My Band," or whatever it's called. The fattest D12er is trying to come up with a solo project that will deliver him from "lead singer" Em's shadow, so he waddles onstage, meaning to lasso an audience gal, and, crucially, he's got this *cowboy midget sidekick,* whose own valiant striving bring both comic relief and further sympathy to Fatboy's own stash. C.m.'s a veritable Sancho Panza pancake soldier (They both are,really.But D12's tryin' to feel his Quixote coyote oats vs.Em's ill windmill.) Yet Sanchette's the stuntbaby punchline clincher to what I was already suspecting. Why, it's a leetle poke at Em's D-trot non-rival, Kid Rock.(See like D12er's cowboy midget is like K.R.'s Joe C.[R.I.P].)Yeah, cos Kee-ud's defensive good ol' boy water-treading has been getting as tired as Cowfatboy's rope. Mind you, he and sideorder do get the aforementioned audience gal, who looks deelited to be in their loops. Just like Kid Rut got the country-therefore-therefore-mainly-female-consumer-hits-of-migraine-sunshine hit duet with Sheryl C.(Same audience who made Gretchen Wilson their first first-single female chartoppa in a hen's tooth, when the fetchin' one inserted exactly one "Redneck *Woman*," Tanya Tucker, in an otherwise male and entirely predictable pantheon, def. including Kidney Stone's-in-my-passway hissef.)Gretchen's the exception who rules, like her John always knowed, that's why he's Rich. So, back and forth to Big & Rich, but they put me on a deeetour: All the country rap 'llowed on the radio so has been presented, basically, as novelty-therefore-comedy. Although Toby's "How Do You Like Me Now?" was ultimately convincing revenge-as-mission-in-lifestyle. (So that I had to laugh in amazement, but still laugh/though not change the channel, which o course was the calestimated tradeoff.)His later redwhite&bluetude proved in character, cunning grudgestunts and all, but no mo rapneack flow. Will there be a sustained followup, an uncut crop of true country neo-G thang one day? Bubba Sparxxx, Haystak, Buck 65,David Banner, all light the verge like Toby. Butt young guns whiskey licorice twist into self-fascinatin' shape of they own 'branes: "look at that, folks, lookamee," on novelTVee for Victory one more radioplaytime. The grandaddy of country rap per se is prob early 70s AM Top 40's Jim Stafford, growlin' 'bout "Don't come back to Hattie's shack," and what's hangin' on her smokehouse wall. But even on that one he had to smoke some of his Gipetto-novelty pass of "Spiders And Snakes" and "Wildwood Weed," so there's yer precedent right off. Comedy boys Big & Rich don't even need G.('less it's for Gretchen); they're unsettlers already.No, not because of their upright littleperson (he's a dwarf, as usual in vid: "midget" is just a slur-blur generality of mine, mkay?). No, the t-bone t-zone penumbrates 'round this blowup doll (representing "female"), which keeps falling into the rapper's lap.(Be he Big or Rich, it's all true.) They're in the back seat, but going over the Tallahatchee Bridge in noon traffic, so not too romantic. And the rapper keeps having to put the dark red pageboy wig back on her baldpate, while raising her from the other headspace one more time, plus he's gotta keep on lip-synching. (Always a good motto, but still.) The creepy part, though, is that I swear a real-in-the-sense-of-live actress is an edited-in stand-in or rather fall-in for the doll; yes she's a people some of the time. Either way, doll by toll by troll (sorry, little guy, but the doll's creepy's creepin into everything), the rapper's eternally mid-bridge, mid-lip, mid re-re-re-wig, and so am I (Watching commercials is supposed to be the only midshifts I'm working; paying Basic Cable for these just so many Sargasso seizures as *leisure,* not this! It aint right.)The last shot is a big closeup of her/her face. Pretty! (Nice song, too.) It's a doll after all. Whose eyes then *zoom* *zoom.* Oh. Mama. Then of course there is SheDaisy, cruising the painted desert in a van, man, picking up hunks while rhapsodizing re "Love in the passenger seat."(Can such things be, in their native Utah? Must've crossed over to ColoRODo.) "Passenger Seat is tunefully fresh as Mary Hopkin and ABBA and Shania all *used* to be, and it's got a dwarf to boot. Plus Oops SheDaisy's plush Tushwagon is also classic: 1972 AM Top 40 Volkswagen Bus mit Peace Sign mural und Quaaludes.(Ask your Momma.) The foxy Frenchy designated dedicated 'Daisy (sharp-featured brunette under well-set red cap) is ready to go steady in the backmost seat, surrounded by Moroccoan swirls of decor even Brian Jones and William Burroughs might approve. Whole situation reminding me of two girls who kept givng me a ride to school when I was hitching there every day. And even though this was common practice for many in '72, or rather *because* it was so taken for granted, started to bother me that they would just pick up someone with for instance my hrosehair. Finally I mentioned this and strawberry blonde Bonnie says,"Oh, we're prepared!" And shows me how a six-shooter is right near her hand, while remaining discreet under Mary Tyler-looking Sue's driver's seat. So maybe SheDaisy's gotta ditto as they follow hunks on Hondas off road to a carnival nestled in the arroyos and that's where they meet the buff dwarf fire eater. (Speaking of horsehair.) I infer that this scene implies that there's hope for us all, y'all. (Hope for all us guys that is but the 'Daisys need some kinda hope too; everybody does.) Jiminy, Buffer's one punk Panza far as I can see. (SheD's do applaud and then go back to the road with the hunks not him but now they got that afterglow and I figure the little scruff buff was their peak.)Gabba Gabba we acccept you Gabba Gabba Hey!
 
