Self-deprecation is worth its weight in smoldering phoenix-ashes and baby unicorn tears.
Published on May 12, 2008 By SanChonino In Music

19 Apr 2008.  11:34pm.

The sun burns hot and heavy as I walk slowly down the densely-populated Rambla, cautiously weaving my way through the crowds to the large statue overlooking the sea.  My bangs are sweaty, clumped together and sticking to my forehead.  (I really do need a haircut - I'm shaggier than I've ever been in my life.  Plus, why is it that my brow sweats more than any other single part of my body?  I think it's the need to dissipate all that extra heat built up around my supercomputer brain.  Or not . . .)

I sweep my hair to the side as I step past a young mother and her grouchy child.I hope I don't look too silly or sweaty but seeing as how my deodorant is working like a charm, I think I'll be okay.

I'm meeting Carolina.

I finally weave my way up to the statue and there she is, looking decidedly nonchalant with her dark sunglasses and hands stuffed in her jeans pockets.  She gives me a quiet smile as I walk up alongside her.

"Hey you," I begin.  "How are you?"

She peeks out from over her sunglasses, as I'm reminded how tragically beautiful her eyes are, wet and sad and full - green pools I want to swim in.  Her smile becomes almost wry as she says, "Are you sure you're really metal?  Because you don't seem very metal."

I laugh.  "Wonderful greeting.  And yes, I am so metal it's not even funny, chica."  I pull out my mp3 player and open the library, continuing, "Check out what's on my player right now.  It's hard to get much more metal than Neurosis, Mar de Grises, and Meshuggah."

She grins at me.  "Okay, okay, you may listen to metal - but do you play metal?  Because that's the question of the day."

"Well, I can play metal.  But most of what I write sounds best on the acoustic guitar.  So I guess you could say I write acoustic metal."

She screws her face up in confusion, asking, "Isn't that an oxymoron?"

Now I'm the one with the grin, answering, "Let's just get a guitar in my hands and I'll show you just how metal acoustic music can be.  Have some faith in me, the High Priest of Metal."

That comment sets off a peal of laughter as she turns to me, responding, "All right, Señor Metal.  Let's go."

We slowly weave through the crowds and up past the Roman walls as she asks questions about the rest of my time in Madrid.  She thinks my exultation in the face of Quijote is especially pathetic, yet strangely endearing (her turn of phrase).

After a fair amount of walking and fun conversation, we arrive at her piso.  We trudge up the zig-zagging stairs excitedly (she lives on the sixth floor) and she unlocks the door, inviting me in, saying, "It's not much, but it's been home to me and Mom for seven years now - ever since Dad left."

We walk past the front room, where her mother is watching a game show and cross-stitching something.  Carolina steps in, opening, "Mom, this is that boy I was telling you about, Jones.  Jones, this is my mom."  I step into the room and shake her hand and we share a few awkward moments of conversation.  She asks a question in Catalan and I answer in Spanish, explaining that while I understand Catalan fairly well at this point, I can't really speak it.

"Why did you come to school in Catalonia if you can't speak Catalan?" she asks, almost scoffing.

Yay.  Her mom already hates me.

Carolina grabs my arm, tells her mom we'll be in her room, and leads me away.  She's blushing red as she explains, "She's still mad about the breakup with Andrés - she wanted us to get married.  I think she's the opposed to the idea of any other boy being around - it's not you."

Funny.  And usually I do so well with parents.

Finally we get into her bedroom and she closes the door behind us, then reaches into the closet, digs through her clothes, and pulls out a guitar.

It's not an especially nice guitar - it's a Yamaha - but the starving man looks at a hamburger like it's filet mignon; and I feel like a starving man sitting down for his first meal in months.  My mouth starts to salivate as she hands it over to me and I tune it up.  My fingers ache with desire to run across her neck, plucking at her strings and making her sing.

Carolina looks at me as I finish tuning her guitar and says, "All right.  Let's hear this 'acoustic metal' you talk about."

"Let me warm up a little," I protest.  "It's been since January."  My fingers pulse with anticipation as I begin to pluck the strings.  It's painfully obvious that I'm rusty, but I play for a few more minutes and it starts to all flood back, flowing through my knuckles and igniting my fingertips.

She's biting her bottom lip in excitement as she asks, "You sound really good.  Ready to serenade me with metal?"

