Storyteller Sunday #3: Level 12 Elf

Storyteller Sunday is a weekly post that details the creation of specific lyrics I’ve written over the years.

 

A highlight of building this website was creating the Fireteddy National Library. Beyond coding the html myself (which was one of my passions before going blind,) it was really interesting to go back and read different lyrics from the past. Some were definitely cringe, but revisiting them was largely rewarding. I found myself trying to figure out what they were about and did my best to place them within my own personal history. Some things were familiar while others drew a total blank.

 

Residing in the first category, Level 12 Elf stuck out from the day I wrote it. Around the time the Matthew Good Bandwere recording The Audio Of Being (links open in new tabs) in 2001, their bassist Rich Priske (R.IP.) had a section on the band’s website called Notes From The Road. In one entry, he listed a bunch of working titles for different songs, which I now realize were probably fake. Still, they included gems like Assholedom,Blunder Bus and… Level 12 Elf.

 

Enjoying the last title in particular, I filed it away mentally until a few years later. When writing lyrics for Sorry For The Mess in 2003/2004, it popped back up in my head and inspired something fresh.

 

Although I liked what came out of it, the lyrics didn’t fit the grouping. In addition, there was just something off about the final product that I couldn’t put my finger on. I’d revisit it over the years and make minor changes, the most notable before now being in 2017. At the time, I’d been so dissatisfied with Sorry For The Mess that I picked up a lot of unused material from those writing sessions. My goal was to repurpose them into a new 2017 version. Although it got finished, the revamped lyrics were never released. Without a website to showcase them, it ultimately felt pointless to me.

 

Anyway, it wasn’t until building the library that I approached Level 12 Elf with a new perspective. Scrambling to plug some last minute holes on Between The Night And Day, I began thinking of old material I could rework for the grouping. Having lyrics that dealt so much with my past, I thought it would be interesting to resurrect something that was discarded a long time ago. Luckily, my gamble paid off.

 

Conceived about 18-years prior, the meaning behind these lyrics changed a lot. This is probably most apparent in how minor the differences are between the first three versions when compared to the final one below. If I recall correctly, Level 12 Elf was written about a year after I’d been dumped by my first girlfriend. Her and a former friend of mine started fooling around almost immediately afterwards and now we were all attending a party at some mutual friends’ house. It was just extremely weird since we had just gotten together not long before the same party (in the same place) on New Year’s Eve the year before. (They eventually got married and had kids though, so hooray for that I guess?)

 

When it comes to the final version, I changed it for two main reasons. Firstly, some of the stuff in the original didn’t mean anything. Leaving my lyrics more open to interpretation, I’d sometimes fill in the blanks with shit I thought sounded cool at the time. This meant that while some real meaning existed, a lot of lines were BS. (The “throw it back to head the state” and “If red is out and blue’s in > Then I’ll be waiting by the shore” sections come to mind.)

 

My second reason for the changes is a bit more obvious. being with my significant other for over 16 years now (eight of those being in holy matrimony,) I’m kind of over the whole first ex-girlfriend thing. Instead, the new version of these lyrics is more connected to the pandemic and social anxiety it’s given me. Being isolated for so long, there’s a real part of my psyche that worries about venturing out into larger gatherings now, even with friends I’ve known for a long time. It’s like I have to rewire my head to work that way again. You just get comfortable within yourself after awhile and it gets hard to force your way out of it.

 

Considering what the original was about, veering into this new direction just made sense. I also looked up elves in Dungeons & Dragons when attempting things this time (I’ve never played in my life but wanted to look like I knew something.) I came across a page that said most elves are considered chaotic good. Then I found a google snippet that said: “A chaotic good character acts as his conscience directs him with little regard for what others expect of him. He makes his own way, but he’s kind and benevolent. He believes in goodness and right but has little use for laws and regulations. He hates it when people try to intimidate others and tell them what to do.”

 

In the end, I’d like to think that there’s a little bit of chaotic good in all of us.