Friday, June 25, 2004
 
Some Albums Teach You How to Eat Ghosts

Pepito, Everything Changes (Static Discos), 2004

[This review appeared on PopMatters, but was altered. Here is its original format. Because I can.]

[Oh, and I am NOT repping this record because I want Jose Marquez to write more for The Freelance Mentalists. I am doing it because I love it. I also love Superaquello.]

Wherein, José y Ana transcribe their world,
their wild wonderful multi-colored multi-cultural world,
a world where Can and the Cure jam with Neruda and Martí and Fuentes,
a world where los vampiros play video games,
un mundo adonde todo cambia cada single día,
the world where we all live.

In this world, we don’t “rock” as much as we used to;
it’s blips and bleeps now, fragmentos del quotidienne,
the detritus of la cultura, wedges of the circula rather than the circula itself.
Sometimes these parts add up to the whole,
sometimes they’re more than 100%, sometimes less.
Songs change halfway through, mutate before our eyes,
I blame the environment for that, define that as you will.
In “Habla Con Él,” a man wakes up after somehow being buried/frozen,
the music starts and stops and stutters and sings and slides,
but changes when he starts to speak, becomes more crystalline,
José croons “What will he say, what does he say, what can he say after all those years?”
but then we never learn the answer.

There are no answers in Pepito songs,
only questions, only love, only fear.
Why in “Toros” are the bulls slicing and cutting and shredding us?
The only answer is “Yo sé, yo sé que no me lo merezco,”
“I know, I know that I don’t deserve this.”
Why in “Julio” is Ana trapped in a video game, running through endless hallways?
Is Julio really a person, is he Cortázar, is he the madness of July?
We don’t know, we will never know,
all we will ever know is that “Y entonces / Puedo comer / (Chomp!) / Fantasmas,”
“And then I can eat ghosts.”

José is de Cuba, Ana is de Mexico,
together they are “Tijuana Habana” but they live and work in San Francisco,
this is not your típico globalismo,
this is not your typical “Latin” music either.
These songs float back and forth between ingles y español,
between organic and manmade, between art and work and politics,
“in the forest in the dark, in the fraction of a spark,”
prose and poetry, vida y muerte, sueños and reality,
a real “sugar sex freedom express.”

And yeah it’s twee as hell at times,
two nerdy/tough artists in love:
“Girl, I want us to play on the same dodgeball team,
I can get hit out first, you can get hit out next, and we can hold hands.”
Aw that’s sweet.
Especially when the next song is “Car Crash,”
death’s greatest emo slow jam,
the music is Eno tenderly caressing an old Tortoise record,
two vocal lines fighting with each other to see which can be sadder,
life is over, “el tren sin fin se fue sin mi,”
and it just peters out three times, heartbeat keeps ending and restarting
but there is no hope, not really.
Aw that’s sweet too.

It doesn’t really sound much like Migrante,
doesn’t rock like a beast except for one brief moment
at the beginning of “Vampiros” and twice in the middle of “El Ultimo Día.”
It also doesn’t sound like any other record ever made.
It sounds like the sounds inside my head,
inside my beating gringo heart,
all over the big wide wild mundo moderno.
It is frustrating because every song changes,
the world is frustrating because everything changes every single day,
neither one can be memorized but both must be memorialized,
these songs are a record of where we are.
Ana Machado and José Márquez son dos “soldados, desnudos, sin temor,”
they tell us “if you wanna fight, take it off,”
they’re blogging the human condition.

