In recent years, there's been occasional commotion regarding artificial intelligence and it's (presumed) impact on jobs, handiwork, craftsmanship, etc. Assume a lawyer has to read a 1,000 page document in three days - there's no way that's going to happen. A computer, with machine learning, can read it in seconds, reference data and in turn come to a decision that would likely have been arrived at by the human lawyer, barring any sort of sleep deprived snafu. Those are the types of jobs likely to fall by the wayside as AI slowly but surely creeps into normalcy (and I'd welcome it if it means some computer will automatically transcribe these interviews, because that takes forever). The jobs that aren't going away any time soon are those that require the human condition, namely, songwriting. Have you ever heard a song written by a computer? They absolutely, unequivocally suck. There's no verve, there's no yearning, there's absolutely no raw vulnerability. In short, computers don't have something to say. It's as simple as that. Which brings me to Reuben Bidez - he's the perfect example of the type of wit and observation that makes songwriters as indispensable as they are. He's able to look at human experience from a different plane, and interpret universality in a manner that seems individualized. That's a no to the depth and breadth of his new EP, Something to Say, which serves as a platform for Bidez to imbue his own thoughts and views on society today, in a manner of which no computer or AI bot could ever dream of, if they could in the first place.
Now/It's met with Reuben Bidez at his home in the Dalemere neighborhood of Nashville.
Reuben - We didn’t do something for Lockeland [Springsteen], did we?
N/I - We did some portraits, when you were at Bonnaroo. I think it was just a general portrait session. But I don’t know if you and I have ever gotten together in terms of a conversation.
Reuben - That’s right. We did the photos. I do remember that.
N/I - So have you been doing a lot of press stuff for the EP?
Reuben - I have, but they’re mostly email interviews. Which are….
N/I - I was going to ask - what do you think about those?
Reuben - They’re alright. I don’t think you get as much off the cuff stuff. Honestly, I think they’re harder, because you do have to sit and think. Whereas I find it’s better if I get some vibe off of somebody else.
N/I - Face to face is always good.
Reuben - Also, it feels more familiar; like a performance. As opposed to a written essay or something.
N/I - It automatically becomes a homework assignment.
Reuben - Homework assignment or songwriting versus performing your song. Writing songs is not always an easy endeavor. They won’t always come to you immediately, but you can get up in front of people and be like “I know this song, so I’ll play this one until something else comes up.”
N/I - So you don’t have a release show set, yet, do you? You have that “Comrades in Arms” thing, but as far as release day or weekend, do you have anything special set?
Reuben - Release day is the 22nd of June, and we’ve been trying to figure out a good date to do the release show, and I think we have it. I think sometime in July or Auguest, we’re going to do the show. It’s funny - this is the first time I think I’ve run into the issue of other people putting out records around the same time. A friend - Lera Lynn - she has her duets record coming out the same day as my record, and she’s doing a release show, and then a week or so later, Erin Rae is doing her two night thing here. So [laughs] I was like, I don’t want to - it’s not a competition thing - I just didn’t want to have to force our friends to decide over one show or another.
N/I - Avoid cannibalizing the decision for anyone connected to all three people. In that sense, it’s a lose lose.
Reuben - Exactly. And I just want to go to their shows, too [laughs]. I think we’re going to do July 7th. Obviously, I’ll let you know when it’s officially locked in. I think we’re going to do it at… The Hutton Hotel just opened a new venue….
N/I - The Analog? I went to Paul McDonald’s release show a little while back. That was the first time I had been there.
Reuben - That’s how I found out about it. My friend - Michael Ford….
N/I - From Airpark?
Reuben - Right. He opened for Paul for that show, and I asked him if he liked the venue and he said “It was actually awesome.” He said it sounded really good.
N/I - I believe it. The room was almost alarmingly solid, in terms of being a venue. I don’t know what it was originally - because obviously, Hutton Hotel has been there for a while, and Analog just opened up - but it looks like it could have been a dinner club of some sort. You have balconies on either side of the stage with tabled seating, and then in the middle, there’s the stage, which is effectively level with everyone watching, and there’s lounge seating all over. It’s a cool vibe. I figure it lends itself to a release show setting.
Reuben - Cool. Like a party?
N/I - Sure. Like a party, where everything is a little more intimate and familiar with each other.
