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Week 149 // Look Around

by Mount Everest

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This week I introduce a new category of song that I suspect will proliferate on my website: songs about things I’m reading in grad school. I’ve been spending most of my time reading, so it is no surprise that when I sat down to write a song this weekend, some of those readings were still rattling around in my skull.

The words are about the emergence of panoramic vision as a mode of seeing. All human senses are experienced subjectively from era to era. A sense like vision means something different at different times, and is literally experienced in separate ways at different points in history. The first people to ride trains didn’t have any frame of reference for looking at the world while moving quickly. A blurred foreground and a crisp, unmoving background had never ever been seen by people. They didn’t know how to locate themselves in space, and they often felt uncomfortable even looking out the window. Many people opted to look away, believing that the world was spoiled by looking at it like this. But as people learned to see out of the windows, new ways of seeing emerged. It was a premonition of photography and cinema. The train window became the precursor to the movie screen; our first framed view of a dynamic and shifting world. As the locomotive spread industry across the world, people found more and more ways to augment their vision. People couldn’t always climb skyscrapers to put their world in perspective. People couldn’t always conceptualize a city from above. It has the effect of dislocating us, but it also gives us perspective. Perhaps the reason these concepts resonate with me is that I have often felt like the first man to ride a locomotive, or to stand on a skyscraper. I think we all feel this way every time we leave our comfort zone. Experience is constantly shifting the ways that we see, so here I’ve written a little song about it on my banjo.


Everything moving
Yeah everyone must look away
Fixed in the distance
Or tied to the train-tracks
You’d say you must be dreaming
It’s getting late
Darling don’t dare look away

Future is steaming
Yeah engines are burning around
1814, 1927
Look to the sound
If pictures talk
What have we found?
Caught us all looking around

And what from the distance grows
Without ever getting close
You know you caught us all looking around

Struck with a vision
A structure to rise from the ground
And all men and women
Can suddenly see miles around
And all those lives
All at once profound
Caught us all looking around

And what from the distance grows
Without ever getting close
You know you caught us all looking around


released September 23, 2013


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Mount Everest Maine

I’ve been making up a new song every week since 2010.
Follow me on Instagram [mounteverestmusic] and explore more than 600 songs here.

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