Andersen Silva has written sporadically since around the age of twelve, mostly short science fiction at first, then some poetry, essays, columns, and songs. His short-lived lit 'zine the Extreme showcased a little of his fiction and poetry (though more space was dedicated to other writers), and the semi-regular column Vitriol started there as a venting forum, then moved online for a few years after the 'zine folded. Vitriol was replaced by the kinder, gentler Being.... Occasional micro-'blog posts (a sort of home-grown tweeting before Twitter) were put up on this site, too (as well as the New Jersey Transit Blecch!), before he signed up with LiveJournal, and finally started the the 'Blog... of Death!. The self-proclaimed wordmsith still posts the occasional 'blog entry, and a rough novel was written (but not yet edited) for NaNoWriMo 2019. One of these days... Andy has written over fifty songs, most of which have been recorded and released on Joy in the New and/or I'll Live.
One of a few surviving short stories written in the early/mid '80s; this one has a slight whiff of "Mad Max" meets "Escape from New York" to it, though Andy probably hadn't seen either movie yet.
Another early story, with a teenaged science-fiction geek's twist ending.
This was written for the Extreme, and was a half-serious attempt to cover as many bases (science fiction, fantasy, romance, detective, horror, cyberpunk, etc.) as possible in one story.
Yet another early story, a short-short, with a Cold War/Mutually Assured Destruction vibe all over it. You kids today, you just don't know...
A thinly-veiled account written after seeing someone who may or may not have been a love interest a few years earlier...
There certainly are a lot of tales about humans rationalizing the extermination of other humans. Unfortunately, not all of them are satirical and fictional.
Another one from the mid-'90s, a short story about trying to sell a short story.
Also written for the Extreme, another gleeful tale about people and their complex emotional entanglements.
Angst for the memories...
A rant about not being free, whether you're aware of it or not.
An essay written when Andy considered himself more of a "hard," militant atheist.
One wonders what English writing will look like come the turn of the 21st century...
A surprising number of people on this planet would rather have someone else do all the thinking for them.
Written a year after 9-11 yet still insisting it's time to start playing more fairly with the rest of the world.
Something about Plato's Theory of Forms really hit home.
Whether or not American society was more polarised in mid-2020 than it had been in recent memory, it certainly felt that way at times. This was Andy's response.
The intention was to hand out printed copies of the letter to his fellow employees once Andy quit his employment there; some of them did see it, but though he didn't end up distributing it, he did give out copies of the last two issues of the Underground Giraffe.
Probably written for the never-published September '95 issue of the Extreme.
This was written (ahead of time) for the compilation 'zine Just About 10 PM Somewhere In Chicago put together during the second annual UPC in 1995.
At a public meeting of NJT's board of directors in May 2015, Andy was one of a dozen members of the public (including a state senator) who spoke up against a proposed fare hike and the transportation agency's dismal recent performance.
A lot of in-jokes here, but this tongue-in-cheek speech with John Lennon and Run-DMC references should still be enjoyable even if you never worked for AA World Class. Intended to be read at the company Christmas party in 2000 after presentation of an award to the president, though the presenter forgot to ask if anyone wanted to come up to the mike. Might've been for the best.
Andy is well aware that his is the minority viewpoint, but he still clings to the idea that decades, centuries, and millennia end in -0 years, not -9 years..
Feeling simultaneously sad, defiant, and inspired while clearing his head in the park one night, Andy came up with most of this poem right then there, and kept it in his head for a few days, writing it down (with pen and paper, a rare occurrence after the late '90s) and adding to it.
Written in Ocean City, Maryland, in 2001. Pretentious? Yeah, probably.
A whimsical take on fate and mortality.
This short poem is rather bleak and fatalistic. The title and lyrics of the Velvet Underground's "Pale Blue Eyes" always stuck with Andy, and a girlfriend described his eyes that way, though he opted to use the phrase 'cold blue eyes' instead in several works including this one.
This poem addresses one aspect of being a bit of a control freak.
Eye contact can be fun, scary, cold, flirty... human.
Written during an idle moment at work at Toys "R" Us, this poem was unknowingly printed in a different area of the store; Andy was confronted with it by a manager a few days later and asked if everything was all right. Just waxing poetic, is all...
Yes, it's a very short poem. Says exactly what he meant to say, with no verbiage.
The phrase 'the blur of serenity' in Nine Inch Nails' "I'm Looking Forward to Joining You, Finally" influenced this poem and the loss of serenity by the subject. Or by the narrator. Or both.
An alienated sequel to the PreacherPoem, below. These poems and "Stranger," and the song "Human Thing" and its sequel, "J-ded," are all related and convey the narrator's love, anger, despair, and hope (in varying degrees) in regard to the human race.
Limericks are just too easy... but that didn't stop Andy from penning this silly one.
