Kavalier Calm's Crowdsource Inspiration

Hi. I'm Kavalier Calm. I write songs and poems inspired by the people I meet on the internet. Ask, and I’ll write something for you. Really.
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  • How would you describe a cruel lover?

    The other night I was tapping my finger and started singing:

    Well, I could never love a woman as cruel as you. ( X 2 )
    You’re mean to my mother, and you’re worse with my friends.
    I could never love a woman as cruel as you.

    Well, you say such awful things to wilt my pride.
    You say such awful things to make me feel dead inside.
    I could never love a woman as cruel as you. ( X 2 )

    Parameters: How would you describe a cruel lover? Give me a line or two. The lyric can be simple—in fact, should be. This recording will be very bluesy/jazzy. I may not even have my guitar.

    Expected response time: Sunday night.

    Tonight’s song is devoted to two cool blogs. The first is l-aeroport, which is full of wonderful images of airplanes and airports. I use the word wonderful literally here. Something about planes fills me with wonder; the physics can be explained to me a thousand times, but a little boy inside of me will always think it’s a bit magical. The second blog is madeforus, managed by a young English teacher, Celesté Marie. I approve of this blog’s content. Teacher, I’m hoping that you approve of the extended metaphor in these lyrics. You may notice that each line below isn’t even sung; some of the second verse was a casualty of the war that is my chaotic, ultra-fast recording (forgotten and swallowed). Enjoy! — K.C.

        Airplanes

    We must look like two airplanes about to crash from ground level.
    But we are miles apart—and we ain’t getting any closer.
    Yeah, we read all the same books,
    and listen to the same songs,
    but we ain’t got no interest in each other.

    Yeah, we both like flying solo.
    Yeah, we don’t need no co-pilot to go.

    I run a one man show; I’m used to taking off alone.
    You are a strong willed Captain of this vessel; you don’t want anyone to hold your hand.
    Everyone says we think the same way,
    and we finish each other’s sentences.
    But we don’t know what the sense is in needing another.

    CHORUS

    I wrote this song after Kate Nash binging; it features very barebones guitar work and heavy lyricism. Because of the title, I devote it to two blogs with great images of bruises: bruisesbruise and sweetly-soft-kisses. Because of the meaning, I devote it to xthefuckingdistance (which captures the message of this song in its URL and its content). Thanks for the inspiration, bloggers. And I hope you enjoy, everyone! — K.C.

         Bruise

    When I say the wrong thing at the wrong time,
    and I hurt you even just a little bit,
    a big part of me wants to die,
    as silly as that sounds.

    And I know it ain’t right for me to care that much;
    it ain’t right for me to care like I do.
    My defenses are down, and I’m bound to get bruised.

    But I’ll take the bruises with a smile
    if I get to keep you here a while.

    You won’t always be here because no one ever is.
    All the magic I say you have can’t escape this.
    But I won’t run away because you’re brave and stay
    even though I may be the one to leave one day.
    A day too soon ‘cause any day would be too soon.

    REFRAIN
    CHORUS

    And I get to keep you here a while.
    Yeah, love, we’re a timebomb, and we just can’t read the clock.
    and I dread the bang, and I dread knowing it could be any day…

    It probably ain’t right…
    REFRAIN
    CHORUS

    Today’s song is for Stephanie over at stephanieisadork. She answered my song request post by suggesting that I write a song about:

    How your bed can be so lonely, yet so comforting, at the same time.

    I liked this suggestion, so I checked out her blog, and I found a poem that she wrote. With her permission, I used much of the language from this poem to shape the lyrics for this song. I managed to combine her poem and the heart of her suggestion into a single tune. This was a wonderful exercise for me because I am a poet first; I originally picked up a guitar to give something extra to some of my poems, some poems that were begging to be sung. If any other poets out there would like to collaborate with me to turn their verses into a song, then please contact me. I also devote this song to some other great blogs I found that are about sleep, poetry, music, or all three: hipsterssleeping, loveletmesleep, sleep-and-poetry, and thetidalsleep. Enjoy everyone, and thanks for the inspiration, Stephanie! — K.C.

