New Again (collaboration with Rich Waring)

I got to do another cowrite this week! This time Rich Waring, a British friend in my song-a-week group, brought a more-or-less complete song and asked for help finishing it. He sent me the lyrics and a recording and I spent some time with it, then we Zoomed and discussed some lyric edit ideas and a plan for recording it. He recorded guitar, drum track, his vocals, then sent it to me. I added my vocals and sent it back. He added a little synth and mixed it all together and here we are!

Rich is a prolific singer/songwriter with a fascinating emotional range and deep creative energy to his music. You can hear much more of his work at his Soundcloud page –

I’ve been dead and born again
More times than I can count 
From smallest to the largest I have grown
The corners turned, the lessons learned 
but only to forget
In the silence of the falling snow

Summers come and summers go
And winters never end
until the spring awakens us from sleep
But on beyond the coming fall
I’ll never rise again
These bones will be the final piece of me

But oh – feel the life rising and I’m new again
Oh – does it really matter how it goes away?

I’ve been dancing skyward 
with the birds and all the bees
Spinning out the quivering strands of life
Weaving sound and colour til they’re free to be released
Miracles on miracles in flight

Inside the gene you never see
but feel at every turn
I’m the one who steers you through the dark
I’m the love and longing
That can bring you through the hurt
That makes the meaning pulling at your heart

Oh – feel the life arising and I’m new again
Oh – does it really matter that it goes

When there’s a love……
I feel a love that lifts me up and lays me down to my rest
I feel a love that lifts me up and lays me down to my rest

Feel the bees that tickle 
as they nibble at your flowers
Knowing how their kisses share your life
Though the birds may wound you 
as they’re pecking at your boughs
Only they can spread the seed so wide

Lovers come and lovers go
and wonders never cease
So we travel wide and travel far
Though they fade and fall away
like autumn’s changing leaves
love remains and makes us what we are

Oh – feel the life arising and I’m new again
Oh – does it really matter how it goes away?

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

Hold Me Close Like a Telephone

In the course of writing this song I discovered that Bob Dylan cowrote the song “Wagon Wheel” and also that Darius Rucker of one of high-school-me’s favorite bands Hootie and the Blowfish did a cover of it, in addition to the one I had heard before by Old Crow Medicine Show.

I learned all that because after I wrote this song it kept nagging me that I had copied something somehow. My subconscious went to work and got me the answer, and Google confirmed it and taught me all those other details.

For artistic integrity (and/or because I’m just not taking the time this week for a big recording), I sang this one into my phone.

Here it is, my song for week 18 of #songaweek2021:

I don’t mean to be rude, I mean I never mean to be mean
Some days feel no good, so no no good to keep all to myself

Hold me close like a telephone
Ring me round with whispers of your love

There’s nothing we can do to change the days we left behind us
Every moment’s new, and this one’s telling us we can be too

Hold me close like a telephone
Ring me round with whispers of your love

There’s something to be said for everybody saying something
Nice and kind of kind to help each other help each other smile

Let’s hold our world like a telephone
Ring it round with whispers of our love

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


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 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!


Race is a fabricated social construct. And. In my country, race is an inescapable reality, as plain as the nose on your face or the skin on your bones.

White is a lie. And. White is a hideous truth that kills and steals and destroys.

“Black is beautiful” is a powerful idea that many people have needed to internalize to arm themselves against the ugly face of white America.

People need to repeat and believe that black lives matter because white piously proclaims that it doesn’t see color, white forgets and ignores and excludes and overlooks (and kills and steals and destroys).

We can all dream a world where white and black and brown are no longer categories for people. AND. We must do the hard work of facing the living truth in the here and now – and those of us who got dealt the white card have the furthest to go in this, because we’ve had the least occasion to notice that anything is wrong.

Each one of us is the only one of us, exquisitely unique in all of time and space. And. Every one of us is, like every other one of us, completely and thoroughly human.

In our shared humanity, in our singular hearts and souls, we can untangle and break the horrific bonds of race. Not today, not all at once. And not if we don’t see it for what it is, and listen, and tell the truth.

George Floyd’s killers must be arrested, charged, and sentenced. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Here’s my song for week 22 of #songaweek2020:

White tears are decorative
White grief keeps its distance
White guilt is optional
White passion lacks persistence
White promises are broken
White skin is thick insulation
And a most effective cushion
To smother a human soul.

You can download the song for free here –


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 – and here –

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 ( 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

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.

New Songs, Autumn, Fires

First snow this morning. Just a dusting, on the first of November. I turned 44 last week. And there are three people I’m holding in prayer right now – something I wouldn’t have believed I’d ever say again only a few years ago.

Also I started doing #songaweek2019 in September, and have skipped one week since then – a radical departure from the all-or-nothing way I previously approached it.

In other words, change. Impermanence. Flow. Autumn. I noticed the light is lower in my kitchen this week. I raked a million leaves yesterday. I have little brown spots creeping into the backs of my hands, new wrinkles on my neck.

The song I wrote this week was partially inspired by the California wildfires, and then I read this article today and felt it could have almost inspired the song if time moved differently. Plus it references one of my all-time favorite reading experiences, The Tale of Genji:

We cherish things, Japan has always known, precisely because they cannot last; it’s their frailty that adds sweetness to their beauty. In the central literary text of the land, The Tale of Genji, the word for “impermanence” is used more than a thousand times, and bright, amorous Prince Genji is said to be “a handsomer man in sorrow than in happiness.” Beauty, the foremost Jungian in Japan has observed, “is completed only if we accept the fact of death.” Autumn poses the question we all have to live with: How to hold on to the things we love even though we know that we and they are dying. How to see the world as it is, yet find light within that truth.

Here’s where I’ve been posting new songs recently – And here I’ll feature one of them, also about impermanence: