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


If week 34 of #songaweek2018 hadn’t been during summer vacation, I would probably have taken the time to multi-track this song. Would have loved to get some juicy vocal layers in there, but instead I contented myself with wailing through a live take. It was enough, and left time to play games and go to the lake with my kids while we soak up these last days before school starts again.

The suggested theme was “verdict,” so that’s the title. Because the song is sort of about, “what’s the ultimate thing we have to say about everything?” Or if you prefer, “what’s it all about?” Or “where’s it all headed?” For a serious-minded person who spends a serious amount of time contemplating death and the cosmos, I have this inimitable weed-like hope. It’s a weed like some sort of wildflower, dying back and disappearing for months at a time, but then inevitably springing up again, even bursting into colorful flower when the season is right.

Autumn is coming, and I know my mood will deepen and darken along with the days. But hope, like all living things, needs to sleep now and then, and I’ll hold on and stand guard while she’s out cold.

And if I spend the end just running from the dark
And if I keep my deepest love choked in my heart
Why do the stars still shine at night?

And if I hold my cold desire like a curse
And shun the sunlight from my meager universe
What is this breath that fills my hungry lungs
This song that rises from my thirsty tongue?
Aah . . .

And when it all is bound to fall like dying leaves
And bonds we make are sure to break like brittle trees
Why do the seeds keep taking root?

And if these years will end in tears and certain loss
and when I keep the faith it leads me to a cross
What is this hope that grows inside my bones
This love that stretches out to the unknown?
Aah . . .

There is a siren in my mind compelling me
It’s like a word that I once heard –
before I learned to speak
Aah . . .