~Meniscus Archives~

Premier Issue No. 1
August 14, 2003 - November 14, 2004

Link to Issue #1 Home


The Star Said...
Emlyn Lewis

Dear Mr. Tax Man

Invigorating Shake
Photo Essay on Peace
Bicentennial Aries
Jon Heinrich
Stranger in Alaska
Ryan Collins

The End of Main Street
Wesley Ratko

The Fur Trapper
Evan Bynum
Travels with Dad
Sarah Edrich
Long's Peak Winter Solo
Aron Ralston
Las Vegas
Jon Heinrich
Film Review: Secretary
Josh Seifert
Your Basic Mindf***: A Review of Wayne Krantz' Latest, Your Basic Live
Brian Gagne
Interview with Silent Treatment
Chrystie Hopkins
Independence of Common Humanity
Daniel Stevens
September in Chicago
Derek Meier
Father Time was a Bastard
Dan Boudreau
Wispers of the Mind
Dan Boudreau
2 Haikus
Laura R. Prince
Sarah Edrich
Pete Pidgeon
Meniscus Premier Launch Party
Zeitgeist Gallery
Cambridge, Massachusetts
August 14, 2003
Metro Saturdays hosts
Meniscus Portland Launch
Sky Bar @ The Roxy
Portland, Maine
August 30, 2003
State of the Art
Lounge Ten
Boston, Massachussets
October 23, 2003


