Three Songs in Three Weeks

I have actually written a song each of the last three weeks but didn’t get around to putting them on the blog each week. So here’s a catchup post.

Week 41: An acquaintance was in ICU with COVID the week before I wrote this song. Her husband left her phone with her at the hospital, hoping she would wake and call him. He texted me Sunday afternoon that she had finally woken up and called. I was so touched thinking about that moment, and it (along with the week’s prompt of “too soon”) inspired this song.

Sunday afternoon she woke up
Rolled her body over
Picked up the phone and called to talk to him

Not a moment too soon
This is the right time
No turning back now
Everything unwinds

In the dusky light I heard them
Lovely hungry birds in
Trees where my hands had laid their table out

Not a moment too soon . . .

You there staring at the mirror
Shedding weary tears for
the years that have turned and walked out of your life

Not a moment too soon . . .

you’ve been
too hard

Breathe now, feel your body slow down
Feel the trees below ground
Reaching their roots to feed their leafy crowns

Not a moment comes too soon
This is the right time
No turning back now
Everything unwinds

Week 42: A poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, published in 1918. The video features a ceramic candleholder made by my talented niece Eva.

I awoke in the Midsummer not to call night, in the white and the walk of the morning:
The moon, dwindled and thinned to the fringe of a finger-nail held to the candle,
Or paring of paradisaïcal fruit, lovely in waning but lustreless,
Stepped from the stool, drew back from the barrow, of dark Maenefa the mountain;
A cusp still clasped him, a fluke yet fanged him, entangled him, not quit utterly.
This was the prized, the desirable sight, unsought, presented so easily,
Parted me leaf and leaf, divided me, eyelid and eyelid of slumber.

Week 43: Do you name your cars? We do. Our oldest car (randomly dubbed Joe Bryanson by my then-nine-year-old son) deserved a special tribute this week because poor Joe has been through a lot, including getting mugged last week. Bonus track is a voice memo my co-pilot Nathan sent me today, I think he’s working on his own ballad for Joe. You’ll have to watch the video to see/hear the bonus track and maybe understand the depths of Joe’s despair.

I started out in Colorado
in the mountains carrying a
treasure of a woman to a
job she didn’t love
She left me in the foothills with a
Big crack in my windshield and I
Sat there being hopeful I could
still be of some use

I am Joe Bryanson
I’ve been around the block
Mile after mile I have run
I don’t drink much, I’ve got a hitch
I’m such a dream to park
Count on me to get the job done

A couple came from Loveland and they
Laid their money down and made
Me their one and only
And got that big crack fixed
And then a few years later we
Drove across the Great Plains and they
Parked me in a driveway in a
City on the river

I am Joe Bryanson . . .

Soon enough I had to share that
Driveway with a minivan and
Then they turned me over to a
Newly licensed kid
They kicked me to the curb because they
Went and bought a third car that they
Plugged in like a toaster
And babied like a baby

I am Joe Bryanson . . .
But that kid became a treasure of a woman
And she played my radio loud
On her drive to her first job that she just loved
And I felt so young again

But life out on the street, well it’s no
Asphalt bed of ease, I’ve had my
Mirror cracked, my side swiped, I’ve been
Robbed of precious metals
I’m getting near three hundred thousand
Miles and I don’t know just how much
Farther they might let me go
But I just keep on truckin’

I am Joe Bryanson . . .

This Much and More

I launched several songs this week but landed none. Determined to turn something in for week 40 of #songaweek2022, as I’ve been a bit more hit or miss this year but was currently on a four-week roll, I turned to my stockpile of public domain poems and found this tiny treasure. It’s not much but it’s “This Much and More”:

If my lover were a comet
Hung in air,
I would braid my leaping body             
In his hair.

Yea, if they buried him ten leagues           
Beneath the loam,
My fingers they would learn to dig           
And I’d plunge home!

To Bloom

This song started early last week as a guitar chord progression and a melody I just kept humming. Lots of lyric ideas that I didn’t like that first day or two. Then finally it started to come together lyrically. The bridge was inspired by Poem I, 16 from Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, which I’m currently reading:

Because once someone dared
to want you,
I know that we, too, may want you.

When gold is in the mountain
and we’ve ravaged the depths
till we’ve given up digging,

it will be brough forth into day
by the river that mines
the silences of stone.

Even when we don’t desire it,
God is ripening.

Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Joanna Macy

Initially the recurring line was “your own life,” but as I was writing and singing I found I preferred “your one life,” because I like to remember the connectedness of all life; and also I’m influenced by that immortal line from Mary Oliver’s poem “The Summer Day” – “Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?”

The video features photos from my mother’s garden, a happy place for all who enter.

Little self relax for now
Take it easy, take it slow
There’s nothing you can do about
The way some people think they know
The way that you should live your one life

Breathe in deep, breathe out free
You’re a part of everything
In every wave on every sea
The same love song’s reverberating
Through it all and in your one life

Make some room for something new to bloom

You keep looking back behind
Trying to make some sense of things that
Happened in another time
But there’s no way of bringing back
The days you’ve spent with your one life

Here is where you find yourself
Now is when you get to be
The one unlike anyone else
The one who’s got the sense to see
The light that dawns on your one life

Make some room for something new to bloom

Oh, the river that flows and mines the silence of stone
Seeds grow up with the weeds and God is what they become
Make some room for something new to bloom

Giant ego take a break
Wildflowers are underfoot
It’s not up to you to make
The world do all the good it should
It’s quite enough to live your one life

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.

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.