Over the past few weeks I have seen a complete reversal of fortune occurring in my life. I landed a new job in the area of my major, which was a reoccurring struggle for me since last summer. Amongst other positives, my cover band is shifting to a full lineup, which I am very excited about, and I’m meeting some really cool new people in my travels while strengthening older friendships at the same time. Some of my friends are getting married, moving into new living arrangements, dating again after heartbreak, and also getting new jobs. This sudden surge of positivity has made me debate the idea of God versus Karma. The idea of God has always frustrated me, ever since I was a kid. I want to say so bad that I 100% don’t believe in God or an almighty being, but then things happen in your life that make you truly believe that someone or something is looking out for you. Well maybe that something is Karma, and maybe that’s what I believe in.
I remember I watched a Seinfeld episode a long time ago that had to do with the universe balancing itself out. Jerry was convincing his co-stars not to exaggerate the highs and lows because the universe would eventually even things out. Maybe it’s that easy. I think it’s important for Karma to exist as a sort of spiritual/ambient/atmospherical police force that makes sure people are doing the right thing. You can say “Oh, well what about morals?” Morals are great, but people are only as moral as they act when nobody is looking. Turn on the 6:00 news and see how moral people are. Karma is the force that punishes the wrong doers. Karma is the force that lets the unsuspecting wife out of work early so she can walk in on her cheating husband. Karma is the force that catches the thief’s face on camera after he thinks he just got away clean from a robbery of a Mom and Pop shop. Karma is the thing that mugs a man in a back alley after he beat his innocent golden retriever 2 hours before. Karma catches the things that other human eyes cannot see and punishes or rewards accordingly.
Karma sees hard work, and struggle, and rewards it by replacing that negative wave with a positive one that is just as strong. Remember that the tides can turn at any moment, but you have to do your part first. Bring something to the world worth rewarding. Be proactive. Better yourself in every aspect of your life and help others so you are equipped to ride the wave when it comes in your direction. I know that next time I get a bad break; I’ll smile knowing that something good is right around the corner for me.
This is my official “Top 10 Favorite Bands/Artists of All Time” list:
1. Oasis - This is a no brainer for me. I’m a sucker for huge choruses and Oasis brings those in almost every song. Outside of their music, Oasis is known for their drinking, cocaine use, and an in house sibling rivalry that ultimately caused their demise. The Gallagher brothers always give an entertaining interview and are never afraid to speak their minds. What else could you ask for? 2. John Mayer – His lyrics are completely personal and completely vulnerable. I saw John Mayer in August 2010 and it was possibly the best show I have ever seen. John Mayer the person is just as fascinating as his music. He has gone through several phases such as the up and coming blues musician, the drunken tell-all who gets into great detail about Jessica Simpson in bed, and now he is giving the Americana look a try. 3. Slipknot – Slipknot gets deep inside your core and captures the anger and rage that we all experience from time to time. Their sound is aggressive, yet surprisingly melodic at times. If I had made this list 5 or 6 years ago when my musical interests were strictly heavy metal based, Slipknot would have been number 1. 4. Stone Sour – Sorry to the other members, but for me this pick is all about Corey Taylor. Stone Sour’s lyrics are about Corey Taylor the man, as opposed to Corey Taylor in Slipknot singing about a general feeling. I’ve seen them a couple times and every show has been an awesome experience. After their House of Gold and Bones album, I would consider them the best band in metal right now. 5. Marilyn Manson – Yeah yeah, I know what you’re thinking, but before you judge the music on appearance, actually listen to the music. His music is very relatable to things that have happened in all of our lives, unless you live under a rock, and I would even consider some of his lyrics to be poetic. Marilyn Manson himself is an extremely educated man. He knows exactly what he is doing with his persona and it has sold very well for him. 6. Nirvana – Nevermind should be ranked in the top 10 of every “Greatest Albums of All Time” list made after 1991. Kurt Cobain is one of the most interesting musical figures to ever walk the planet. As a person, he seemed completely disconnected to the world around him, but as soon as he picked up a guitar he was in an absolute comfort zone. 7. The Cure – I’ve never heard a more bipolar band in my life. You never know what mood you’re going to get with The Cure from song to song. I can justify this though because in actual life you never know what is going to come your way next, and emotions can change like the flick of a switch. “Friday I’m In Love” is a song that will forever stay with me. 8. Goo Goo Dolls – I love their choruses. I love their verses. This is just a great overall band with some really strong songwriting. The only thing I don’t like about them is how they tune their guitars so weird. It limits which songs of theirs I can cover without breaking my guitar strings. 