I explain that the lyrics are in English, much to her chagrin, but she goads me on anyway.  (The only good lyrics I've written in Spanish ended up sounding more like a beach song than metal.  Huh.)  I find the chord, my fingers start to pick, and I'm off in my own little world.  The song comes as naturally as if I had written it yesterday, and my voice finds itself after months of hiding.

I finish.  Carolina's eyes are wide, big, enveloping.  The silence is deafening, until she finally says, "Whew.  Acoustic metal does exist.  That was awesome.  Sing me another."

Her smile sets my fingers aflame.

After a pile of songs, I hand her the guitar and say, "Your turn.  Now I'm the audience."

She looks apprehensive and replies, "I'm not that good.  Not as good as you."

I grin at her and declare, "That I truly doubt."

She tunes it back to standard tuning and begins to play, and I'm carried away with her as she strums and sings, softly.  Her voice is fragile, timid, and I have trouble imagining her singing in a metal band, until she starts a second song - she transforms, from the slight, timid girl into a raging warrior woman.


We continue to take turns until she gets the grand idea that we need to write a song together.  She grabs a pad of paper and announces, "Start playing with chord progressions.  I'll think lyrics and melody.  Let's see where this goes!"

We continue to brainstorm for another hour or so.  It's synergy, simplified; we get in a groove and it just starts to happen.  it's a beautiful thing.

Finally it's late enough (and I'm hungry and my fingers are killing me, having lost all my calluses) and I admit that I should probably get going.  As we step out into the hall, her mother sticks her head out of the kitchen and asks if I'd like to stay for dinner.  Eager to increase my parental karma, I accept.

The food is delicious - a simple paella and tortilla de patata.  We converse as the meal progresses, and I can tell that Mom is starting - if only a very little bit - to warm up to me.  I'm doing a good job of controlling my tongue, too - as we talk about what I've done in my life and the adventures I've had, Mom says, "I don't know why you'd want to do all that.  It's like I tell my daughter - as long as I have food in my belly and a roof over my head, I'm content."

I restrain myself from retorting, "Yeah, pigs are the same way."

We finish, I help clean up, and step out of the door.  Carolina sticks her head into the hall behind me and reminds me, "Don't forget to call.  I'm thinking we need to do this again next weekend.  We've got a song to finish."

I grin.  "Sounds like a plan."

on May 12, 2008

the sky is painted black
the smoke pours out the stack
one hand upon your heart
one hand behind your back
you train us how to act
you keep the fear intact
the imminent attack
everything is right on track

and we are letting you get away
we are letting you get away with it

upon our plates to feed
the dying left to bleed
how much we really need
your politics of greed
the cancer takes ahold
the wolf is in the fold
our destiny’s been sold
we do just what we’re told

and we are letting you get away
we are letting you get away with it

your armies filled with hate
believing your charade
begin to suffocate
for us it’s far too late

and we are letting you get away
we are letting you get away with it

Nine Inch Nails, "Letting You", off the new free one. Go get it.
on May 12, 2008

That sounds like a great evening!  All that creative energy.  Nice!

on May 12, 2008
It was a good time. We have fun together, her and I.
on May 12, 2008

  Glad you had a good time. Very nice.

I love the way you describe her eyes all the time.

  but the starving man looks at a hamburger like it's filet mignon; and I feel like a starving man sitting down for his first meal in months.  My mouth starts to salivate as she hands it over to me and I tune it up.  My fingers ache with desire to run across her neck, plucking at her strings and making her sing.

We're still talking about the guitar, right?

on May 12, 2008
We're still talking about the guitar, right?


on May 13, 2008

Awesome experience.  One of these days I am going to break out my guitar (an old Yamaha, I might add) and actually relearn how to play.  Gotta get cracking so I can officially form my band T.S.B.

Yes, T.S.B. stands for someting.

on May 13, 2008
Gotta get cracking so I can officially form my band T.S.B.

Can I be in the band? I play wicked guitar, and bass, too. Hecks, I even own a bass, remember.
on May 13, 2008

Sure, but first you need to know what the name stands for.  That is the key.  You will have to see if you agree to be in a band with that particular name.

on May 15, 2008

It is always nice to create something and even better to create it with a pretty girl.  I'd love to hear the song, mate.

BlueDev, I'd love to be in the band too.  I could do some drum programming for you, add some weird sounds in post production or maybe put down a second guitar track.

I've got a few ideas what T.S.B. might stand for, but I don't know whether they're the same as yours.