Monday, February 10, 2014

Somehow the Wonder of Life Prevails

I love Mark Kozelek. The dude seems indefatigable, working on a plethora of projects at once, in a variety of styles—over his own largely acoustic classical guitar, or over someone else's electronica backing or with the somewhat Crazy Horse-like Desertshore—but with his slice-of-life, stream-of-consciousness lyrics delivered in his rich baritone. No matter the context, I find it an intoxicating combination and I think about how if I'd discovered this guy when I was in high school or even college, I'd think he was speaking directly to me.

He's got a new album coming out this week, Benji, named after, yes, the film starring the plucky dog. (I have such fond feelings for that dog and yet I have no memory of ever actually seeing the movie.) Benji's an incredible piece of work—one review recently wondered if it was a contender for the title of The Great American Novel—but it make me go back to some of his slightly earlier yet still recent work, such as this, which manages to somehow attain a certain universal applicability while being more specific than the overwhelming major of non-Kozelek songs. 

I had a high school friend, he liked to hunt muskrats and rabbits and he liked to draw and he liked to listen to Ian Gillan with Black Sabbath
But one night outside a Canton, Ohio pool hall something transpired, he stuck a man with a screwdriver, stole his car and he hauled
He did three years in Tico Reformatory and the rumors of what went on in there were most chilling horror stories
Not long after he was set free, he left his parent's house at 1am and wrapped his car around a tree
And I was in Pacific Grove, California when I got the call
I talked with his mother and his father and his brothers, I talked to them all about his love for heavy metal, his love for hunting and how good he could draw
And I laid down next to my girlfriend Deena, like a child I bawled

One Thanksgiving when I was pretty young, me and my dad got into it over something and we fought and he won
And I went running barefoot off into the snow and I sought refuge at a neighbor's house and later that night I came home
And in the midst of all the agonies and hardness I felt, somehow the wonder of life always prevails
And in the midst of all the awkwardness, all my growing pains, somehow the wonder of life always remains

Every day, I get out and I walk, every day, I get on the phone with someone and I talk
It's good to have friends who love you, care and understand, who have your back and don't judge you, criticize you, or make demands
Every day, for miles I walk along the Monterey Pines, the Marina to Aquatic Park and I look at the Marin Headlands, Tiburon, Sausalito, Angel Island, from the end of fishing pier, I couldn't ask for more, my eyes couldn't ever want for more
I watch the seagulls fly, for half my life I've watched the ferry boats and the barges go by

It's February, it'll be the 10th year anniversary of when I lost a friend to cancer and there's times when I still can't believe it
But I'm so grateful for all the time we got to spend in Pescadero, Point Reyes, Mendocino, San Rafael and Fairfax
Though I'm reminded of her passing especially when it rains somehow the wonder of life always remains
And every Christmas I get pictures of her growing daughter and her face looks more and more and more and more and more and more and more like her mother

Spent this Thanksgiving in Seat 21E of an SAS Airplane flying over the Baltic and the North Sea on my way home from Stockholm and Malmö and Göteborg and Copenhagen
All I could think of in my seat was getting back home to my girlfriend
She'd be away until Saturday or Sunday down in Orange County with her family for the holiday
But it's all right, I can't cry, can't complain, because I'm just about to land in a 737 airplane
Looking down at the city of Martinez and the Carquinez Strait and that San Francisco Pacific Ocean and North Bay and at the Golden Gate and Oakland Bay bridges and the many boats that sail
And the wonder of life always prevails

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