9. Taylor Swift – The only female artist I have on the list. Taylor Swift leaves nothing out with her songs. She is completely open and honest with her listeners and I can really appreciate that. I consider Taylor Swift and myself to be one in the same when it comes to songwriting. If circumstances were different, I believe that we could have made a really cute couple. 10. Korn – These guys have dropped off considerably over the last decade or so but they still make my list because their early material was as influential as music can be. They created a subgenre of metal that was all their own and replicated by a ton of bands in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Korn was the first metal band that I ever got into.
I want to take a moment to write about one of my greatest inspirations and influences as a songwriter; miss Taylor Swift. Yes, Taylor Swift, get over it. I became a fan of hers right before Speak Now came out. She was really popular so I decided to do “You Belong With Me” in some of my sets, and she just stuck with me. I think that we have a lot in common from a musical and personal standpoint. I think we both get too caught up in specific people and things, and for that reason, we give that person or situation an almost impossible chance for success. But we stay hopeful and keep striving for the ultimate goals we make for ourselves.
“But You Gave Me A Song” is directly influenced by Taylor Swift. Originally I was trying to write it as if I were John Mayer getting revenge on Taylor Swift for writing “Dear John”. For years I wanted to see what his comeback would be towards her but he never did it, and never will, so it made me kind of mad that he cowered down like that without a fight. I wanted to write something feisty for his sake since he is an all-time favorite of mine. It didn’t really work out that way though because I found the song turning out more like “Dear John” and “All Too Well”, so I went in the Taylor Swift direction with the song because that’s where it took me. I would say that “But You Gave Me A Song” and “All Too Well” are just about identical. It’s one of those things where I threw the concept of songwriting out the window and just kind of took a journey from point A to point B. I like when she does that because we know who exactly she is writing about and it gives us an inside look at how the relationship transpired. We know “Forever and Always” is about Joe Jonas. “Dear John” is about John Mayer. And “All Too Well” is about Jake Gyllenhaal. Some songwriters are kind of off when it comes to being social. A lot of the time that’s why they write. For me personally, it’s much easier for me to sit down by myself and write about somebody in a song, rather than sit down with the actual person and talk about it.
I’ve been pretty outspoken with my opinions about the Red album. I’ve listened to it a ton since it came out. Honestly, if 3 of the songs on that album were missing, I would possibly consider it her best, but unfortunately she decided to take a wrong turn with “22”, “I Knew You Were Trouble”, and “We Are Never Ever getting Back Together”. Do yourselves a favor and look at the writing credits. With the exception of those 3 songs, Taylor Swift is the lone writer, and you can tell because lyrically it’s her style. For those other 3 songs, you will see her name along with 2 other names. Those 2 other names, Martin and Shellback, are producers. They’ve produced for Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys. I’m sorry, but that is the definition of selling out right there and anybody with a musical ear who is a fan of Taylor Swift should shun those pieces of garbage. I remember when I heard “Never Grow Up” for the first time. It gave me that lump you get in your throat when something really connects. That song is real. Those 3 songs are not real. If musicians want to venture off and change their sound, that’s completely ok with me. Radiohead has done it more than once and they did it right. Musicians should change only for their own creative ideas, not some producer’s ideas. Producers produce. Writers write. Let’s keep it that way.