Maybe (definitely) this is a tired subject, but you really don't know what you've got 'til it's gone, and that doesn't apply only to romance. This poem addresses lost youth.
The original "PreacherPoem" was written in response to a friend's inquiring about Andy's being single at the time. Obviously, it deals with more than that, though, and he later wrote a more general, less lovelorn revision, which expounded further on his 'Preacher' self-image. The transitional poem is an unfinished first draft of the revision.
A short poem, written in dactylic dimeter for an English course at Montclair State College, and Andy's oldest surviving rhymes, dating from September 1990. It went over well with the professor.
It was a dark and stormy afternoon when he left Joinville, in the state of Santa Catarina in Brazil, and as the bus made its way up and around the mountains, this is what pen put to paper.
You'd think that people would have had enough of silly love poems.
This one's not stoic at all.
Another of the Preacher's poems, written around the same time as "No, I'm Not" and sharing its bleak feel and non-rhyming scheme.
Fun with words, and lots more rhyming than most of Andy's poetry. It's a little dark but was much fun to write.
In early 2003, as the administration of President George Dubya Bush tried to conceal its eagerness to go to war with Iraq, Poets Against the War began gathering poetry for its cause of peaceful protest. This was Andy's contribution.
A take on Joyce Kilmer's "Trees."
In February 2010, the iPhone Dev Team (the wonderful hackers who provided many the free tools to 'jailbreak' the early iPhones) asked Twitter followers to submit a song, to be titled "All Aboard the Jailbreak Train," which should warn iPhone and iPod Touch owners of the inherent dangers of arbitrarily updating their jailbroken devices through iTunes whenever Apple released a new update. This was Andy's quick submission.
This was written on a bench in London's St. James's Park, in daylight. It's kind of a tribute and response to Sting's "Englishman in New York" and the lyrics follow his rhythm.
The first song that Greta's Unmentionables tackled, and the only one they nearly completed before splitting up. Some angry rock song about a woman having hurt a man inspired the similarly hurt Andy to write his own. He presented the rest of the band the riff and first two lines he'd written, and they liked it, so they guys worked out the rest of the music while Andy finished the lyrics. While the band never recorded a definitive version, Andy's take on it was released on I'll Live.
While Andy does have a predilection for blondes, he's never been quite as far gone as the subject of this sorta pop-punk tune.
Andy coined the phrase "Better that your life be a blur than a blurb" around the turn of the century, a shorthand way to express the thought that it was better to be too busy with activities/friends/travel/etc. than to have your eulogy come to no more than a line or two, because you hadn't actually done much in life. He turned the concept into two short songs, "A Blurb" and "A Blur," as the introduction and finale respectively of I'll Live.
This was probably the first song where Andy developed the music and the lyrics together; mostly, the lyrics come first, and a few times the music has come first. He took his then-new Kona acoustic/electric to Costa Rica and started working out this somewhat Brazilian-sounding tune his third afternoon there.
Written and recorded on a sadly short-lived Ovation twelve-string acoustic, the first line or two were conceived one December, then the rest of the song was finished the following November.
Written as a poem while at work at United Jersey Bank about what might have been a flash of déjà vu. Later, Andy decided it'd make a good song, and recorded a brief, sparse '60s-sounding demo on organ; the eventual new take was closer to metal, which seemed to suit the lyrics better.
The vaguely Native American-sounding title phrase came to mind after a romantic interlude, though the young couple of the song could be Sioux lovers of the 18th century, or Australians of the 21st, or any two people in any time. Most of the lyrics were written while sitting beside Walden Pond.
Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and others were writing songs about the war pigs (again) in the mid-'00s, and Andy felt inspired to do so as well. While it was then George W. Bush and the second Gulf War that raised hackles, it's really the "my people, right or wrong" attitude, the feeling that "our way is the right way" and "if you're not with us, you're against us," and the people in power in any place and any time who take advantage of such that the song rails against. You'd better be damned sure of the justness of your cause before sentencing people to die far away, combatants and innocents alike, your own countrymen and the "other." Originally recorded on the twelve-string in 2007, and re-recorded for I'll Live in 2016, with a music video to boot.
The idea for this song (with its twist on the phrase from Shakespeare's Richard III) came in the cold early months of 2014, as Andy braved a nasty winter and loneliness. The first few lines were written at the time, when his emotions were still pretty raw, and most of the song was fleshed out that September along with "SeptSomber."
Written after a first (only) date gone wrong. This song has not been recorded... to date.
A friend mentioned a DJ on a quest for the 'perfect' Jersey shore song during the summer of 2005... so Andy wrote and sent in one himself, with a surf rock beat and guitar sound but more of an electronic bass. He never did hear back from Mr. DJ...
