Thursday, November 15, 2007

help me name this song

I need your help naming this song... The lyrics are below. Give it a listen and if you have any ideas, leave a comment or email me at matthew[at] Thanks for your help!

Take it to the mirror
Where maybe things are clearer
And the faces looking back at you
Don't tell a lie
You think that you have lost her
And you can't refuse the offer
When a man wearing a halo
Looks you square in the eye
Square in the eye, oh
Square in the eye

You said you're on a journey
And you will not be returning
To the wasteland where the skeptics
Hung you out to dry
You said it left you reeling
Well, I recall the feeling
If you want to hit the road
I'm happy to oblige
Happy to oblige

Oh, I, I had no letter to write
'Cause all my letters were light
Sprouted wings and took to flight
With the words right from my skin

I was learning about heaven
When I was only seven
If you wanna get a spot,
You got a lot to hide
I must've learned my lesson
Now I'm always second-guessin'
But it's better than the bullshit
That I used to buy
I used to buy

Oh, I, I had no letter to write
'Cause all my letters were light
Sprouted wings and took to flight
With the words right from my skin

Oh, I, I still want to believe
It might be naive
But I will hold my breath
And wait and see

Oh I, I got the letters you sent
Wondering where I went
I'll have a say in how my life is spent
With the words right on my skin

-copyright 2007 Matthew Blake Music

Friday, November 02, 2007

musician's block

Tonight was good for me. If you don't know, I host a local music showcase at a coffeehouse here in downtown San Diego every Friday night. When I arrived tonight, I just wasn't feeling it.

I always try to warm the place up and bring in a few stragglers from the sidewalk by opening up the show, but tonight I felt like I did more harm than good. I had no faith in the songs I was singing, or the fact that it was me who was singing them. Not really sure why. It just happens sometimes, I suppose the same way a writer gets blocked. At any rate, I was relieved when my set was finally over and I could just sit back and listen to the other guys play.

Fortunately for me, Nathan Welden was there tonight. Quite possibly, you haven't heard of him. He's a local guy, and his songs border on country. But while they are straightforward, soft, and as unassuming as the guy singing them, they are still full of passion and pointed lessons.

The song that really got me was called "Everything is Holy Now." I can't find a link to it anywhere, or I'd have you listen to it. It's about how he grew up in church and recognized when a holy moment was happening: communion, or the priest blessing something. But he sings about today:

The only thing that's different
Is everything is holy now

I wish I could truly treasure each second as a sacred event. The majesty & mystery of life wrapped up in every footstep, every heartbeat, every word spoken and heard. I certainly didn't do that tonight when I was singing. How do I get to the point where I forget how important music is to me, and how my songs meant something to me when I wrote them? How do I forget that I play them for a reason?

I wish I could connect with people like Nathan connected with the coffeehouse tonight. Wish I weren't so blocked. Those connections are what make moments holy.

As I was leaving, I decided to stop on the sidewalk and play my guitar. It was a little silly, sitting in God knows what in the middle of East Village, but I just wanted to redeem the missed opportunity in some small way. I hadn't been playing for 5 minutes when a man named Don walked by and stopped to listen. He then sat down beside me and asked to play the guitar. He strummed a few bars of some unintelligible Willie Nelson song (enunciation isn't Don's strong suit), and then we talked about music and how powerful it is. He was clearly moved by even the simple picking I was doing. It made him want to talk about his wife who passed away earlier this year, and how he pawned his guitar to keep up with the bills in the aftermath. Music just made him happy, and somehow it made me happy too. So, somehow, there was a little bit of redemption. Recognition of the holy in an ordinary moment.

Monday, October 29, 2007

the wisdom of stephen kellogg

I recently went to the House of Blues for a Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers show. What a great band. Somewhere in the middle I was struck by the really deep level of friendship those guys shared. Stephen asked how many people came with friends that night (to lots of cheering), and then proceeded to talk about the importance of having friends that you can call on at any moment, friends without pretense, where worrying about what they'll think of you is the last thing on your mind. There was a song that went along with that sentiment. It was a lovely moment.

I agree with Stephen. Having friends like that is really the motivation behind everything I do. I think about what it would be like to hit the road with my amigos and just go play music all over - really, honestly, there is nothing in this world that sounds better to me than that, no other experience I would choose over that one, if I had the option.

Maybe someday I will.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

questions and answers

This blog's 2 year anniversary is fast-approaching. It began in November of 2005 as my "second guess at what life is all about." A place to reconsider inherited suppositions was it's sub-moniker. Suppositions: things assumed to be true. Inherited, from where? My family, my church, my entire Bible-belt upbringing. I was simply second-guessing what it was really all about.

