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

I Think I’ll Come Back Now

I’m guessing I’m not the only one who experienced that social distancing led to emotional distancing this past year. Now that more of my loved ones and myself are fully vaccinated and I’m relishing hugs again, and the world outside is greening up and springing forth, I feel an old familiar longing for closeness and affection coming back, which had been fading. That’s what was going on when I wrote this song for week 17 of #songaweek2021.

(But as with all art, what I brought to the song is in no way definitive. Much of my joy in sharing what I create is knowing it meets others in different ways. And more than once a song I wrote years ago will bring me something new when I bring it out again.)

Nobody told me I’d be sad and lonely, I wasn’t prepared for this
I don’t remember how I ended up outside looking in

I think I’ll come back now
Return from the somewhere else
Land this weary ship
I’m coming back home
Don’t ask me where I was
I never really knew
There’s nothing much to tell
I just want to come home

I was gonna change the world but the world changed without me
I was gonna change the world but the world changed me

I think I’ll come back now
Return from the somewhere else
Land this weary ship
I’m coming back home
Don’t ask me where I was
I never really knew
There’s nothing much to tell
I just want to come home

Ground of God

Here’s my song for week 16 of #songaweek2021.

There’s pits you never might get to the bottom of
There’s rivers flowing any which way but love
There’s words nobody with breath ever should have said
Reverberating inside your head

All is falling, falling down
Falling down on the ground of God

There’s peaks you never might wish to descend from
There’s roads going every direction home
There’s songs of healing and joy about to be sung
Vibrating on the tip of your tongue

All is rising, rising up
Rising up from the ground of God

Be still children be still
Breathe the breath of life
Be not afraid
To give it back 

There’s no beginning or end to the question
There’s battles around you and war within
There’s hope that hits you like a bolt from the blue
Obliterating what you thought you knew

All is falling, falling down
Falling down on the ground of God
All is rising, rising up
Rising up from the ground of God

Fire Inside

One thing pandemic life has taught me is how to write a song at a moment’s notice. Today my afternoon brought me an unexpected two hours to myself, so I set everything aside and started writing just a few minutes after the door closed and I was alone in the house. It’s become almost a habit now, to sit down and write till I get stuck, then take the dog for a walk and try to work out the rest of it. Which is how I finished this one.

The prompt for #songaweek2021’s week 14 is “inside there’s a fire” which was in front of me as I was writing this one, and I liked it enough to take my title from it too.

This week I have a cold so I got to use my low notes. Also I’ve upgraded my blog so I can now directly embed audio files here, rather than linking to Soundcloud. I didn’t make a video this week since I’m not feeling the greatest, wanted the recording process to be low-hassle.

Oh, maybe you can tell I’ve been hearing a lot of U2 lately thanks to my daughter having newly discovered them and playing their music pretty much exclusively all the time. I think some of Bono’s vocalizing influenced me 🙂


I’m sitting on the back steps on an April afternoon
Just minding my own business, making up a little tune
Nothing’s wrong
In this song
Sun shining and the birds are singing and the rain falls now and then
Grass growing, little buds are showing on the ends of waking stems
Everything
Is breathing

My heart keeps beating at the bars
Of this bony cage

I’m lying on my back one summer night when I was young
Eyes gazing through the blackness at a million sparkling suns
Up is down
Lost is found
Hand of another holding mine and fingers intertwined
Just-blossomed lovers coming close in body and in mind
So damn true
So brand new

My heart is pulsing with the stars
Through this eager flesh 

I’m looking for the way back to the best that’s yet to come
I’m jumping in the river just to find out where it runs
Sink or swim
I’m all in
My heart perpetually starts
And starts again

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

All Our Living Lives

“A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do” randomly popped into my head this week, along with a tune. So I followed it out and wrote this song for week 10 of #songaweek2021. Recorded on a rainy day in March in my basement studio, the perfect kind of day to spend in a basement studio!

“A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do”
That’s what you said but i don’t think it’s true
Somebody somewhere’s been lying to you
All your living life

Drop what you’re fighting and give me your hand
Let’s just relax for now
Follow me down where the waves meet the land
You’ve been waiting all your life somehow

“The bigger they are the harder they fall”
But that don’t seem right cause I’m feeling so small
I don’t know if you can hear me at all
All my living life

It’s never been easy for me to explain
Let’s just go somewhere new 
Follow me hard like a runaway train
I’ve been waiting all of my life too

Out of the frying pan into the fire
Let’s just keep breathing now 
Over the limit and under the wire
We’ve been broken open anyhow

Something about you, something about me
Something about the wind in the trees
Nothing much out of the ordinary
All our living lives

Come with me, run with me, under the sun
Let’s just embrace the day
Follow me close and I’ll try to keep up
Life is for the living anyway

Sunny and Cold

This week’s weather in Minnesota – and even Texas!! – am I right?! It’s nothing worse than I expect for living here and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about the coldest winter days, when it’s too cold to snow and you can practically feel your nose getting ready to bleed when you step out your front door; it’s that with the intense cold comes intense sunshine and bluebird skies. And I’ve decided after all these years that there’s something to love about sunny and cold.

I wrote most of the lyrics for this week’s song while out on walks with Cody (my dog) in the sunny and cold. This is a one-take live video and audio recording made about an hour after I brought my jumble of lyric ideas into my studio today and hashed it all out into a song. I rarely write, record and publish all on the same day but time was running short this week so here we are.

Sunny and cold still cheers my soul
It’s the sparkle of the light on the satin snow
It’s the red geranium in the windowsill
On a golden afternoon

Cold and sunny like a jar of honey
Amber glow
Sleepy flow
Sunny and cold like a twelve-year-old
All the fire of youth
All the chill of give me the truth

Sunny and cold still warms my heart
It’s a parka wrapped around my tender parts
It’s the people in the park walking happy dogs
And the smiles in our eyes

Cold and sunny like a wad of money
Burning a hole
Freezing your soul
Sunny and cold like a secret told
Flaming passion
Cooling ashes

*Note – I’ve gone off Facebook for Lent and so instead of posting my weekly songs there as I have been doing the past couple years, I’ll be posting them here on my blog. I’m secretly hoping that doing this will motivate me to *keep* posting on my blog each week even when (if?) I go back to the big FB.

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

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 – https://soundcloud.com/julia-tindall-bloom/tracks. And here I’ll feature one of them, also about impermanence: