Original music and videos
banner for Jonathan Ochshorn's music page


I Wish I Were a Bee

Listen on Soundcloud | Watch on YouTube page

I wrote the chorus to this song in high school (I think), and just completed the verses and bridge—50 years later.

For those interested, the Sartre references are based on a cursory reading of Being and Nothingness (no, not the book; just the Wikipedia entry):

"From Sartre's phenomenological point of view, nothingness is an experienced reality and cannot be a merely subjective mistake. The absence of a friend and absence of money hint at a being of nothingness. It is part of reality. In the first chapter, Sartre develops a theory of nothingness which is central to the whole book, especially to his account for bad faith and freedom.For him, nothingness is not just a mental concept that sums up negative judgements such as "Pierre is not here" and "I have no money". Though "it is evident that non-being always appears within the limits of a human expectation", the concrete nothingness differs from mere abstract inexistence, such as the square circle. A concrete nothingness, e.g. not being able to see, is part of a totality: the life of the blind man in this world. This totality is modified by the nothingness which is part of it."

The idea that "man is not the sum of what he has already, but rather the sum of what he does not yet have, of what he could have" is from Sartre's "Temporalité," in Situations (1947, 1949).

And the Kanye reference in the bridge is based on Mr. West's similar claim that "everything I'm not, made me everything I am."

The recording is entirely live, with just vocal, guitar, and harmonica.

I Wish I Were a Bee
Words and music © 2020 Jonathan Ochshorn

Verse 1
I hate all questions that presume some cultural identity
Defining who you are in terms of arbitrary norms
Some people are so obsessed with such a dubious ontology
That they become what they dress up as in their uniforms

I wish I were a bee
I wish I were a bee
No one would ever ask me
What I wanted to be.

Verse 2
My friend Jean-Paul's apartment is somewhere on the second floor
I think perhaps apartment "B," so down the hall I wander
I'm about to ring the bell but doubt sets in as I approach the door
"2-B or not 2-B" is the question that I ponder

[Instrumental Chorus]

Kanye says everything you're not makes you everything you are
Jean-Paul agrees that it isn't the sum of what you have thus far
But rather the sum of what you don't have or could have that really should prevail
Even if, in principle, all human actions are doomed to fail

Verse 3
I meet Jean-Paul at a café to talk about reality
His friend Pierre is still not there so we order bread and honey
He says that a concrete nothingness is part of a totality
As he leaves me staring at the bill while I run out of money


Some notes on the video:
The video is just what it appears to be: a live recording using my iPod Touch mounted on a tripod, while I simultaneously had Logic X running on my iMac. I imported the mov. file and Logic Pro X wav. file into Final Cut Pro.

Production notes:
Music arranged and produced by J. Ochshorn
Recorded with Logic Pro X software
Vocals: J. Ochshorn
Real instruments: J. Ochshorn (acoustic guitar and harmonica)
Recorded at home in Ithaca, NY, January 2020.