All Swept Away

Listen to the MP3, and then read on.

This the final song in my “One Long Year” project–the postlude as it were. This is the song in which his life flashes before his eyes. I apologize for the ridiculously bad performance. This is a one take recording of a complicated song that needs to be fleshed out with the full orchestra I hear in my head and a whole lot of practice. Please see beyond that to the music that’s at the heart of the recording. I’m especially eager to get your feedback on the lyrics. I’m trying something different–something epic–and it may just be an epic fail.

1. I was born just like you
in water and womb
The cord was cut and I floated away
in a strong, cold stream of days

2. The current carried me relentlessly on
I had to learn how to swim before I learned how to walk
And the endless stream of nights and days
Flood my memories

3. Waking to the warmth of the sun on my bed
And the sound of my mother singing in the kitchen
And the muffled vibration of my father’s heavy footsteps
And the creak of the oven door and the smell of bread
The sharp breath drawn from fall morning air
And laughing at in the sunlit smoke, exhaling
And the crayon yellow bus that would take me away
To a school full of children who would never be my friends

4. Long hours spent pretending to listen
To teachers who were as alone and confused as the students
While my thoughts were filled with unanswered questions
Like a deep, still pool, diving to the bottom
I was pushed away in the undertow
With no way to fight its unforgiving power
And no choice but give in to the will of the water
And let it carry me on, farther and farther

And we’re all swept away

5. …into you, and you into me
Was it luck of the current or destiny?
All I know is this confluence gave meaning
To the indifferent flow of months and years
And our waters wove together and a new life stream
Grew from the two. For the first time I could feel my heart beating.
With the weight of a lifetime of hope and fear
I gave my heart to you, and you to me.

6. But our pasts piled up and seeped into everything
We were possessed by spirits who compelled us to speak
the bitter words from which we thought love had freed us
and the acid tongues that our ancestors bequeathed us.
Until the very thing that once revived my thirsty spirit
Became bitter in my mouth, and hateful and weary
There was too much water under the bridge, an ocean between us
We could swim for the rest of our lives, but now there’s no returning

7. We’re all swept out to sea adrift in the currents
We could swim for the rest of our lives, never returning
We’re all swept out to sea adrift in the currents
And we swim for our lives but we’ll never get back.

And we’re all swept away

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Will This Night Never End?

Coming to the close of my “One Long Year” song cycle, you’ll notice that this song bookends the first song, “This Night Will Never End.” The first time it appeared, it was full of hope. Now that things have pretty much fallen apart, our protagonist turns the phrase into a question–”will this night never end?

Silence is music as day turns to night
And there’s a symphony of emptiness playing in my mind
It’s dull and confusing—head full of wine
I’m holding on for dear life.

Will this night never end?

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If I Leave It All Behind

I’ve had the seed of this song in my idea files for something like 10 years. I decided that it would fit well in the context of my One Long Year project, so I finally got down to the task of turning it from scattered chord patterns and lyric fragments into a full fledged song. My performance is poop. Sorry. In my sketches, I had ideas for two bridges. I decided to use both. It’s kind of unorthodox for a song to have two bridges, but I think it works. As always, your comments are welcome. I rarely cry myself to sleep when people suggest changes.

Listen with gracious ears to the  demo that I sang in one take into my laptop: If I Leave It All Behind, MP3.

As the year slowly unraveled
And what hope I had continued to unwind
It seemed the only thread remaining
led to another place and a whole new life.

Maybe this time I’ll get it right
Maybe this time
I will finally get it right
if I leave it all behind

No one’s gonna miss me
No one will apologize.
And I thought this time was different
How could I have been so blind?   CHORUS

From town to town, from place to place
It’s all the same
From time to time I wonder why
things never change.

I keep my options open.
expectations low, but my hopes are high.
If I put the past behind me,
Perhaps the future will be bright.   CHORUS

Maybe I just need some space, a change of scenery.
Shed some baggage, get a taste of being free.
The only thing I take from town to town is me—
It’s me.

