Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Welcome to the Coven

I just came across this, something I wrote a few years ago for a project I was doing with a friend. It would have been much more appropriate to have posted this before yesterday but I only found it just now and my timing has never been great

Welcome to the Coven
by J Sargent

before reading I would ask that you reread the title out loud in your best Axyl Rose voice because, yes, I went there and it’s only downhill from here
I met a witch at a Renaissance fair.

It’s one of those things right? See people dressed in armor, watch the falconry show, eat a giant turkey leg, meet a witch. Normal Saturday stuff.

Okay, I didn’t actually meet her but I did stand in front of her booth and listen while she played a hurdy-gurdy and sang as her friend who I can only presume was also a witch played a hand drum.
Thinking about it now, I can’t quite remember why I am so sure she was a witch. Was there something on her sign? Did she say she was? It's now a blank and I do not know. It seems like a bold statement to announce your witch-ness so openly. We’ve certainly put people to the proverbial stake for much less even in these “enlightened” times we live in.

Too bad there are only four other people who were there that I know personally who could corroborate this story at the touch of a button or less but am too lazy to ask. One of those people will literally edit this piece… and even if she tells me I doubt that I’ll take the time to go back through and fix this.

I can’t help but wonder if it was the haunting music that keeps the witch thing in my mind. I say that because music is very important to me so I tend to put more to it than might actually be offered. Music has always been a part of my life. Not just playing in the background but something I was actively participating in. Music is the only thing I’ve always believed in (sorry, bacon). So much so that it might be the closest thing I have to a religion.

But if you think about it, musicians and witches aren’t really that different. Using rudimentary elements and simple tools sorcerers cast spells to subtle or devastating effect and everything in between. The notes and rhythms the ingredients of their spells, the lyrics incantations. If you’ve never been hexed by music it may be that you’ve never really listened.

Ever been having one of those days and suddenly you hear a song that gives you the energy to finish the project that you’ve been drowning in? Maybe you heard one that helped you keep pace over that last mile while jogging. Maybe it gave you strength to simply face the day.

That’s magic.

A song might mend your broken heart or be the only friend you have. Music can enchant a mood for love or work or even play. It can be a transport through time and space to that room where you used to play with your legos alone in while listening to The Cure.

Not that I ever did that.

Music has a dark side, its black magic, if you will. Curses spawned from depths of hell inexplicably disarm and enrage and we are helpless against their power. I imagine we’ve all witnessed shockingly hateful reactions to one type of music or another or even a particular song.  How can this happen? 


Musicians have powers and it’s up to them to use them for good or evil… although personal preference means there is one hell of a gray area between the two as well.

Ever had a song or even part of a song bury itself in your brain, set on a repeating loop?  I believe the term is “stuck in your head.” That kind of thing can ruin a day. I myself have been taken to the brink of madness by such a hex and the worst part is it might even be a song you don’t hate (I’m looking at you, Europe). 

I’ve even seen music used to summon zombie-like (and by this I mean the old school type zombies who are mind controlled not the flesh eating variety who are only following their instincts) hordes shambling ever onwards at the will of their masters.

There have been conflicts and battles through the ages. There have been those that have been cast aside and shunned. There have even been a few witch hunts. Judas Priest, Marilyn Manson and John Denver can tell you all about those.

Clearly, music is more than just sound. Looking back to its origins you can’t deny the primal nature at its core. Strings were made from intestines of animals, drums from their skin.  Bone, rock, branch, breath… this is where the magic began. These same ingredients could be a potion or brew in the kettle of any witch in any forest or heath, just waiting to tempt a child or for Macbeth to happen by.
But instead of boil and bubble you have harmony, dissonance, chords and melodies, notes and sound weaving spells and sorcery. Like puppets on a string we load our iPods and playlists for our own personal bewitchment.

And when it’s done right, the magic transcends all. Like that perfect batch of brownies…  

And I only mention food because food might be the closest thing I have to a religion.

                                                                           *    *    *

Epilogue - if any of you run into this woman who plays the hurdy-gurdy, please don’t tell her I’m telling everyone she is a witch.  The last thing I need is for her to track me down and put the thinner curse on me…  actually I could stand to lose some weight, so never mind.

