What We’re Fighting For

This week’s song came together from so many influences. Here’s a non-exhaustive list:

Peace, please, peace.

Afghani woman on BBC Newshour, 13 August 2021

Won’t you knock down all the walls that we built stable? / Tip them over and restore them to sturdy dinner tables

Nate Crary, Messy Mass liturgy, “Only By Our Lonesome” song

“Once There Was” – a song and an album by Carrellee. It’s really only that phrase that influenced the line in my song, “once there never was.” Just playing with words.

“Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” by Pete Seeger

Blessed are the poor in spirit . . .

Jesus, Matthew 5:3

You think you know all the right things to tell a fool like me
But I won’t hear you at all as long as this wall stands where a table should be

I am not so sure what we’re fighting for
Where have all the poor in spirit gone?

Once there never was all that we tell ourselves there was back then
Now is right where we are and right where we can begin to be again

I am not so sure what we’re fighting for
Where have all the poor in spirit gone?

“Peace, please, peace . . .”

We are stars and mud, spirit and spit fire and flood, brawn and brain
Ours are oceans unknown, deserts that patiently await the rain

I am not so sure what we’re fighting for
Where have all the poor in spirit gone?

How Long How Long?

Time is a funny thing. I would say this song was inspired by my reading of this Brain Pickings post detailing a letter Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his brother, except that I read the post after I’d already written the song. Here’s an especially relevant quote from it –

What moulting is to birds, the time when they change their feathers, that’s adversity or misfortune, hard times, for us human beings. One may remain in this period of moulting, one may also come out of it renewed, but it’s not to be done in public, however; it’s scarcely entertaining, it’s not cheerful, so it’s a matter of making oneself scarce.

Vincent Van Gogh

I don’t want to say a lot about this song. Just that in my 45 years I’ve come to know firsthand the immense value of the pause. Time truly can heal – but you have to give yourself to it, and sometimes that means removing yourself from the rushing river where everything else purports to be happening, and everybody expects something from you.

How long how long can you hold on to the pain?
When when can you let go and open up again?

Can you go the distance with these rocks inside your shoes?
Is there ever space and time to stop it all for a while?
Life is bright with colors but you only feel the blues
And everyone keeps telling you to smile

How long how long can you hold on to the pain?
When when can you let go and open up again?

Everyone’s a critic, every dog thinks it’s his day
Every day’s frenetic and a rest can feel like a crime
You rest easy honey, feel the cosmic cradle sway
Something good will happen in good time

How long how long can you hold on to the pain?
When when can you let go and open up again?

How long. . . ?

How long how long can you hold on to the pain?

I Am Love

“I don’t even know how to talk to people anymore,” I heard someone say recently. And I feel that so much too. Not that I ever really knew how to talk to people! But whatever progress I had made in 45 years feels stunted after one year of social distancing.

Emerging from pandemic life, I feel awkward and unsure and even afraid, a little like I did back in junior high – what will people think of me? What if I say the wrong thing? Practically any time spent on social media these days only amplifies those feelings for me.

There’s a lot more I could (try to!) say about how and why I wrote this song, but to sum up, this was one of the few songs I’ve written that felt mostly like a complete gift from the blue – the comforting words I needed just showing up in my thoughts when I most needed them.

You don’t have to be right, you don’t have to be smart
You don’t have to be what you are, you don’t have to be what you aren’t
You are completely loved, you’re forever forgiven
My great heart is enlarged by your wondrous existence

I’m the last to judge
I’m the first to love 
I always was, I always will be
I am who I am

You don’t have to make sense, you can tell me what’s on your mind
You can never offend one who sees you from every side
And I love who I see and you’re not the only one
Take a look around, oh I feel this for everyone

I’m the last to judge
I’m the first to love 
I always was, I always will be
I am who I am

In the end all that it comes down to is love in everything

And that’s what the world needs, that’s what everyone’s wanting
It feels impossible but with me nothing
Is impossible, no it’s never been easy
but it’s simple enough for a child to see

I’m the last to judge
I’m the first to love 
I always was, I always will be
I am who I am

There’s a Story Here

This song started from my listening to a Radiolab podcast episode called “Kleptotherms.” The episode consisted of several stories and I think it was the second story, the one about a young man with schizophrenia named John and an old woman he met on the beach when he was having a bad day, who invited him to sit with her and eat his lunch. I can’t even tell you how much I loved this story and hearing John tell it himself.

And that feels like it makes no sense with the way the song played out. I wrote the first verse and then the chorus where the words “there’s a story here” tumbled out and brought with them “but it doesn’t need telling,” and I thought that was so strange until “at least not in so many words” helped to make a little more sense of the idea.

