The language that Raymond Carver chooses delineates an endearing, patient, honest, cautious, almost meditative pace to his writing. He is a master at this, his writing slows you heart rate, it helps you feel a breeze.
However, I don’t want to talk about that pace. Maybe some other time I will. Raymond Carver will be loved by myself and millions for how he seems to stop clocks with words.
Today, what I want to talk about is an under-rated song that does the exact opposite. A song that speeds clocks up. A song that most likely millions will never hear, by a band that most people haven't heard of.
Yes of course, If Carver’s pace is patient, then clearly Hunter S. Thompson embodies the pace of urgency. This is true, if I was writing about authors at the opposite spectrum of pace I would use these two, without a doubt, in a second (a Thompson second, not a Carver second, people can live and die in between a Carver second and a Thompson second).
Since I have been listening to this song for roughly fifteen years, and I only once read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas eight years ago, I am a master of this song’s universe, not that book’s.
The song is Anxious Arms by The Jealous Sound
I understand the argument that the beat of the instrumental aspect of a song greatly influences the pace of the language as we are listening, and I agree. However, I believe, if the language is strong enough it may also carry the beat of the instruments further as we ingest them with a hunger for acceleration.
“There was a guy making a plan. Find a girl, she'd understand. And say, "Please don't worry.” This one was right, well that was the thing, closing your eyes, and see wedding rings. Well there is no hurry.
A day like today, waiting for wings to form. You're waiting for clouds and storms. And for safety. And I said, "I will”. And I ask you please lie still. Your faith means everything.”
That is the first verse of Anxious Arms.
The songwriter Blair Shehan accomplishes this urgent pace with
- Quick lines
- Antithetical word associations
- Inconsistency in tense
Words that I treasure in that first verse that collide and oppose are; waiting, wings, form, clouds, storm, safety, will, please, lie, still, faith, everything.
There is no doubt rhythm to these words, but the pace and choice, it sounds like an avalanche that cascades and crests from multiple points.
“The one thing that I protect, well don't you know, don't you forget, it’s the sound of my voice. And hands down in the hold I brace, put your hands on your handsome face, and lie when you say, "I haven't got much, maybe today.” And it's all you won't become, and it's everything you might have done. My dear we’re closing in fast on another year.”
That is the second verse.
It grows the song into a short story. It succeeds urgency in
- Personal affections
- uncertain dialoge
- speaking in absolutes
“I haven't got much, maybe today.” There is urgency in uncertainty. There is urgency in a heightened heart beat. And there is urgency in the last number on a lotto ticket, if it teeters between winning and losing, and maybe and maybe and maybe.
“All you won't become” and “Everything you might have done” are open and shut all encompassing absolutes.
Here’s a poem I just wrote about absolutes…
“As the house shook, and the city crumbled, they turned to me, and they told me, urgently, about the absolutes, the most important’s, the things I needed right now, right now.
When you speak in absolutes, and you look into your readers eyes, they move, they move with you.
“And I will be, anxious arms, beside myself when there's no one else, would you be my answer then? Won't you be my answer? Say it again.” -the third verse
And it employs urgency via
- Challenging the narrator’s authority
- Repeating questions
- Pleading for validity
I could go on, but I just bartended eight hours, and I’m pretty sure nobody reads this anymore, and I am alone in the universe. But If you die Blair Shehan, and you get lost in eternity, and stumble upon this, because eternity is a really long time, I want you to know that you are quite good at writing urgency, and you are worth studying, at least in my anxious eyes, and my run on sentences, are meant to comfort you, in an already eternally consistent place.
(And you give what you have, and it's all that you've got)
What you have
(And you hope it's enough, but you know that it's not)
And you say
"Please don't worry"
And you care
(And you tear it apart and you count up the cost)
In your heart
(And your head swims, it all gets lost)
And you say
"There is no hurry"