Egypt Speaks – Wanderer
“What was that for?” a somewhat precocious Egypt Ali asks on the opening track on her full length Wanderer. “For you to listen to later” replies a voice on the other end of the recorder. The date is October 1, 2014.
“I like people.” It’s Egypt’s simple answer to why she does what she does. The question was proposed to her on that October day in 2014. This album is a journey through her mind. Throughout every word of raw honesty whether expressed in angst or humor, that truth is evident. Egypt deeply and passionately cares about and enjoys people.
If you’re like me, you might think of a spoken word album in the same way you might think of Levi the Poet. Passionate and yelling every word, with sharp inhales after every breathless phrase. Egypt shows it’s not always like that. Listening to this album feels like hanging out with a friend by a campfire sipping your drink of choice. Careful steps are taken to create ambience in each song, adding sound effects to create the illusion of being in the setting established.
There’s a lot to unpack, so I wrote down some lines that stood out to me through out the album, with some reflections of mine:
“It keeps ticking.” Ain’t that the truth about life’s clock! Some things are cliche for a reason.
“Even though it’s high strung, that guitar can still sing and bring people back together.” I like puns but I also like double meanings that aren’t meant to be groan-inducing jokes as well. This line is definitely the latter.
“I’d rather you believe I own a rabid cat than know that all of these cuts on my arm are intentional.” Here, I like how Egypt uses humor to articulate a raw dose of honesty.
“I’m not allowed to hate you until I’ve met you. But there’s one problem…” I wish the world worked this way all the time, but I too have fallen into the trap of letting first impressions forever impact my perception of people.
“The problem isn’t that I hate you—it’s that you look nothing like my Father.” There’s tension between expecting folks to behave like the One they claim to serve and accepting that all are born into the flawed human condition that we are.
“It’s not a test, it’s just… honest.” Expressing yourself in a vulnerable way can sometimes come across like you’re trying to play or manipulate someone. But often it should be taken at face value.
“I couldn’t see over the table top until I was older, but the forts I made under were legendary.” We lack the bigger picture without more experience, but that doesn’t mean we should discount what we did along the way. Everything is beautiful and useful in it’s own way.
“At some point, you’ll have to go back to the basement.” Even now, at the ripe old age (heh) of 30, I sometimes scamper up the basement steps to get away from the imaginary monster at the bottom.
“It’s hard to believe that any of it exists, but I have seen it in the maps.” There is evidence of what we hope for in the most unlikely of places sometimes. Sometimes even right under our nose.
“I have never been to Montana, but I know I’d like to go, and that is something worth hoping for.” I like how Egypt uses a large, mostly desolate state to illustrate hope. It’s a little contrarian.
“Love is a wonderful feeling but a terrible idea.” This is humorous and true. Why indulge something that hurts us so easily? That forces us to be vulnerable? Spoiler alert: it’s worth it, and the ultimate love will win out in the end.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about the end of the world.” I’ve always been fascinated by this subject. There are many reasons people are motivated to explore this. Escapism. Biblical exegesis. Literary fascination. Morbid curiosity. All have applied to me at some point.
“Why are you doing this?” “I still like people.” I’m glad, Egypt. I hope you keep going for another 5 years and then some!