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

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

You Look Like a Song

I’ve just started working a day job again after several years of not. It’s part-time but it’s every weekday, and this past week was my first full week on the job, so I planned certain pockets of the day for songwriting and hoped for the best. My first songwriting session felt like treading molasses. Several little starts into something that bogged down and went nowhere.

It would have been fine to not come up with a song this week, giving myself extra bandwidth to absorb new responsibilities, but thankfully another session turned up something more promising and then I was able to finish the song in one more session and record it the next day. So that Wednesday night the whole weekly songwriting/recording/posting process (except writing this blog post) was complete!

The tune came first on this one, and my first lyrics turned out to be throwaway but good stepping stones. I was picturing rollicking sailors hoisting beers and saying “never” a lot. Here are some of my actual first draft lyrics:

Oh you never gave in and you never gave out / And you never considered the cost / It was better back then but you never did doubt . . . You were older than the stars / You were dancing with the light . . . You were running with the bulls / You were dancing with the fools . . . Paint a girl on your back and another up front / On your chest for the whole world to see

Yup, lyric writing can be a wild and goofy ride.

Eventually I turned to an older lyric idea I’d never finished, and worked it to fit this tune. That was verse one, and then the #songaweek2022 Week 5 prompt “used to think it was” got me into the second verse. Then some fun with words for the last verse.

You look like a song and you sound like sunshine
You touch me like gentle perfume
You smell like the rain and you fall like fire
You taste like the silvery moon

You are how I know there’s more
than the way I know the world

I used to think it was impossible
To feel this light and free
Then I left second-guessing and never went back
And the rest is history

This is what I know for now
So it’s what I sing about

Run away with me love on the tip of your tongue
Through a trail of residual starlight
It’s an elegant joke, it’s irrelevant smoke
It’s a nursery rhyme crossed with a bar fight

It’s as clear as broken bells
All this nothing much to tell