That night I went to bed and another verse came to me as I was falling towards sleep, so I put it all down in my phone memos to deal with the next day.

The next day – I had a verse with a lovely little story and then another verse describing something more sinister. I was having a hard time making sense of this song but it still felt compelling to me.

So I lived with it another day and night, played it a few more times, worked out the bones of a bridge and last chorus that helped me understand it a little more. This morning I walked the dog and got the lines that feel like a key – “you take it all in, you live it all out.”

Some things are beyond explanation, transcendent in positive or negative ways – beautiful or terrible or neither or both but just not put-into-words-able. These are stories that we probably tell better with our lives than with our words.

Or something like that. There’s a song here but maybe it doesn’t need all that telling, not so many words.

He was feeling so low
Couldn’t talk himself down
From the edge in the fog in his head
She was there on the beach
Asking him to sit down
And eat his sandwich instead

A young troubled man
An old placid woman
The sun and the sand and the birds
There’s a story here
But it doesn’t need telling
At least not in so many words

Under stained glass you see him
The man of the cloth
Pulling wool over sheep’s trusting eyes
While the wolves go on howling
Outside in the dark
And you still have to live till you die

The devil you know
The devil you don’t
The lies and confessions you’ve heard
There’s a story here
But it doesn’t need telling
At least not in so many words

And you know what you know
And you feel what you feel
And you wait till the moment is right
But it all stacks up wrong
On the tip of your tongue
And you swallow it back in one bite

You take it all in
You live it all out
The subject, the object, the verb
There’s a story here
But it doesn’t need telling
At least not in so many words

Ground of God

Here’s my song for week 16 of #songaweek2021.

There’s pits you never might get to the bottom of
There’s rivers flowing any which way but love
There’s words nobody with breath ever should have said
Reverberating inside your head

All is falling, falling down
Falling down on the ground of God

There’s peaks you never might wish to descend from
There’s roads going every direction home
There’s songs of healing and joy about to be sung
Vibrating on the tip of your tongue

All is rising, rising up
Rising up from the ground of God

Be still children be still
Breathe the breath of life
Be not afraid
To give it back 

There’s no beginning or end to the question
There’s battles around you and war within
There’s hope that hits you like a bolt from the blue
Obliterating what you thought you knew

All is falling, falling down
Falling down on the ground of God
All is rising, rising up
Rising up from the ground of God

Love’s Alive

Very limited time to write this week but I was feeling inspired in the afternoon I allotted myself today to write and record this song. For spring, for Easter, for love and life . . .

Pick up your questions and put down your weapons 
And don’t be afraid anymore
There’s something to see here if you care to be here
Don’t be afraid anymore

Oh . . . love’s alive

The birds are returning, the babies are learning
Don’t despair today
The cold ice is breaking the warm earth is waking
Don’t despair today

Oh . . love’s alive

Share with your neighbor, welcome the stranger
Believe you have enough
Give yourself mercy, be patient dear person
Believe you are enough

Oh . . . love’s alive

Into Your Hands

Every year for Good Friday my church puts out a call to artists to choose one of the seven last words of Christ and share something based on the particular last words they chose. For now our church is doing everything online – mostly Facebook Live – including the upcoming Good Friday service. I was getting ready to sign up for “Into your hands I commend my spirit,” and started writing the words to this song, before I realized our family’s plan to go camping that weekend will negate my ability to do any livestreaming that day.

Still, I liked what I had started and decided to go ahead and make it my song for week 11 of #songaweek2021.

Every winter I think I’m dying
Come the spring I feel like trying
Trying again
In the summer I know I’m living
Go to fall it all starts giving
Giving out, gone
On and on and on and on

Chasing down the speed of light
Face pressed up to window staring out of my existence
Back against the wall of furious insistence
Into your hands
Into your hands
I commend my spirit

Every night’s an invitation
To a sweet obliteration
Of all that I think I should be
In the morning I remember
Dreams that fade like dying embers
Light as dry leaves
Leaving, left, and lost

Chasing down the speed of light
Face pressed up to window staring out of my existence
Back against the wall of furious insistence
Into your hands
Into your hands
I commend my spirit

Matter of Time

We’ve been in a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers sort of mood around the house lately – Nathan and I just finished watching the fabulous Runnin Down a Dream documentary with our 17-year-old Luthien who is deep into schooling herself in the history of rock and roll, especially 90s music. (You can watch that documentary free at the Crackle link I attached to it!)

