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Posts Tagged ‘Julia Bloom’

The idea for this song came somewhat randomly to me a couple weeks ago, so I made a quick recording of the tune which became the chorus. I also had this name, “Bill Bailey,” connected to it in my mind, as in “won’t you come home Bill Bailey?” and it seemed vaguely familiar. Sure enough, my subconscious was aware of this old jazz standard written in 1902, even though when I pulled it up to listen I didn’t recognize it at all – and the tune idea I had was different.

The suggested theme for week 21 of #songaweek2018 was “apology,” so “won’t you come home” seemed like a good place to start. I initially sang the song “won’t you come home sweet darlin'” – but then thought a specific name would make it feel more real and folksy. Of course I wasn’t going to use “Bill Bailey,” so I went searching for three-syllable male* names. An “o” in the second syllable to round out the assonance in “won’t you come home” would be a major bonus. “Antonio” held on as my favorite even though I have to roll the last two syllables together to make it fit; and a very helpful group of my Facebook friends weighed in with a hefty list of actual three-syllable names when I requested it.

It was fun writing the song in a way that you can’t really tell who needs to apologize here, or what happened. A bit of open-ended fiction the listener can fill out as they please.

Oh, also recently I really enjoyed hearing this rebroadcast of a This American Life episode (#339, Act One) I remember hearing the first time. Usually I skip the rebroadcasts but I really like this one, about writing breakup songs. So I was thinking about that too when I wrote this.

Won’t you come home
Won’t you come home
Won’t you come home Antonio
Won’t you come home
Won’t you come home
Won’t you come on home now

I got beers in the fridge
I got tears in my eyes
And a heaping helping of humble pie
If you come back tonight I got some presence for you
I’m gonna stay by your stay by your
stay by your stay by your side

Won’t you come home . . .

You might think you got me figured just because you’re my man
but I think you better try to understand
I might be crying on the outside
But I’m crying on the inside,
crying on the inside too

Won’t you come home . . .

I don’t want to leave you I don’t want to lose you
I just want to stay here and love you
I could probably fall in love with the whole wide world
But I want to get specific,
I want to get specific with you

 

*There are plenty of three-syllable female or gender-neutral names I might have used instead, but since the song later refers to “my man” and “man” needs to rhyme with “understand,” this time I wanted a male name.

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Last Sunday we trekked over to Minneapolis to see my daughter and her friend – and lots of other revellers – in the annual MayDay parade put on by In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater. While watching, I thought, this might be Bloomington Avenue’s favorite day of the year, when for a few hours cars aren’t allowed and the street gets to feel dancing feet and music and laughter and the best things about the people in its neighborhood celebrating the return of spring.

Then later that day I looked up the suggested theme for week 19 of #songaweek2018, and lo and behold! it was “streets.” And so I wrote this song and made a video with footage I took while watching the parade. I’ll probably never actually perform this song, may never even revisit it, but it was fun to put it together.

Well aint you the lively one
Aint you the lovely one
There is something different about you today
The people of the city look good on you
Extracted from their cars

Bloomington Avenue look at you shine!
decked out in your Mayday finest
No more snowy white coat
And just for now
For a couple bright hours on a Sunday afternoon
Filled with dancing flowers, stilt-walkers and balloons
We can hear your heart beat

beautiful feet dancing over you
Drums reverberating off of you
Music and laughter and color everywhere
The only tires are bicycle tires

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With over seven billion people in the world now and the Internet giving many of us instant access to publish whatever we create, it’s easy to completely ignore all the good work that’s come before us. That’s partly why I enjoy setting old poems to music. It’s a little like sneaking vegetables into casseroles for picky kids.

Another reason is because it helps me engage on a deeper level with a poem, because I’m reading and speaking and singing it over and over as I work out a rhythm and a melody. The words get to work on me more than when I just read them straight through.

And usually by the time I’m finished making a poem into a song, I also have it memorized – a mental exercise I don’t perform enough in my post-academic life.

Here’s Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem, “My Own Heart,” with more or less the chords from that old favorite “Heart and Soul.” My song for week 18 of #songaweek2018.

My own heart let me more have pity on; let
Me live to my sad self hereafter kind,
Charitable; not live this tormented mind
With this tormented mind tormenting yet.
I cast for comfort I can no more get
By groping round my comfortless, than blind
Eyes in their dark can day or thirst can find
Thirst’s all-in-all in all a world of wet.

Soul, self; come, poor Jackself, I do advise
You, jaded, let be; call off thoughts awhile
Elsewhere; leave comfort root-room; let joy size
At God knows when to God knows what; whose smile
‘s not wrung, see you; unforeseen times rather—as skies
Betweenpie mountains—lights a lovely mile.

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Well, at last – a happy simple song! Guess I was feeling a little drunk on spring which has finally come, in full force, to my part of the northland – and remembering the spring I met Nathan and how it felt to fall so hard in love.

Just a quick rough recording on my phone, made while facing the new sheetrock in the kitchen so I could enjoy a little natural reverb.

I don’t need to say much more about this song (for week 17 of #songaweek2018), except that tomorrow my beloved and I celebrate twenty years of marriage, and I’m thankful to be able to say, I’m still a teeny tiny little bit in love with him.

Oh, and yesterday we played it with our band and it was an instant success! I’m excited to perform this one.

