Run Through My Fingers and Gone You See

Despite my best intentions (vaccine, booster, masking where required/requested), I passed the dreaded COVID test this week. Thanks to those best intentions, it didn’t hit me too hard. I’ve spent several days in my room reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, so I turned to a passage that moved me for my song this week.

Today I finally felt well enough to get out the guitar and massage that passage into a poetic form to which I applied a tune, which I’m calling my song for week 12 of #songaweek2022. Not enough energy to get out and use the good recording equipment or make a video, so this video is a phone recording plus a photo I snapped of that passage in my e-reader.

I’m grateful for so many things today, as I begin to feel better. A house and bed and food and tea and ibuprofen. Children who can take care of themselves and their sick parents (and the dog to boot) (and yes, despite sleeping on the couch and keeping away from me, my Nathan just passed the same test yesterday). Great literature and interesting podcasts to occupy my heart and mind while I do my five days of isolation. And music, of course music.

We’d be puzzled to be more quiet and easy than we are at present
But this water, it’s all flowing so soft and pleasant
I was thinking through my smoke just then

And it’s run through my fingers and gone you see

We can no more see to the bottom of the next few hours
Than we can see to the bottom of this river I’m catching hold of
Nor yet we can’t no more hold their tide than I can hold this

And it’s run through my fingers and gone you see

Krościenko

“Chocolate rabbit” happened to be the prompt for Week 11 of #songaweek2022. I wasn’t thinking about that when I wrote this song. I was simply captivated by this NPR article I had come across about men working to fix an 18-mile stretch of abandoned rail line in Poland near the Ukraine border, to allow for more refugees to enter Poland. It just so happened that there was chocolate in the article which made its way into my song too.

There is something so viscerally joyful and true about good hard work. That’s what I wanted to capture with this song. I wanted to set aside any search for meaning or profound thoughts or emotional expression, and just dig into the story of these men doing this job. As I reread the article with songwriting in mind, I was struck with how many of the details were numbers, so I used those numbers to help construct the lyrics.

I suggest listening to the song in my video while scrolling through the photos in the article. (Krościenko is the name of the nearest town to where this work is happening.)

Here’s a link to the article – https://www.npr.org/sections/pictureshow/2022/03/13/1086032747/russia-ukraine-poland-refugees-train-rail-tracks

Eleven men one hour forty feet
It’s good work
Eight-inch screws and twenty-six degrees
Fix the track
One point five million refugees
Have come to us

Coffee tea and cigarettes
Pastries, smiles and chocolate
Will keep us going, yeah

There’s eighteen miles of rocks we have to dig
It’s good work
Laid down in the nineteenth century
Fix the track
One point five million refugees
Was just the start

Coffee tea and cigarettes
Pastries, smiles and chocolate
Will keep us going, yeah

To get here it takes three hours driving
It’s good work
Each new tie takes two men to be carried
Fix the track
One point five million refugees
Is not the end

Don’t Go

I generated several song ideas this week and none of them would take. Then yesterday (Thursday) I sat at the piano and this one came out in one session.

There’s a lot of influences here. The most obvious – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The other things here are ruminations I’ve had from that news. Questions about when and how violence is justified. Fear about nuclear devastation. Jesus’s agony in Gethsemane the night before he was crucified. A hope and plea for renewed connections across the lines we’ve let divide us – and facing the important truth that we all have something to bring to the table, even as we are all part of the problem.

The title line, “don’t go,” is a call for us to be present for one another. There are so many ways we can check out, be distracted or busy, write people off, ignore the deep call of our own soul – and miss what really matters for much of our lives.

Who lets the madmen decide how the world turns around?
Who gives them permission to push big red buttons and blow up our home?
Now I’m sorry cause sometimes I keep to myself
The things that need speaking out loud

Couldn’t you be with me just for one last tortured night?
I need you to see me and help me believe there’s some sense in it all
Now I’m bleeding and nobody knows what to do
Oh can’t you just wait for one hour?

Don’t go
You’re the last light for someone tonight
Hold on
We are better when we come together

Who’s going to save us from what feels inevitable?
Why do we tell stories where everything comes out alright in the end?
Now I’m certain that nothing is written in stone
And you never know what’s to come

Don’t go . . .

I’ll keep on singing cause that’s what I know how to do
And I need you to be you and let your life speak what you know to be true
We’re all healers and heartbreakers in our own ways
Destroyers and makers of worlds

Don’t go . . .

Darkest Deepest Lovely Light

Ah, here is a song whose writing has brought me deep and (velvety starry-night) dark joy. Made extra special with Nathan’s impromptu joining in on harmonica and vocals (and production support on audio and film recording).

For Week 9 #songaweek2022, whose prompt was “wheels in motion.” I started the song apart from the prompt but drew on it to generate the second verse.

Here comes the sunshine
Here comes the springtime
Here I go again trying to find the words to say it all

I hear the birds sing
I see the snow flow
I taste the afternoon, swallowing it slowly as I go

Nothing ever held me like you do
Nothing feels the way I feel because of you
You’re the one who keeps me coming back to life
You’re the darkest deepest lovely light

Wheels in motion
Waves on the ocean
Blood and breath and bones making up the music as we go

Moon watching over
Winter retreating
A wondrous gift is given, how silently, how silently it comes

Nothing ever held me like you do
Nothing feels the way I feel because of you
You’re the one who keeps me coming back to life
You’re the darkest deepest lovely light

Weeks 8 and 7

Still getting in the groove of writing and recording a song each week while now working a day job every weekday. This week I started several song ideas and just couldn’t land anything I was happy with, so I turned to my list of poems I’d like to songify, and this one by Emily Dickinson fit the bill. I think it’s the third of hers I’ve set to music now.

Also, I didn’t post yet about last week’s song, so here it is below. The suggested prompt was “kaleidoscope dreams” and I had fun writing a short rompy song with it, but probably nothing I’ll ever do much more with.