Reuben - I’m trying to kick around some ideas for the show where it’s more than just a release show. Even the “Comrade in Arms” thing….. “Comrades in Song,” [laughs].... [Russian accent] “Comrade in Arms!”
N/I - Throwing a little Marxism in for good measure?
Reuben - [Laughs] Right? But that show is also kind of more than just a show. They’re having a party or a mixer before that. So I kind of want something like that to happen, and do some special guests along with it. I’ve done one release show in Nashville since I’ve been here, and Devon Gilfillian opened for my show, and he’s just….
N/I - Shot up. In a big.
Reuben - Really shot up. It’s crazy, but in a good way. That’s just really cool to see how far we’ve come since the last record I put out. And to see how far he’s gone…. You know, every record release, you try and make it better than the last one.
N/I - So how do you approach Something to Say with that in mind? In terms of doing something differently - other than some generic “let’s add horns this time around” or something to that effect. Not to discount that, but that can be a trite approach.
Reuben - Well there are no horns on my record, otherwise that would have been….
N/I - I would have just shoved my foot in my mouth [laughs].
Reuben - No horns…. I always love the special guests to come and sing with me. Have a buddy come and play guitar on a track. Maybe work on some more witty banter in between songs [laughs]. Write really good material. I want to just hone into the whole making things feel like a party than a concert. That can be done. It’s weird, because I ride a fine line in my music of “I need you to pay attention” on the more intimate songs - those don’t really go over all that well if everyone is ripping shots [laughs]. So I’m thinking that there’s going to be a section where it’s a little more chill, and then ramp things up on either side of that. I’ve still got some time to figure it out. I don’t want to end up overselling it.
N/I - Absolutely. With the record itself - you recorded it in Dallas, with The Texas Gentlemen - why Dallas? You’re not from Dallas or anything like that? Do you have a connection there outside of knowing Jeff [Saenz] and the Texas Gentlemen guys?
Reuben - Definitely through knowing them. I met them close to two years ago, and I got close with Jeff, and he came and saw me play Pilgrimage two years ago. We were just hanging out and [laughs] laying on the lawn in the shade, just chatting, and he brings up the thought of “You should come to Dallas, I have this amazing studio…” - I didn’t know he had the studio - “We should try and record something.” You know how it goes, you hear that and just go “Yeah, yeah. Sure.” But when it came time to write all these songs, we reopened the conversation, and we felt like it was something we could make work. I also had this idea in the back of my head where I liked the vibe those guys had and I think I wanted to try something and see how I react in a different music scenario.
N/I - Place yourself under duress in a new environment….
Reuben - Different environment, and working with players I’m not used to playing with. I think I also wanted a shot of adrenaline into my music too. I can get a little introspective when it comes to my music, and serious in my songs, and this batch of songs were not so serious. Not in a brooding, dark serious - they’re serious - but musically, they’re a little more upbeat.
N/I - They’re warmer, if you were to use that as your sensory gauge. It’s like you said, you’re not trying to convince people you’re a modern philosopher as much as you’re saying “Stop and listen.”
Reuben - Exactly. So I wanted to experiment. But I trusted them, too, because I thought they were all really great players. It was kind of a mixed bag of guys from the Gents - even past members who weren’t really doing stuff anymore, but were still living in Dallas, and then my guitarist, Seth Plemons, he was my security blanket in the recording process, because he and I played together, recorded together for a while.
N/I - Well I figure it’s good to have some form of security in that situation.
Reuben - Right. If things started getting a little too far off the rails, I could rely on him to know things were off. He knows what centered is for me, and we could pull off of center - which I wanted to - but if we got too far, he knew how to reel things back in.
N/I - So you don’t have to end up looking like a diva, trying to make sure things go to your bidding.
Reuben - I didn’t want to be a diva, I didn’t want to spend a week in Dallas recording something where I’m like “Crap, I can’t put this out.” Or, worse than that, I do put it out, and it puts me on a trajectory I didn’t want it to go on.
N/I - Is that something that you feel is a realistic “fear?” Is it something you or your music is susceptible to?