 

Lyrics Content

 

01. Level 12 Elf (original version)

02. Level 12 Elf (2nd version)

03. Level 12 Elf (2017 version)

04. Level 12 Elf (final version)

 

Level 12 Elf (original version)

 

Maybe since the last time

I’ve come to learn some spells

I think I’ve crossed a fine line

But still it’s hard to tell

Is it worth it now to mention?

Throw it back to head the state

Approved for my dissection

To torture and deflate

 

Looks like it’s December again

She’s been asking where I’ve been

Within these months to find some help

I’m just an elf at level twelve

 

Bring it for the last chance

For the last one I could know

I could sink inside a deep trance

Or Maybe let it go

So hasn’t it been proven?

That we’ve been here once before

If red is out and blue’s in

Then I’ll be waiting by the shore

 

Looks like it’s December again

She’s been asking where I’ve been

Within these months to find some help

I’m just an elf at level twelve

 

In the light

Of the new year’s night

A star to burn

So you can still discern

If what I do is wrong or right

 

Looks like it’s December again

She’s been asking where I’ve been

Within these months to find some help

I’m just an elf at level twelve

I’m just an elf at level twelve

 

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Level 12 Elf (2nd version)

 

Maybe since the last time

I’ve come to learn some spells

I think I’ve crossed a fine line

But still it’s hard to tell

Is it worth it now to mention?

Throw it back to head the state

Approved for my dissection

To torture and deflate

 

Looks like it’s December again

She’s been asking where I’ve been

Within these months to find some help

I’m just an elf at level twelve

 

Bring it for the last chance

For the last one I could know

I could sink inside a deep trance

Maybe then I’d let it go

So hasn’t it been proven?

That we’ve fought here once before

If red is out and blue’s in

Then I’ll be waiting by the shore

 

Looks like it’s December again

She’s been asking where I’ve been

Within these months to find some help

I’m just an elf at level twelve

 

In the light

Of the new year’s night

A star to burn

So you can still discern

If what I do is wrong or right

 

Looks like it’s December again

She’s been asking where I’ve been

Within these months to find some help

I’m just an elf at level twelve

I’m just an elf at level twelve

 

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Level 12 Elf (2017 version)

 

Maybe since the last time

I’ve come to learn some spells

I think I’ve crossed a fine line

But still it’s hard to tell

Is it worth it now to mention?

Throw it back to head the state

Approved for my dissection

To torture and deflate

 

Looks like it’s December again

She’s been asking where I’ve been

Within these months to find some help

I’m just an elf at level twelve

 

Bring it for the last chance

For the last one you could know

As I slip inside a deep trance

Trying hard to let it go

So hasn’t it been proven?

That we’ve been here once before

If red is out and blue’s in

I’ll be waiting by the shore

 

Looks like it’s December again

She’s been asking where I’ve been

Within these months to find some help

I’m just an elf at level twelve

 

From such wavering light

On this new year’s night

A star to burn

So you can still discern

If what I do is wrong or right

 

Looks like it’s December again

She’s been asking where I’ve been

Within these months to find some help

I’m just an elf at level twelve

I’m just an elf at level twelve

 

I’m just an elf at level twelve

I’m just an elf at level twelve

 

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Level 12 Elf (final version)

 

Maybe in this last year

I’ve come to learn some spells

I think I’ve crossed a fine line

But still it’s hard to tell

Straining now to mention

I’m lost for what to say

Reborn in my depression

I don’t care much these days

 

Looks like it’s December again

She’s been asking where I’ve been

Within these months to find some help

I’m now an elf at level twelve

 

Smitten by our past fears

We’ve tried to face them down

In turn to find some reason

While spread out on the ground

Pressed against the window

Repulsed by what’s outside

A victim of my conscience

With no place left to hide

 

Looks like it’s December again

She’s been asking where I’ve been

Within these months to find some help

I’m now an elf at level twelve

 

In this light

Of each new year’s night

A star will burn

So you can then discern

If what I do is wrong or right

 

Looks like it’s December again

She’s been asking where I’ve been

Within these months to find some help

I’m now an elf at level twelve

 

But I’ve been searching for myself

I’ve been searching for myself

 

I’ve been searching for myself

I’m always searching for myself

 

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