Taylor Swift is a hero of mine and I definitely feel a connection to her through her music. I think that if we grew up in the same town we would have dated and made a pretty good couple. We have the same ideas of what happiness means, we both love cats, and we both have really big hearts. It could still happen. If I get famous I’ll take a chance.
I’ve been alive for over 23 years now. I think that’s a large enough sample size to make the statement I’m about to make. In your life, it is important for you to always remember that every person you meet has something to lose by joining you and something to gain by leaving you. This holds true for every kind of relationship in your life whether it be a romance, a friendship, or a business partnership. The only exception I would make is for direct blood relationships, such as a mother and father, and even those relationships can be damaged in some instances. In my case, I know that my mom, my dad, and my sister will always be there for me regardless of my character flaws and regardless of what unfortunate circumstances come my way. I think the bond we have with family comes from a natural instinct, which most species have. For example, birds can’t speak or think like we do, but still, they protect their young without question. It’s nature. Every other person in your life is a candidate to leave you.
I’ve been part of an epidemic going around right now that has girls suddenly leaving their longtime boyfriends. A lot of us are wondering why. How can they suddenly discard 2 or 3 years of promises and memories and move on within days of the breakup occurring? My theory right now is, well why wouldn’t they? Survival of the fittest. Like I said before, every person in your life has something to lose by joining you and something to gain by leaving you. During the relationship, the two of you will undoubtedly confess your love towards each other and plan your futures together, but don’t be fooled, that is also survival of the fittest. At that moment, she feels that he is her best chance for survival. Likewise, at that moment, he feels that she is her best chance for survival. The second that either one of you sees a better alternative, the process of leaving will begin. A lot of couples will say that the breakup was “mutual”, while in reality it is very rare to have a mutual breakup. One person will move on shamelessly after a short recovery period while the other person is left to think about what went wrong.
Come clean. That’s my advice. Most importantly, come clean to yourself. Come clean to your family. Come clean to your friends. And come clean to the person who left you. People will advise you to be above it and to “bite the bullet”. FUCK THAT! You don’t owe anybody anything. They left you. The only thing “biting the bullet” does is leave you moping around for weeks while the other person is running around guilt free, enjoying life to the fullest at your expense. How can you feel better if you don’t get it all off your chest? I know a bunch of guys, myself included at one point, who want to keep their breakups clean because their ex’s told them that they still loved them and cared about them. That idea is absolutely false. If she loved and cared about you as much as she said, she wouldn’t have left you in the first place. She will never come back. Never. Be fair to yourself and analyze the facts without bias. What was happening when things went south? What new people were coming into her life when things went south? Air it out. Clean your slate. Better yourself. You can be somebody’s best chance at survival one day.
With any of the other 3 seasons there always seems to be something that holds you back from doing exactly what you want to do. Either you’re in school, or it’s too cold, or any other kind of excuse like that. The summer however, is wide open. School is out, all your friends are back home for a few months, and it doesn’t get dark until late; the whole world is at your disposal. It’s my opinion that summer defines who you are at the moment. There’s one summer in particular that left a little bit of a scar with me. I dated my first girlfriend, Caitlin, for almost 3 years. We started dating during the summer of 2007 and had a couple more really special summers after that. It was the summer after out final breakup that really did me in. It was summer 2010. I can’t tell you much that happened from summer 2010 because nothing really happened at all. I’m not very good at meeting new people in the first place, so combine this with me being absolutely miserable from a breakup and you’ve got me in summer 2010. I refer to that summer as either “The Summer From Hell”, “The Summer of 24”, or “The Summer of John Mayer”. Seeing John Mayer live in concert for the first time was the one bright spot I can take away from that summer. The low point of that summer is admitting that I watched all 8 seasons of the TV show 24. Maybe it doesn’t sound like much, but let me do the math for you. 24 episodes x 8 seasons = 192 episodes. 192 episodes x 45 minutes (remember, no commercials on Netflix Watch Instantly) = 8,640 minutes / 60 = 144 hours / 24 = 6 full days. Jack Bauer saved the United States of America 8 times from terrorism and corruption, but he couldn’t save that summer for me. I realized that I had nobody, or maybe in reality I gave myself the illusion that I had nobody.