         Waking Up

    There is a time to witness the morning,
    to hear the sun wake up
    to see the wind erase the night’s mistakes,
    to smell the sky turning into a blue giant.

    There is a time
    to relive the dreams or nightmares
    soon to be locked away in your head
    in a drawer with a lost key.

    And we roll over, burrow down into
    pillows and sheets to hold onto this time.

    There is a time
    before time and space and theories
    catch up to us—
    when anything is possible,
    when we are greater than the sum of our parts.

    There is a time
    when everything is written
    by one hand,
    a sameness uniting
    the flawed and the perfect.

    CHORUS

    Tonight’s song is for the forget-me-not over at hobophonics. I found this muse because she is a friend of the last; I wish muses always came in pairs. I wanted to write her a song because 1) she’s beautiful (dark hair and eyes are the shortcut to my heart), 2) she’s in the midst of a no make-up challenge (which I respect—plus she still looks beautiful), and 3) her blog’s simple title, that hyphenated name, wouldn’t get out of my head. I sat down a couple of hours ago, and my heart and hands made this. It is some of the simplest songwriting I’ve ever done, and yet I think it is some of my best work yet. Hypothetical it may be, but I was choking up trying to record it. Thank you, muse. I also devote this post to some other cool blogs I found searching #forget-me-not: una-vida-colorida, lyricsbird, crazedandchaotic, ochdearme, basements-made-of-music, and indiecrush. Enjoy, bloggers, and thanks for the inspiration! — K.C.

         Forget-me-not

    I wake you in the morning,
    with a bouquet of forget-me-nots;
    I tell you they remind me of you:
    small, beautiful, and often blue.

    I don’t know what may come between,
    but I won’t forget you or this day.
    Forget-me-not, I’ll live by your name.

    You laugh as I throw you over my shoulder
    and carry you down the stairs.
    You beg to know where we’re going,
    and I say, “It’s a surprise.”
    No time for clothes or make-up;
    today you’re just mine.

    CHORUS

    The basket of food and wine is packed,
    and the blanket, the books, and cigarettes.
    You smile and hold my hand as I drive,
    and I call you my flower, my sunshine.
    You ask what’s the occasion,
    and I say, “Us.”

    CHORUS

    And as we sit by the riverside,
    I watch you blink our time away.
    I bury my face in your hair
    and breathe in your memory.
    I store you somewhere safe,
    deep in my mind.

    CHORUS

    Elijah Cash wrote this song yesterday. We recorded the rhythm guitar and vocals in one furious take; I added a solo guitar track then slapped a bow on it. This raw, angry, hungry gift is for these blogs with great music/blues content: hotheartbeats, burdenofbees, greeneggsetmoi, coolriffings, crayonfactoryblues, and indierockmachine. We hope everyone listening feeds off the energy and honesty in this tune. — K.C.

          Marjorie

    Yeah, Marjorie, the jury is out on you,
    and you’re guilty to the Nth degree.
    Yes, darlin’, everyone, everyone here knows
    that you are guilty of loving me.

    Marjorie, everyone knows that you love me.
    Except for you.

    Yeah, Marjorie, I could make you mine.
    I could make you my—I could make you my wife.
    Yeah, Marjorie, we could marry.
    Right in front of God, the church, your mom, your dad—
    I’d give you my life.

    CHORUS

    After reading The Picture of Dorian Gray, it is difficult to grasp what Oscar Wilde’s true feelings on aestheticism and Hedonism were; he was likely uncertain himself. Given Dorian’s tragic death, I want to say Wilde doubted the idea of a life of vice and art for art’s sake; but in the preface to the book, he writes gems like “no artist desires to prove anything.” Whether Wilde truly agreed with the sentiments in the preface or not, they are self-defeating. To say artists are not trying to prove anything is, in fact, a claim that demands proving; this is an inescapable catch-22 that aesthetes cannot conquer. And yet, maybe Wilde attempted such a conquering with his novel; by having characters tout so many counter-intuitive philosophies simultaneously, readers are left wondering what the moral is—which is, in some ways, the same as there being none whatsoever. It seems as if the book proves nothing. Except I do feel a point in the story because while my head wonders, my heart knows: Dorian’s life and death are tragic things. Tonight’s song is an audio rebuttal to many sentiments in Dorian Gray. I believe in didactic art, art that has a point. I am always making a point when I create. Always. Now, I do not claim my view is right (I’m doubtful there even is such a thing as right and wrong); rather, I want to prove that my view/idea/emotion merely is—that it exists—and, in existing, is valid. The best part of this creation is that the lyrics make a point about making a point, thus achieving a double whammy of an up-yours to aesthetes. I dedicate this post to these great blogs with Oscar Wilde/book content: fuckyeahoscarwilde, oscarwildeassembly, owildeapproves, and fitzfaustus. This was fun, so if you listeners have any other pieces of fiction that you’d like to hear a song about, make a request! — Kavalier