Reuben - Well, everyone has influences. I think for me, my search has been for my own voice. A lot of this boils down to spending a lot of time in church, playing a lot of other people’s music. As good as that was for me, developing as a performer, and feeling confident as a performer, it did not lend itself to me developing my own sound, my own voice. I would say that I have been impressionable since moving to Nashville, because I’m like, “Well, nobody else has sung this song before, and I have no reference point. How do you sing it?” Maybe shedding some tendencies that I developed that were not original. That started to happen. Now, I think about what influences I do want to be a part of me? What do I dig? At the end of the day, do I want to be compared to this person or that one? Some of that is innate, where I can’t control that. I don’t want that to sound like I’m saying “I want to sound like Tom Petty,” but at the same time, I like what Tom Petty does, so I naturally pick those up. But I would say I’m impressionable in that I follow the instinct of the moment - “This feels good. I’m going to keep doing that.” And then hope - a little bit blindly - especially with this record, I was kind of like “Is this going to feel natural, or is this going to feel contrived?” I don’t know if that answered the question, but I don’t fear it too much. I actually kind of welcome it. I was reminded of this a few years back when David Bowie passed away. I was looking back on his career, and saw just how much he was able to change and reinvent himself over the years. I noticed a lot of artists that had long careers were able to do that.
N/I - Sure. It’s hard not to segment them into different phases of careers.
Reuben - And that excited me, because I get kind of worn out doing the same thing. I know a lot of people are like that, but wanting to have a hard reset, like wipe it clean and start over, those kind of things. I think that’s because of my impressionability, I want to absorb different things.
N/I - So did you grow up in the church, then? Is that where you really started playing music?
Reuben - I did. It was that and you do things in school. I went to a private Christian school, and we put on a school play every year, so every year I’m getting thrust onto the stage to sing without really wanting to because there were really only twenty people in our class [laughs]. I had to be in the play.
N/I - I’d imagine that’s a byproduct of having limited personnel.
Reuben - And then, I guess it was in high school - my dad has a photography studio in our hometown. And right next to him opened a music store, like instruments.
N/I - He opened it up?
Reuben - No, just some other guy. So I started going. I’d be hanging out or working with my dad, and then go take a break next door. But then the owner took a liking to me, and asked if I wanted to work there, but I told him I didn’t know how to play guitar. He said “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of that.” Then I was like “I don’t have a guitar,” and he just said “We’ll take care of that.” So I start working at this music store, and it’s funny, because I considered myself to be an expert on harmonicas - my dad played harmonica, I played harmonica, which is a weird instrument to have as your first instrument. But the owner had a little harmonica display, and I told him “You’re missing lots of keys. You need this and this.” And I think that’s where he started to take notice of me.
N/I - He could tell there was some musical intuition there.
Reuben - So sure enough, I started working, and when it was slow, grabbed a chord book and started teaching myself. I instinctively realized that my church has a youth group band, so I should learn how to play so they’ll let me play in the youth group band. Then I started learning a lot of worship songs, which was my introduction to learning how to play guitar, and it wasn’t until much later that I had even heard Led Zeppelin [laughs]. Not that my parents hid that music from me, because I did hear a ton of Motown and Beatles, and Todd Rundgren, so it wasn’t like I was being sheltered from it, but that was just the music that was going on, the church music.
N/I - I understand that. I had a similar thing where neither of my parents are particularly into music - my dad is into soundtracks of films, or film scores, more specifically, spy movie scores, for whatever reason. But then I was in my church’s worship band as the drummer, and it wasn’t until much later that I got into the Led Zeppelins of the world and learned of the stylistic thing that never caught on in the church scene. But I think it’s a good platform to jump off from, in terms of performing.
Reuben - Sure. I got comfy. I learned to play with other people.
N/I - Which is huge.
Reuben - So that kind of gave me a taste of performing, and also transitioned into singing chorus in high school, and I started singing the solos, and people were like “You’re a good singer,” and I decided that was cool, because I didn’t know otherwise. It wasn’t like I knew up until then that I knew I was better than the average singer. I just sang, because I could sing, and so I did sing. I also think that deep down, I knew I liked it. But it wasn’t until high school that people started encouraging it. So one thing led to another, and I wound up in the high school musical, and we won our region, and went to state, and I just loved it. I loved performing, and stage stuff…. Musical theatre is still one of those things that deep down, I really love. Somewhere down the road, we’ll see….
N/I - I was going to ask - how come you’ve never entertained musical theatre since then? Or have you?
Reuben - No. I felt like I had a better shot at making it as a singer-songwriter first, rather than try and make it onto Broadway first. So I guess you could say I’m trying to backdoor my way into Broadway [laughs].