This album proves the existence of love on Earth.
 
Saturday, June 19, 2004
 
*Special Guest Mentalist - Don Allred*



People of Earth! There is much more to these albums than I speak of here (and
their DVD familiars are worth renting), but behold the mix-maps of what
munches most persistently through my listening:
IF I HAD POSSESSION
(ScroogeMcMix)
Don Allred
THE SOUL OF A MAN (Columbia/Legacy) (CD/DVD)
. "People driftin', from door to door." On the soundtrack
of
Wim Wenders's THE SOUL OF A MAN, Lucinda Williams drifts the line, but then
she's slapping the rest of Skip James' "Hard Times Killing Floor Blues"
flat on
the bar, like there's more where that came from. (She knows there better be.)
Next door, not only is Cassandra Wilson in Mississippi, she's also got J.B.
Lenoir's "Vietnam Blues." But here she learns to address the needs of
others:
"Mr. President, you better clean your house, before you go." Cassandra's
voice,
like Lenoir's own, when he sings "Alabama," is almost distractingly rich,
but
his words cut through both tracks.
Turns out Skip James really DIDN'T miss (his falsetto's appropriated
ghost of)"Crow Jane" 'til she was gone (how could he?). Now he's fascinated
by
this feeling, this windfall. And "you can't take her place, can't take her,"
but "someday you got to die." Looking forward? He's not looking away.
In "Washington D.C. Hospital Center Blues," Skip (channeled by the
almost-as-elusive Garland Jeffreys) is admitted, because (he coaches staff), "you's
a good man, you's a po' man, we can understand." He gets better, and promises
to make his doctor "a wealthy man," luring me past Bible-searching Blind
Willie, who finds "nothin' but a burnin' light."Until Uncle Lou Reed gives
me
pause, as he wheelchairs by, cackling 'bout a silver spade and a golden chain, in
Blind Lemon Jefferson's "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean." (Sounds like
an
alluvial allusion to all the velvet that's fit to fit, so truly underground.)
Uh, yeah---good'un, Lou.(Ditto 'most everybody else on here, even Nick the
Cave!).
THAT HOME ACROSS THE ROAD
(Mother's Mix)
Steve Earle: JUST AN AMERICAN BOY (Artemis/Ryko)(CD/DVD)
Country is a place always fuller and emptier than it seems.
Especially counting that sought-after, hard-to-maintain, hard-to-avoid home on the
emotional range. Home has known to go so crazy, all you can do is see and raise
it, and settle into a blazing saddle, if you can.
So country music has a certain transgressive circuit-riding
(sometimes should-be circuit-breaking) tradition, from Uncle Dave "Knoxville
Girl"
Macon, and Harmonica Frank ("Tham-POO") Floyd, on down to Dixie Chicks,
whose
worst offense was saying, in public, that they were ASHAMED to be from Texas,
for ANY reason. Of course, Toby Keith gets points on the emotional transgrange
for "The Angry American."(Replete with hats-off intro as beautifully sung
setup for "a boot in your ass.") Even further up in there: "The
Taliban Song,"
which he wrote from the viewpoint of a furry l'il *furriner. *(Like one from
the days of overt minstrelsy, but still!)
(When well-tempered Crown Prince of Hat Kenny Chesney is pulled
from "Good Stuff" dreams of being a Granpa, by news of impending Pahood,
and
keens,"There Goes My Life," it's beyond country-unthinkable, or even
trans-stinkable, it's impossible, so never mind.)
And then there's what Perfesser Cledus T.Judd once dubbed
"Hankenstein." Steve Earle is the Baron of that, and the serfboard too,
sliding through
the restless mud of AMERICAN BOY, a self-made golem. He also bids blurry biped
John Walker Lindh to rise, and wills dead heroes, both moldy and moldier, to
follow. (Sure, Woody G.'s forever young. But Steve also likes to quote Abbie
Hoffman: "We told an army to stop, and it stopped." Didn't the Vietnam
War last
at least nine years, not counting before and after we kept count?).
Keeps going until he's just in it for the electricity, past
reanimation or even shock: "The Unrepentant," supposedly about a suicide
bomber (or
some other kind of soldier), is always lurching towards "Somebody's gotta do
it,
suhbdygdoit," and into another guitar-squall. (Each one topping the last, if
only by piling on.)
Even more perversely, Steve's not always as sloppy as he seems. A
scrawny voice, true, and one that tended to get tangled in his nose even before
cropdusting, but (especially here, on squatter's stage), it's clear enough. Hope
outshines self-righteousness, ambition smokes up pretension (eventually). Yet
his hoedowns with the Acoustic Dukes can get as sweat-inflamed as his
rave-ups with the Electric 'uns; must be why his solo set has to step outside, and
go
"around the world with the Ft.Worth Blues," and other local-infection
tattoos, in permanent rotation on a Lone Star-spangled headbox. Because you really
can't go home again, especially if you never left. "Suhbdygdoit," amen.