         The Song of Dorian Gray

    Lord Henry certainly is a fascinating fellow,
    with his mouth full of Hedon’s jello
    and endless chatter about pleasing the senses.
    And narcissist, you soaked it up:
    every word of that yellow-covered book.
    Now you’re against nature,
    and it’s against you.

    Dorian, you Faustian devil,
    Sibyl’s death was not a one act play;
    and it was you, not the knife
    who took Basil’s life away.

    The point is, you can’t escape blame.
    The world doesn’t happen to you;
    you happen to the world
    and everyone around you.
    We aren’t objects;
    we aren’t just stones.
    We are a living, breathing,
    destiny shaping gods on thrones.

    The choice is you,
    you are what you choose.
    If there’s no point to what you do
    then, Dorian, why do
    anything?

    Tumblrverse: Can you give us the first name of a woman and where she’s from?

    Elijah Cash is working on a new blues song called “Singing for Women”, and we want your help writing the lyrics. We need the name of a woman and where she’s from (could be your name, ladies, or fictional); for example, Susie from South Dakota or Maggie from Maine (the alliteration is coincidental/optional). When we post the song, we will devote it to the bloggers whose submissions were selected as a part of the lyrics. Thanks in advance all you beautiful bloggers.

    Croft and Jones in the Temple of Bones

    When Meagan Marie—who manages Official Tomb Raider Blog—suggested I write songs for the important women in gaming, I realized my whole next song project should be character-centric. I’m slowly building an album of character-based songs. I plan to have an even number of songs for male and female characters, and Meagan gave me a strong list of characters for the female half. I decided to write for Lara first because she is one of my favorite characters ever. Writing these #gaming songs is fun, but I like to think they can have a message. After all, gaming has never been simply about fun for me; I’ve learned much about life when gaming; thus, a song about gaming should achieve the same thing. Megan essentially challenged me to highlight the strengths of women—to create a girl power moment!—and this was a challenge I was ready to take on. I actually believe the distinction between genders is often overblown; in general, I don’t think very much separates men and women. But the women in my life collectively have a few traits that I envy—traits that Lara has exemplified over her career as well. Primarily I mean: infinite patience; an incredible strength of spirit; compassion; and a cleverness, which is often used against me. Both men and women are clever, but I am dumbfounded by feminine cleverness; the women in my life have such subtle and smart tactics to get what they want. They know how to plant seeds, make something they want seem like my own idea, and they know how to ask for things with the slightest whisper of guilt—a feeling that makes me cave every time. Some people will argue about these distinctions I’m drawing, and that’s fine. I only claim they are based on my experiences with women. And I love the women in my life for these traits—these strengths. So, when it was time to write a song about Lara, I imbued her with the qualities I know she has from playing Tomb Raider games, but I also gave her strengths I believe all women have.

    The second important part of this song is my use of Indiana Jones as a foil. When defining characters, it is useful to compare them to someone. In my research I read that Lara was initially designed as a man but was changed to a woman partly because the developers felt that the original design was too similar to Indiana Jones. This got me wondering about the differences between these two world-renowned archaeologists. The song highlights some of their unique characteristics.