In a hallway full of boxes
Suddenly I realize
That the only thing I’ve perfected
Is leaving everything behind   CHORUS

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All Hallow’s Eve

Still moving along on my One Long Year project. Coming into Fall, with just a few more “months” to go. If you want to get the larger picture, check out the overview: The short version of the OLY project is that the protagonist’s life is unraveling and we hear the musical echoes of this, without knowing exactly what the details are. This somewhat new territory for me, so I’d love feedback on the song or the larger project. Or just listen: All Hallow’s Eve, MP3

Don’t want to go to bed
Don’t want to go to bed tonight
I’m tired to the bone
But I can’t bear to be alone with them
The voices in my head

The voices in my head
The voices in my head begin
to sing a song of woe
as if I hadn’t heard them all before
The past begins again

Saints and sinners branch from the family tree
Connect my roots to the dirt of our history
Bitter fruit from which I’ll never be free
The past possesses me
The past possesses me

The past begins again
The past begins again in me
It’s like I’m destined to repeat
Each voice inside of me. I sing
The chorus once again. (CHORUS)

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The FAWM Freakout March

I needed to take a break from all the dark, serious stuff I’ve been writing, so I decided to write a FAWM theme song in the form of a march: MP3.

Fa fa fa fa FAWM
You make me ca ca crazy
A a all along
You make me ma ma mad

14 sa sa songs
sa sa sounded so so easy
but ta ta ta two weeks to go
it’s going to kick my

Fa fa fa fa February
Album Writing Month (2x)

Fa fa fa fa FAWM
You make me ca ca crazy
I’m really freaking out!

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I’m a “push neatly from the bottom of the tube” type of person. My wife is a “grab and squeeze until something gives” type of person. I sometimes look at the mangled tube and wonder “What did that poor thing do to deserve to be grabbed by the neck and choked like that?” And “Is this just a different brushing ritual, or is there some latent rage behind it all?” As is often the case, my random ruminations on mundane objects like toothpaste tubes morph into song ideas. So while the song is not about Amy per se, it was inspired by her. I offer it as perhaps the strangest Valentine’s Day song ever: Toothpaste.

Have you lost faith?
Have you lost heart?
Has what is left grown tired and hard?

Has it been hard?
Has it been long?
Has it been going on and on?

Would it kill you
To not treat the toothpaste
Like something you were trying to strangle?

Has it gone too far?
Has it gone too wrong?
Has it just worn you down?

Are you left with rage
When all your love is gone?
Are you left with nothing left at all?

Would it kill you
To not treat the toothpaste
Like something you were trying to strangle?

Are you left with nothing left at all?

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Listen up: Summer, MP3

A new addition to my “One Long Year” song cycle. (You can see the overview of the project here: I’ll be up front with you and say that I’m not completely convinced by this one. I felt like I needed something a bit up tempo to break up all the introspective, slow songs. But it’s a bear to craft good upbeat songs, isn’t it? They’re very easy to write, but catchy quickly becomes cloying and high energy becomes hokey. I tried to keep this simple and summery to reflect the time of year and the light style most summer songs take, but underneath that the song is really about regrets. Like I said, I’m not entirely convinced that the song works. I figure the beauty of FAWM is that I can write quickly and intuitively and then edit or cut later. I’ll take any advice you have for me.

 1. The days are hot and the nights are long
When was the last time any of us got any sleep at all?
Bonfire glow and a keg of beer
Is it any wonder things got a little weird?Wake at noon and it all comes back
The smell of suntan lotion and the sweet taste of regret
We’ve all got our secrets, we’ve all made mistakes
Still, I’ve got a feeling there’s going to be hell to pay

Everyone’s hoping for an endless summer
I’m just hoping for a place to land
‘cause I’m as high as a kite
And I think I might have just cut my string

There’s a fine line between freedom
And free floating in the wind
And I’m wondering if I can ever make it back again
Am I the only one who wishes summer would end?