 
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
 
Some Songs Bring Tears to the Eyes

"Que Baque E Esse?" Daniela Mercury featuring Marcelinho Da Lua and Lenine, 2004.

This question apparently translates to "That Crash and This?" if you believe Babelfish, which I don't. It's a song written by Lenine (pronounced Lay NEEN Ay, I think) the Brazilian hunk/poet, sung by axe-maniac lady Daniela and then L. himself, clattered up electronically by Da Lua who is some kinda teknowizzard, it's spazzy and hyper, no idea really what any of it means. I don't espeak Portuguese, or Spanish all that well either. You'd think this would preclude me deciding to give up on English-language music, but you'd be wronger than "L.A. Lakers NBA Champion 2004" t-shirt makers.

I'm over American music. English music too. Okay maybe not hip-hop, or country either, it's the same thing anyway. And I can't give up on my Gomez or Super Furry Animals, good old Circulatory System, Usher, maybe there's a few others. But mostly, I'm over it. There are some reasons for this.

One: I'm sick of us. I just am. You should be too.

Two: I'm sick of every single freaking site on the Internet reviewing every single new indie rock album or laptop curio like it's the second coming of Elvis Presley/Costello/Grbac. There was one original indie-rocker, his name was Curtis Mayfield, you can't outdo him but you should try, but you don't. All your fanbase belong to us; I'm just not capable of getting excited about the same shit everyone else is excited about, it's a deficiency in me, so there. People in general seem less interested in musical diversity than they used to be, I'm more interested in it than ever before and that was always a lot, even as a wee snot-nosed bairn beasty. Please take your death cab to visit her space majesty, I'll walk or take the bus.

Three: Nothing NOTHING speaks to me like music from Latino-America on down to Mexico, through to Central and then Sudamericano. It's the truth, I can just admit it now. It grooves harder, it swings harder, it tries harder without really trying, I'm making my stand. I suspect this has something to do with "Respect for the Ass," or "The Africa Is Real Strong Up in Here," or perhaps just "Wanting to Create New Musical Paradigms Instead of Being Terrified to Do So," or maybe it's just that I can be happier with lyrics when I don't understand them. I don't know, I don't care. Whitey, you're fine enough in your own way, but you are no longer speaking to me. Eff you right back.

So when I'm driving to work today, got this Daniela M. thing last weekend for an absurd amount of money at Borders with writing-gig cash, got it blasting on high in the miracle whip, it's samba/axe with electro steroids blasting through it. What I love about it is everything. Partially it's that it's the music of the people, full-on carnal Carnaval brags and boasts along with stuff like "Quero Ver o Mundo Sambar" which means "I Want to See the World Samba" I think, which I mean come on who wouldn't want to see that? Hips! Butts! Sweat! No more sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves, listening to other people sitting around feeling sorry for themselves--much MORE dancing around and looking meaningfully into each other's eyes and preparing to do some belo horizonte if you know what I mean and if you don't then I can't help you. Plus if you want to be sad, Portuguese is the saddest language, saudade is the saddest emotion because you're happy about being sad, Caetano Veloso says it has to do with slavery, maybe it's just fun to be the best at being sad.

BLAM this song hits me. The insane horns especially; no idea in hell or Houston if they're real or fake but they're the spazziest things ever in the history of the world, the two-step thumpy beat should be stale by now but it's not, the melody is pretty but doesn't need to take the lead, it's very futbol in that it takes its time but then speeds up just when you don't expect it. Ever seen Ronaldo or Ronaldinho shoot about three steps before anyone else has realized that they are even on the pitch? Ever read Jorge Amado, where you're juggling twentyseven characters in your mind and you love some and hate some and understand them all and it's only chapter two? Ever fallen in love?

