Ghost Writer Radio is a playlist of my music that I keep loaded onto my phone.  It is massive, because, like many of you perhaps, I cannot stand that fact that mainstream radio does nothing but phone it in and repeats the same songs, almost on the hour, daily.  It is maddening.  I keep 114.2 GBs of music on my phone.  A song repeats perhaps once every few months.  It is glorious.  However, as far as smart phones have come, they have a major drawback when it comes to music apps.  Shuffle simply does not work.  Most of the apps pre-load 1000 tracks, then shuffle those.  Well, when you have the music of hundreds of bands, and the entire discography of quite a few of them, all on your phone, that shuffle doesn’t work well.  So, what I do is play the entire list in alphabetical order by song…. this actually shuffles really well.

I tell you all of this to set up Wednesday morning at work.  I head out of the garage at about 4:30 AM, starting my tunes playing into my helmet on the way to work,and I listen to non stop music until about 9:45.  Every day.  Wednesday I started out the day in the middle of the B’s.

Why do people listen to music?  Why do some people prefer talk radio?  Or audiobooks? What is it that we are doing, when we seek for auditory distractions from our current tasks?  For me, music has always been the background noise of my life.  I have been drawn to music for really as long as I can remember.  That said, one of the areas I find myself disagreeing on with people over music, is its lyrical importance.  Hence starting out with why do people listen to music.  Some people just want a beat they can dance to. Some music doesn’t even have lyrics.  Some music is not comprehensible, but it does not mean that it doesn’t make us feel.

I have a tendency to think about music like a modern shift in poetry, thus to be drawn to the words of music, first.  Lyrics that make me think, about politics, life, literature, the human condition…. these tend to be the songs that move me and make lasting impressions.  I even find myself memorizing verses, similar to the way one might memorize a stanza of a meaningful poem.


So, on Wednesday morning, at about 5:45 or so, I was cruising along stocking the vitamins on the Costco Fence, Ghost Writer Radio started playing “Broken”, by Depeche Mode, and this became the soundtrack to my morning:

Broken – Depeche Mode

Broken – Tears for Fears

Broken & Betrayed – Pop Evil

Broken Arrows – Gloritone

Broken Bones – Kaleo

Broken Bones – Jesus Jones

Broken Glass – Three Days Grace

Broken Face – The Pixies

Broken Halos – Chris Stapleton

Broken Lungs – Thrice

Broken Man – The Pistoleros

Broken Record – The Refreshments

Broken Words – Finger 11

Broken, Beat & Scarred – Metallica

If this means little to you…. how about I just cut and paste some lyrics together…. think of it as a collage…. or a stream of consciousness poem:

When you were a child
You’d dream all day long
You’d dream of the future
Get lost in your songs

Now that time is gone
It’s lost for you now
Words long forgotten
Forgotten somehow

Between the searching and the need to work it out
I stop believing everything will be alright

We are broken
I’m walking uphill being turned around and round
Secret in motion when my feet are on the ground
In my mind’s eye
One little boy anger one little man
Funny how time flies

I’ve been down, deep Texas Mississippi state
Hoping things might go my way
For every hard earned dollar I make
There stands a white man just to take it away
Some might say I talk loud, see if I care
Unlike them, don’t walk away from my fear

I’ve busted bones, broken stones, looked the devil in the eye
I hope he’s going to break these chains,

The devil’s going to make me a free man
The devil’s going to set me free

You can crawl
You can walk
You can beg or you can talk
There’ll always be broken bones

We fought to rule the world
Not knowing just how fragile we really were
Like it was the first day of the rest of our lives
Than the bricks began to fall
And we can see the cracks along the wall
We didn’t know it couldn’t go on forever

All we are is broken glass
Thrown to the floor we were never meant to last
And all we are are empty shells
Try to pick us up you’re gonna cut yourself

Seen my share of broken halos
Folded wings that used to fly
They’ve all gone wherever they go
Broken halos that used to shine

Woke up to a brand new skyline
We licked our wounds and mourn the dead
Swallow the story hook and sinker
Is that what we meant when we said
That we never would forget?

