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

Christmas Day

Another year (and what a year!) and I haven’t posted much on my blog again. I’ve still been writing songs – one every week this year so far. Many are on my YouTube channel. Wanted to share here on my blog the one I wrote for this week. Christmas Day is always hard for some people, and this year many more of us will be feeling blue and alone.

Additionally, for a little more sad but then some punk rock cheer, here’s my family’s tenth annual holiday greeting:

Peace and love to you and yours as we end out this year and bravely go forth into the next!

CoL@home

Yesterday my folk pop duo-sometimes-trio (aka family band) Cabin of Love released a new 7-song EP, CoL@home. It’s made up of songs I’ve written from 2016 to 2020 for www.songaweek.org. Three of them were written and recorded just this year, while we’ve been mostly staying home. The first track, “Slowly Exploding,” was specifically written about living in this new pandemic reality; and you can see us performing it in an upcoming TPT show set to air in September, featuring several artists and work they’ve made during this time of COVID-19.

So, without further ado, the album!

Midnight Clear

A friend e-mailed me yesterday – “Julia! Where’s the family Christmas video?!” And I realized I had only posted it on Facebook and not shared it through my other usual online portals.

I’m so touched and encouraged to hear every year from loved ones who look forward to this. Yes I am unmistakeably an introvert, but the older I get, the more I treasure the presence of others in my life.

So – happy holidays to you and yours! May you be filled with courage and kindness as you step into the new decade. We need you today and always – your voice, your face, your perspective, the passion, joy, challenge, wisdom that only you can bring us.

It’s Your Turn to Live Now

This song came together quickly, and I didn’t feel very deliberate or in charge of its construction. Somehow I had this phrase “it’s your turn to live now” in my head, so I started there. I got the bones of the chorus down, and then felt compelled to look up the end of 1 Corinthians 13. The words in the NIV version flowed so well I used them mostly verbatim for the verses.

I think this is a bit of backlash to the trendy term and idea of “adulting.” Also to the longer-held romanticism with childhood and childlikeness – Peter Pan never wanting to grow up, because growing up means selling out, losing your imagination, diminishing. I’m sure I’ve used this idea in my own writing from time to time, because I can empathize with it.

*But* this song is exploring the beauty and power of a person fully grown and fully alive – and in that very reality, forever continually unfolding, becoming, changing. Because that’s what living is – a process, an active evolution, an ever-reaching-forward, a dance, a song, a story. Now that does sound a little childlike – and I guess that’s why Peter Pan didn’t want to grow up, not because he saw maturity at its best, but rather what happens to too many of us when we “finish” childhood – we settle, harden, start to die instead of continue to live.

Here’s my song for week 27 of #songaweek2018. Nathan played along so it’s a Cabin of Love song. With an exciting photobomb by a cute kid.

It’s your turn to live now
Your time to breathe free
Your moment to walk in the sun
And stand on your feet

On top of the mountain
Of all the fears you’ve outgrown
It’s your turn to live now
Inhabit your home

When I was a child
I talked like a child
I thought like a child
I reasoned like a child
But when I became a woman
I put childish ways behind me

It’s your turn to live now . . . creeds you’ve outgrown . . .

Now I know in part
Then I shall know fully
Even as I am fully known

It’s your turn to live now . . . dreams you’ve outgrown . . .

And now these three remain
Faith, hope and love
But the greatest of these is love

Still Got It

Being over 40 is strange. One week I get hit on by a store employee, the next I’m given the senior discount without being asked about it (and I live in a back-asswards society that tends to see the second situation as more offensive than the first!). It seems to depend on what I’m wearing, how my hair is done – I’m a chameleon at this age. I can hide my youth, I can hide my age. I’m in the middle, middle-aged.

I started writing this song when I was out for a run at the end of February two days after the second big snowstorm in a week. The sick-of-winter time of year. I haven’t run much the past month or two because there’s been so much ice, so I was feeling out of shape and a bit cranky at first. But the sun was shining, and I got into my groove, and I discovered, I’ve still got it!

It doesn’t matter what you think when you look at me; if I know I got it, I got it. “It” is something we are all born with, and can joyfully exhibit for our whole lives. It can shine through for that brief part of life when we match our youth-crazed culture’s definition of attractive, but it’s way more than that.

I spent the last couple weeks watching the Winter Olympics, all those toned young bodies, and the “old” ones slightly over 30 wistfully discussing the end of their careers. I think, oh you cuties, there’s so much ahead of you, you’ve only just begun!

But that’s only if you want to.

Here’s my song for week nine of #songaweek2018:

I’m just a little bit thick in the head and the middle
Just a little bit sick of playing second string fiddle
But don’t you worry bout me boy
I’ve still got my voice
Don’t feel bad for me my sweet
I’ve still got my feet
And they know how to go

I’ve still got it
Down to the soles of my feet
I’ve still got it
I’m more than what you see

She’s just a little further back on the same road as me
When she gets to where i’m at I think she’ll get what I mean
Aw, don’t you worry bout me dear
I’m still breathing here
Don’t go crying for me honey
I’ve even got a little money

I’ve still got it
Down to the soles of my feet
I’ve still got it
I’m more than what you see

So don’t you worry bout me son
I still know how to run
Don’t you worry bout me dude
I’ve still got it pretty good

I’ve still got it
Down to the soles of my feet
I’ve still got it
I’m so much more than what you see

 

Change

In the course of writing Week 7’s #songaweek2018 song, I learned a little something about e-cigs. You just never know what might happen when you decide to write a song! The theme/prompt was “change” and I decided to go with it. (We don’t see the themes in advance of the week; otherwise I might have saved last week’s “I Could Be Wrong” for this week, but then – well, we wouldn’t have had so much fun making this song!)