That summer taught me to never build up an upcoming summer ever again. I had talked up that summer with my friend Matt to such a high extent, but the truth was that me being single during the summer didn’t guarantee that I’d have girls banging down my door every second of every day. In my case, I didn’t have girls banging down my door any second of any day. I went into summer 2011 with a different approach. I told myself to expect the absolute worst in order to avoid the impending disappoint. Instead of looking for something to happen like I had done the previous summer, Alyssa just kind of showed up in my life completely unexpected, without me having to search or dig. Like I said before, summer is wide open for you. The world is at your disposal. We took that literally and did whatever we wanted whenever we wanted to.
Now in summer 2013, I find myself back in the same situation that I was in during summer 2010. It’s weird how you think you’ve gotten past all these different feelings and circumstances, but it turns out that they all come back eventually, just in different fashions. I’ve taken to a new approach this time around though. Take what’s offered to you at the moment and don’t sit around waiting for what you think is the best possible option. If something big is really going to happen to you, it’ll find you, so don’t go around looking for it too hard. You might scare it off or look right past something that is a better fit for you without even knowing it.
So this is my first ever blog post, in an effort to support my struggling music career. If you are reading this, I want to thank you for the support. It means a lot to me to have my music heard and even have it liked in some instances. I thought I’d start out my blogging by shedding a little bit of light on the first song I wrote after Up In The Air. There are only a few songs that I’ve written so far that I’m really proud of. “Eighteen”, “Floating On A Fantasy”, “Out Of My Way”, and “The Last Song” are songs that I just stripped down lyrically and wrote what I felt with no sort of songwriting ambiguity. Recently, I’ve added “I Think It’s Called Life” to my short list of favorite songs.
If I wasn’t already convinced, the year 2013 has taught me that the number 13 really does symbolize bad luck. There has been a lot of negativity surrounding myself and some people very close to me and this year, so far, has tested my character in a way that I’ve never experienced before. Shortly after Up In The Air came out, I realized that it tanked in a few different aspects. I’ve improved so much over the past couple of months in ways both lyrical and productional, and this realization made me want to write again immediately. Like I said previously, there were a few songs off that album that will always stick with me, but others made me feel like I could do much better.
I wrote “I Think It’s Called Life” in about an hour. I figured there were two approaches I could take with my new songs. I could either take the approach of anger and complain about everybody and everything that did me wrong in the past, or I could take the approach of realizing what is going on around me, accept that these things are happening, and feeling that something has to give. Eventually all the negativity has to move on. It can’t stay bad forever. If it does, then what is the point of living? I took the ladder approach. I had to.
The bottom line of the song is that you have no idea what life is going to throw at you. One year you could be interning at SNY, working closely with your beloved New York Mets; having a promising future in the balance. The next year you could still be working at the same dead end job, looking for your dream career with no indication of change in sight. We don’t know what is going to happen and we sure as hell don’t ask for our misfortunes. Nobody wants to have their heart broken. Nobody wants to be laid off. Nobody wants to move away from their children. Nobody wants to have a loved one die suddenly. Nobody wants to have their car break down. Nobody wants to think about what could have been if it had all gone to plan. But it happens. Life doesn’t care, but I believe there is hope. There has to be hope. I think we can find hope in each other and I think we can find hope in the little things, like free taco day, or an old favorite song from 1995 that makes its way onto the radio, or a professor letting you out of class thirty minutes early. Just as easily as things turned bad, they can turn good. Sometimes we’re looking for it. Sometimes we’ve given up and it falls in our lap anyways. How would you describe something so erratic? What do they call it? I think it’s called life.