The Weekly Song
I spent the weekend on a flash trip to Virginia in honor of Mother's Day. Here's a recent snapshot:
This song came together during the first week of the weekly song project. I shied away from recording it for a while because I found it both creepy and hard to play. The first half of the lyrics are quite old-- I wrote them several years ago with a very different feel in mind (probably major key, with more of a country waltz feel). If the song had gone in that direction, I imagine the lyrics would have unfolded into detail on the "thought" itself, revealing it to be some kind of unrequited love or nursed heartbreak. As it is, the thought is never unpacked, and it is its persistence that gets the attention. I think the song is better for that.
This weekly song project has forced me to regularly reconsider the fragments and partial songs I have rattling around in the toolbox. Many songs that I've written this year use bits and pieces of old lyrics. One technique that I've found very helpful in sparking new inspiration from old material is rewriting. This is as simple as it sounds: I find the old lyrics, pull out a fresh piece of paper, and write them down again, usually in the middle of the page so that there is room above and below for additions. The physical act of rewriting (as opposed to just rereading) forces me to really consider the rhythm and flow of the words themselves. Doing it by hand slows me down, which is a good thing. Sometimes new words occur, or a new musical feeling seems to underpin the lyrics. It's not much, but it's often just enough to get me rolling on the rest of the song. That's what happened with this one.
I took the video at the Pennsylvania welcome center north of Mansfield on my way south. The weather was a perfect complement for the song.
Executive Patrons (thankyouthankyouthankyou)
Alan Bargar and Karen Schantz
I've been carrying this thought
folded close in the back of my mind
I've been carrying this thought around
for a long time
It creeps awake in the morning
yawning and stretching and slow
then slinks off for a drink at the tavern
where the unwritten songs go
and I follow him sometimes to the window with the neon lights
but the bouncer won't ever admit me, I guess they don't allow my kind
Now the thought's in the kitchen
curling up like the steam from my tea
and I think I've got him right where I want him
but maybe he's got me
And I move round from room to room
and he always escorts me
tucks me in with a smile then sneaks out
after I fall asleep
And some nights I follow him to the river where all thinking stems
and I hold him down in the water but that goddamned thing can swim
So we sit in the parlor
and I let him take the better seat
yeah it's all I can do now
to keep this fragile, shaky peace of mind
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