This post is Grassroots, meaning a reader posted it directly. If you see an issue with it, contact an editor.
If you’d like to post a Grassroots post, click here!

February 16, 2021


[From: BREAKING THE SILENCE, by Goliath & Trench]

Otis Trench: So why seek knowledge in a library? Why not go to a truth-brary? And why do Christians call it the crucifixion? Don’t they claim to believe it was a cruci-fact? None of it really makes any sense; does it? Think about it. If an hour lasts longer than a minute, why is the hour hand the shortest one on a clock? And why are they even called hands, anyway? Shouldn’t they be called arms, or pointers? I’d even settle for fingers and find a shred of reason in that. You can only pretend to make sense of arbitrary designations. You can’t even pretend to make sense of time. Time is not wise. Time is moronic without a sense of propriety. Time dithers; it’s indiscriminate and random. Time leaves me in the lurch with a wrinkled suit, a cut beneath my eye and a dubious alibi. Time forces me to wait for my next haircut. Time stretches, then snaps. Time slithers noiselessly under the garden fence while you’re expecting the mail and the bourbon’s running dry. I have no patience for time, but I do have time for patience. Having patience is an important asset in this profession. Freedom is being satisfied with the terms of one’s confinement.

Well, this interview certainly requires patience…


Zoltan Goliath: I couldn’t agree more about the concept of time: It flows midnight to noon from December to June and then back again, day after day…

OT: …an illicit affair between tortoise and hare, in a hickory-dickory way.

So I should conclude that your collaborative method is symbiotic and you trade lines off of one another.

OT: That’s something you can wager your virtue on, missy; at least regarding those things we’ve truly composed collaboratively. And even when it comes to lyrics we’ve written without each other’s consultation, they are often influenced or inspired in one way or another by cognizance of each other’s compositions. We challenge each other to rise above the mundane. If you think about it, much of what is accomplished that has any lasting value is the result of a successful collaboration of some sort or other. It’s like doing a square dance, or making babies. Babies do not directly result from doing a square dance, but one thing can lead to another. Creating quality compositions is no different. Lyrical coitus may be achieved in solitude, but everyone likes having a partner now and then. Dancing alone all the time can be bad for the soul; one never has the opportunity to do-si-do. Reacting to your partner’s steps changes the trajectory of the promenade. Yet neither of us has a monopoly on taking the lead. We each contribute to the choreography as we find ourselves to be benefactors of our individual talents. The results are consequently greater than the sum of two independent minds. When a baby is made, both parents naturally get credit for contributing their genes. It’s our custom to consider each other’s step-children as full members of the family, with all siblings enjoying equal status. Against all odds and in defiance of conventional wisdom, we’ve learned to work together in a constructive manner, though things do sometimes get broken in the process. What’s done has been done to the best of our abilities and we share the credit collectively. I shouldn’t have to tell you that. The harmony of our clan speaks for itself. Our collaboration has always been a socialist enterprise and I just try to do my part to enable the co-dependency. Needless to say, and regardless of everything else, I wrote all the good ones by myself.

ZG: That is just how he dices the onion. As usual, it almost brings me to tears. Yes, we are socialist in our philosophy; everyone goes to bed equally hungry.

OT: I keep telling him that if he refrigerates the onion first, it won’t make him cry, but he never listens to my advice.

ZG: He is a bullshit artist. Of course I realize his contributions to the feast have been of value, but mostly as condiments to the entrée. I have always been magician-in-charge of conjuring the main course. My colleague merely spreads the blanket for the picnic. He may be less of a conduit for genius than I, but he is useful for menial tasks and I congratulate him accordingly by occasionally tossing him a biscuit when he rolls over and plays dead. As I have sometimes been heard to say, when life hands you a lemon, squeeze it over a dozen steamed clams and open a bottle of tequila. Let Brando find inventive uses for butter when he tangos in Paris. I like my shellfish squeaky clean and citrusy, unlike my ill-mannered companion and his garish ways.

OT: He can be such a pompous ass, but that’s just his nature and I’m used to it. I put up with far worse and in a much more intimate manner from more than one loco senorita. I’m bullet-proof at this point.

I see. So let’s get back to your writing. Do you have a pattern or routine you engage in when composing?


OT: Writing is just like building a house. First you need to find a suitable construction site and draw up a blue print. We never bother with permits. Our non-attorney spokesperson, Brent Scorn, sees to those pesky details. So, you have to gather your materials. That can take some time, and for a time all you may have are stacks of lumber in the front yard killing the grass. But eventually you lay the foundation, frame it out, install the plumbing and wiring, put up the sheet rock, spackle, install the trim, paint, etc. Furnishing and landscaping take even longer, but eventually it all comes together. It looks like nothing but raw materials when you first begin, deposited on a vacant lot or beside a desolate condemned structure awaiting demolition; but over time, with skill and with effort, the thing takes shape. Then you either live in it or you sell it. Either way, it remains a creation of your own making, something to be proud of.

So you view the creative process constructively?


OT: When we’re not destroying things.

How so?


ZG: We have no goals, just expectations. We expect perfection. When we have not been able to achieve our expectation, we must sometimes tear down what we have built and start over.

OT: Sad, but true. We might labor over a lyric for weeks or months before arriving at the conclusion that a total make-over is required. As they say in Nashville, everything is a re-write. In some cases we might be left with nothing from the original lyric than the title.


Can you give me some examples?


OT: I Don’t Want To Go To Heaven; Car With No Reverse; April Fools for Bobby Lee, to name a few. Sometimes the title was the only good part of the original lyric. Recognizing that fact often requires brutal honesty. Sometimes it just isn’t possible.


And what conclusions do you draw from all that?


OT: I don’t know. More and more I’ve come to believe things happen for completely random reasons. Especially the seemingly innocuous life events we don’t normally even take notice of, but when viewed in retrospect can be seen as turning points, tipping points, or defining moments. When you think about it, the most mundane decision or choice you make can have a most profound influence over the course of a lifetime. Naturally, we’re aware of life-altering events, such as graduations, weddings, parenthood, job changes, major illnesses; the things diarists are sure to document, and we mark these in our memories as being significant turning points in our lives. In reality, everything we do is a turning point of sorts. We usually just don’t consider the un-newsworthy occurrences as having the least bit of significance. I mean, deciding to leave the house five minutes earlier or later in the morning can mean the difference between avoiding an accident, or being involved in one; between meeting the love of your life, or never crossing her path. And the circumstance that results in that difference of minutes might be something as random and singular as a broken shoelace, or a second cup of coffee.

ZG: One cannot see the full extent of a train wreck till one either walks or is carried from the scene of the accident. Regardless of all that, I believe good luck happens when preparation meets opportunity. That is how we write songs.

Leave a Thoughtful Comment

Read 0 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Michael Kalavik  |  Contribution: 29,290