Cognitive Surplus

Have you ever had a thought, or a series of musings, that would not leave you alone? Has your mind ever subjected you to a seemingly endless working of some question, challenge or problem? Did it persist throughout the day and into the night? Have you tossed and turned in your bed as your semi-conscious brain struggled to find a solution? Has a dream or semi-lucid state presented you with an answer that, by morning fall, had been reduced to a haze of incoherent images or ideas?

Yes? Me too!

I’m so damn tired I’ve been thinking when I should be sleeping. I’m so damn tired got to change up these hours I’ve been keeping…

… Cognitive Surplus

Trey Anastasio of the band Phish described a similar experience in ‘Sleep,’ a short track from their 8th studio album ‘Farmhouse.’ The lyric begins:

I can’t describe the feeling when
I’m in my bed asleep and then
I wake up with a vision blurred
and all my efforts are deterred
to reconstruct this image lost

On one (of many) such occasions, after a long night of semi-conscious problem solving, I awoke with only a vague memory of some brilliant (it must have been right?) solution. ?Rather than simply accepting the futility of this ‘mental pollution’ that had invaded my sleep I decided to fight back. I chose to make something out of nothing. I rolled out of bed, walked straight to our music room, grabbed my guitar and, within an hour or so (‘or so’ because I kind of lost track of time) wrote ‘Cognitive’ Surplus.’ This was only the second song that I had penned at the time. It attempts to capture this ‘vexation,’ shared by so many, in creative expression rather than just merely resigning to it.

“A helpful reprieve, this mental vacation until my next vexation”

In grappling with the lyric, I was intrigued by a phrase coined by my good friend Ron Pike. In one of our many (and dearly appreciated) conversations, Ron spoke about “confronting the saboteur on your shoulder.”  In a discussion about the pursuit of achievement he was referring, I believe, to the need to fight the debilitating effects of self-doubt.   As I considered Ron’s idea of negativity as a  ‘voice on my shoulder’  it occurred that there is another voice within as well… With this powerful notion in mind, and I thank Ron for his role in sparking this thought, I completed my lyrical bridge.

I like this song as it takes a fun and not so serious look at a shared human experience. I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed writing and recording!



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