Two years later things are different. And they are the same. I'm still second-guessing those suppositions. But in the journey I'm uncovering something deep and dense, subtle and silent, something that is good but hard and unsettling and reassuring all at the same time. Faith is requisite in a god-ly pursuit, but problematic, to say the least, for the mind of man and woman. To walk by faith, to believe in the unseen, to trust in ultimate good, to surrender - these intangible, mysterious acts of the will and the heart and, yes, the mind are so incongruous with the perceived experience of life.

Do I believe there is a God? Yes. I do. It's foolish not to believe in a concept as abstract as "God." God is whatever helps make sense of life. Goodwill, compassion, love between enemies, love between friends, charity, selflessness, good decisions, luck, fate, harmony, peace - these things are God, or influence of God, or evidence of God. You don't have to attribute personhood to God, or a name, or anything at all. But if you know that there is a wrong or bad way to live life, and you also know there is a good and helpful way to live life, then whatever influences you to choose the good way is God, whether she be a force, a spirit, something within, sheer will, conscience, a deity, a supreme being, the metaphysical, that is the thing that is God to you.

There are other questions.
Do I believe in Jesus?
In heaven? Hell?
The Bible? Other holy books?
A personal relationship with a savior?
That prayer is effective?

Lots of other questions. Some with answers, but none with resolution. Everything's unresolved, always unresolved, even if there is an answer. It's late tonight. But over the next couple of weeks as the 2 year anniversary of The Second Guess approaches, I'll talk more about these questions and their (unresolved) answers, in my experience.

Monday, October 22, 2007

satellite smoke

Sad, so sad...

san diego fires

We camped in Julian this weekend. It was phenomenal, a great time. But it's hard to be glad about the trip when the weekend has ended so tragically for so many. As of the writing of this blog, there are 8 fires raging throughout San Diego County. This link has several pictures, including some from a hiker on Volcan Mountain - a hike that we did on Saturday morning, just 24 hours before the photo was taken.

Honestly, it's becoming a little scary. Several people I know now are affected, one of the people in our company may have lost her home. My friend Ben, who gave me a place to live when I first moved down here, was evacuated from his home in Rancho Bernardo 20 minutes north of downtown where the fires have consumed several houses. He saw it creeping over the hills as he was leaving. Fortunately he made it down here safely, but how many homes are going to be lost before this thing is over.

Not that I didn't already, but now more than ever I have a great appreciation and respect for the men & women who volunteer to fight these flames. Have you hugged a firefighter today?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

happy birthday robert

It's time to celebrate Rob's existence. To do so, I am posting the only picture of him I have on my work computer. Love those curly golden locks.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Monday, October 15, 2007

blog action day 2007

Today is Blog Action Day.

Bloggers all over are highlighting the need for green living, environmental awareness, and the role each us plays in building a sustainable future.

Facebook users: did you know you can make your page "green"? Simply by adding the "Greenbook" application, you can help generate advertising revenue that goes toward reducing the amount of CO2 emissions that come from the energy it requires to run Check it out here.

Thanks & I hope you'll recycle today! :)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

photos from denver

We've got a good thing going and so we've got to protect it
Because there's nothing better, baby - don't you forget it

I don't worry 'bout us
-Carolyn Arends

Sunday, September 30, 2007

the greatest day

Today was crazy good.

It started with a whim. I'm car-less at the moment, so alot of things that I had been doing on a regular basis, I'm not doing anymore. Chick-fil-A is one of those things. I've biked there before, and it's a pretty easy ride. But this morning I had sudden urge to really beat my body into shape. One of those empowering moments when you really believe you can take your health in your own two hands and resuscitate it by sheer will. So I decided to run to Chick-fil-A. (Not even going to broach the irony of that statement.)

I made it 4.83 miles. Chick-fil-A was an approximate 2 miles further. I stopped at my friends' house and he had to drive me back. Still - 4.83 miles after not having run a lick about a year ain't bad. So despite my now-aching legs, I was pleased with how I spent the morning.

Then it was on to the Adams Avenue Street Fair, a big annual music event here in San Diego with tons and tons of vendors lining the road. It was there I re-discovered the joy of Mentos (the Freshmaker). They were handing them out for free. I went back for seconds. Also, I recommend a band from here in town called "The Drowning Men" (their MySpace here).

