All of This Time

This is week 42 of #songaweek2021. Which makes this week “the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.” But not necessarily this song. It just gets to say it was born in a fortuitous time.

Oh, I must give some credit for inspiration – this post from The Marginalian (formerly Brain Pickings) discussing a book about trees called Old Growth, about how trees do everything, including living and dying, on a very different timescale from us humans.

And thanks to my daughter for letting me use her Sirius Black bobblehead, and my brother for the gift of the Ukrainian nesting doll many years ago. They were very cooperative film stars.

I remember my grandmother and the laundry on the line
But I feel it like a story from another space and time
Oh the sweet sting in the memories of the days we’ve left behind
Gone forever, come back never, nevermore

There goes the me I used to be
Here comes the one I’m setting free
All of this time it’s up to me to live with me
In peace

There’s a country undiscovered in each other who I meet
You’re a universe of wonders and you share this air I breathe
It’s a language only you know but I’ll listen when you speak
You mean more to me than anything you say

There goes the you I thought I knew
Here is the you I’m talking to
All of this time I’m only taking in a glimpse
Of you

I go dreaming with the trees while they are dying by degrees
Round my feet I feel their children rising up from broken seeds
Taking root, spreading out, bright sky, dark ground
Changing ever and forever, evermore

There goes the world we used to know
Here comes the one we’re making now
All of this time it’s up to us to live with us
In love

No One

You wouldn’t know it from these song lyrics, but I have been in a good mood on this beautiful day all day today. Maybe that’s the best way to write sad songs. Not that this is necessarily a sad song. I’m not really sure. I sat at the piano and came up with this chord progression and rhythm and really liked it because I was hoping to write an upbeat song and this felt like the right musical direction for that.

Ah but then the lyrics, which tumbled out while I mostly watched (or that’s what it felt like). They were even darker at first and I honestly wrestled with whether I should allow such a song to exist. Initially, the last little chorus went like this – “I’m dying, dying, living alone / Goodbye, I’m leaving, there’s nobody home.” (I know!!)

I’m truly mystified when a song like this writes itself so effortlessly. I wonder, is my subconscious trying to tell me something? Is this song speaking someone else’s pain and it’s important for me to give voice to that? Because I truly was not feeling this way today, nor have I been in quite a while.

In my writing process I often record a voice memo of each iteration of the song, then play it back to myself so I can experience it as a listener. It was in the playback that I felt confident that my first version of that last chorus was just too maudlin/sentimental/melodramatic.

And so we ended up here, and I still don’t feel like I know much about this song’s meaning, cerebrally. I certainly can feel that it gives out vibes of loneliness and vulnerability and maybe even hope and tenderness. Might come back to this one in the future after it’s had some time to settle. I always enjoy hearing how a song hits someone else, so feel free to tell me in the comments.

I tried to call you but nobody answered and that’s how it’s been for a while
So I went out walking and looking for somebody else who could lend me a smile

But no one, no one, no one was there
There was no one, no one, no one around

I wanted to tell you that I’m fairly certain that everything’s falling apart
The walls are all cracked and there’s holes in the curtains so they just can’t keep out the dark

And no one, no one, no one is here
Here is no one, not a soul to be found

No one just wants to be alone
And live their life in nobody’s home

Funny, I didn’t post my song for week 37 of #songaweek2021 on my blog, but that one is called “No One. But You” because the prompt for that week was “no one but you” and I thought I’d be clever with it. Now I have another “No One” song that I like better but of course it’s not so light and bouncy. Here’s “No One. But You,” just for the record (at least until I have to remove it to make space for newer songs on my free Soundcloud account ;):

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 . . .

Forgive Everyone Everything

Sometimes I write a song just to help me process an idea or event. That’s the case with this one.

My daughter and I visited Reconciliation Park in Mankato, Minnesota, this past week, and these words “forgive everyone everything” were inscribed there. I felt them to be difficult and freeing, beautiful and irritating, controversial and common-sensical. In Mankato, in 1862, 38 Dakota men were publicly hanged by the United States government in the wake of the US-Dakota Conflict. This memorial and these words were placed here by native and white community members together, and you can read more about it here.

The last photo in the video is the tea tag I just happened to have with me as I was writing this song on Thursday.

Hate is a hard road
Rutted and narrow
Twisting and dragging on and on
Love is a river
and when you flow with her
you find yourself right where you belong

Forgive everyone everything

You didn’t start this
You cannot end it
But you can hold on to what is good
And wave it like wheat fields
And feel it like fireflies
Glowing like starlight in the woods

Forgive everyone everything

Breathe it in deeply
Breathe it out freely
Sing it like sunshine after rain

Forgive everyone everything

Gonna Go Outside

I put off songwriting till Saturday morning for week 34 of #songaweek2021. The deadline to submit is Saturday night. After a band rehearsal in the afternoon I recruited my husband and bandmate Nathan to play along and we got-‘er-done for another week. Don’t look too hard for meaning in this one. But we had some fun!

I’m gonna go outside and listen to the news
All the tweets and chatter and the cock-a-doodle-doos
There’s a thousand stories
In my own back yard

There’s no time like the present and there’s no place quite like this
And if you feel you’d like it well I’d like to feel your kiss
And just a few more things 
We could try after dark

We’re on a great big rock that keeps on rolling round the sun
Just when we think it’s over well it’s only just begun
It’s the most fantastic way
To see the stars