She Ain’t Gonna Be My Baby Anymore

My eldest child turned 18 this past week, so naturally my song for the week needed to be for her. Her dad Nathan and I took a walk together that we used for a cowriting session, which we extended when we returned home, and within a couple hours we had this very country song. Fun to have Nathan on the lead vocals this time. He wanted a song that expressed both loss and gain, grief and pride. I think we got it!

For better and worse she’s always been my girl
Ever since we met she’s been my world
But things have been changing for a long long time
Now I look back and I can see the signs
Something’s going on that I can’t ignore
She ain’t gonna be my baby anymore

She’s tall and proud and lovely as can be
She’s all dressed up but I know it’s not for me
There’s a spring in her step and a charge in the air
She flashes a smile and tosses her hair
She grabs the keys and walks out the door
She ain’t gonna be my baby anymore

There goes my baby
There goes my girl
There she goes shaking
My whole wide world
I just want to hold her but I know she can’t stay
She’s gonna leave and I won’t stand in her way
Where she’s headed I don’t know for sure
But she ain’t gonna be my baby anymore

I’m looking at her but she’s looking beyond me
Out where the big blue sky meets the sea
She’s got stars in her eyes, I’ve got a lump in my throat
She’s ready for the tide to carry her boat
And I’m crying a river back here on the shore
She ain’t gonna be my baby anymore

There goes my baby . . .

She’s shaking me awake from my sweet dreams
The sun is rising and she wants me to see
I never loved her more than I do tonight
I’m keeping it together with all my might
And I’m picking my heart up off the floor
She ain’t gonna be my baby anymore

There goes my baby . . .

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

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

Could This Be Happily?

A little dreamy ode to the simple life, here’s my song for week 33 of #songaweek2016. With Nathan Bloom on harmonica. Would’ve loved to add more instruments and fill it out a bit, but it was an extra busy week with a real live gig and kids going back to school. (That toddly baby in the picture is now a tall, soccer-playing fourth grader!)

There would be raspberries in our little yard
the sun would shine all the time
except when the rain came to help our garden grow
then we’d be snug inside

could every day be like a holiday?
could this be happily? (ever after)

We’d keep some chickens in a little coop
we’d thank them for the eggs
maybe a baby, maybe two
toddling on wobbly legs

some nights there might be tears on our pillows
some dreams just won’t come true
but all these broken parts of our hearts
make spaces for the light and air and rivers to flow through

out on our front porch we’d pass the evening hours
watching the branches sway
We’d smile at neighbors and strangers passing by
until we call it a day

 

Trouble

Oh this one was fun to make! My amazing daughter Luthien, with her dad’s help, worked out a cello part and recorded her first-ever cello track. And then Nathan threw in all those sweet guitar tracks, in just a few hours! Visions of a family band are most certainly dancing in my head.

Here’s my song for week 31 of #songaweek2016:

 

Places I’ve Lived, People I’ve Known

Oh I wish you all could have been there last Friday night! Music in the garden at my parents’ house in Minnesota. It was a hot and sticky evening but we had so much fun. My dad used his phone to record Nathan and me and my parents’ neighbor Earl playing the song I wrote for week 29 of #songaweek2016.

Wish we had also recorded a song we did later, with us three plus friend Kirk on accordion and brother-in-love Micah on a second guitar – Purple Rain by Prince. Bet you’ve never heard Purple Rain with accordion before!

Driving down the street with my out-of-state plates
feeling newly out of place
looking at the flowers in my old front yard
and remembering my life lived in that space
home is not a dead-end road
the road home leads you back or leads you on

Places I’ve lived, people I’ve known
everything’s changed, everyone’s grown
how was this ever everything,
how can I ever go home?

Running through the park on my middle-aged legs
going faster than before
stopping for a drink at the Mineral Springs
where the legend says the healing waters pour
home is not a stagnant pool
the river home will take you where it will

Places I’ve lived, people I’ve known
everyone’s changed, everything’s grown
how was this ever everything
how can I ever go home?

the sun still comes up, the dogs still bark
the kids still play in the same old parks
the old men still park themselves out front
but they’re not the same old men

Sleeping tonight in my old bedroom
where the shadows know my name
praying for peace with a jaded tongue
dreaming with the heart of a child I’ll never tame
home is not a prison cell
the doors of home can open either way

Places we’ve lived, people we’ve known
we have all changed, we have all grown
how can anything be everything,
how can we ever go home?

Don’t Forget

Sundays are usually tiny vacation days for me, in which I don’t check email or go on social media. So I didn’t hear the news about the Orlando shooting until I was checking email at breakfast this morning. Tears with my coffee.

The song I wrote for Week 23 of #songaweek2016 was submitted on Saturday, but I offer it here as a little lullaby in the face of the tragic news we are all processing.

Hymn Number 22

It’s been too long since Nathan sang along on one of my recordings. I won’t easily forget the night he recorded his vocals on this song, while I sat on the couch nearby, snuggled up with the dog and reading H.G. Wells. The process of creating these songs – not just the writing, but the recording and collaborative arranging – is something I simply love, a deeply fulfilling way to spend my time.

This song felt very hymn-like to me, and it’s week 22 of #songaweek2016, thus the title.

Rain falls on the righteous and wicked alike
’cause each of us is righteous and wicked
Sun shines in the daytime moon glows at night
each of us needs light and dark

Hallelujah, Amen

We’re born in a moment we cannot remember
we’re laid to rest in tombs of unknowing
we spring from folded bud through full-bodied summer
then fall asleep in winter’s deep embrace

Hallelujah, Amen

So play for us the songs you hear, paint the colors in your visions
write us the stories you find in the world
With broken brushes, bleeding pens and battered instruments
we’ll build a blaze and gather round for warmth

Hallelujah, Amen