    Tomb Raider’s music is beautiful, but it’s orchestral. I am many things, but an entire orchestra is not one of them. So I had to do this my way, and my way is a chugging rhythm and Homeric-like storytelling. The rhythm is constantly leaning forward; it creates the feeling one gets when falling out of a chair. And I am proud of the lyrics; the rhyming, the near-rhyming, the word play, etc. At seven minutes, this is not for those with short attention spans; but considering the immensity of the two characters I am comparing, the length seems fair.

    My devotees are listed in the separate audio post.
     
         Croft and Jones in the Temple of Bones

    Gather round, ye friends and foes, and I’ll sing the tale of Croft and Jones,
    the tale of two adventurers great who made a wager, a bet for the ages:
    the first to the treasure in the Temple of Bones earns the title:
    Best Archaeologist Ever Known.

    This dungeon is ideal for their bet; the Skeleton King, as DM, is no novice.
    Cursed to a cave with two entryways, he strove to shape a very fair maze.
    Whether raiders enter East or West, they will face the exact same test—
    two paths in a symmetrical tomb, leading to its heart, the throne room.

    At a time on which they both agree, Indy enters West, and Lara enters East.
    The very first room is full of giant spiders; Indy’s revolver makes short work of them.
    One small bite and their poison will kill; nothing Lara can’t handle with her pistols.

    The next room is dark as night; Indy lights a torch and to his surprise
    the floor is covered by undead tigers, restless in their slumber.
    They smell blood, and they smell meat, but Indy is ever-quick on his feet.
    He cuts his palm on a nearby rock, covers his leather bag in blood.
    Just as those tigers near, he tosses his bag in the air.
    As one, those cats chase his scent, and he slips right by them.
    Facing tigers of her own, Lara’s flare casts a pink glow.
    She can see they’re blind as bats from years living in darkness.
    They hunt with their nose and ears; she needs to trick them that she’s near.
    The cave’s high ceiling plays with sound, so Lara screams louder than loud.
    Her voice bounces of all the walls, hits those tigers like a hundred war calls.
    In confusion, they begin to roar, adding to the echo score.
    As they crash and claw each other, Lara slips by without a bother.

    The next room is home to a ghost, he appears to Indy, a demanding host:
    "In the next chamber awaits your prize, but passage comes at a high price;
    The toll is a life or a limb; nothing less will get you in.”
    Indy wonders until his light bulb’s lit: “Ghost, I will give you my dear bullwhip;
    so often has it saved me from harm, I think of it as my third arm.”
    To this, the ghost responds: “I know this is a clever trick,
    but I respect its guile, so I accept.”

    In the east Lara faces the same grave toll; she uses what she knows from old scrolls:
    these undead worship cats as gods. She makes this bold claim to help her odds:
    "Sir, like many of your people, I am part feline—on my mother’s side;
    this makes me swift and nimble and gives me nine lives.
    I have one I can spare for you if you agree to let me through.”
    To this, the ghost responds: “I know this is a clever trick,
    but I respect its guile, so I accept.”

    Lara enters right, thinking she’s best, and in walks Indy from the left.
    They meet eyes in a long stare. They both know they’re almost there.
    As one their heads turn to the prize on the throne: the solid gold skull of the Queen of Bone.
    Though a scholar and a Doctor, Indy is still just a man—
    and men can’t bear to lose, and sometimes, they act too soon.
    But ever-patient Lara smells a trap—her wisdom screams  hold  back.
    She watches as Indy charges for treasure, hears as he calls out in pleasure,
    mere steps from victory—

    and then he cries out in fear! as the King from thin air appears
    and gives a swing of his club of wood—as only a king could.
    Jones crumbles to the floor, knocked out cold, he starts to snore.

    The King then takes a step towards Lara; she falls to her knees, palms stretched forward.
    In his language she humbly speaks, “Do you not wish to rest, My King?”
    And on this question he halts and says: “At times I tire of my task.
    But someone must guard my wife against ill intent.”
    "My King, I can be your guard. I can give your wife a new temple,
    a modern home called a museum where people will line up to see her,
    where she will be worshiped every day, where she will be treated like royalty.”
    The King taps his chin and weighs the choice, turns his ear to his queen’s silent voice.
    "The Queen says she likes this idea, and I learned early in my rule
    never to argue with that woman—it’s a duel I always lose.
    So, raider, we have a bargain, then, and I declare it a win-win:
    You get to keep your life, and I finally get to end mine.”
    He extends his hand in thanks, and as they shake, he fades away.