N/I - There are plenty of ways to do it. I think there’s something to be said for visualising the pathway of “this leads to that, and that leads to this.” With what I do, as far as interviewing people and writing, I think that’s a way to backdoor my way into getting a book published, as opposed to writing it and trying to convince people I’ve written a book and that they should read it. You don’t have credibility outside of that, but you can build up your credibility….
Reuben - Exactly!
N/I - As a performer in one realm that is pretty, justifiably a reasonable segue into the musical theatre world.
Reuben - And that’s the funny thing with the whole American Idol or The Voice scenario - these are people who do have experience singing, but a lot of them are relatively unknown, haven’t released any of their own music, and they’re thrust into the national spotlight. I don’t know if that’s healthy.
N/I - Well you see enough of that here in town, in terms of people who have been on. You’ve got someone like Paul McDonald who is totally well adjusted….
Reuben - [Joking] I don’t know, man. He’s still adjusting [laughs]. Just kidding.
N/I - But then you have other people who aren’t quite as fortunate, or capable of being self aware.
Reuben - There is a bit of delusion. I was talking about the Yodel Boy kid…. Mason Ramsay. I haven’t seen anything like that in a while.
N/I - That’s funny, because yesterday was the first time in which I was having a conversation where he popped up, and someone was adamant about him being an Industry plant, where all of it was planned one way or another. To be totally honest, I don’t know how you would go about determining whether or not that’s true….
Reuben - That’s a conspiracy theory right there.
N/I - Well, obviously, a fairly conspiratorial friend who like to press the envelope when it comes to conspiracy gazing.
Reuben - That the kid is planted and that they knew that it would take off.
N/I - That it would blow up.
Reuben - But, maybe they have the outlets and the connections to get a publicist, like a really good Instagram publicist to get it out there. Maybe that is it. Either way, I’m scared for him.
N/I - Oh, me too. He already seems exhausted, getting trotted out at all these award shows.
Reuben - I just don’t know if a young person is supposed to experience something like this. I’d have a hard enough time processing like it in my thirties, and he’s nine, or however old he is.
N/I - There’s some comedian that I heard on a podcast talk about not really blowing up until he was thirty five, and how that was the best thing that ever happened to him. In those thirty five years, or realistically, the fifteen some of years of really toiling away, nose to the grindstone every single day benefitted him, because every single day before thirty-five, he might never have been able to process things fully.
Reuben - Yeah! And then facing failure - I don’t even know if that kid has faced failure.
N/I - He’s so young.
Reuben - But he’s facing incredible elation and applause. I wonder if he…. If I was in his shoes, I’d have to question whether or not people are laughing at me or do they really like me? That’s a hard thing as a performer, because having people like you is a big part of this, but it took years for me to reach a point where that just rolls off my shoulder if someone doesn’t dig what I did. But when you’re doing that so young, that would just be devastating.
N/I - You’d probably never be able to decipher from that point on if this is a genuine interaction or if there’s some sort of ulterior motive someone might have.
Reuben - Right. And I just think back to someone like Michael Jackson, and how he at a young age was thrust into a spotlight of performing and having people love him, and it was amazing he was able to keep performing, but he was never quite satisfied. I feel like he was robbed of his childhood in a lot of ways. So I hope that the Yodel Kid has good people. I mean, Justin Bieber, he’s another example. Going through his different phases and he’s somehow managed to kind of stay on top.
N/I - In one way or another.
Reuben - For good or for bad. But all that being said, the instant fame that our culture has created, it takes a certain type of person and a certain amount of preparation before…
N/I - Before things actually get rolling.
Reuben - And you would love to be suddenly known by millions. Or at least, I know a lot of people that would be.
N/I - Well even hundreds, thousands of people. I’m most would be happy.
Reuben - But what do you do with it? How do you stay grounded? I don’t know.
N/I - It’s tough. That’s something that’s only become more and more evident as an “issue” in human nature, not necessarily in certain people or one industry. In one way or another, I think people want to be validated in their existence. To be told “What you’re doing is okay.” And social media makes that very easy, or very apparent for people like Justin Bieber or Mason Ramsay to perceive things as being okay. But that “Are they laughing at him, with him? Or do they love him?” thing never quite goes away.
