Many, many years ago (god, I am getting old), I read “The Futurological Congress,” by Stanislaw Lem. It was an instant favorite. After that, I absorbed every Lem book I could find and was constantly pleased. Then, in an old interview I found online, Lem claimed that he was just rehashing ideas that Philip K. Dick had already covered.
And so PKD entered into my life. “The Man in the High Castle” was first. Then short stories by the hundreds. Then, like a catch phrase that you never knew existed but is totally awesome, came “Ubik,” and that’s when the genius, power, and creativity hit me. This was my new Jorge Luis Borges. This was magical realism disguised by sci-fi. I was in a new Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius and it was as real and as pure as anything I’d ever experienced. It was maddening and confusing. The world of Ubik is equal parts “The Running Man” and Jean Baudrillard.
And then, everything else followed. I devoured every story, film, & biography I could swallow. Well, nearly everything. I still haven’t gotten up the courage to read these newly published non-sci-fi works… whatever. sue me.
And then a few years ago I wrote this song, “fake world, nyc” whose first few verses seemed to be about feeling stuck in a relationship where you are isolated but feel helpless to change things. After a few attempts at polishing it, I realized I was singing about “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” Completely unintentionally I had re-created the world that Deckard lives in… but it was my life that I was describing. It was eerie, and one of those elusive pure moments of inspiration that artists live for.
After a complete overhaul, the song was completed and recorded for my 2009 album Simulation of an Artist.
But, that moment stuck with me and drove me to write (and to read) more.
The tumultuous relationship that was ending at the time—together with the idea of writing about my favorite sci-fi—pushed me to write other PDK-inspired songs. And then, it hit me, this is a concept. For an album. A “concept album” as it were.
That was the beginning. From that idea sprang forth a thousand words and a hundred songs—thirteen of which comprise The Empire Never Ended.
There are hundreds of hours, millions of gublots (a unit I just made up) of effort, and several garbage pails full of love, that went into these songs. (i think the secret is that these songs are actually more a part of me than PKD, but i’ll never tell…) so I promise that i’ll eventually write more about each of them.
Thanks for listening and for reading.