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Behind the Song
This song started as an idea, rather than with a lyric or a melody or just playing chords on the guitar.
I fleshed out the idea by writing a mini essay in my song journal, titled “Stephen’s Twitch.” Here’s a few excerpts:
“Metaphor of Stephen Hawking, how he (eventually) could only control one muscle — in his right cheek (?) — to activate his speech synthesizer … His twitch — his very limited capacity to will an action in the world — is a metaphor for my limited capacity to affect the world …
“Maybe I’d start w/ describing Stephen Hawking’s predicament and how he got past it, in the first verse. And the chorus — “one twitch” — expresses his power, rounded and bounded in a broken body though it was.”
I ended up using the metaphor but didn’t make it central to the song. I tucked all the Hawking stuff in the second verse, and put the focus on the narrator, who feels powerless, but decides maybe he can at least do something.
I used to believe I could change the world make it better, make it shine if I faced the problem, the solution would come one bold action at a time so I flung myself at the waiting world I huffed and puffed as I spoke but the world is a mighty mountain-side and upon its walls I broke I can't move mighty mountains these battered hands show I've tried but I can move a single muscle maybe that'll be enough to get me get me to the other side I read how Stephen Hawking's body quit turned slowly down like a dimmer switch the only way he could make his voice box talk was to make his right cheek twitch he only moved a single muscle but it made his cosmic thoughts flow now we can hear the black holes speaking in a radiating glow I can't move mighty mountains these battered hands show I've tried but I can move a single muscle maybe that'll be enough to get me get me to the other side Standing leads to walking walking becomes a run running gets me somewhere new somewhere I can see the sun the job half started is half done I can't change the bustling world I cannot even change me but I can choose where to point my feet I guess you could call that destiny Yeah, you could call it destiny I don't care, it don't mean much to me I just want a life I can call my own standing strong but not alone I can't move mighty mountains these battered hands show I've tried but I can move a single muscle maybe that'll be enough to get me get me to the other side