2. It’s been one hot summer, and one long year
After a lonely spring with more rain than a heart could bear
It’s been too much work and too little play
And so much pressure that it had to come out some way

The sun bakes into on my salty skin
like it’s writing a page in the book of my life’s sin
Invisible ink but it won’t wash off
How do I manage to betray everyone I love?


If I survive this sweltering summer
Make it through another fall
I’ll wait out the winter
And joke that I’ve been through hell.

But it’s no joke. The way I’m headed
I’ll be a broken, empty man.
Drift away like the summer sand.
Am I the only one who wishes summer would end?

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Never Perfect

Never Perfect” is the second song in my One Long Year song cycle. This one, pretty obviously, corresponds with Valentine’s Day. I originally wrote a version of this last year as a quirky meditation on love. However, it’s been completely reworked here so that it will fit into the context of this year’s One Long Year project. (I.e. more depressing and mostly hopeless.) 

St. Valentine
Can you share a little wisdom?
You were chaste, but love’s your business
It’s your day, but it’s my daily burden.

My love and I, we have our holiday traditions
Like the way we ruin Christmas
And anniversaries over stupid things like the dishes.
It’s never perfect.

St Valentine
Do you take prayers from weary lovers?
Who aren’t looking for another
But wonder how they ended up like business partners or brothers.

Why does love seem so perfect at a distance?
Does the consummation kill it?
Wondering if it’s worth it
When it’s never perfect. 

St. Valentine
You were a saint, but I’m sinner.
I pray the pain of love won’t kill me,
But I’m afraid that pray’s not working
It’s never perfect.

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Taking a break from all the seriousness, here’s a goofy little kid’s song: Raisins.

Yesterday I was rehearsing with a piano-playing mom. She had to take a call, so I entertained her son Blake with a song about the raisins he was eating. This morning I decided it was good enough to round out with verses about graham crackers and oranges.

Raisins. I’m just wild about raisins.
And I’m craving nature’s perfect dessert
These shriveled grapes
Make me go ape
Make me go crazy and it’s only getting worse
So give me raisins and you won’t get hurt

Graham crackers. I love to snack on graham crackers.
The biggest factor is their crispy sweet crunch.
In twos or in fours
In soup or s’mores
I’d fight a weed whacker to have them for lunch
So give me graham crackers and I’ll start to munch

Orange. Sweet, juicy orange.
Sing la la loobidy lorange dabba doobity doo
Peel off their skin
And I’ll jump right in
Ba boobadee borange ee doo, la loobidy loridy loo
I’d like an orange. How ‘bout you?

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I’m Almost Already Gone

The third song in my One Long Year song cycle , this song accompanies Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday’s themes of mortality are amplified and seen through unbelieving eyes. Look out. It’s pretty depressing stuff. Take a listen: MP3.

1. Dust to dust and ashes to ashes
And whatever way the cold wind blows.
Iron to rust, and flames in the grass.
You just don’t know.

You just don’t know
When your day will come,
But your ending is clear.
No one’s sure
where we go,
but I’m sure it won’t be here.

I don’t need a cross of ashes,
‘cause I’m already marked
with a curse of death and dispassion
that I wear like a scar.

I don’t need a cross of ashes
To remind me that I’m the dirt’s favorite son.
I came from dust and to dust I’ll pass, and
I’m almost already gone

2. I’m paying for sins I have yet to commit—
Ashes to ashes and dust to dust.
I suffer the sting of poison that Adam bit.
Haven’t I had enough?

Enough remorse 
For my father’s sins;
We’re all sacks of dirt in the end.
You can sing your songs,
But in your dry heart you know
It’s your own grave you’re filling in. CHORUS

3. I was born alone and I’ll die alone. And in between
I’ll share some loneliness with you.
We’ll share our dirt and we’ll call it love;
It’s all we can do.

All we can do
In the meantime,
Until the wind sweeps us on,
Is huddle close
Against the cold,
But it still chills me to the bone. CHORUS

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