Incrementalists song lyrics–not by me

So, yeah, the following just showed up in my inbox–a set of lyrics by songwriter Mark Simos based on The Incrementalists by Skyler White and me. I am, let us say, geeked.


The Incrementalist

By Mark Simos

I was never good at good
I always believed in better
I somehow understood
The spirit lives in the letter
If there are devils in the details
There are angels dancing too
There in the tiny circle
Of the work that is given us to do

Oh I dread each morning’s news
Of our latest stupid cock-up
Sometimes this unholy world
Seems but a prototype or mockup
Yet the deepest of my blues
In their bitter azure measure
Hold some seed of mercy furled
Never rendered unto Caesar

Grand solutions I suspect
I’m a cautious incrementalist
Reciter of Confucian analect
And if I could just invent a list
Of all the tragic endings I would change
Pursuing sources and not side-effects
You know, it’s funny—funny strange—
But I’m not quite sure what I’d do next

And so I take things day by day
Asking only—is it better thus?
And thereby I avoid the ricochet
Of hope’s more ambitious blunderbuss
For it’s when we reach too far
And let the drama get the best of us
That we lose where and who we are
Still the stars have not yet seen the last of us

©2014 Mark Simos/Devachan Music (BMI)

Mark is a professor in the Songwriting department at Berklee College of Music, and a songwriter who’s had more than a hundred cuts with artists including Alison Krauss and Union Station, the Del McCoury Band, Ricky Skaggs, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, the Infamous Stringdusters, and Australian rocker Jimmy Barnes among others. He’s also an avid reader of SF, with a particular interest in time travel.

This song lyric was inspired by a “song seed” he found in the book: “I’ve never been good at good…” He writes: “One thing I loved in The Incrementalists was the notion that a secret society of semi-immortals might do their work with small, minor tweaks rather than big interventions. I tried to capture a bit of that spirit and outlook in the lyric.” Mark details the techniques of song seed catching in his new book with Berklee Press/Hal Leonard, Songwriting Strategies: A 360º Approach.

You can follow Mark’s musings on songwriting at his blog:

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9 thoughts on “Incrementalists song lyrics–not by me”

  1. Due to the absence of an ebook, I ended up reading the hardback which brought a new challenge to my life; how do you read a hardback when you are jumping up and down on a miniature trampoline?

    The answer is ‘with difficulty’. However, I shall also be buying the next book in hardback; after all, if you find the writing gripping enough to survive the miniature trampoline then it’s going to work a lot better without it…

  2. Neat! Of course it’s especially apropros for Incrementalists, but really it could work for anyone.

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