I came up with a little bluesy piano part and melody, and then I put the call out on Facebook for any suggestions of things you change (batteries, a twenty, your mind . . .). I got a ton of suggestions including a persistent one, “change your underwear,” and even though lots of things rhyme with that and I could feel its popular appeal with my friends, I just couldn’t make it work this time around. But hey, maybe someone can take this song and change it!

I wanted to mention changing the oil, so I needed something to rhyme with that. I googled “change the coil,” hoping that maybe there is some sort of coil-y car part that needs occasional changing. Maybe there is, but the most common coil that needs changing, Google told me, is the one in your e-cigarette. I’m not a fan of smoking, so I snuck in a little note of disapproval to ease my conscience and make it feel more like a PSA.

Nathan heard me playing the song on the piano and he got pretty excited about all he could do with it! I gave him the basic canvas of piano and vocal, and he took it from there, throwing multiple guitars and drums and bass and synth and a teeny Dylan impression into the changing mix. I am awestruck that he managed to keep one of my longest songs (five and a half minutes!) so interesting right to the end.

I might change the address where I live
Might change the reasons that I give
Might change my modus operandi
But I’m never gonna change
The way I keep on changing
Time has changed my voice, and changed my face
It’s changed my plans, and changed my pace
Changed me to silver-brown from blondie
But it’s never gonna change
The way I keep on changing

I’ve changed my locker combination
Changed my major, changed occupations
I’ve changed my name and changed my babies
But I’m never gonna change
The way I keep on changing
You might change direction, change position
Change the person that you’re kissin’
Change your definites to maybes
But don’t you ever try to change
The way you keep on changing

Bob said the times they are a-changing
Sheryl said a change would do you good
David said ch ch ch ch changes

Change the litter box, the fish bowl
change the toilet paper roll
change your password change your settings
change the sheets and all the bedding
change a tire change the oil
if you must vape change the coil
change the batteries, the thermostat
change your shoes and change your hat
change the game, change the score
change the team you’re cheering for
change the channel, change the station
change to metric my stubborn nation
change your mind, your attitude,
change your heart, your tone, your tune
change the key and change the locks
change the calendar and clocks

See the leaves turn, feel the wind blow
know the ocean’s ebb and flow
observe chameleons and cocoons
But don’t let’s ever try to change
the way we keep on changing

Today I Don’t Feel Like a Love Song

Well, how about a little country flavor? Here’s my song for week 51 of #songaweek2016. One week left in this year-long challenge!

Today I don’t feel like a love song

today I just wanna be loved by you

today I feel somehow we’ve gone wrong

today I just want to be right by you

baby, baby, baby, baby mine

tomorrow feels already faded

yesterday holds all our lovers dreams

we’re cynical hardened and jaded

impervious to juvenile extremes

baby . . . mine

let’s take these scraps and scars

and start again for the umpteenth time

forever feels empty without you

so right now please fill up my arms with you

and cover my aches with your kisses

and breathe here with me in the space we keep

baby . . . mine

 

Shy Girl

My song for week 42 of #songaweek2016 is partly autobiographical. The shy girl part in general, and very specifically, once I was running in the predawn and a car pulled up just in front of me, a window rolled down, and something flew out of the car and scared me good and proper. Then I realized it was the morning paper delivery.

The song is also partly spontaneous lyric-writing. Not as spontaneous as it could have been though. The first line initially popped into my head as, “I waited all night in the pouring rain just to give you back your guillotine.” There’s quite enough mystery around the umbrella and how the girl got it and who she’s waiting to give it back to, but a guillotine? That’s just a bit too random.

And it’s partly finished. Someday I’d like to add at least another verse and round it out. But for now, here it is:

I waited all night in the pouring rain
just to give you your umbrella back
and when the paper lady stopped and rolled her window down
I nearly had a heart attack

I’m a shy girl, it’s true
just shy of you

I like to imagine that we’re holding hands
underneath a cloudless sky
but I’m lost in this fog ’cause I can’t even dream
of looking you in the eye

I’m a shy girl, it’s true
just shy of you

I even tried to make a deal with the devil
but the devil didn’t notice me

I’m a shy girl, it’s true
just shy of you

 

 

Long Hard Fall

A good bit of this song for week 41 of #songaweek2016 was inspired by this poignant article by Andrew Sullivan, which was the cover story for the print version of New York magazine, which was sitting on my coffee table when I wrote the song. The headline on the cover reads “Put Down Your Phone.” The article discusses Sullivan’s identification of and struggle with his own “distraction sickness,” and its title and subtext read, “I Used to Be a Human Being: An endless bombardment of news and gossip and images has rendered us manic information addicts. It broke me. It might break you, too.”

And I was thinking about fall, this seasonal descent into dark and cold and emptiness, when organisms break down and fall asleep, and look dead, come so apparently close to death, but somewhere deep inside there’s a dream of spring, of impossible things happening, of starting over, giving it all another go.

Put your phone down, take it easy
sing a song with me
what is this old world coming to anyway?
When you think you’ve got it made cause you’re the top of the heap
of the people all sleeping their lives away

It’s a long hard fall into lonely winter
and summer’s a fading memory
it’s a long hard fall into lonely winter
and spring’s an impossible dream

Hold your hand out, let me touch it
let me know there’s life
out beyond my self-contained planet
all those dreams they made us dream when we were only sixteen
are now battered and broken to bits

somewhere there’s somebody, something, somehow
and nowhere there’s nothing at all

keep your faith in evolution
let your life unfold
give it time and anything can happen
from the ashes of the past rises new and resilienter
you even brillianter now

It’s a long hard fall into lonely winter
and summer’s a fading memory
it’s a long hard fall into lonely winter
and spring’s an impossible – springs an impossible,
ever, eternally, springs an impossible dream