Liner Notes Controversy


Posted by Matt Friday, September 11, 2009

There are so many moving parts in this discussion about liner notes. In general, people love to read them. But John has a point that saying too much about a song may have the side effect of bringing it down to earth, killing some of its magical power.

I think the best way to understand this whole dynamic system of musicians, songs and liner notes is to think of the whole thing as a fleet of blimps. Imagine, John, that each song on our album is a huge lighter-than-air flying craft. Each one has its own majestic color. They are slowly dancing on the horizon. They are having fun, and they are beautiful. Those are our blimps, John. And we love them.

Now the theory is that when I write liner notes and reveal some of the mundane details associated with the creation of one of the songs, I am tethering a bag of rocks to that blimp. I am weighing it down so it can’t fly as high. Are you with me so far? We agree that all this yacking that I am doing is probably making one of our colorful crafts fly a little lower.

But wait, John. I see another blimp. Over there. Flying way down near the trees. This blimp is not as light and puffy as the other ones. It is wrinkly and under-inflated. That is a sad blimp. Oh, no! Now I see why. That blimp has been tied to a tree!

That blimp is me, John!

That blimp wants to fly, too! He wants to puff himself up and tell everyone all the stuff he’s thinking about. He wants to float around with the other blimps and bump up against them in randy blimp-play.  He wants to dance with them and talk trash about them. He wants to be free and have some fun with the colorful airships. He longs to fly!

Oh, look, John. I see another blimp. A very impressive blimp over there. My, but that is a grand and handsome blimp. And look, he has a crown! That blimp must be the awesome king of all the blimps. A ruler of the skies. Listen to his thundering engine. It emits not a drone, but a low, beautiful melody that fills the sky with wonder and dread.

I think you know who that blimp is, John. It is you!

I would imagine that a blimp of this magnitude would be the happiest one of all. He is the Grand Captain of a large and lovely blimp harem. But no. This blimp is not happy. His crown weighs heavy on his brow. His concern for the other blimps is so heartfelt and grave that he cannot enjoy himself! He, too, is tied to a tree. 

An invisible tree in his mind.

John, it is me, the wrinkly flesh-colored blimp over here. Your friend. The one who is shackled to a tree right next to you. I am looking into your worried eyes, one proud blimp to another.  Look at me, because I am about to tell you something very important: If we choose, we can unlock these mind-forged manacles, and fly free. The chains are not real! If we believe together, we can release our bonds in an instant.

Fly with me now, John! Let’s go up among the colorful balloons and soar together. Let’s write liner notes about our songs, telling every stupid thing we know without a care! Soar with me! We are The Twilight Hours and we fly where we want to fly!

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