Home (Another Song)

might be about life

might just be about sailing

I’ve sailed upon this wilderness all my life
This sea has taught me everything I’ve learned
It’s taken from me everything I ever had
And all I ever had has been returned

Hard weather howled horizon to horizon
Tackle overboard and lost for good
Fearsome creatures prowling in my wake each day
Sun and stars still found me when they could

So many islands green and fair crossed my bow
So many times I thought to go ashore
But not one held the port I knew awaited me
One by one they fell astern forevermore

The time has come to furl my sails and ship the oars
Time to end this life on brine and foam
My time’s been spent in just the way it should have been
And now’s the time, and now, oh now I’m home


Headlights (Another Song for 2020)

Breakfast sound effects included at no extra charge.

“Try the peach pie, hon; it’s to die for.”

Headlights shine on down the road
Headlights shine on down the road
Headlights shine on down the road, gotta keep moving so I don’t get towed
Headlights shine on down the road

Big wheels rolling through the night
Big wheels rolling through the night
Big wheels rolling through the night, gotta keep moving ’cause it’s almost light
Big wheels rolling through the night

Wipers scraping through the rain
Wipers scraping through the rain
Wipers scraping through the rain, gotta keep moving to make that train
Wipers scraping through the rain

Radio scratching out a song
Radio scratching out a song
Radio scratching out a song, gotta keep moving while the signal’s strong
Radio scratching out a song

Headlights shine on down the road
Headlights shine on down the road
Headlights shine on down the road, gotta keep moving get what I’m owed
Headlights shine on down the road


Do the Math

Second of four songs I wrote in February.

Best Beloved’s feet are even itchier than mine. We’ve driven all over two countries and we’ll never really settle down.

Seed for the song (this version, #3 I think) came from the discovery that Best Beloved’s favorite client was born in the tiny hamlet of Valentine Nebraska, a place we considered moving after driving through, just because it was so beautiful.

A few forced lyrics; I was in a hurry. Suggestions for better wording are always welcome.

like I said last night it’s time to go
ain’t sayin nothin you don’t already know
can’t do the math to stay in one place too long
I’ll tell you something so you know nothing’s wrong

gear’s loaded, truck’s warming up
good strong coffee, poured you a cup
guitar behind the seat, backpacks in the bed
so get your boots on, we gotta go just like I said

can’t do the math where you and I get divided
pluses and minuses are all pretty one-sided
you’ve already seen some action
but I’m telling you it’s only a fraction
add it all up you’ll get the same answer I did

valley in north Nebraska near Valentine
couple of minutes from the South Dakota state line
peaceful quiet and green where the river winds through
I’ve seen it before but now I wanna see it with you

can’t do the math where you and I get divided
pluses and minuses are all pretty one-sided
you’ve already seen some action
but I’m telling you it’s only a fraction
add it all up you’ll get the same answer I did

middle of the country the tall grass covers the plains
speed limit means we can have some fun racing the trains
sit behind the Flint Hills see the sunset silhouette
I’ve seen it before, but I haven’t seen it with you yet

can’t do the math where you and I get divided
pluses and minuses are all pretty one-sided
you’ve already seen some action
but I’m telling you it’s only a fraction
add it all up you’ll get the same answer I did

follow the ocean San Diego up to Vancouver
water left, dirt right; not a complicated maneuver
head across to Newfoundland take a ferry over the sea
how you do the math doesn’t make any difference to me

except I can’t do the math where you and I get divided
pluses and minuses are all pretty one-sided
you’ve already seen some action
but I’m telling you it’s only a fraction
add it all up you’ll get the same answer I did


Dark of Night

I’ve been participating in February Album Writing Month for 15 years. Though I’m not aiming for 30+ songs during February like the past two years, or even the standard goal of 14, I couldn’t let the month pass without writing something. Which, of course, happened spontaneously as I was trying to sleep one night last week.

Dark of Night

You’re the dark of night
You steal the sun from the sky
You’re the dark of night
Make the songbirds cry
You’re the dark of night
And I don’t understand why

You told me you loved me
Sweet as a slice of peach pie
You told me you loved me
Intoxicating as rock and rye
You told me you loved me
You knew all along it was a lie

You took my heart
Made me think I could fly
You took my heart
Told me I was your guy
You took my heart
Was just a piece of meat for you to fry

You’re the dark of night
You steal the sun from the sky
You’re the dark of night
Make the songbirds cry
You’re the dark of night
I’ll never understand why


Bells

His mother picked up his sister from our house. She said he’s not answering his phone we have to go.

His mother, young enough to be my daughter, cut him down.