Then it was onto the Stone Brewery in Escondido with my new friends Damian & Tim. Tim was the only beer aficionado amongst us, but we all had a great time on the free tour this brewery gives. Hearing about the passion that goes into good beer-brewing was well worth the trip. Not the mention the 4 free glasses they gave us at the end of the tour!

Then it was off to La Mesa, a city just east of San Diego that I had never visited before, to play a gig at Cosmo's Cafe. We had a great turnout, I sold a few CDs, connected with a few musician friends, and got to talk with Jason Turtle of the Turtle Project (whose music I HIGHLY recommend - though they don't have a CD yet... MySpace here - I'm stoked about getting him down to Java Jones and hopefully playing a show with him myself sometime. It's always great to get a compliment from another artist you really like & respect. Jason's the man.

Finally, it was back to San Diego, to the House of Blues on the block where I live where I had a ticket to a great show: Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers (MySpace here). I saw these guys back in the spring when I was volunteering for the Mocha Club at a concert they happened to be playing. They put on an impressive show then, and so it was a no-brainer for me when I found out they were playing next door for a mere $12. I wasn't disappointed - such a great band. What's awesome about them is that they're 4 guys who are clearly best friends, love each other, and having the time of their lives. There's nothing more fun to watch than great music coming from friends like that.

It was a hell of day. Now to rest my aching body - and dread getting out of bed tomorrow morning...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

happy birthday goobrit

My brother is now in college and celebrating his 19th birthday. I hope it's happy, turd-face.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

stand up tall


Been absent from this blog for awhile, but now I'm just a whole mess of things to talk about.

Emphasis on mess.

My last post was one of frustration at my situation. (Hey, I'm not a rhyming songwriter for no reason.) It's the same sort of thing that's gone on with me since high school. This is the biggest "Duh!" statement ever, but I hate finding myself on the outside. I want to belong.
Fit in.
Be one of the guys.

There is never a moment when I'm not afraid of being left out. This is a big time confession for me! I don't think I'm the only one, but so rarely do any of us talk about it or admit it. My inability to cope, though, is probably a little more severe than most people's. And it's almost like I'm scrutinizing my environment, actively seeking out circumstances that prove I don't belong. Why would anyone spend his time looking for ways to prove he doesn't fit in?

I've been bailed on before, in a big way. It's over, in the past, forgiven - but it doesn't take much to remind me of the sucking-spiral-down-the-drain feeling that I had the day a best friend told me we weren't friends anymore. It stung a mad hornet sting. To squish a whole lot of psychological theory into a summation of my experience: I believe I'm still very much afraid that it could happen again - that I could once more find myself the object of a close friend's disaffection - and so I find it next to impossible to trust that I am loved. At every turn, my fear of rejection rears it's malformed little head (gurgling slightly) and I'm lost in believing that what I've perceived is undeniable evidence that my friend is not my friend.

So this week I'm trying to do this daily Bible reading thing (novel idea, right?) and yesterday's was Exodus 33 where God is all "So, Moses, I made this promise to Abraham that his descendants would live in this sweet-action Promised Land, so I need you to take the Israelites there. But they're stubborn as hell, so I'm not gonna go with them 'cause you know I've got this temper problem and there's a possibility I might, oh, I don't know, get pissed and wipe them off the face of the earth." (Hey, this is my blog - if you have a problem with how I paraphrase God, go tell her about it.)

So the people don't get to be with God. Instead, God descends on the "Tent of Meeting" and speaks to Moses "face to face, as a man speaks with his friend" (actual direct quote), while all the people stand and worship from the entrances of their own tents.

Question of the day: who would you rather be - Moses, or the other Israelites? "Hi. My name is Matthew and I am banned from the Tent of Meeting." That's how I look at my life! I so much do not want God to be this giant cloud that I can't approach. I don't want to watch Moses from afar and worship from the outside. But I'm so afraid that's how it is! That, like the Israelites, the only reason I'm able to tag along on the God-train is because of some promise he made to the people he really cares about - maybe my parents or grandparents, or maybe someone who's prayed for me, maybe Father Abraham. God cares about those people, the people in the Tent of Meeting. But I am stuck worshiping from my own tent and will never talk to God face to face, as a man talks with his friend.

I don't want to be on the outside.
I want to belong.
Fit in.
Be one of the guys.

Jesus was pretty good at making people feel like they belonged. See, this is one of many reasons I'm not an advocate for a literal interpretation of the Bible, or someone who believes that every word that we have today is "inspired, inerrant, and infallible." The God of the Old Testament so often looks more like one of the Greek gods - capricious, hot-tempered, moody, and vengeful. God looks like a human interpretation of deity based on what is perceived in the chaos of life. But Jesus represents a different God. Not a selective, reactionary deity, but someone who talks to you face to face, as a man talks with his friend. An inclusive God. A God without a Tent of Meeting.

