Young and Old

Short and sweet (or bittersweet?) this week – an old poem by Charles Kingsley that lent itself very well to a folk song vibe.

When all the world is young, lad,
And all the trees are green;
And every goose a swan, lad,
And every lass a queen;
Then hey for boot and horse, lad,
And round the world away;
Young blood must have its course, lad,
And every dog his day.

When all the world is old, lad,
And all the trees are brown;
And all the sport is stale, lad,
And all the wheels run down;
Creep home, and take your place there,
The spent and maimed among:
God grant you find one face there,
You loved when all was young.

Perennial

Here’s a fun song I started last week. Nice to just finish it up and get it posted early this week because it’s a big busy week in my family’s life. Firstborn graduating from high school! And a party shall ensue! And I shall plan and produce it! (with appropriate help of course).

It’s an extra bit fun to post this on the first day of Pride Month because I wrote it to be gender/orientation-inclusive. Love is love!

Feels so good to want you when I know I’m gonna get you
All to myself
It hardly seems believable that someone like you lets me have you
All to myself

Don’t you know you’re truly beautiful
Shining brightly in my eyes
Darling aren’t we just enough of a
Good thing that keeps coming back

There’s things I’m gonna whisper when you bring your fine self closer
Aw, to myself
I’ve got some sweet ideas and I didn’t want to keep them
All to myself

Don’t you know you’re truly beautiful
Shining brightly in my eyes
Darling aren’t we just enough of a
Good thing that keeps coming back

I like the way you like the way I hold you when you hold me
Close to yourself

So if you’re going my way then I’ll keep on going your way
All by myself
Except you’re welcome here beside me anytime and always
Here, by my self

Don’t you know you’re truly beautiful
Shining brightly in my eyes
Darling aren’t we just enough of a
Good thing that keeps coming back

Hold On Let Go

Last week, after the mass shooting in Buffalo and before the one in Uvalde, my (Lutheran) church confirmed three teenagers including my daughter. A foundational part of Lutheran theology, our pastor said that day, is that we are all “simultaneously saint and sinner.” At the end of the liturgy, we stood and responded together:

Do you renounce the devil and all forces that defy God? We renounce them.
Do you renounce the powers of this world that rebel against God? We renounce them.
Do you renounce the ways of sin that draw you from God? We renounce them.

Our pastor reminded us of these words again after Uvalde. I had a different song started this week but in the dreadful light of these events and with this faith to guide me, this is the one I needed to write.

When you can’t pretend that all is well
but you can’t believe that it’s all wrong
Hold on
Hold on

When you can’t believe humanity
But you can’t pretend you’re innocent
Let go
Let go

We renounce the evil in the heart of us
We believe the healing comes from all of us
Hold on
Let go

When we have no words for what we’ve done
But we understand intimately
Let go
Let go

When we feel the night is all there is
But we know the dawn always comes
Hold on
Hold on

We renounce the evil in the heart of us
We believe the healing comes from all of us
Hold on
Let go

In Good Time

Some good time is what you need to listen to this song because it’s a bit long (just over five and a half minutes, that is not pop music hit material!). And like many weeks, I wish I had more time to add some more instrumentation, especially for this song, because I think it would have made it more interesting listening.

Instead I turned to Rockwell Kent for some beautiful artwork to linger with as the song plays.

Not much I have to say about the writing process for this one, except maybe that I did enjoy the process as it unfolded, yup, in good time. I started early in the week with the musical idea, got a few lyrics going, but couldn’t get much traction in that first session. Let it brew in the back of my mind for a day, did some more writing, took a walk, added a bit, started a different song out of frustration, came back to this one, and eventually ended up with something I feel good about.

Emily Dickinson wrote “there’s a certain slant of light,” which I first heard in a Vigilantes of Love song called “Certain Slant of Light” (from which one of my favorite song lyrics of all time comes – “Tell me your deep, dark secret / Hey, and I will tell you mine / Oh, is that your deep, dark secret? / Oh well, never mind”).

So I owe part of this song to Emily Dickinson and Bill Mallonee. And part to all the birds who’ve been waking me at 4:30 in the morning with their sweet songs. And many more parts to many more lives. Everything’s connected.

Oh the truth we trade for money
Oh the lies we speak for love
Oh the happiness remembered
When the birds come back
There’s a lot to tell our children
and it costs us all we are
Oh we stutter and we stumble
We expand and crack

In good time, in good time
It comes out right somehow
In good time, in good time
It all comes true in the end
In good time

There’s a comfort comes in darkness
There’s a certain slant of light
There’s a patient tender sadness
That can bear no name
And you hold it like a baby
And you breathe it like a prayer
And you keep it like a practice
That transforms your pain

In good time . . .

You’ll know what you know
You’ll see what you see

In good time . . .

When I Was Generous

That’s the title of this song because that was the line it was built around. I liked the inner rhyme of it, which I used as a form factor for the three lyrically different choruses.

I’ve been chipping away at writing this one for several weeks, and this week, Week 17 of #songaweek2022, the prompt of “couldn’t if I tried” actually helped me to finish the song.

Must give credit to H.G. Wells for the last verse. I’m pretty sure I’ve quoted this same passage of his novel Mr. Britling Sees It Through previously in this blog, and I know I included similar lines in another song I wrote. It’s just good! And feels especially timely right now. Wells was writing about World War I (“the war to end all wars”), and here we are a century later hearing “World War Three” tossed around on the news.

“War is a curtain of dense black fabric across all the hopes and kindliness of mankind. Yet always it has let through some gleams of light, and now—I am not dreaming—it grows threadbare, and here and there and at a thousand points the light is breaking through. . . “

H.G. Wells, Mr. Britling Sees It Through

The whole world’s gone mad like it always was
Like it means to be forever
It’s the way we roll
Through the cosmic night
Oh we spin and we spin all day

When I was generous
I could believe we could help each other out of disgrace
Since I got cynical
I can’t even see your hand in front of my face

Let’s lay off the news for a little while
I don’t need to know the latest
Leave me in the dark
Underneath this rock
Let me just catch my breath today

When I was envious
I couldn’t see all the beauty right in front of my eyes
Now that I’m out of time
I find I believe we all can shine in the same sky

Come stand with me under the canopy
Of a thousand points of light
Breaking through the dark
Of the threadbare night
Till it’s bright with the newborn day

It wouldn’t be good for me
And I couldn’t if I tried to keep my life all to myself
So spill it out willingly
Flowers will grow up from the dirt where it fell