His sister ran to the neighbor, my friend: he’s dead he’s dead.

My friend knelt over him in the hallway for two hours doing CPR until the paramedics came. Two hours.

The paramedics worked for two hours before they gave up.

My friend texted me. He just didn’t have the strength for the phone call.

I told my wife. She cried.

We talked. We told our daughter. She cried. Her first death.

My wife said I have to be there. We went over.

We hugged everybody. Everybody hugged everybody.

There was no crying left.


Three months later I wrote this song.

I finally cried.

Bells

I really don’t blame him he chose not to call
he’d been there for hours crouched in the hall
he sent me the message my heart tore in two
said someone was dead he said it was you

there should have been bells
so everyone would know
’cause the silence is killing me
since you had to go

Why didn’t I see you were so lost?
Would have done anything, paid any cost
But I never asked, and you never said
And some days I wish, it was me instead

there should have been bells
so everyone would know
’cause the silence is killing me
since you had to go

no matter how black there’s always hope
but it’s hard to see at the end of your rope
in the middle of love now there’s a hole
silence so loud taking its toll

there should have been bells
so everyone would know
’cause the silence is killing me
since you had to go


Sleeping Lie

shirtsleeve wipe the window grime
your bark weaker all the time
don’t see you but you’re out there I can tell
shaggy coat too far away to smell

back and forth, closer every pass
you think you see me looking through the glass
shadow of coal pacing hot
you think you’re gonna take me but you’re not

hand on the doorknob, I know

I won’t turn my back
I won’t turn my back
I won’t turn my back
for you
today

I don’t pace I don’t shake I don’t freak out
once in a while I can’t help but peek out
you’re not close enough to bite
you’re still there prowling my night

I lean against the door, I know

I won’t turn my back
I won’t turn my back
I won’t turn my back
for you
today

I hit the light your eyes glow red
you whimper and cower and duck your head
thought you’d come to me to get fed
I’ll laugh out loud when I know you’re dead

you used to knock me down, get on my back
work your fangs to hear my spine crack
worry my neck like you were killing a rat
you and I we’re way past that

kick that door open, now I know

I won’t turn my back
I won’t turn my back
I won’t turn my back
for you
today


Blasting with Phil and Dave Alvin

A little music today.

Though I love Dwight Yoakam’s cover with Pete Anderson raging out a 3-minute solo to finish the song, there’s nothing like The Blasters.

This is my kind of music: growling gravelly vocals, bass and drums stomp stomp stomp, and a guitar that slams you against the wall and keeps kicking till you’re down.

That’s what you get when you blend growing up with Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams with discovering Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple in your teens.


Stars: a Song by Fiona ER Canfield

Recorded the vocal for this about 2012, when Fiona was 6 or 7. It’s taken all these years to learn enough about music and have the equipment to put it to music.

I was astonished to discover that other than a few flat notes, she’s singing perfectly in the key of F. This is worth investigating. I wasn’t aware a small child could, a capella, sing exactly in key. (I adjusted the final note because she was precisely two semitones flat; I suspect that was voice control, not pitch awareness. Also she was 6.)

Maybe children are more musical than I’m aware. Maybe I have an overdeveloped proud father muscle. Maybe I just love my little girl and music and when they come together, why wouldn’t it be perfect?

Stars
Fiona ER Canfield

If the stars could talk
What would they say?
Would they say those words to you?
If the wind could tell secrets
Would it share them with you?
Would you protect them with all of your strength?

If the sun could make you smile
Would its smiles be for you?
Would your eyes have protection from the rays?
If the moon could give you dreams
Would they be happy?
Would the dreams be for you?

Good night for now
And when we wake up
We’ll have dreams of the things that I said
And when we meet again we’ll discover
That the dreams have come true


A Winter of Sorts

You can tell when the conversation is running dry because the talk is all about the weather.

Turned the heater on this morning for the first time since a 4-day stretch in December. It was 63º inside the house. Upstairs. It’s normally about 76º up there.

Fiona sleeps with her window open and her face near the window. I used to sleep like that as a kid in San Diego. Winter nights there get down in the 40s, so I always had cold air to breathe. I like heavy blankets and cold air when I’m sleeping. Trying to sleep when it’s warm is hard.

Took a drive today and listened to all 19 songs I’ve written so far this month. I’ve done well. Two more I need to finish, a travel song for with Fiona, and a third song to go with Not Just Believe and Laminated Map of the World.

Thus far, every song has been entirely voice and tenor guitar (except a collaboration, which really needed bass and screeching electric guitar; if someone shares their lyrics I play what they need, not what I want.)