“It’s a thing we think about, imagine...all humans do. But when we come up with the solution it’s always sort of limited in some way. It’s real estate. Jeweled streets. Fruit. Nectar. But more important than anything, there are a whole lot of people who can’t get in.” -Toni Morrison
Paradise. It’s defined as an ideal place. It literally means “enclosed park.” It’s synonymous with utopia (which literally means “no place”) and heaven (which literally means “sky, firmament” or “place where god dwells.”) To me, the literal meanings of those words imply two things; containment and inaccessibility. In other words, you can’t get in AND you can’t get out. My song “paradise 1” started with a reflection on the limits of paradise. I thought about how the mind can dream up something that turns out to be a nightmare. I thought about how prejudices and biases tend to inform our ideas of what an ideal world looks like. I thought about how people can go around raising hell in the name of paradise. I thought about the age of MAGA and what’s being implied when someone calls social de-evolution “great.” I thought about how we can sometimes lie to ourselves about unhealthy situations. I thought about how we tend to choose comfort or familiarity over progress because the latter necessitates facing discomfort and uncertainty. I thought about white marble statues, white Jesus, a White man in the sky with an angry expression on his face and his finger pointed at people on the ground below in judgment. I pictured Cathedrals built where temples once were. (A friend of mine put that image in my head.) Manifest Destiny. Mass genocide. Enslavement. Discrimination. Indoctrination. The American dream (eye roll). I thought about how evil has a way of bypassing logic and empathy. How the parasite can choose you as a host and then use your own sense of reason, your own emotions against you and others. I thought about this charade I always perceived growing up that everyone except me seemed to be in on. I thought about this habit I had of idealizing a person and then vilifying them when I found out they weren’t perfect. I thought about my transition out of christianity around age 15. How the words “god is a false hope” uttered from the mouth of a stoic classmate shattered my whole perception of reality. I opened a Bible a few days later and suddenly the story of The Garden of Eden read like something George Orwell would write. All of those things and more, contributed to the creation of my song paradise 1. As I was writing it I immediately began to see visuals. It looked like a sort of abstract imagining of colonization. I worked on the music video for about two months alongside my good friend Dylan Lee Lowry. It was gruelling work. I wrote the script. I made the props and wardrobe. I hardly slept. Dylan and I had a few all day shoots. We even had to go back and reshoot some things. Dylan spent a lot of time editing and I assisted when I could. There were a few minor disasters along the way. At one of our locations a fog machine set off the smoke alarm and the fire department came and shut the whole thing down. Nothing really went how I’d imagined it would in my head (As I write this I’m realizing the irony) but I feel it turned out how it was meant to and I honestly wouldn't change anything about the process.
I feel deeply proud of the song and the music video and I’m finally ready to share it. Before the spread of covid-19 I was thinking about doing a live screening of the music video. Since that’s not possible, I’m gonna host a live stream viewing party this Sunday at 2:00pm MST. Afterward, Dylan Lee Lowry will join me for a Q&A. + A special surprise for everyone who hangs with us until the end. You can join via Zoom or by clicking the link on my home page. Truth be told, this feels way cooler than what I originally had in mind. Anyway. I’m looking forward to sharing this video + (hopefully) talking about it with you.