This is referring to Emily Dickinson's (one of my favorite poets) poem known as "Essential Oils Are Wrung". First Whitman's "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking", now Dickinson. Literary Lindsey! As an English teacher, I like this! Now, let's do some poetry explication.
"Essential oils are wrung" - Things we deem necessary to life, our life's blood in effect, "wrung" out through suffering, trial and tribulation. The "attar" is the essence - after these these trials, we come down to the "essence" of something. The essence of a rose is precious. The essence of the soul of man is likewise very precious. However, the essence cannot be reached without struggling. "Is not expressed by suns alone" - the natural course of nature is not enough to bring out the true core of something. That's the "gift of screws." Being twisted like a screw, wrung out....suffering...gives a person the gift of discovering the true essence of his/her soul, purified by trials of fire.
So, that's my interpretation of the poem. Now I'll apply it to Lindsey! I think he's referring to the struggles of his life enriching his music and bringing out his true essence. Whether it's Rumours and the suffering of Stevie's breakup, Go Insane and the suffering with Carol, the suffering of FM's nasty breakup to convince him to leave and find himself with Out of the Cradle...all good things borne of tribulation.
However, poems being as they are (just like lyrics) there's a thousand ways to go. Another possible interpretation I see is a more cynical one. In order to "smell sweet" in the music industry (like an essence of a rose) he has to tie himself into knots..."authority makes us bleed." It's not enough for him to just be himself, his true "nature". The finished product of all this twisting, "sweet-smelling" commercalization is considered a "gift" because he's considered more marketable but in reality, he's been diminished. Some gift! Now, I prefer the more uplifting interpretation myself, but this one did occur to me as well, so I thought I'd mention it. Anybody else got any ideas?
I think we've all heard the title wrong all this time. Really it's "The Gift of Screwing." It's kind of like "The Joy of Sex"~very instructional.
I agree that this poem is about how suffering brings things out in a person, essential things that make him/her what he/she is.
The second stanza shows the journey of this essential piece of a person through a tumultuous lifetime. "The general rose decays" the rose itself dies (youth ends, or maybe an entire life ends), but the fragrance of the rose remains long after the rose has died. And this essential fragrance withstands the competition of other fragrances that strive to disturb it ("the lady lies in ceaseless rosemary").
The pieces that Lindsey adds to the poem shape it out because they make the poem more personal by adding the stages of his life to it (or what he sees as the stages of his growth as a person). At first he had no idea about life and without guidance (or maybe even inspite of guidance) he just kept stumbling and falling ("everybody needs authority makes us bleed, bleed, bleed"). Then he became stubborn and didn't want other people telling him how to make his music or live his life as the world and the people in it continued to disappoint him ("everybody frowns authority, it keeps us down, down, down"). Then the last section he adds shows that we never really escape the life we live "down here" and that the best we can do is try to keep moving and try to keep lifting ourselves out. But such thinking is not as pessimistic when put against Emily Dickenson's look of life that reaches beyond one lifetime, and gives hope that no matter what mistakes you make the best of what you were goes on and stays with you through all the bad times. I think we've seen a lot of changes in Lindsey since he rejoined FM, and this is a beautiful expression of those changes.