Andy had been playing around with layering some different sounds together, and only decided to write lyrics about writing songs some time later. "Drab bard" is a palindrome, and another example of his love of word play.
The title, the name of an album and song by 'Til Tuesday, had been buried in the back of Andy's brain for years as a potential song title of his own. In November 2014, he created a song around a short demo he'd thrown together and finally wrote these lyrics. This is the first song for which he recorded a full music video.
The title is from the subject of a morose E-mail sent to some friends during black days in early 2000. The music and theme are somewhat influenced by NIN's albums The Downward Spiral and TheFragile.
The lyrics may have been a little too candid, but the song is Andy's "Layla," and just like Clapton, he pined for, eventually won, and eventually lost the woman.
Inspired by a perceived shunning by a friend. The emotions could be applied equally well to a lover or a family member rather than a friend, so Andy left it fairly vague and had emerged from his funk by the time he completed these NIN-like lyrics. The recording sounds like a mix of quieter Nine Inch Nails and Not An Exit.
The Offspring's "Smash" influenced the lyrics, though that band would surely have left the F and the T where they belong.
Andy's girlfriend jokingly suggested that he write a children's song to help her daughter learn how to spell her name. He took it as a challenge, and wrote and recorded this just a few short weeks later. Both mother and daughter enjoyed it, and it did seem to have helped with the spelling, but children's music is probably not his thing.
A rare second-person story about not always being with your loved one when you'd love to be with her, written (with as many syllables as could be squeezed in) while Andy's girlfriend was away. The line "You're walking unencumbered down the shady side of the street" is still a favorite.
The intro and ending to this one were the first lyrical idea Andy ever came up with, back in 1991 (and were written out on a page in Vol. 1, No. 2 of the Extreme. The finished song would ideally have been right at home on Pink Floyd's The Wall, maybe between "Nobody Home" and "Vera." By the time the rest of the lyrics were written, almost ten years later, he'd gained quite a bit more perspective on life and love than the 20-year old who'd thought up the idea.
Also written as a poem (probably by the Preacher), these words got matched to a Bo Diddley beat and some very simplistic chords for a quick demo recording. A lo-fi industrial version was recorded a few years later, and it was later re-recorded for Joy in the New.
This song is very much tongue-in-cheek, and the narrator is probably related to the guy in John Entwistle's "I Found Out" and the one in the Police's "On Any Other Day." Entwistle was definitely an inspiration, as was Andy's occasional tendency to answer "How are you?" with "Alive, but otherwise fine."
A sequel to "Human Thing," this song was written as a direct response to Billy Joel's song, "Angry Young Man," which Andy likes; however, he disagrees with its conclusion that one eventually 'grows out of' social and political awareness and protest and activism. Passed the age? Never. The recording of "J-ded" has an electronic/industrial sound.
Andy was a fan of the Ramones (and punk in general) and got to see them play once. He was stunned when the big kid Joey died, and contemplated naming the album he was slowly working on Joey Ramone's Dead, but the song by that title eventually ended up on the album Joy in the New instead. Un-fun fact: Dee Dee had also passed away by the time I recorded this song, and Johnny was dead a month after the album was released.
These two songs share the same music, though the lyrics and rhythms are different. "Now" is about a fleeting night and day when nothing else mattered, and its opening line (which "New" shares) is a happy rewrite of that from "For Dana." The title refers to finding happiness in the moment, even when you know it can't last. "New" is about that fleeting moment made more permanent.
Another 'somebody done somebody wrong' song, penned early in September 2011.
When Jon and Andy were coming up with songs and song ideas for Not An Exit back in 1992, they decided it would be cool to each write a song entitled "Lonely Blue Dreams" in a lyrical and musical style somewhat like Roy Orbison's. Andy never quite finalized the music to this, but neither song was ever recorded anyway.
The theme of this song, two lovers apart looking into the night sky at the same time from different places, struck Andy while taking the garbage out one night in 1999 and looking up; the lyrics weren't finished until 2003. He performed an instrumental version at a friend's daughter's wedding in 2014.
A sad and slightly bitter song, with a hint of self-directed anger. The chorus came to Andy as he was walking to the bus stop from work one fall evening, and he jotted down the first few lines in his Treo smartphone so as not to forget. The lyrics were finished a week or two later.
This was inspired at least as much by the death of a friend as it was by the breakup of a relationship, and the lyrics are open to either interpretation.
A simple and sweet love ballad, written and recorded in the spring of 2021.
Jon and Andy came up with this musical theme one evening while jamming and liked the sound. Jon decided to name the song after the band (Bad Company and Bad Religion and Black Sabbath have their songs, so why not?), and developed more of the music. A few weeks later, before laying down a guitar take, Andy wrote these lyrics; Jon wasn't altogether happy with them and was going to take his own stab at it, but Not An Exit never got around to recording their own definitive version. Andy's solo version was included on Joy in the New.