All that to say, I owe a good deal of the sound of this song to Tom and the band. The song itself came together surprisingly quickly; it felt as if I’d been carrying around this nebulous muck that got heavier over the winter, and somehow getting myself inside the head of the thing that was messing around in my head turned into this incredibly freeing, actually joyful-feeling rock song about aging and decay and everything as I know it falling apart.

Oh and Nathan added a plethora of guitar tracks, drums and bass (and he sang!) which certainly added to the joy for both of us in making this song! This is what being 45 feels like today, and I’m quite alright with it.

Week 9, #songaweek2021. I actually used the week’s prompt too, verbatim in the bridge (“you could turn back but why would you want to”). You can also download the song for free at our Cabin of Love bandcamp page – https://cabinoflove.bandcamp.com/track/matter-of-time

You’ve got sparkle, you’ve got spunk
You’ve got apocalyptic piles of pixie punk
I’m gonna dumb you down and lay you low
You won’t believe what hit you but I think you’ll know

Take it easy, it’s just a matter of time
Don’t take it personally, I’m gonna mess with your mind

Now you’re older, you think you’re so smart
You’re just a rusted cage around a broken-down heart
I’m gonna chill your bones and haunt your dreams
With ghosts of chances and washed-up schemes

Take it easy, it’s just a matter of time
Don’t take it personally, I’m gonna mess with your mind

You could turn back but why would you want to?
Nothing to see but visions of what might have been

So what you got now? What you gonna do
With whatever is left, is left up to you
I’ll keep right on rolling like I always do
And for a little while I might remember you

Take it easy, it’s just a matter of time
Don’t take it personally, I’m gonna mess with your mind
Take it easy, it’s just a matter of time
Don’t take it personally, nobody said I was kind

Home to Roost

It’s Maundy Thursday in the Christian church calendar. We remember that last supper Jesus had with his closest friends, a few stolen moments in a borrowed upper room, emotions running high, all hell about to break loose.

I wrote this song in January for week 4 of #songaweek2020, but I wanted to share it here today. Whether or not, however or not you are marking this day; whatever faith or lack of it you call yours – I hope you know – and feel – that you are loved. And may you be filled with peace.

Be well my friends.

Here is my heart, look but don’t touch
unless you assume all the risk
If you break it, it’s yours, like it or not
Can you afford one last kiss?

every sparrow that falls comes home to roost

Come get warm by the fire, stretch out your hands,
Eat, drink and say what you will
If you love me at all you know who I am
Heartbroken, heart breaking still

every sparrow that falls comes home to roost

Break now the bread, pour out the wine
Share it with all who have need
Don’t we all have a need, a need to be loved?
a hunger and thirsting for peace?

Here in the dark you call my name
Whether I hear it or not
Cause I know what I feel,
I feel that I’m loved
Before and behind and beyond

every sparrow that falls
every sparrow that falls
every sparrow that falls
comes home to roost

Come Home

Friends! I’m still here. I’m very much here. All the time. You know what I mean, cause it’s likely you, too, are spending more time at home than you’re used to. And I’m used to quite a lot.

I’ve still been writing a song a week – started up again last fall, but haven’t been posting them on my blog much (or at all in 2020 it seems!). You can find them all here – soundcloud.com/julia-tindall-bloom/tracks and here – youtube.com/juliatindallbloom.

It would make a whole lot of sense for me to get back to blogging regularly again right now. I just might do it! We shall see . . .

But today I wanted to share this song I wrote a few weeks ago, which a fellow song-a-week-er beautifully embellished. My original recording was just vocal and guitar. Nik Newark (www.niknewarkmusic.com) took that original recording and added an orchestra. I wrote the song before things in the US were shutting down and “shelter in place” started to become normal life for so many here. In fact I wasn’t totally sure what the song was about or why I felt so driven to write it. But listening to Nik’s version today, I find it very comforting, and I think we all could use some comfort right now, so I wanted to share it with you:

When it feels like you can’t do anything right
and you would cut your hand off
just to spite your fist
When all you know is everything’s gone wrong
you try to keep your head up
you’re fighting to exist

Come over here child
Come home to me
Come on back now baby
Come home to me

When you hold out just to watch it burn down
and everything is ash now
dust to dust
When you’ve waited all your life to make it
and everybody’s gone now
dust to dust

Come over here child
Come home to me
Come on back now baby
Come home to me

When you were quite sure you knew just where things stood
and then they just lay down
and died

Come over here child
Come home to me
Come on back now baby
Come home to me