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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?

For week 28 of #songaweek2016, I called on Stephen Crane – well, his poetry – for a little help. Here’s a poem of his that I set to music.

Once, I knew a fine song,
— It is true, believe me —
It was all of birds,
And I held them in a basket;
When I opened the wicket,
Heavens! They all flew away.
I cried, “Come back, little thoughts!”
But they only laughed.
They flew on
Until they were as sand
Thrown between me and the sky.

(published 1896, public domain)

Turn to Love

Week 27 of #songaweek2016 was a horrific one in US news. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, shot and killed by police officers. Brent Thompson, Michael Krol, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Smith, Lorne Ahrens, shot and killed by a sniper at a protest against Sterling’s and Castile’s treatment by police.

All seven of these men, real people, with complex lives and stories, each with a constellation of people who loved them, people who depended on them, people who knew them as the human beings they were. The ones who took their lives, I believe, didn’t see past the color of their skin or the uniforms they wore.

I spent a day trying to write a song in light of these events. Nothing was working out. Then I came across a quote from Jeff Hood, organizer of the Dallas protest, and the song almost wrote itself. Interestingly, the quote originally appeared in this article, but didn’t survive the article’s updates since July 8th, the day I read it. I had copied the text and saved it in the course of working on the song, so here it is:

[The Rev. Jeff] Hood, one of the organizers, said he spent hours searching for his wife as chaos unfolded in the streets.
“Ultimately, I spent those three hours talking to people, asking the question, ‘Why? Why? Why is this happening? The only answer I know now, and the only answer I knew then, was turn to love, we’ve got to turn to love, we’ve got to stop shooting.”

Everything is broken everything is bleeding
everyone is crying out for relief
everything is shaken everything is shattered
everyone is deeply aching for peace

turn and return eternally
internally externally
turn to love

this is nothing new, no this is just the latest
page in a story we’re weary of
where fear and hate and greed gain strength and gather speed
and take aim at the suffering body of love

give it all your heart and give it all your mind
soul, strength, voice, eyes, ears, hands and feet
be patient with your neighbor show mercy to the stranger
be brave in generosity

Not My Week

During week 26 of #songaweek2016 I’ve been traveling with my parents & kids to visit relatives out east. No guitar, very little alone time, no special recording equipment. “But I said I’d write, so I’m writing right now . . .” and this one got recorded on my phone in the car on the way back to my uncle’s house from a day at the Jersey shore.

 

Friends. I’ve been posting my song for #songaweek2016 each week here on my blog. I joined that group at the invitation of my friend and fellow singer/songwriter – but not fellow Bloom:) – Jen Bluhm. This song of hers from a recent week is so good that I wanted to repost it on my blog so more people could hear it. She’s posted the lyrics on Soundcloud, so if you click on the “Soundcloud” icon at the top right corner below, you’ll go to Soundcloud where you can see the lyrics.

 

What If

What if you are more than what you think? What if we are all more valuable than all that we believe?

Here’s my song for Week 25 of #songaweek2016:

What if I were you, what if you were me?
Could we listen to each other, could we let each other be?
What if we were both about to die?
Could we find a common mercy looking in each other’s eyes?

Or is this sad race to the end the best we can do
and when it comes right down to the wire is it me or you?

What if I told you I’m not so sure
would you ridicule my weakness, add a point to your score?
What if I found out that you’re afraid
would I crow that you’re a coward, have a cynical parade?

Is this sad race to the end the best we can do
and when it comes right down to the wire is it me or you?

What if we both took a flying leap
off our high-minded horses
into heart-deep conversation?
Could we make some waves of grace
that ripple out from you and me?

What if you are more than what you think?
What if we are all more valuable than all that we believe?

When writing my Week 24 song for #songaweek2016, I was feeling the weight of hate in our country – the Orlando shooting, Donald Trump rallies, comments sections and Internet memes of all stripes.

Tried to write something coherent, but I think I felt most strongly the wordless singing part. Not my best week, too squeezed for time this time, but I’m committed to doing this every week and posting it here, so here it is. With electric guitar by Nathan Bloom.

 

 

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