Epilogue pt 2 - My wife, who is my editor, reminded me that a song that gets stuck in your head is referred to as an “earworm” in the modern vernacular.  Who besides Kahn Noonien Singh would be putting worms in your ear?  WITCHES!

It’s scary when I’m this right.

Monday, October 10, 2016

I hate AJ

The first rock track I ever wrote... maybe rock is the wrong word for it but it was something very different than what I had been doing and it came about as the result of the most unexpected of journeys.

February 2004 to February 2005 is a period I often refer to as the worst year of my life. After struggling to get my life back on track following a visit to the "tired hospital" as they say in polite conversation I narrowly avoided being deleted from existence by a congenital heart defect that didn't have the decency to rear it's ugly head at a period in my life that would have been a bit more more convenient.

By the time I was finally able to get back to work at the soulless retailer that employed my sorry ass, I was starting each day feeling bitter and lost, choking on resentment and drowning in the depression and anxiety that dropped me in this hole in the first place.

Medication had made things worse for me and therapy had just never really helped. But that's me. I always have to take the road least traveled because of hazardous driving conditions, falling rocks, quicksand and monsters lurking around every corner waiting to slap the living shit out of especially when you most expect it.

And the bridge is out.

But I had found one thing that helped. My best friend had passed on some software to allow me to make music in the shadowy corners of my life if for some reason I ever felt the urge. Even though I had grown up in a family where music was basically the "family business" I had long since gone in an entirely different direction with my life.  Mostly anything but music.

At first I made music that was goofy and silly on purpose, something that my friend and I could laugh at together, just one more inside joke only the two of us would ever get. Before long I was working on music in every free moment I had. It started to leak into my brain and push aside the blackness. I would work on music in my brain for hours not realizing the anxiety and depression were being pushed aside. When shit got overwhelming I'd make music. I'd work it out there.

I finally had something.

Did it solve all my problems? Not even close. But it gave me the ability to function as a human, dad and husband without a bunch of side effects. It put me on a playing field where I could face my demons head on instead of starting each day with a surrender.

What the fuck does this have to do with this song?

Well, by the end of 2005 I was starting to sink again. I began to wonder if the worst year of my life was turning into an era and the grind was starting to get to me. Driving in to my graveyard shift at work every night I could feel the panic and despair taking over. It wasn't just me, one of my bosses was a legitimate piece of shit and even though all the things that were bad at work weren't necessarily his fault, the way he approached them with his underlings wasn't helping.

Also, a bunch of the bad shit was just plain his fault.

I can't tell you what it was that brought this track on other than I started working on it because I wanted something to listen to in the car as I drove to work. Something to calm the nerves and soothe the voices that would get louder and louder the closer I got to clocking in. My usual playlist wasn't helping so I took it on as I handled most adversity at the time. I didn't depart from my electronic sound for any conscious reason, it's just how the music sounded in my brain so that's what I had to do.

Did it help?

It did.  Enough, anyway.

So that's the story behind I Hate AJ. There's a story behind every piece of music written in the history of man and to be honest most of the stories behind my stuff are pretty damn dumb. This isn't the best track you'll ever hear, it probably won't change your life and it sure as hell can't be counted on to provide any answers.  It simply is.

But because of it, I am too.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

for all those who have helped

I would like to again extend my sincere gratitude for everyone who has chipped in and purchased the song to raise money for my sister. She is currently doing very well and her spirits are higher than they've been in a long time. There are no words that I can manage that would even begin to express how much help and strength your support has given us.

Now that she is getting back on the right track I will no longer be selling the song after Friday (October 7) of this week. If you have purchased "Tuesday Q" and have not yet downloaded it to your device or computer and are no longer able to after Friday please contact me at remedialmtheory@gmail.com and I will get you your copy.

Thank you again for everything,

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Even more intros

It's been a busy year, and I've done a whole bunch of intros for pods including The Nerd Blitz with Doom and Fitz, The Kid-free Weekend, Pod of Thrones, The AM Show, A Knight With Us, not to mention yet another version of the Skäggkast! theme and another Sweedish pod about Star Trek.

If I missed putting up a link to your pod please let me know and I'll get it up here for you.

cause that's what I do.