bittersweet, Songs, Video Recording

Song: “Moving Mountains”

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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.

Lyrics

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

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