Reuben - Even the everyday person. Or the everyman - they use social media the same way. It’s like saying “I’m doing this! Does everybody dig this?”
N/I - “Hey, I’m still here! I exist too!”
Reuben - Looking for affirmation. I kind of loosely wrote “Something to Say” about that. How everybody has a platform now.
N/I - That’s fair. Everyone does have an outlet that if they ever have something to say, not to sound redundant, and if they’re not using it, they might feel like they’re missing a chance to be acknowledged. Because I do think everyone wants that in some capacity, in terms of their existence, not necessarily mattering if it’s one way or another. Through what you’re saying, it sounds like you’re on the same track.
Reuben - I just feel like social media has manifested in a more immediate manner. Because people have that outlet, they’re more vocal and opinionated than they’ve ever been before. People are receiving validation for the first time, and it’s kind of like a drug. “People agree with me, and people are supporting me. I’m going to keep doing this.” and you have this throbbing orb of desire for validation. It’s a movement, for sure.
N/I - Anywhere you turn, you can receive whatever confirmation you seek, albeit sometimes you have to work harder to find it than others. That’s a nice natural segue - is that something that came up throughout Something to Say quite a bit? Or just the song itself?
Reuben - So the song itself was definitely focused on the platform that everyone has. Everyone has an opinion, which is valid, because everyone deserves to have their own voice, but I kind of went a little tongue in cheek with it too, mostly out of my own frustrations as well. I wanted to try to give people perspective on it. I try to view the world from a mile high perspective, to try and get above everything and see how things are moving, and I just noticed that everyone from the mom at home on her computer to to government, or authority, to the protesting minority - just seeing different pockets. The first verse is about somebody needing a drink or two to get out on the dancefloor. And that’s a different kind of wanting to say something, but how each thing interacts with the other. I’m trying to validate everybody through the song, while asking if we can laugh at ourselves in this. But then the end is pretty serious, too. I think maybe I’m just processing all this through a song, because it’s overwhelming for me and the Facebook algorithms. Things like that can squash when you do have something to say.
N/I - There have been all sorts of news stories of Facebook selling extended algorithmic access to these giant corporations in order to make money and see what preferences are, in turn seeing an Apple ad ten times more than you might see something about Reuben Bidez. I would imagine that probably further exacerbates that whole issue. I figure with the Internet being as wide scope as it is, and in theory thinking what you have to say will reach somebody, but because of the algorithm, it won’t, because it’s not peak hours. It’s warped, but it can further warp someone’s perspective on the platform.
Reuben - I don’t trust it. At all. I manipulate it. That’s been the best way in reaching people. There’s nothing more frustrating than someone asking if I’ve played any shows and I say “Yeah! I played last night.” and they say “Oh my god, I didn’t know!” and ask “How did you not know?” “I never saw your post!” “Well it’s up there.” And it’s like, that was somebody who did care about the show, and they didn’t see it, so is the algorithm actually working? Was my post “engaging enough.” There’s all this crap about “You need to use photos with your posts!” and it’s like “Okay, I’ll dance monkey for you.” But I started manipulating things on Facebook for a while, posting really inflammatory statements and vague things that got people to go “Oh my god! What happened?” I did one where I said something like “Oh my god, The Basement flooded!” and somebody goes “Basement East? Or Old Basement? What happened?” [laughs], and then I’ll respond “Flooded with sound this Friday night!” and because I did these stupid things, people liked it and commented on it, before you know it, there’s weight behind it and the algorithm likes it all of a sudden. It was kind of like “I hate myself for this,” because I don’t want to be inflammatory, because I know the media, our President, everybody uses flaming words to get attention. Eventually, we’re going to be completely desensitized to that overly….
N/I - Sensationalized language.
Reuben - Right. I try not to sensationalize too much. I’ve done my best to literally remove the improper use of “literally” from my vocabulary [laughs]. Because I noticed it was a sensational word, and it’s just a point of emphasis when we’re misusing or improperly using our language to have validation. If you’re searching for validation in my statements, you’re not really listening, but if I “literally” tell you this, you suddenly perk up.
N/I - Tone has a lot more weight than ever before, I think. So are there any thrulines? If the perspective on the platform is what you’re presenting on “Something to Say,” is there some other commonality throughout the other five songs, or the EP as a whole?