It's probably how God always was. But the Israelites, and the writers and record-keepers of Scripture, didn't seem to perceive that God was inclusive. They felt they were on the outside. They believed God loved Abraham, and was merely keeping a promise to Abraham when choosing to lead the Israelites to the promised land. They felt like tag-alongs on the God-caravan (they didn't have trains back then, you see).

There's a lesson for me somewhere in here... If I could just... figure... it out...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

fears i can't fight

I will apparently always deal with the same nagging, frustrating fears.
A friend hugs everyone as he is leaving - except me. I'm given a hasty high-five. Immediately, I am deep in fears that have plagued me for most of my life. "Did I do or say something wrong? Why am I not worth a hug? Is my friend through with me?"

I hate, despise, detest these fears in me. I hate that I can't function normally in social situations. That fear is always just beneath the surface. And all it takes to send it surging upward is a high-five.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

do you love me?

Do you truly love me, more than these?

Someone had to ask it. When love betrays you, how do you recover? How do you believe you are still worth loving? How do you even hope that love conquers all, that it is the most powerful magic, that love is all you need when it was the very thing that betrayed you?

The most painful betrayal wasn’t the kiss in the garden; he already suspected it, anticipated its coming. No, the most painful betrayal was the Great Denial – the thrice-issued public disowning marked by curses and sealed with the haunting cry of a barnyard rooster in the early mist of morning.

Do you truly love me?

Three years together. Traveling, teaching, talking. Three years they walked from village to town to city. He had watched the man called Jesus do unimaginable things: life-long cripples had actually stood on once-shriveled legs and moved about freely on their own; there had been terrible visions of what can only be called pure evil being splintered from the souls it possessed; a man 3 days dead, embalmed, buried – he returned to the land of the living. And he had been there, right beside the man who did it all. In his posse. One of his twelve chosen.

God, were ever men more intimate than this? To not only have witnessed the paradigm-shifting life, but to have been invited into the journey? To share meals, long trips, days and nights for three years long? Jesus had even healed his own mother.

Do you love me?

Proudly, defiantly, perhaps desperately: “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” If someone said that to me, I would know it was love. If someone defended me to the point of drawing a weapon against my enemies, I would know it was love. If that is not love – what is?

But betrayal came. It always comes. Not merely once. Not merely a flippant comment overheard. Three times. Emphatically. Well within earshot. “I’ll be damned if I know who that man is.” The man who loved Jesus, denied him.

I’ve always been told that when Jesus appeared to the fishermen on the beach, cooked them breakfast, and then asked Peter that hard question three times, it was Jesus’ way of reinstating Peter, forgiving him, bringing him back into good graces. That’s not the whole story though. It can’t be.

Betrayed by love. By someone you trusted. Cared for deeply. Had invited into the deepest parts of your life. Don’t tell me Jesus didn’t experience in that moment the same pain I know – the same pain I suspect you do, too. The moment that love fails you is a bitter, terrible moment that strips you of the thing that sustained you and kept you going. When you are loved, it means someone believes in you. Can you even believe in yourself when no one loves you? How? Tell me how, because I can’t.

Jesus wasn’t merely reinstating Peter. That couldn’t have been the whole story. Jesus asked the hardest question to ask in that situation. A question that makes us feel weak, needy, desperate. But he asked it: Do you love me? He needed to be loved, he needed to believe this man who had walked with him for three years still believed in him. After going to hell and back, Jesus needed to hear the words, “I love you.”

If he had to ask three times… if he had to hear it for himself… If Jesus’ need for love was so great that he risked it all by asking the question, Do you love me – are you and I any different?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

the rundown

I'm watching "Alien." Directed by Ridley Scott. Several years ago I was whining that I had never seen the "Alien" movies. My good friend Becky - who either loves me very much or was tired of hearing me whine - bought me the Quadrilogy for Christmas. Haven't seen them since she bought them for me, so I figured a lazy Sunday afternoon was as good a time as any to scare myself silly.

Next weekend I plan to visit Amanda and John in LA. Amanda is my pal who sang on the album. I'm excited to visit, first because I really like Amanda & John, and second because I've yet to actually be present in LA for more than a drive-through. It'll be cool to see some of the sights. I will also give Amanda a copy of some demos of songs I'm working on for the next album so she can begin learning them for when we record. I'm looking forward to having her voice play a bigger role next time 'round.