    Lara grabs the Queen’s Gold Skull and kneels to pinch Indy’s nose.
    She gives his cheeks a gentle pat; when he wakes, she hands him his hat.
    With a smile of jest, she says, “Let’s go home, Mr. Second-best.”

    I’ve had a number of how questions in my inbox about songwriting lately, so I’ve decided to blog more about #the process and not just post the product. I really want to build a community of listeners and contributors—truly crowdsource inspiration—and maybe blogging more frequently, about the small details of the craft, will encourage a dialogue and give me more fuel.

    Someone asked me how I write my lyrics, so I took a picture of the notebook I’ve been spilling ink on lately. I always write by hand first, and as you can see by the image, it’s chaotic and sloppy. This page began as a song for Princess Zelda, and then my mind took a sharp turn to Princess Peach. Why? Well, when researching Zelda, I read that famous quote in brackets—about storm clouds over Hyrule—and I was thinking about how Zelda wants to protect her people from the coming storm, as if under an umbrella. I fell in love with this concept—and with the opportunity to subtly parody Rihanna—but realized Zelda doesn’t really carry an umbrella. But Princess Peach does. This is still a work in process, but later this week, I plan to post a song about how Peach wants to return the favor to Mario—for all those times he’s saved her—by giving him shelter under her parasol. Of course, this is my plan right now; maybe my brain will take another sharp turn. You can also see that I have a lot of single words. When doing my research I write down a lot of images/references that I want to include. In the second stage, I will turn these single words into whole (potentially rhyming) phrases. Maybe I’ll take a picture of that, too.

    Now my questioner was probably asking about how I write less literally. I’ll say that there’s a certain artistic, passionate side to it that can’t be explained. I don’t know why some days I have to write. I don’t know why some nights I wake up with an idea and can’t go back to sleep until I write it down. That’s magic to me, still, and I am happy with it remaining so. If you are an artist and want to cast spells like that, too, all I can do is encourage bravery and effort. You have to be brave that your work is worthy of sharing and know that every time you share, you will learn something, and be a better sharer the next time. Effort is about actually doing it. I’ve known too many writers (myself included) that spend more time talking about writing than actually writing. Effort means you have to do it every day. I mean every day. The only way to create gems is by sorting them from the rough. I write so much garbage, but I just steamroll through it, believing that the next line could be gold. It’s a probability thing. You can’t know if the next line you write or the 3000th will be truly good, so you just have to keep writing; the more you write, the more you increase your probability of winning. I give myself short, very serious deadlines to ensure my probability stays high. Of course, I share some of my weaker work on this blog; plenty of times I’ve swung, feeling like a hit a home run with you all, only to strike out. There’s only one way to respond to that, though: keep writing. And I will keep writing because I’ve hit enough homers to be thirsty for more. I don’t really want to let the Tumblrverse down with laziness or self-doubt.

    So, friends, do you have any other questions about the process?

    I was scrolling through Tumblr last week and came across a picture of a very cute girl on her blog little-looks. On this blog, and her main blog littlefinch, she shares her unique sense of style, which I definitely dig. I messaged her outright, asked her if I could write her a song. She didn’t make a specific request, but said:

    The only thing I could say is maybe something not cliché or overdone.

    With this simple statement, she accidentally spoke to one of my deepest fears. To date, I would say CI is unique. I find it fairly easy to let my strange inner-voice out (because he’s loud and hungry). And I have no real plan for CI; I sort of just go with the musical flow, and that’s exciting. But sometimes not being cliché means making some hard choices. Like my avoidance of covers. Or the fact that I’ve listened to much less music since I started CI a few months ago because I’m afraid of accidentally copying/being changed/losing my internal rhythm. Maybe this is silly? I don’t know. Tonight’s song, my song for Ms. Little-Blogs, is not about the challenge of being artistically unique, though. It’s about the challenge of being romantically unique. I think it is difficult enough for a guy to meet all the overblown expectations generated by Hollywood and pulp-fiction. But even if a guy can pull it off, many girls will find it boring because they will (correctly) feel that it’s not unique. Guessing if a girl wants cliché love or unique love is a very special frustration (especially because the girl doesn’t always know herself), and this frustration is at the heart of this song. I will say that in general, I think the most fertile soil for love is a bed of earth void of expectations…just like the most fertile soil for my songwriting project is a blog with no real direction. Enjoy everyone. If interested, free downloads of this track are here. — K.C.