There’s word going round about a woman you know
They say she’s trying to hide what she can’t help but show
so I looked her up and sat her down for a talk
But she couldn’t sit still so then we went for a walk
And the spring in her step and the thrill in her veins
And your name on an endless looping track in her brain
Told me everything I needed, yes the rumors are true
I’m just a teeny tiny little bit in love with you

She said she’d meet you tomorrow, tonight or right now
Don’t matter where or why, or what or how
It’s mainly just the who that she cares about
And you know that’s you, you’re the one who makes her shout
To the flowers and trees, to the birds and butterflies
About how you make her feel like she just opened her eyes
On a world bright with beauty and this radical truth
I’m just a teeny tiny little bit in love with you

I like to think of her and you in closer quarters
I like to think you’re thinking of that too
I hope that you and she could find a place to loiter
I hope you’re hoping for that same thing too

Well I suppose I’ll have to come down from this natural high
nothing lasts forever but the wondering why
but you could come with me on my hike back down
to my everyday life in an everyday town
And hold my hand and own my heart
and share with me a house and a car
Cause while it ebbs and it flows, this current stays true
I’m just a teeny tiny little bit in love with you

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It’s been a few months. Of leaving Colorado, loading all our stuff in storage and living in my parents’ basement, looking for houses in Saint Paul (we finally got the fifth one we offered on), getting kids launched into new schools, updating drivers’ licenses and vehicle registrations, you get the idea.

We’ve been moved into our new house for just over a month now, and we’re starting to get reacquainted with living in the Twin Cities, eleven years after we left it. There is so much going on here, and I’m excited to dig into it! Last Saturday we went to hear The Salt Vine and Annie Mack at the Aster Cafe; Tuesday night we sat in on a dress rehearsal for Sam’s Son, an upcoming musical; and last night Nathan and I biked over to Humboldt High School to hear the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra give a free concert for residents of our neighborhood – and then on over to Wabasha Brewing to sample beers from our most local brewery (we were not disappointed – Cathedral Porter and Darktober, mmm!).

I’m eager to start playing music here again. We’ve got some big renovation projects happening in our house that will take a lot of our attention for probably the first year we’re here, but I’m hoping to at least get out and hit a few coffee shops soon.

In the meantime, here is a very rough laptop recording of a song I wrote this summer. (We haven’t gotten the recording equipment set up yet.) You can glimpse our gutted kitchen through the doorway behind me! Reminds me a little of this video Nathan and I made years ago in the house we gutted in Owatonna.

Lyrics:

You’ll never recognize your life’s undertow

That subtle subcurrent stays hidden

Till what you should have done a long time ago

Meets what you are because you didn’t

Keep your eyes open wide

Wear your heart on the outside

Clowns and cynics clog our pocket scrolls

We search for angels on the airwaves

We trip and tangle in the threads of trolls

Ensconced in our respective enclaves

Reach your mind towards the light

Hold your soul through its dark night

Keep your heart open wide

Wear your eyes on the outside

Of all of this cursed and kissed existence

You may not feel it for a long hard time

But joy comes ever back around

And nothing beautiful stays in the lines

And demagogues eventually fall down

Raise your voice through the haze

Hold my hand through these dark days

Keep your ears open wide

Let the best songs inside

Of all of this cursed and kissed existence

 

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It’s been a rough few weeks of gray and rain here in usually-sunny Colorado. But I am happy to report that I will be playing out tomorrow night. I’ve even got a couple brand new songs to play!

The show will be 7:30-9:00 pm on Friday May 22nd at Starry Night Espresso Cafe, 112 S. College Ave in Fort Collins. (www.cafestarrynight.com)

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An ode to globalization, selfies and Jesus junk. I wrote this song shortly after reading The Story of Stuff, in which author Annie Leonard traces the stories behind the everyday stuff we westerners build so much of our lives around.

The song focuses on the people around the world who work, often for short pay and long hours, sometimes in slavery, often in generally poor conditions, to make the stuff that I think is so vital to my quality of life. In making the film to accompany the song, I chose to take a good hard look at my own face rather than further exploiting the beautiful and tragic faces of those who suffer just so I can save time and money perpetuating my comfortable lifestyle.

This video’s purpose is not to inform, inspire, call to action, or entertain. It is mostly to confess, lament, own up to the truth – that my perfect little plastic world is built on the backs of a good part of the real world.

I will not be swearing off my iPhone, my imported grapes, my sweat-shop-produced clothing. But I will be honest about the stories behind the things I allow into my life. There are many perspectives on globalization and the good or evil that it does to people and the planet. There are not easy answers. But this is something worth talking about, acknowledging, wrestling with.

A great place to get started is Leonard’s book, which, along with lots of other resources including some cute little films (whose purpose actually is to inform, inspire, call to action, and entertain), can be found at www.storyofstuff.org.

A couple other links:

About people (including children) mining for cell phone parts in Congo – http://www.congocalling.org

A fair-trade cell phone I just came across today (I know nothing about it, but looks like something worth checking out, *note – only available in Europe) – http://www.fairphone.com

A post I wrote on our less-updated blog golopomo about the environmental impact of our stuff – http://golopomo.wordpress.com/2010/08/19/humanature/

Electronic waste (e-waste) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_waste

*This video and song are shared under Creative Commons. You are free to use/adapt/share as you see fit. An mp3 of the song is available for free download at my Soundcloud page – https://soundcloud.com/julia-tindall-bloom/aint-that-grand

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