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Spirit Tramp - Swamp Dragon

My bud in Gainsville, Florida JT Bringardner writes me with some personal details about each of the songs on his new Illuminati EP: 

Dearest Mark,

1. “Babies’ Momma” - Let’s talk about relationships. How long have you been with your sweetheart? Your “Babies’ Momma” if you will (and I will). It took me 5 years to realize that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Ciara. We got married last September on Labor Day Weekend. It was the best weekend of my life. A few days before the wedding my friends show up at our house at 8AM- I am totally passed out and happen to wake up just in time to see 5 of my best friends huddle around my bed, throw a pillow case over my head and lift me out of my bed and drag me downstairs to the parking lot of our apartment in Gainesville, FL where a car is waiting for us blaring out Dave Matthews’ “Ants Marching” at unprecedented decibels. I couldn’t stop laughing until we were 10 miles out of Gainesville on the way to St. Augustine to what was going to be my bachelor party.

2.  ”Honey Somethings” - You ever get in bad fights? Fights where you sit back after your voice is sore and think “How did things escalate so fast?” That was Philly for us. I don’t know why but we fought so much while we were in Philly. Way more than we ever did in FL. I’m sure it had a lot to do with the fact that I’m so bad at finances. I hear that most couples fight more over money than they do anything else. Philly taught us that being with the one you love isn’t about not fighting it’s about learning how to fight fair.

3.  ”Illuminati” - You’ll probably think I’m soft headed and a sap - but I really believe in the Illuminati. It’s pretty much the only way I can make sense of the clusterfuck that is this American Life. When corporate well being outweighs the well being of tax-paying citizens; when you can’t trust the news, the government, or the police that are supposed to protect us;  when the masses are so distracted by the illusion of entertainment that they’d rather get wrapped up in American Idol, Jersey Shore, America’s Next Top Desperate Housewife, and the Aurora Killer than confront the neglect and needs in their own community; when the average citizen feels so disillusioned and powerless to do anything is it really that far of a stretch to think that there’s some secret society forcing our civilization rapidly to the brink of discord? I don’t think so, dude.

4. “The Ruined Verse” - Having kids doesn’t scare the shit out of you? It scares the shit out of me. I deeply look forward to being a dad. I love kids. I’ve always had a super solid connection to them and for whatever reason kids always seem to open up to me and feel comfortable around me. I feel like my best years are ahead of me- as a father. I think about my own father, the love I have for him, and the truly special relationship we have now; I wonder if it will be like this for me and my kid(s) one day. I think of what I’ll need to give up too. The ability to be truly free and not have to be tied down to a specific place and structure. I’m scared of not being able to accomplish what I intended to by then. How will I know? What if I’m not ready? What if I never feel ready? Did you feel ready? I know you weren’t even if you felt it- but did you feel it?

5. “Swamp Dragon” - I think back to a specific day in Gainesville. I rode my bike with Benji, Neal, and Amanda out to the Alachua trail. To the swamp. Where the last living dinosaurs roam the earth. The Swamp Dragons- the mighty Alligators. They’re so majestic.  They lie around in the shallow waters in the summer; basking. They haven’t changed for millions of year. Except that most of them have gotten smaller and have learned to content themselves with a lot less. Are we doomed to the same fate? I can’t help but want more for those who have to walk this earth after we’re gone… but who’s to say we’ll last that long. These are the end times we’re living in, brother. And even though we’ve never met, I’m glad to have known you.

Big Love, I’m


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    It does sound a lot like a magical story, doesn’t it? All fairy-tales in the cricket-filled forests of some kid’s...
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