Real tears made of water and salt are crowding my eyes. It's hard to drive but I wipe my face and move on, driving forward, driving on, avoiding any crash one way or the other. This might be my second-favorite record of the year, only thing better that I've heard has been Bersuit's La Argentinidad Al Palo, I'll review them both somewhere sometime. But I just had to tell you about this one song, about this one person, about this wide wonderful crazy insane lovely mundo. Live in it, kiss it and hug it like it was important, embrace your life, kick it like it was a soccer ball and you were open.

I'm not sure how much longer The Freelance Mentalists can continue if I'm the only one writing for it. Some other folks better step up with a giant step if they care a damn at all. But it's been fun so far, and if it doesn't last the summer at least I got this off my hairy scrawny Irish/Slovak/Swedish/Serbian chest. I love you all.
 
Wednesday, June 09, 2004
 
Some Albums Have Been Mislabeled

Carlinhos Brown, Omelete Man (Metro Blue), 1998

I would like to extend a warm slap of regret to all the reviewers who have said that this is not the greatest album in the world. It probably is. Or maybe it was, and now it's been surpassed, but I can't think of by who who by right now. Or maybe I won't feel this way. (Other candidates: Al Green's Still in Love With You, Bersuit Vergabarat's Hijos Del Culo, the original motion picture soundtrack to West Side Story, Funkadelic's Hardcore Jollies, Pizzicato Five's Happy End of the World. Tell me who I am.)

Carlinhos ("car-LEEN-yohsh") is what they call him; Brown is for James Brown; he headed up Timbalada for a long time; it may be that his first solo album, Alfagamabetizado, is better (I haven't heard it); he is part of a supergroup in Brasil called Tribalistas with new wave avant-gardist Arnaldo Antunes and pop superwoman Marisa Monte, who produced this album. None of which matters next to music this strong and beautiful and pure. I think they call Carlinhos "the Prince of Brasil" or something.

"Omelete Man": Juju-groove funk with sexy soul backvox and lots of smooth carnival horns. He says he mixes up music all together like an omelette. "Vitamina Ser": heavy reggae, heavy Afro-Brazilian percussion, invocation of Oshun, Bernie Worrell on keyboards. "Hawaii e You": string-sweetened ballad about falling in love in Hawaii, key changes and falsetto leaps. "Irara": repeating the word "faraway" to industrial 6/8 metropolis percussion, freaky noises keening, Arto Lindsay is involved somehow. "Soul by Soul": You know how ELO was trying to sound like the Beatles? Brown doesn't even have to try. Plus his drums are funkier and he is his own Billy Preston. "Water My Girl": Light reggae, lots of horns and happiness, song about how he and Water hate war and love moon, chorus catchy but indecipherable. "Tribal United Dance": just exactly what you'd think it sounds like, but really good, a groove with a big ass and Nile Rodgers doing guest "participao especial guitarra" and a dope rap. "Cacharro Louco": surf punk samba with football chant, over in 1:15, thrilling. "Farao": takes forro music into a weird circus tent and comes out with soul polka, never heard so many backing vocals on a track before. "Amantes Cinzas": samba straight up except with an Antunes-written chorus of "Tchublac, Tchublic, Tchubla," which means nothing. "Busy Man": commuter pop, more crazy cut-up lyrics like "Maybe your heart / Maybe I hold on / I get to travel / Yellow summer / My super rain," sublime like Tears for Fears. "Cold Heart": The slowest piece of music with the most piercing violin line and the most Sgt. Peppery horns, puns on "son" and "sun" and "som," psychedelic "heavy flower" line is crucial. "Mae Que Eu Nasci": fado with no apologies. "Musico": Super-sappy orchestral thing, God is involved somehow but not listed in the album credits. "Hino de Santo Antonio": Martial march, drums going off like rifles, Bolivar and clarinets.

Album over. Forty-six minutes. Wipe brow. Repeat like a bastard.
 
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
 
One of the strongest EPs I've heard in a long time is John Mayer's Clarity, which can be found by programming his Heavier Things CD for tracks 1, 2, 6, 7, 8 and 10 and imagining that you're flipping a record over half way through. This imaginary release, easily the finest from an American male singer-songwriter this decade (Hearts Of Oak doen't count because his band is too important and Greendale is a third-person concept album which makes its quality way more impressive but something else all together), abandons the blues fetishism that kept him from achieving his true meaning in life: providing a rational role model for self-involved young men trying to be good to others while getting theirs.

