Strangers With Songs

“The poet ranks far below the painter in the representation of visible things, and far below the musician in that of invisible things.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

There are odd little paths we walk in virtuality.

When I joined SL, I had already been a writer for most of my life. When I was very little, I would cross out the parts of my storybooks I didn’t care for and rewrite them to my liking. As a tween I wrote terribly cheesy horror stories to try and shock the adults who endured listening to them (to their credit, they pretended to be disgusted enough to sate the miscreant in me). As a full-fledged teenager, I did that whole weeping heart in my poetry journal thing. In college I learned I was never going to become the reincarnation of Oscar Wilde; that took some time to heal. As a young adult I embraced the fact that while artful talent might take its sweet time to develop, I had an inherent skill that not everyone gets a chance to wield.

As an adult I have learned that a muse is a fickle whore of a creature and you take what you can grab from her when she deigns to show herself. Between visits you take turns hating her and pining for her and stitching together the remnants of your ego in cold sweat anticipation of her return.

My particular failing is a lack of brevity. If allowed the space, I will ruin my own writing with length. Even knowing this, I never considered myself a particularly good poet, nor did I ever consider that I’d have any gift for lyrics. It was only at the coaxing of musician friends in SL that I shared some scribblings. When I did, quite unexpectedly, a whole new world of collaboration and expression opened up for me.

I have been writing with Grace and Lyndon since 2007. January or February or June depending on how you want to start counting. I shared Lugo with Lyndon that January and wrote Fallen State of Grace for the girl in February. But it was late June when I sent Boxes to Lyndon and Last Chance to Grace and first heard them put their music styles to my words.

I don’t pretend to be able to express what it’s like to hear your poetry come out of someone else’s lips in a way you never imagined it yourself. I suppose, on an intellectual level, it’s a little like watching someone you love hold your child for the first time. There is a tender pride and a confusing loss that take place in tandem. You are parting with something that will never be wholly yours again, but in that giving there’s a sense of incredible connection.

Both of them have been performing collaborative songs for four years now. Four. Years. I consider myself to be at their mercy in many ways. Without me, both of them could go on to write and perform. Without them, this strange new way I’ve found to use my inner voice would be gone. I suppose I should be frightened by that, but I’ve never felt that way. I send them my scribblings and sometimes they like them enough to imbue their magic into my words. It’s a system that suits me. But I’m never quite able to get my head around hearing them play.

For a while now, Lyndon has taken to playing our songs at open mics around Seattle. And that’s where one of his musician friends heard him play our latest song, The Dangerous, and asked for a chart so he could work it up.

So today, I opened my mail and had a link to the above youtube video. It features a guy I’ve never met, never heard, never seen until today singing words I wrote. It’s one of the most strange, surreal three minutes and fifty one seconds I’ve ever experienced. Myriad flavors of emotion I haven’t begun to identify. (Although, I need to find out how to get in touch with him, if only to find out what the hell is going on with his lamp).

I get angry and frustrated with Linden Lab, Second Life, and humanity in general. I get exhausted by my disappointment at watching so much possibility squandered.

But some days I come face to face with the paths and possibilities that keep me on this particular road, and I remind myself that no one promised it would be paved in yellow bricks or lead to bejeweled cities. But the road does weave its way into places I could never otherwise explore or encounter, and I have to concede these small moments of awe.

People often ask one another why they stay in Second Life. I have several answers, but the one that I can’t get away from is that as a creative thinker and a tentative artist, there is nothing in virtuality that offers me the at-my-fingertips tools to unfurl the creative sinew more than SL. One day maybe open sims, etc will catch up. I embrace the possibilities of what is to come. But I’ve looked around at the newborns slouching toward Bethlehem and they don’t have the juice to fill my jelly jar yet. I’m beyond the whole novelty of the environment part. I’ve logged my time in someone else’s growing pains. If it’s not ready for prime time, call me later.

From now on, I’ll have a much simpler answer.

Why am I still here? That’s just the dangerous in me.

This entry was posted in Inner Space, RL - Entertainment, Second Life, SL-Music, Virtual Living, Writing. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. Grumpy Coyote
    Posted June 30, 2011 at 1:23 PM | Permalink

    The lamp, since you ask, is augmented by a wayward speaker stand. Not nearly as interesting as it seems.

    Now the important part – Thank you. Thank you for writing a spectacular lyric, sharing it with Lyndon, and not turning off my meager attempt after ten seconds of my squawking. Thank you for taking the risk of opening a vein for someone in an artificial world and bleeding out a little real poetry, honesty, and truth.

    I’ve actually had a similar experience – having unexpected covers of my music pop up. Flattering, of course – and disorienting for me. Having had my own frustrations with Youtube that echo some of the things you say about SL I can also relate to the reaction to things that suddenly reward an often disheartening pass time.

    These things we do – the way we open ourselves… It sometimes lands and resonates. It takes on a life of it’s own. For me, I’ll blame luck, and the questionable taste of my subscribers. You, well – talent and honesty is what I heard.

  2. Riven Homewood
    Posted June 30, 2011 at 10:47 PM | Permalink

    “Talent and honesty” That pretty much sums it up. I still get chills every time I hear Grace sing “I’m Loosing You.” Thank you!

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