bittersweet, Songs, Video Recording

Song: “Up and Down Kind of Man”

“Up and Down Kind of Man”

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Behind the Song

This song began as a line that came to me while taking a walk in a nearby wooded park. That’s what my song journal for April of last year tells me; I don’t recall the moment. The line which I recorded on my phone is an early version of the final chorus, and it went “So I’ll rock back n forth, swing side to side, get myself into a rhythm I can abide.”

On the recording, I go on to add the rest of the chorus and a version of the first verse, and articulate the idea of the song: a person coming to accept their inconsistencies. (You can hear me slightly out of breath, my arm-sleeves hissing against the body of my jacket.)

The idea matched the rhythm of my walk in the woods: a fluctuating back and forth rhythm.

The song reaches for a silver lining to a fluctuating personality, swinging moods, and shifting yearnings. A justification for all that volatility.

Or maybe it’s just a rationalization. An excuse.

Either way, the rest of the writing was a matter of filling in the blank lines, followed by lots of word-tweaking. (Which continued until I recorded the song earlier this week.)

Lyrics

The catch with keeping consistent
is you gotta pick a side.
But every berry bush bristles with thorns
no matter how sweetly they hide.

And when I try to only gather
the fairest fruits I can find
every tribe runs me off their land
they see I'm not their kind.

So I'll sway back and forth,
swing side to side,
rock to a rhythm
and let it ride.

'Cause I'm a back and forth kind of person,
an up and down kind of man,
but I swear, I'll try not to let it
get too much out of hand
I'll try to keep it in hand.

I've always admired the steadfast
who go the distance, who stick their stride.
But running marathons would burst my heart
for the sake of misplaced pride.

Is there honor for us sprinters?
Who can spin from hot to cold.
Or are we a pack of lazy sinners?
Who cannot face growing old.

So I'll sway back and forth,
swing side to side,
rock to a rhythm
and let it ride.

'Cause I'm a back and forth kind of person,
an up and down kind of man,
but I swear, I'll try not to let it
get too much out of hand
I'll try to keep it in hand.

I'm not a well-oiled machine
you can't order what I need
I'm more like the weather
today I'm a zephyr
tomorrow I'll sting like a squall.

The surfer stiff as a statue
snaps like a stick in a storm.
But let them bend like a reed in the wind
and they'll sway safe, like a babe new born.

I'm just riding these white-caps
sailing this swelling firth.
I may look like I'm flighty
but it's not the surfer,
it's the surf.

So I'll sway back and forth,
swing side to side,
rock to a rhythm
and let it ride.

'Cause I'm a back and forth kind of person,
an up and down kind of man,
but I swear, I'll try not to let it
get too much out of hand
I'll try to keep it in hand.

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