music Philosophy

mind/no mind

Have you ever heard a song that encapsulates basic tenets of Buddhist beliefs? No, neither have I, but I might have created one and I quite like it.

It all started when I stumbled across Ty Segall’s Imaginary Person.



It’s a lovely little bit of psychedelic/garage pop, you’d be forgiven if you thought it came out in 1968. I think it was actually made in 2002. I think it is about someone trying to convince themselves that they aren’t crazy. The chorus could either be “You are an imaginary person, you’re in my head but I am certain you aren’t real,” or “You are real…” Because of the charming low-fi quality, it’s impossible to tell.

Well, I was humming it to myself the other day and I mistakenly sang the lyric, “I am an imaginary person…” I thought that was pretty funny, but the more I thought about it, the more it reminded me of zen. Zen practitioners have the unenviable task of looking past themselves, of realizing that what they think of as self is an illusion. The self can’t be your thoughts and memories, otherwise where do you go when you sleep? Naturally, this leads to some real cognitive dissonance and confusion. Apparently that’s par for the course and is the basis of serious zen. So with apologies to Ty Segall, here is the first zen psychedelic/garage pop song. I’ve modified the lyrics a bit, but imagine them in the regular music and see what you think…



say say, i can’t say what I’m tryin’ to do to me oh no oh no oh yea

cuz I’m in my head so i never go to bed oh no oh nooh no

talk talk, it’s all I do so i never talk to you oh no oh nooh yea

cuz I’m in my head so i never go to bed oh no oh no

cuz I, I am an imaginary person

I’m in my head, but i am certain I’m not real

I am an imaginary person

I’m in my head, but i am certain I’m not real

yea, I’m not real

I’m not real I am real I’m not real


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