c’est la vie

November 10, 2020

The working title for this song in the early stages was “Maybe”. It seemed to reflect my tendency to fall back on self-sabotage when trying to deliberate my future. As if I’m trying to reach for my highest possible vision, and suddenly realizing with an uncomfortable certainty that I’m unworthy of that ideal. I never really attempted to add vocals to this song, but one of the lines I kept singing was “it may be that I’m not enough”.

c’est la vie

Then, when the song was close to finished, I started singing C’est La Vie (such is life). As if this constant second guessing and desperation is just par for the course.

The song started many years ago with a short finger-picking riff. Something I came up with playing acoustic guitar, recorded on my phone, and completely forgot. I dug it up one day, looped it on my guitar pedal, and started experimenting with some leads. I discovered a guitar lead that would later become the chorus of the song (around 1:18). The lead bends the first note up a whole step and back down, giving the song the pleading desperation I was looking for. It pleads, begs, hopes, wishes, and fears all at once.

Eventually the song evolved to build up into a heavier section. It feels like this part of the song is letting go of hope and falling aimlessly into the abyss, tumbling backward. It’s a cathartic surrender to what unmistakably IS. Relinquishing and abandoning all hope of fruition. Certainly has some gravel in the gut, but an air of distant optimism.

It reminds me of the line from Fight Club, when the narrator first cries at his support group:

“And then, something happened. I let go. Lost in oblivion. Dark and silent and complete. I found freedom. Losing all hope was freedom.”

One day I’ll make a video made for this song—it’s not uncommon for me to have visions when I’m working with music. Visually, I’m heavily inspired by the work Jerin Kelly did for Dead Birds Adore Us. A vintage sort of psychedelia. He juxtaposed clever live-edited video clips that were usually detached from the subject matter of the songs, and yet they took on a whole new life when played with the music.

The idea I have is a similar style. The first half of the video would be clips of nature. Something like the incredible and awe-inspiring footage of the Planet Earth series. Wide drone shots of beautiful landscapes and seas, and specifically focusing on the nurturing aspect of nature. Mothers tending to their babies. The grace of existing in an environment and being so well adapted that it completely nourishes your every need and freedom.

Then when the heavy part of the song hits (around 4:24), I want to show the violent, dark, and chaotic side of nature. An homage to the completely impersonal need for nature to feed on itself. Then I want it to twist into human nature, showing footage from various wars (nothing overly graphic) and conflicts from our time here. Scenes from the trenches, artillery and mortar shells firing, nuclear bombs exploding, various dictators inciting the masses. Specifically, I would like to use juxtapositions between reality and our lustful fantasies. One of the visions I see is the infamous clip of Tony Montana from Scarface firing his AR-15, and then showing the footage of Columbine students running from the campus with their hands behind their heads. Sort of visually demonstrating that our senseless acts of violence against one another, against ourselves, should come at no real surprise when considering our violent infatuations.

The vision is a bit disconnected from the emotional vibe I get from the song itself, but that’s a quality I enjoy in music videos. When the image you see completely recontextualizes what you’re hearing, and becomes something different altogether. Like the video for Stinkfist by Tool. When I hear that song, I can’t help but see everything covered in dust in a post-apocalyptic world.