The Star Said
Emlyn Lewis
Published 8/01/03


The star said, “It’s important in moments like this, before you begin singing at the top of your lungs, that you know what you’re saying, that you’re comfortable in the position you’re taking, that you know you’re right. Because the last thing you want is for some kind of information or evidence to come out that suggests that maybe your righteous indignation was somehow not so righteous, not so justified. I mean you work a long time to become a ‘voice of your generation.’ You don’t want to undo all that work by running off and saying something like, ‘don’t shop at this store or that store because all their clothes are made in sweatshops by five-year-old kids.’ Now by saying that, I’m clearly not implying that we should all be out buying clothes made in sweatshops by five-year-olds. But what I am saying…now let me be clear…is that it’s important to think these things through. I don’t even know what a sweatshop is really. I mean are we just automatically against a place that happens to have their thermostat nudged up a bit high? No. Certainly not. My father, for example, used to love to keep the house really, really warm when I was a kid. He was always cold, so he kept the house like a sauna. We were always sweating. Now obviously I didn’t have a bad childhood, though one might have gotten that impression from listening to my second album which, truth be told, was written as more of an expression of anger over the way kids are brought up in our nation as a whole, rather than as a reflection of the kinds of things I went through myself. Actually, now that we’re bringing it up, that’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about. All of America, and large portions of Europe, bought that album up like it was a bag of salty, fatty McDonalds french fries. I guess there was a lot of empathy and sympathy and all that for young kids who had suffered for some bad parenting, which certainly I can understand, and I felt honored and blessed to be able to express the grief of so many people and the anger of so many more, because that’s what I think real artists do, regardless of their own personal situations. Having said all that, my father didn’t speak to me for a year after that album came out. I mean my dad kept the house warm, and sometimes when he was real tired from working all day he might be a little testy with us, but by no means was he ever abusive in any way, which of course is exactly what all of America and really, honestly generous portions of Europe, considering they don’t all speak English as their first language, apparently thought. And so, that’s really when I learned that you have to be thoroughly careful of what you’re saying and considerate to the people around you who you love, when you’re working on a piece of art, because heck, let’s be honest, I don’t mind ruffling some feathers, especially if they’re the feathers of someone I don’t know real well, but when you’re talking about someone close to you, someone you want to maybe have breakfast with or go to Christmas at their house or something, then you really want to walk softly around their hot button issues. Now you’re asking me how I feel about war, and to tell you the truth, as a ‘legend in my own time’ and a man of principles I understand fully and completely that how I answer this question could have far-reaching consequences for the folks in power and, as long as we’re being circumspect and complete, for the poor, innocent people of far off lands who might potentially be bombed back to the stone age just for standing around in their adobe huts, or whatever they live in over there, minding their own business and worshipping whatever god it is they worship. I have to keep all those people in mind. It’s a lot of responsibility, as you can see. And I don’t think it’s at all odd that a whole nation, well actually many whole nations based on my last album’s sales numbers, would look to someone like me for guidance on these difficult issues. I mean, for centuries, artists have influenced historical events with songs and pictures and what not, and that’s natural as most of what we do, as popular artists, and I should stress the word popular there as opposed to people who do more abstract and self-indulgent kinds of work, as popular artists we stand outside the establishment and, with the mandate of the people as evidenced by an array of gold and platinum albums, not to mention Grammy Awards and other recognition of general acceptance by both critics and fans, we’re out here speaking the will of the people. Now what you’re telling me is that the will of the people is that this war should not go on, and I see that you’re citing some poll or other conducted by some think tank or market research group or something, and I can respect that because it obviously smacks of science and all, but what I do is a bit more, how can I put this without sounding arrogant or somehow aloof and detached, but what I do is more spiritual, you see. I mean knowing the will of the people, and really I can’t claim to know the actual will of the people, it’s a difficult thing. I suppose what I’m really saying is that somehow I’ve got to have the time to reflect on how this war makes me feel and then maybe watch some TV or do some meet-and-greet type events and generally mix with the populace a bit, and then after I’ve done that I like to rent one of those big old places up in the Hollywood Hills or one of those Irish castles or someplace like that, and I go up there or out there, as the case may be, and I sort of meditate on it, though not in any kind of crazy eastern, cross-legged-on-the-floor kind of way. I meditate on it in my own way, and that never includes drugs of any sort, though you probably know that I’ve been to rehab because really that’s what my fifth album was all about, and that one did pretty well, so chances are that you’ve heard it at some point. Strangely that music, those songs, have become real popular at weddings, which is nice in a way. It’s always nice to make something that people use over and over like that, that they take in and start some sort of tradition around. I just never imagined that ‘Crawl in the Bottle’ or any of those other tunes, that I meant really more as laments and expressions of my pain through some tough times, would wind up as wedding standards. And even then you never expect a song, especially one like that, to inspire its own dance, what with the bride flashing the wedding party and doing that weird series of hand gestures and what not, but I suppose we, as artists, are just here to do our art and let the people do with it what they will. Now getting back to this war thing, you’ve got to see that there are so many sides to the issues involved. So with multiple issues and multiple sides to each issue, it might take me a while to figure out just where I’m going to come down. Now the president has invited me to the White House to sing to him for his birthday, and I have to say that’s real flattering, but in a way he’s put me on the spot, because now I’ve got to consider the message that I’m sending by going and singing to him. I suppose some people will expect me to go there and sing some anti-war song to make a big splash in anticipation of my summer tour, and certainly that’s something I could do, but you like to make those sorts of decisions, as I was saying earlier, after some considerable time to meditate and mix with the people and all that. In general, I’d say I’m against war, but who in their right mind would say they like war. I mean there’s not a ton of guys out just itching to go to war for the sake of fighting, especially now that they’ve got all these smart bombs and other weapons that can kill you from a long, long way away. I’d say we were in a much different situation when it was just a bunch of guys lurking around in the woods looking to beat each other over the head with a club, and you know, in a lot of ways that was probably a better time. I mean I’ve never been hit with a club, though there was that one time in Indianapolis when that drunk fella hit me square in the nose with his shoe, but anyway I can imagine it’s better to get clubbed and maybe be able to slink away, than it is to get bombed and to have all your body parts fly in separate directions so that, in this country anyway, forensic people have to go around and scrape you up into little jars that they deliver to your loved ones like some sort of sick souvenir of death. Whoa! Sorry. I got a little carried away there, but then you can see that questions like this one are particularly difficult to answer because there are so many emotions involved. I mean, take this President thing. Am I going to bring a gift? I didn’t vote for the man, though you have to have a certain amount of respect for any man that’s been able to martial enough public support to get himself elected to a job like that. And no, before you ask, I have never considered running for any public office. I’m pretty sure my recording and touring schedule wouldn’t permit it. No, I’m kidding. It’s just not the kind of thing I would do, and anyway the way I make decisions probably isn’t real conducive to the way governments run, and anyway what do I know? I mean, I didn’t go to school much, and there are all sorts of issues, and a guy probably wants to be pretty well educated and versed in the in and outs of law and things like that before he steps into a government job. Now don’t get me wrong. I am flattered beyond belief that people sometimes bring up my name as someone they might like to have in the White House, but I don’t think it’s realistic for me right now. As for this war, it’s something I might cover on my next album. Of course it might all be over by then, which is another consideration. By the time you’ve written the songs, which by the way takes some time, these things don’t just write themselves you know, and then you take the time to record them just right, which always takes longer than you think because the producer you want isn’t available and then we haven’t even gotten into the record company’s promo stuff and the scheduling of the release date to coincide with some magic date a certain number of days before the big Christmas rush, so really I might not have a new album out til next year, by which time all the bombs might have been dropped and all the lives lost and who wants to hear some don’t-drop-the-bombs, or some do-drop-the-bombs album for that matter, after the whole thing has already gone down? And that’s my long way of saying that I’m not real good in interviews, especially on weightier topics, because really I address all the big ticket items, all the anger and pain, all the emotional watershed type of stuff, through my art, which as I explained takes a fair amount of time, and so I’m sorry I don’t really have a good answer to your question, but it’s a good one and you’re brave for asking it, and you should keep on asking those kinds of questions, because each of us is really empowered to change the world if only we’re brave enough, and I hope, though as I said I’m not real good in interviews, that that’s what you got from my answer, even though it was a bit long and admittedly I rambled there a bit, especially with that stuff about being President, which isn’t realistic talk to begin with, as I said. So hey, thanks for coming, and keep asking those tough questions. It was real good to meet you.”

-Emlyn Lewis

Meniscus Magazine © 2003. All material is property of respective artists.