Friday, August 14, 2015

The Wheel

Have you ever tried writing a song?

I used to think poetry was tough, but trust me when I tell you this, songwriting is way harder, believe me, I’ve tried and failed, many times.

It doesn't come as a surprise to me that some of my favorite people in the world are actually prolific songwriters, like Jon foreman, the lead singer and guitarist of the greatest band that ever existed, switchfoot.

Jon has a tendency of writing close to a 100 songs for every switchfoot album out of which maybe 10 or 12 make the final cut.
Jon Foreman

Other musicians that fall under this category include Mat Kearney, John Mayer, Adam Young, Ed Sheeran and few others blessed with the unique gift of describing profound universal truths in a 3 or 4 minute song better than 3 hour movie or a novel with 300 pages.

I have a habit of going online every time one of these people puts out a record and watch the process of how the album was made, and yes, I have also often wondered what ends up happening to the songs that weren’t commercially released.

Some artists release these songs as B sides which are albums that contain previously unreleased music which weren’t considered to be good enough to fit in the original album, this doesn’t happen immediately though, decades can go by before a band decides to release a B sides album.

Many of these songs however remain unheard off, reserved only for the most devoted fans who attend every concert and collect recordings from all possible sources including the internet and elsewhere.

Very rarely however, some of these songs get featured on the album just to fill in the running time and accidentally end up becoming among the artists most beloved hit.

It may come as a surprise to you that legendary hits such as ‘Nothing Else Matters’ by Metallica, ‘Money for Nothing’ by ‘The Dire Straits’ and even the beloved ballad ‘Two Steps Behind’ by ‘Def Leppard’ are all songs that were never originally intended to receive a wide release.

For people who don’t listen to John Mayer, one thing you should know is that he has the uncanny ability to create a fusion between seemingly immiscible genres, like pop and the jazz, or country and the blues, once your ears get used his style of music, it’s hard not to fall in love with his songs.

This Actually Happened
The wheel is one of John Mayer’s songs that was added at the last minute to his album heavier things, this song is still less popular compared to the other award winnings tracks from the album, but to me it is the best song he has ever written.

I have every song John ever released, performed live, covered or contributed to, and yet this relatively unknown song is my favorite, why is that?

Back when I was in med school I would spend close to 4 hours each day on the commute back and forth from college, music was my God given lifeline, the long journeys seemed shorter and the fatigue never really bothered me as much thanks to the songs I tirelessly listened to day in and day out.

Internship is probably the most insane period in a doctor’s life, in addition to all the work and running around there is always an uneasy feeling deep inside.

This uneasiness is born out of a realization that big changes are on the way and that the life we knew for the last 5 years was slowly but surely coming to an end.

I’ve never been good at farewells, even when I was a kid. Our cousins would visit us in the summers and on the day of their leaving I would be a complete mess; in fact mother would allow me to wake up late so that I wouldn’t have to watch them go, maybe there was a little part of me that wanted to believe that they were still around the house somewhere and not living hundreds of miles away.

With graduation getting closer and a string on uncomfortable goodbyes waiting to be said I realized that the kid in me had refused to grow up in this regard.

It is never easy when the people we care about deeply walk out of our life, and yet it happens quite often, no matter how much we hate it or how much it hurts.

That’s where the song comes in.

As I listened to the tune over and over again, I understood a universal truth, people have a right to do what makes them happy and when push comes the shove they find a way to convince their head and their heart and they move on. 

What then about the people who get left behind.

Does the love we put out into the world get wasted?

John uses the odd, ironic and yet beautiful analogy of a balance of sorts that exists at airports, there are people coming in and leaving at the same time, the ones leaving are waving goodbye and the ones arriving are waiting impatiently to embrace the people they love, the irony to me lies in the fact that eventually the ones that we embraced may end up waving goodbye to us at the same airport after a few days, or months or years go by.

John compares life to a wheel that is constantly turning.

You may fall in love with a particular part of the wheel but since its always in a state of motion, the moment will eventually pass.

When he sings the lines “And if you never stop when you wave goodbye, You just might find if you give it time, You will wave hello again ,You just might wave hello again… I understand that goodbyes and farewells are not always definite or permanent, there is always a little hope that our paths may cross again with the ones we once cared about.

The entire song carries a lot of depth and meaning to me but perhaps the words that affected me the most and still continue to inspire me today is what John says towards the very end of the song.

I’m leaving a link to it right here so that you can listen to it yourself.

Dealing with change is not easy, whether it is relocation, or starting a new job, or making new friends, but perhaps the most difficult change to deal with is having to overcome the challenge of moving on with our lives without the support and love of the people who once cared for us.

But like all other forms of change it is real, it happens to all of us and we have to find ways to deal with it, maybe one way of doing this would be to remind ourselves that nothing lasts forever, the wheel of life keeps turning, and sooner or later hard times will pass.

The love we put out into the world is never wasted, it may go around a little or get passed around from one spoke to another, but eventually, in some form or the other it comes back us.

Until next time