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No Hard Feelings

This is one of those songs I’d categorize as a cautionary tale, a vision of what the wrong thing looks like. I think it’s about apathy, about what we stand to lose when we choose to stop caring. Maybe a nod to T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men.”

Except, of course, for the moments I quoted in the second verse – Neil Armstrong’s moon walk, Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech envisioning racial harmony, Woody Guthrie’s song about roaming and rambling freely across the land, Carl Sagan’s poetic musing about our fragile home. These are moments of vision, passion, generosity – moments where people cared.

More of that please.

All we ever were
All we can become
Wrapped up in a moment
Setting with the sun

No hard feelings
It’s as easy as walking away
It’s the kind of simple stupid thing
That people do every day
No hard feelings
They just flow with no effort from me
Down the river of what might have been
Out to the salty sea

Small step for a man
I have a dream
This land is your land
Suspended in a sunbeam

No hard feelings
It’s as easy as walking away
It’s the kind of simple stupid thing
That people do every day
No hard feelings
They just flow with no effort from me
Down the river of what might have been
Out to the salty sea

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Beautiful Mundane

I confessed to my husband the other day that I don’t usually like it when he walks in the door at the end of the workday and gives me a kiss. It’s just too mundane, I said. Routine drives me mad, I whined.

Which on further consideration is laughable, because neither of us works full-time and so it’s rarely more than two or three days in a week that he’s even walking in the door at the end of the workday.

Confession is good for the soul. I think I needed to actually hear myself saying those words in order to write this song, and this song has been good for my soul.

A couple allusions/credits – I didn’t come up with “the meaning of life is to live.” It’s one of my all-time favorite quotes. I was sure it was from Leo Tolstoy, but my Google search doesn’t seem to confirm that. The closest I could come to a source was Goodreads citing Eleanor Roosevelt: “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” I still think it came from one of those broody Russians I love reading though, Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky.

And “tell a better story” is an idea I absorbed from reading Life of Pi.

“Mundane” has its roots in the Latin word “mundus” meaning “world.” It means ordinary, everyday, “of, pertaining to, or typical of this world.” Maybe it is something worth paying attention to, if it’s your world.

If I believed the world had need
Of another sad song
I’d go on like this, go on like this
Till we’re all bored to tears
But I believe the world don’t need
A thing I have to give
And that the meaning of life
Is to live

It’s all right here
Right where nobody’s looking
The beautiful mundane

Remember when, see it again
Tell a better story
The living truth
That changes everything
It was a long time ago
Until we saw the light
And felt the warmth
And held each other close

It’s all right here
Right where nobody’s looking
The beautiful mundane

I still believe in falling leaves
And transient twilight
And shards of broken dreams
The waves of time smooth and reshape

It’s all right here
Right where nobody’s looking
It’s all right here
And you and me’d best be looking
The beautiful mundane

 

 

God in a Foxhole

It’s Good Friday again and I’m totally not feeling it. Or wanting to feel it. I’ve spent years struggling with the centrality of crucifixion in my Christian faith, and I know I’ll continue to. Instead of talking about it, here’s what I’ve got today:

Yes there are atheists in foxholes
And if there’s a god
Then God is there too
Breathing and bleeding
Cowering and killing
And wishing to die
And dying alone
And crying for home
When there is no home
Because bombs broke it up
And there’s no one to go home to anyway
And sometimes not even God believes
In the mud of a foxhole
In the arms of despair
But if god is there
Then God is there 

It’s a bit hard to believe, but here I am posting the very last week’s song for #songaweek2018. Week 52’s suggested theme was “forest” and I did find a way to use it.

I stole a morning from a busy Christmas week schedule (played hooky from two of our numerous extended family events) and wrote this song, which was obviously influenced by the intense week of socializing!

Happy new year to all, and to all a quiet night 😉

I can’t see anything
Not the forest or the trees
just trying to catch my breath
And let it go again
You can’t say anything
That could make me lose my nerve
I’m just going to catch my breath
And let it go again

I’m living
I’m living
I’m living here

False starts and broken hearts
Somehow keep true love alive
You’ve just got to catch your breath
And let it go again

I’m living . . . now

Halfway to the end
think I’ll start again

Now I see everything
All the forest all the trees
just when I catch my breath
I let it go again
You can say anything
still won’t make me lose my nerve
I know how to catch my breath
And let it go again

I’m living . . . here

Each day brings songs to sing
hands to hold and roads to run
Just let me catch my breath
And let it go again

I’m living . . . now

Little Brother

I’ve written songs for both my parents, my husband, both my children, my brother’s wife and all of his children – but until week 51 of #songaweek2018 I still hadn’t written one for my one and only sibling, my brother Jeremy.

I’d been wanting to write a song for him for years, even attempted it a couple times before, but until this week I never had anything worth finishing. Thanks to my parents sending me some old photos, I was even able to put together a video collage.

Life without you well I don’t really remember it
It’s like you’ve always been around
Climbing trees and making faces at me

Little brother I once held you all inside my tiny arms
But now I look up to you

We rode our big wheels in the trailer park
Played GI Joe and Barbie dolls
Super Breakout and Super Mario

Little brother I once crushed you playing football in the yard
But now I look up to you

You got the chicken pox and I was jealous
Until I got it worse than you
And while I suffered, you learned to ride a bike first

We played in puddles and danced to records
And explored the woods out back
I guess we were best of friends

And now we’re grownups with families of our own
We send our kids to cousin camp
and barely remember what life without them was like

Little brother I once bossed you all around in every way
But now I look up to you

 

Week 50! This is one of those songs where the suggested theme (from #songaweek2018) actually caused the song to be written. I wouldn’t have gone this direction at all if it weren’t for the suggested word, “metal.”

Not much I want to say about this song – I think we’ve all been here from time to time and know something about it. The cycle of love, the journey of living well. The bridge (“thieves break in and steal . . .”) comes from Matthew 6:19-20, that little passage about storing up treasures in heaven rather than earth. I interpret that not as sacred versus secular; but cosmic, big-hearted wisdom versus short-sighted, me-and-mine foolishness.

My heart’s made of metal
invincible steel
that’s why when you hold me
there’s nothing to feel

It’s a cold night in
It’s a lovely lost cause

I swam in the ocean
I crawled up on land
but there’s no harder journey
than the one to your hand

It’s a cold night in
It’s a lovely lost cause

Thieves break in and steal
Moth and rust corrupt

Come light your best fire
to melt me all down
I’m sick and I’m tired
But I’m coming around

On this cold night in
For this lovely lost cause

Decembrance

In the season of shortest days and darkest nights, I like to write songs like this. Winter can be a soul-sucking time of year, or from another perspective, it can be a time to slow down, pull in, lay low, and breathe.

As I was writing this song for week 49 of #songaweek2018, I was aware of the following influences: the feeling of an Irish blessing we sang in choir when I was in college; Handel’s Messiah (I love the way the word “comfortably” is sung in “Comfort Ye My People,” so I did it too); and the Christmas song “Oh Holy Night” which is referenced in “harmonies and holy nights.”

And still, on my mind throughout the year and now more poignantly as the year draws to a close, my Grammy, whose health continues to decline as we await her departure into deepest rest.

Slow dance of the winter, deep sleep of the snow
Clear light of the night sky keep you as you go
Soft blanket of crystal, beasts nestled below
Still evergreen branches, lone call of the crow
All of the fragile ones have flown

Winds wending through treetops comfortably sigh
Rivers rest, insects hide
Memories and melodies murmur in your mind
Harmonies and holy nights hold us all through time
All through the night beyond our sight