Reuben - I would say there’s definitely a more cultural perspective throughout this record, whereas I felt I usually just gravitate more toward relationship, romantic songs of the past, or even just tumultuous interpersonal songs. This is more macro, I felt. Songs like “Don’t Let Me Die,” even “American Dream,” those are both perspectives on what fuels “us.” “Don’t Let Me Die” is about pushing things too far and hitting your breaking point, while “American Dream” is a song that was written from a personal standpoint. It’s thoughts of jealousy and never having enough - to use a biblical term, “coveting” - and how we’ve become so divided. There’s the duet I did with Molly Parden - “What You Really Wanted” - it is an interpersonal song, but it’s also kind of bigger in concept, and one that I was dealing with on a more personal level, of how we, in searching for validation, will alter ourselves to fit what we think the other person wants, or what this group wants, or what the Internet wants, or what the algorithm wants [laughs]. Even that - with Instagram - I don’t know if everyone notices it, or maybe they do. Maybe I’m not as observant as I think I am, but if you post a photo of a beautiful landscape, or a sunset, or anything, you’ll get a few likes from your closest friends and followers, but if you pop off a selfie sitting in your care, it will explode, and everyone likes your face. What does that say to the human psyche in that things that you might like or think is important aren’t important to others? Your face and how you look, that is important. And if we already have narcissistic tendencies in our culture, that is just throwing gasoline on the fire. So that has been really frustrating for me, using social media for fun and for my music, I kind of have to grotesquely post myself all the time. Self, self, self, to get attention. To get affirmation. Or at least to get the word out. So “What You Really Wanted” was one of those ones that I was dealing with it. I was processing how much have I altered myself for other people? I do offer a resolve in that song, in coming to terms with not being that for someone else. I just have to be myself. So there’s definitely a thruline, I think I’m writing more metaphorically than I have in the past. It is about me, but it’s also not about me. It’s also about everybody.
N/I - There’s empathy to it. From the listener’s perspective, there’s probably plenty of opportunity for empathetic interpretation.
Reuben - Absolutely. It’s funny, when I write songs, even if I’m not intending to write about something I’m going through, I’ll get to the end and be like “Dang it! This is about me. I’ve done it again, I’ve written myself into this story.” Even a song like “Bad Name,” I wrote it about observing a certain type of person in Nashville - the one that’s just like “Where’d they get all this money? How are they partying again?” and I was getting frustrated because this person can do whatever they want. The refrain of it all is basically if you get a bad name in this town, you can’t get rid of it. But at the end of the song, I’m like “Crap! This song is about me!” I was thinking about somebody else, but somebody once said “the things you hate about other people are the things you hate about yourself.” So “Bad Name” is really probably written about myself, even though I wasn’t focused on myself when I wrote.
N/I - Well there are universal truths about things people dislike. Part of the reason why you dislike them is because you’ve sort of been conditioned, either consciously or unconsciously, to dislike it and then you realize that maybe the dislike is because I know I do the same thing…
Reuben - Or I dislike that about myself. Or why I like somebody - you see aspects of yourself in them, and that’s why you like them.
N/I - Which I think is natural. That’s just part of the human experience.
Reuben - Familiarity and all that. So that’s kind of my best thoughts on the theme throughout the record, and then the overarching micro of it all is about finding my voice in this record, and that I have something to say. I’ve always been very subdued when it comes to my political views, or my cultural views, and I think that was just because I was taught to be polite. Growing up, you knew not to talk about that stuff. I was starting to get really frustrated, and even occasionally angered, because everyone else was getting fired up….
N/I - And spouting off.
Reuben - Spouting off and I’m just like “God, this is a lot.” So I kind of kept my silence, and continued to keep processing while everyone else kind of shot from the hip. I think that’s the frustration and the beauty of songwriting, versus someone that writes a blog or an article or posts something on Instagram, where they can give you their “hot take.”
N/I - That’s the expectation of those realms, or those worlds - it’s more immediacy, whereas songwriting, it’s understood that it takes some introspection, it takes some time.
Reuben - You have to fit a lot of pieces together. And not to say I couldn’t write a song today, record it, and have it on the Internet tomorrow - I could do that. But that’s just not the nature of our platform. Our art. And also, I would say that for myself, I don’t want to write something that is only appropriate for a week, a month, or a year. I want something that can stand the test of time. You try to write about the human condition, as opposed to this individual moment.