Andy took a break from songwriting in the late 2000s, not wanting to write lyrics faster than he could record and end up with two or three dozen songs that would take forever to finish. He later changed his mind, and this one, with its more-than-a-mouthful lyrics, was the first new tune to burst forth in late August 2009. It has not yet been recorded.
The first full set of lyrics Andy ever wrote, though the music never got further than a basic melody in his head. To date, the song remains unrecorded.
Andy's friend and fellow rock-'n-roller let him know about Rock and Roll Day, which the greeting card industry apparently decided was a necessary 'holiday.' It must have inspired him, as he worked out almost half the music to this song while jamming on guitar that night. Theresa suggested lyrics about a channel manager who was pulling her hair out at work, and a tech support specialist who was drained from support calls (those characters sounded so familiar somehow!), and this is what resulted.
Written from the point of view of a rockhopper, Andy's favorite penguin species. The song was conceived a few months before the animated movie "Happy Feet" came out at the end of 2006, though the lyrics didn't come together until January. There's both silliness and a message, but not too much of either.
Written after camping at Assateague Island and getting sand everywhere and in everything. The narrator starts off admiring and in awe of the sand, and eventually... not so much. Not yet recorded.
There's a double meaning to the title, as there was both a second chance and a second shot of liquor together. The line "The fat we did chew" still makes Andy chuckle. Recorded in January 2004 in two days.
The portmanteau title refers to Andy's somberness while conceiving of, writing, and recording this song in September 2014. It features another occurrence of the 'cold blue eyes' phrase.
Written and recorded in under three weeks in September 2020, this song came after a long dry spell in terms of songwriting, and inspiration struck powerfully.
Andy thought up this song before it had been quite six full months since 'the breakup.' It took him an extra month or three to finish the lyrics, by which time he'd already started working out the music, intended to be reminiscent of late '70s-early '80s Who (mainly the bouncy keyboards). Sad but cathartic.
The opening line to this one came to Andy while he was heading to work one morning, and he wrote some more over the next few days, finishing over Labor Day weekend in 2013 when he began recording it. There's a line lifted from a long-running science fiction show in there somewhere...
One of Andy's friends reacted to hearing of the songwriter's new relationship by stating that he'd found his happy. In early 2012, he decided to write a song to be called "So Much Happy," and started putting it together as a gift to his girlfriend.
Another unhappy song, written about a month after "Christmas Lonely." Unlike that one, though, the music here isn't especially cheerful at all. The titles both sound like written by Yoda they were.
John Hiatt's "Permanent Hurt" was running through Andy's head rather insistently when he wrote this song, and so he used its meter for the verses.
Andy came up with the title, the swing feel, and the horns for this after hopping off the swings in a Nutley, NJ park one night. Seriously. This song was recorded by Not An Exit in August 2000, and Andy's solo version was done in May 2003.
Seeing Aimee Mann in Boston in 2002 gave Andy the idea to write a response to her song "That's Just What You Are," and some of that concept was retained when he got around to writing the song almost a year later. The lyrics are meant for another woman altogether, but some of them are plainly answering Aimee's challenges.
While jogging and walking through Lyndhurst in 2012, Andy and his girlfriend happened upon some flowers growing through someone's gate. After peering at the blooms, one of them said, "They might be roses," and the phrase stuck with him: not so much about flowers, but about the idea that some things that hurt us now could be seen as lovely in hindsight, because of where they lead us or what they open us up to. He'd intended to write a NaNoWriMo novel with that name and concept, and didn't get far, but he did eventually finish lyrics and record the tune in 2016.
Written on Andy's 30th birthday after he realized there aren't a whole lot of good birthday songs out there. It's more about good friends than about birthdays, really, and is dedicated to all his friends, past, present, and (hopefully) future.
This light-hearted ditty was conceived while Andy rode a New Jersey Transit bus back from Manhattan. Yes, that's a bit creepy. This song has not been recorded, but maybe Not An Exit will tackle it someday.
Andy started writing this in the spring of 2004, and the first verse of the chorus is actually imprinted on the Joy in the New CD. Go on, check yours, we'll wait here... Some songs are harder to write than others, and this one took two years, though it went unrecorded until 2016's I'll Live.
Andy had originally planned to write an angry protest song for Inauguration Day 2016, but when he stumbled across the "We the People" public art campaign, Ernesto Yerena's piece called "We the Resilient" resonated with him, and this less-angry and more-determined song was born instead. Andy briefly contemplated rhyming Brazilian with resilient, but eventually refrained. Written and recorded in two days.
Very definitely inspired by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers; they're even mentioned in the lyrics, which were completed the same day in January 2007 that Andy finished "Rockhopper," so it must
have been the right day for writing silly non-love songs.