Like I said in the last blog, I'm planning on calling the next record "World Change Me." I've written many songs over the past year or so for this album, some that probably won't ever see the light of day. That's just how it goes. But I do have 8 songs that I'm sure will be on it, and 2 more I'm almost through with that I like. Then there are several that are in my head, but haven't been worked out yet. One is the title track - "World Change Me." I have the chorus:

Everyone before me tried to change the world
Everyone around me wants to change the world
Everything inside me saying change the world
I'll tell you what I see, how the world change me

I'll be enlisting the help of my amigo & bandmate Thomas to finish writing this one. Collaborating on songs is not something I do often - in fact, not something I've done since college - but this one calls for it. Thomas has the skill to make this song what I want it to be, which is a bluesy, funky pop anthem. You'll see what I mean when we finish.

The plan is to shop these demos around to some smaller labels. I really want to create a quality record, one that will stand the test of time. If we have the help of an independent label, the resources available to us will just be greater than what we would have on our own. So think positive thoughts for us!

Also - don't forget to vote for us this month (July) on We are up for artist of the month and have a good shot at winning - with your help!

That's all for now. Over & out.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Froot Loops

Today I ate a bowl of Froot Loops for breakfast. Lately I’ve found myself drawn back to the cereals of my youth: Apple Jacks, Cocoa Puffs, Trix, Cap’n Crunch, and Froot Loops. I suppose it’s the nostalgia of the holidays. That and the fact that a person can only be expected to eat so much shredded wheat before the gag reflex is summoned. Anyway, as I chomped happily on my loops of froot, I was struck suddenly by the fact that there were six distinct colors in the bowl.

“Six froots?” I thought to myself. “Why, I recall when Froot Loops were a nearly monochromatic blend of red, orange, and yellow!”

I do recall the first time a new color was added. I believe it was green. I remember sitting a matter of inches away from the boob toob (sorry, my spelling’s all outta whack because of the whole “froot” thing) watching Toucan Sam on a quest to find exciting new flavors for his cereal. It was exciting news back then.

(Remember watching cereal commercials like they were news? It was tough work keeping up with Toucan Sam, Sonny the Cuckoo Bird, the Trix Rabbit, et. al. I watched those commercials back then like I watch the news today.)

Anyway. All this to say that I feel old. I feel old because I got mad that there were six different colors of Froot Loops instead of the original three. I feel old because I remember exactly what those three original colors were. I know there’s a lot out there who will laugh at me for being 24 and writing a blog about aging, but gosh darn it, I feel old. And I think I deserve a 29¢ cup of coffee at my local diner for all the years I’ve endured under the hot, damaging rays of the sun.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year to Remember

New Year’s is my favorite holiday. Has been for several years now. Back at King College, my friend Kristen & I used to bring our pals from school home to Asheville for New Year’s eve. It became tradition:

The evening always began with taco salad. Kristen and I were best friends growing up, and I couldn’t count the number of times I had taco salad at her house. It’s a Mojonnier staple. But they do it well. Better than anyone else I know of, and so taco salad became our end-of-year celebratory meal.

After dinner, we’d move onto games. Cranium was usually the game of choice, though Pictionary and charades both got their fair share of floor time as well.

A movie followed game time. This mostly served as a way to get a nap in before heading downtown. Asheville, like many US cities, has a downtown New Year’s party called “First Night.” It is fantastic. Music, food, hippies, and of course, one of the best fireworks shows I’ve ever experienced.

So, this being my first New Year’s in San Diego, I wanted to start a similar tradition here. It turned out to be a great evening. We had 30 people show up, and let me tell you, if you’re going to feed 30 people, there is no easier or cheaper way to do it than with taco salad. We then played a rousing game of “Best of 2006 Charades,” which included the categories of movies, music, and TV. My favorite moments were watching Sheila trying to make us guess the movie “Slither” and Ben acting out “Dancing with the Stars.” I had the unfortunate task of trying to get my team to recognize my interpretation of Nelly Furtado’s “Promiscuous.” (That must never be spoken of again.)

After charades, we tried a new game that we simply call “Celebrity,” but has less to do with Hollywood than it does hostile takeovers รก la ‘Risk.’ My friend April played a sneaky game & ended up dominating the room and owning us all.

We ended the evening by walking to the bay through Little Italy and watching the fireworks shoot off from Coronado. They were distant, but still the only way to ring in a new year!

At night’s end, I think we all had a great time. I know I did. Hanging out with old friends & new ones – it just doesn’t get much better. I look forward to many more New Year’s celebrations in San Diego!