Are we fools and cowards all
To let them cover up their lies?
Cause we all watched the buildings fall
Watched the scales fall from our eyes

Silent and Alone

Left to Sway in the breeze

Im a broken man

I know that I am

Left to face again

I’m a broken man

When its time for you to go

Be the one who leaves too soon

Walk away and travel far

Til you find where you belong

Im a broken man

And I’m left here again

Broken hearts like broken men

Still have some things left to give

Broken bells in the right wind

Can learn to sing again

Im a broken man

Take me as I am

Breaking your teeth on the hard life coming
Show your scars
Cutting your feet on the hard earth running
Show your scars
Bleeding your soul in a hard luck story
Show your scars
Spilling your blood in the hot sun’s glory
Show your scars
Breaking your life, broken, beat and scarred
We die hard
We die hard
We die hard

By the time break time came at about 7:00 I was thoroughly depressed.  However, that would assume that I hadn’t already been depressed for quite some time.  Depression is a curious thing, and it plays on a victims mind like fog…. or snowblindness.  It colors everything, and drips into your perceptions of even the simplest of things.  Knowing that, one might say, “well, listen to happier music. Fill your mind with positivity.  Garbage in: garbage out. I have heard all of these cliched gems of wisdom, and here is the thing…. that does not work. Listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir does not fill me with light… it makes me want to stab things. Listening to nothing…. doesn’t give my thoughts an anchor at all, so I never get into a meditative groove… I just feel like I am spinning in circles.


Another interesting tidbit, is a thought I have had an awful lot lately.  Growing up, my parents liked old country music. I hated it. I really, really hated it. But now, Willie, Waylon, Johnny, Merle, …. they speak to me.  Why?  I would argue that you have to have suffered to have your heart sing to old country.  I believe pain makes that music age into something that transcends our own individual smallness.  However…… is that positive?  I love the Man in Black… because I am the man in black, and I feel what he feels, and hurt the way that he hurts.  I would never have been able to say that 20 years ago. I can now. And I love Johnny Cash. Coincidence?

I found myself thinking a lot about what in fact depresses me.  Over the last several months, it has felt stifling. A lot of it is the state of the world, but a huge part of it is the death of discourse, the inability to talk rationally about views and the world climate, because foundational baselines have just been eroded.  I was a teacher.  I am a writer.  I am a thinker.  I am continually making connections, and spinning in my mind about the issues that I perceive in our collective human experience.  However, my ability to discuss, teach, debate, or even converse about these issues has been severely limited by the polarity of the world in which we live.

So I pop off on Facebook…. for whatever good that does.


I have a lot of artist friends, actors, filmmakers, writers, poets, musicians…. and one thing that is very obvious….. is that these folks have a medium through which to discuss these thoughts.  They have the ability to convey these emotions to others, and they resonate.  That is what songs are.  Look at the poem again.  Look at the lyrics.  All of those words were okay to say.  All of those views were okay to present, and even considered entertaining.  For the rest of us….. going to work, talking on social media, going to school, going to church, crowding into the world with a bazillion other human beings convinced of their own rightness…… these topics have become taboo.  Things better left for ….. somewhere else.

I find myself very much feeling like the artist in thought….

Without a stage.

And in the meantime…. my ideas are silenced and that undermines my own inherent feeling of value.

And that leads to depression.


So…. as I headed to my break with my friend Hermes, my thoughts were filled with this one question: Does my continue piping in of other people’s monetized opinions and emotions, fuel my own depression from my own lacking ability to find a foothold for my own?

In that light… does it help me or sink me. Does it lift me, or bury me. Does it speak to me of my future, or lock me in my past.

Furthermore, can we just keep extrapolating. Look at my Facebook wall…. is it an example of confirmation bias?  Look at the friends you keep.  Are they an example of confirmation bias?  Look at the books you read, the movies you watch, the news you choose to be informed by.


How much of what and who we like…… creates our own skewed visions of the world?  I am not sure if this essay answers anything… or if it just presents a perplexing duality.  But the question resonated deeply enough, to make an hour of music on Wednesday morning, percolate into an essay by Thursday afternoon.


And I still don’t know anything…..

Besides that I can’t ever let the music stop.


Keep the Greasy Side Down my Friends.

7 thoughts on “Broken

  1. I want to comment and I want to have meaningful things to say – but right now all I can think of is that you really need to find a way to shuffle your music…. at the very least get out of the B’s. There is beauty and joy and purpose in life, even in the mundane things in life… look for and enjoy the nuggets of sweetness. I love you.

  2. We are inundated with so much that is not true and unreal that we can lose touch with what is real and true. Who doesn’t want nicer stuff, status, power… how easy it is to forget that we are all in this together.

  3. Another Broken song to add to your list… the lyrics for this one:

    You are broken, split into two
    Your wings are cut, can´t find purpose in anything
    You feel trapped, bound in shackles

    How do you unbind this knot in your soul
    How do you break out between the narrow bars
    Into an open world that can hold you

    Dancing wildly in the black night
    Don´t know the morning yet
    Our broken hearts
    Take one step at a time

    I know that you are not unlike me
    Under covering skin
    Woven from the same fabric
    Longing for happiness just like me

    Dancing wildly in the red night
    Don´t know the morning yet
    Fighting against the current
    Taking one step at a time

    Dancing wildly in the red night
    Can´t see the sun yet
    We never were like them
    We take one step at a time


    Need to remember to dance more in the black night, and to focus on one step at a time.

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