The EP opens with the title track, in which John Mayer steps back, realizes he's King Shit and hums an innocent little melody while dancing with trumpets over a beat either provided by ?uestlove or Matt Chamberlain (it's actually nice for them to leave this vague in the credits, lest we assume that the Roots drummer is doing some magical negro Bagger Vance shit). Transcending the gawky role models we assumed this guy has based on stage presence and guitar-strap length, the song swells with an epiphanal warmth and wisdom more comparible to Van Morrison and Stevie Wonder than anybody who's rocked the HORDE Festival. Thing is, right when his voice is about to become Morrison's (impressive enough), he emits this sudden high-pitched wail, almost off-putting in its naked vulnerability. Neither of the songs obvious role models ever sounded so helpless in the throes of musical, mystical ecstacy: it's the birth cry of a true original. Radio and VH1, not used to this kind of breakthrough, have been given an edit that fades out beforehand. Fucking bullshit.

Fitting with Mayer's observance that he's going to spend the rest of his life pretending that his moment of revelation lasted (even though it can't since he's too aware now - how's that for an endearing insight?), the rest of the EP is relatively earthbound, settling for what once seemed like the peak of his potential accomplishments: being the mainstream TRAVIS Morrison. "Bigger Than My Body" sounds like something off the D-Plan's Change if Jack Joseph Puig was allowed to fuck it shiny and adult-contemporary-like. Both singers are audibly inspired by the intelligent, jazzy pop of the Police but thankfully infuse it with the self-deprecating yet earnest humility of a suburban American guy who learned romance from Bill Murray and Tom Hanks comedies (their bass players both dance even goofier than they do as well, and I wouldn't be surprised if John Mayer's drummer wears gloves like that D-Plan guy). "Home Life"'s quirky pines for domesticity and eternal dedication ("I will marry just once/ And if it doesn't work out/ Give her half of my stuff/ It's fine with me/ We said eternity/ And I will go to my grave/ With the life that I gave/ Not just some melody line/ On a radio wave") probably would make Morrison more than a bit envious; I can't imagine anybody over 30 writing something so dorkily selfless.

What happens to Mayer while you're flipping over the imaginary 12-inch is that his smarmy, confident ass is now painfully single (you can bet that ALL his single friends are happy about this - no more satisfied-with-life grins from that asshole!). It takes him three verses of pointed observation ("and it stings when it nobody’s fault/ cause there's nothing to blame/ at the drop of a name/ it’s only the air you took/ and the breath you left") to whip out some naked self-pity ("And I know it was me who called it over/ but I still wish you'd fought me ‘til your dying day/ don’t let me get away"). He must have been scared hearing himself cry for someone's help, so next line he's back at the mirror saying he "can’t wait to figure out what’s wrong with me/So I can say 'this is the way that I used to be'/There’s no substitute for time" (I'm guessing the Magnetic Fields' "It's Only Time" is a scary song for him too). The closing tracks show him using thoughts about the effects of nurture ("On behalf of every man, looking out for every girl/ you are the god and the weight of her world/ so fathers be good to your daughters/ daughters will love like you do") and the transience of life ("You can't build a house of leaves/ and live like it's an evergreen/ it's just a season thing/ it's just this thing that seasons do") to keep from drowning in emo-style sorrow or breaking into "Poison" (be it Alice Cooper's or BelBivDevoe's). It's telling that his last words here are "I believe that my life's gonna see/ the love I give return to me," taking that legendary Macca farewell and turning it into a personal pacifier.

The guy's like bizarro-world Gang Of Four, using learned wisdom to tell himself everything's going to be alright. A self-professed teetotaller with a fear of mental illness, Mayer's got a need for understanding and order, his gentle ways are inspired by a desire to not deserve any shit he's given, not some genuinely altruistic nature. Thing is, I'm not really sure ANYBODY has a genuinely altruistic nature, and its refreshing to hear kind words that don't pretend to be motivated by anything other than self-interest and "a slight of [his] mother's hand." His guide for avoiding unnecessary torment and achieving self-satisfaction has a relatively small body count and should only be resented by people like the woman who dumped him before "Split-Screen Sadness." He strikes me as the kind of guy who would invite me to a sportsbar and rightfully tell me to get over myself when I balk. Stevie Ray Vaughn fans are people too (though judging by the other four tracks on the REAL album, my jury's still out on Stevie Ray wanna-be's).
 

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