         I’m Not The First Boy To Love A Girl

    I write you poems every day,
    and I bring you flowers in a vase.
    But you say I’m such a bore;
    you want a love you ain’t ever seen before.

    I’m not the first boy to love a girl;
    there’s only so much I can do.
    I’m not the first boy to love a girl;
    I’m just the first one to love you.

    I make you dinner and buy us tickets to a show,
    and I’m interested in everything you know.
    But every time I dare smile, you yawn;
    you want a love you ain’t heard in any song.
    CHORUS

    Who are you to demand something new?
    There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.
    There’s a model for good loving;
    you just need to try and feel.
    CHORUS

    pengwenny:

    crowdsourceinspiration:

    Okay, speed writing done. Pretty funny song. Meshed the first four responses I saw together into one tune. Firstly it covers all of confused-outta-my-mind’s bases: “love, music, free, fun”. I read pokeopa’s “dinosaurs” and pengwenny’s “traveling, maps, globes, suitcases” at the same time, and instantly thought of Jurassic Park. Like a crazy trip you’d take. But why? Then I read your-new-beginning’s “faith in love again”, and I had my reason and my chorus. A couples retreat at Jurassic Park would be pretty effective I think. Thanks for playing along, bloggers; gems are created by pressure. I really appreciated the other responses, too, and may use them sometime soon. Enjoy everyone! — Kavalier Calm

         Couples Retreat at Jurassic Park

    We should have read the fine print
    when we signed up for that couples retreat.
    The ad said it would challenge us,
    but we didn’t know what that means.
    Well, we traveled by helo to the far side of the globe,
    an island not listed on any map.
    And we smiled as the pilot waved goodbye;
    we didn’t know we were in a trap.

    It wasn’t until we faced death
    that we found faith in our love again.

    We walked up to the resort house,
    but there was no one at the check in desk.
    In fact, there was no one in sight;
    and thus began our test.
    With one giant roar—ROAR,
    we turned our heads to the door.
    And much to my surprise and yours,
    in walked a dinosaur.
    CHORUS

    I was so scared, I was glad
    I remembered to pack extra underwear.
    You grabbed my arm, and we screamed
    as we high-tailed it out of there.
    That dinosaur was in hot pursuit,
    and I knew if we kept running, he’d catch you.
    I screamed “Go on, I’ll distract him
    because only one of us can make it through.”
    CHORUS

    But you refused to go on without me:
    “If one must go, then he gets both.”
    And you grabbed my hand and kissed me,
    as that dino grew close.
    But when that T-Rex was mere feet away,
    he powered down like some robot.
    The retreat director stepped from the shadows
    and said, “Congrats you’re in love.”
    CHORUS

    What do you think? Should I make this available for download?

    I’m speechless. This guy gets so many opposite ideas and is able to piece them together in such a way that it seems as though everything in the whole world is tied together somehow.

    Thank you for using my idea, too!

    Thanks for the kind words. You know, I think everything in the whole world is tied together somehow. A noble goal for any song is to reveal this truth. On request, I’ve made this song available for free download here, and you can watch me perform it on YouTube here. Enjoy everyone! — K.C.

    (via guard-en)

    What would you want to do in Ooo?

    Hey, friends and Adventure Time fans. I’m working on a song called “Strangling Pixies” to wrap up my album of original Adventure Time songs. Someone requested that I write a song about the bromance between Marcy and Finn. The song is all about hanging out as bros in Ooo; like what bros’d do for fun. You know, like go through a maze in a quest to acquire an Ancient Psychic Tandem War Elephant. So, what would you want to do if you were in Ooo?

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