bittersweet, Songs, Uncategorized, Video Recording

Song: “The Prize”

“The Prize”

Behind the Song

When I began writing this song, I had a very different idea in mind. I started off with the line “Don’t go picking petty fights / with you people you call friends.” I was going to sing about how easy it is to get angry at the people we love and admire — particularly heroes — when they fail to live up to our lofty expectations.

I’ve felt that way about people I admire. I get all jazzed about a set of ideas they propound …. then I find something I don’t like so much … feel disillusioned … and finally, stew in my piquant juices of anger and judgment. So I thought I’d write a song to myself about it.

But I couldn’t get the song to gel. And as I filled my song journal with different versions, I scribbled down “release your grip / on your painted sword.” Interesting. That led to the image of “armor” — i.e. emotional armor — that we grow in order to protect us from getting hurt.

So I reworked the song top-to-bottom with that idea in mind.

Plus, now I have a song that mentions a sword, armor, and a castle. My ten-year-old self approves.

Just a little on the dark side

Lyrics

You forged a suit of armor
when you were just a child.
It kept you safe from the devils in the wild.

But now you're at the castle,
you've reached your journey's end.
But with that visor down, you can't tell foe from friend.

Release your sword
let it clatter to the ground
there's no enemies around
you're safe and sound.

Strip the armor from your chest
you won't need it anymore
if you wanna fit through that door
that takes you to
the prize.

You say they're out to get you,
that I am just naive,
seeing fairies in my land of make-believe.

But I'm not saying there's no monsters,
I'm not saying there's no pain.
I'm saying you can find companions in the rain.

Release your sword
let it clatter to the ground
there's no enemies around
you're safe and sound.

Strip the armor from your chest
you won't need it anymore
if you wanna fit through that door
that takes you to
the prize.

Let me drop the other shoe:
your love will leave you blue;
sometimes you'll hurt so bad you'll swear you'll drown.
But don't you know that it will pass?
The dark skies never last.
And when dawn comes you'll be glad you stuck around.

Your steed can smell the stables,
it's stomping for a rest.
So drop the reins, and you'll complete your quest.

There's music in the courtyard,
dancing in the hall.
The gate is open, there's no need to storm the wall.

Release your sword
let it clatter to the ground
there's no enemies around
you're safe and sound.

Strip the armor from your chest
you won't need it anymore
if you wanna fit through that door
that takes you to
the prize.
Songs, Sweet, Uncategorized, Video Recording

Song: “Happy Independence Day”

“Happy Independence Day”

Behind the Song

We didn’t brave the crowds at our town’s 4th of July Parade this year. Maybe next year once the kids get the vaccine.

So we threw a parade in our backyard. I improvised this song as we marched, then added a few stanzas today.

It’s a light, celebratory, hopeful kind of 4th of July song.

Lyrics

Happy fourth of July,
let your rocket fly.
Hear the freedom ring as we say,
Happy, happy Independence Day,
Happy, happy Independence Day.

Happy fourth of July,
raise your flag up high.
Watch the colors dance about and play.
Happy, happy Independence Day,
Happy, happy Independence Day.

Happy fourth of July,
hold your head up high.
As we widen freedom's mighty way.
Happy, happy Independence Day,
Happy, happy Independence Day.
Readings, Video Recording

Reading: “The Declaration of Independence

The U.S. Declaration of Independence

For Independence Day here in 2021, I wanted to read the Declaration of Independence.

I feel inspired by the preamble, when it declares that all are created equal, possessing rights that cannot be trampled upon.

But I find myself particularly appreciating the bulk of the Declaration. Jefferson and company spell out twenty-seven reasons why they are declaring independence. They make a reasoned case, designed to justify their actions to each other and the rest of the world, resting on facts which can be investigated. I see that as the epitome of the Enlightenment.

I read from the complete text available at the U.S. National Archives. There you can also read a little on the history surrounding the declaration, and other interesting tidbits.

Happy Independence Day!

Songs, Sweet, Video Recording

Song: “I Dreamt of Superman”

“I Dreamt of Superman”

I have received a lot of Superman birthday cards over the years, probably close to two dozen. And that’s fine with me.

My friends and family know I was a passionate lover of superheroes in my boyhood, and Superman was “the key, the granddaddy of them all.”

Why?

He is powerful, yes.

He is good, yes.

And he is full of purpose.

Maybe just a hint of melancholy

Lyrics

I dreamt of Superman again last night,
he was flying through a pale blue morning sky.
The rising sun set fire to the 'S' upon his chest,
and struck a searching glint from his eye.

Where are you flying to, Man of Steel?
Who needs saving today?
The Last Son of Krypton bursts from the earth,
blazing the hero's golden way.

Now I'm not a hero, I can barely help myself;
I never mastered any martial art.
But when I think of his enduring toil, with no thought of earning spoil,
a flicker ignites my frozen heart.

Where are you flying to, Man of Steel?
Who needs saving today?
The Last Son of Krypton bursts from the earth,
blazing the hero's golden way.

Maybe we've got heroes hiding in our breast,
brave like the man with the high red boots.
Maybe we can fly with our feet upon the ground,
and inspire in our ordinary suits.

Where are you flying to, Man of Steel?
Who needs saving today?
The Last Son of Krypton bursts from the earth,
blazing the hero's golden way.
Songs, Video Recording

Song: “Yesterday’s Machine”

“Yesterday’s Machine”

Behind the Song

In “Yesterday’s Machine,” I take a nostalgic view of old tech. I remember back when I was a kid and you pushed buttons on a machine, you felt it pushing back … something clicked or whirred … you could imagine (or pry open and see) the guts of the machine. Life seemed simpler then, and there are times I yearn for it.

But I’m no Luddite. I welcome and embrace a Star Trek future. Let me put myself on record for that, Mr. Spock.

But I admit: I fumble with technology. For example: I tried to overdub a separate audio recording and paste it into this video. I spent a good hour on it, but the video came out looking and sounding like those parodies of badly dubbed Kung Fu movies. (I thought it’d be funny to use that video nevertheless, to highlight the meaning of the song … but concluded the result would be too distracting.) I did have fun learning something new, but learning a new program or tool opens up a deep rabbit hole, and there are only so many I can dive down.

So do you have a favorite piece of nostalgia tech you long to resurrect?

If so, join me in mourning the passing of Yesterday’s Machine.

With a smidge of sea salt sprinkled in

Lyrics

Do you remember the gentle tug of a rotary phone?
Dialing digits you learned by heart to your grandma's home.
Back then when you pulled a lever or pushed a button down
you could hear the rumble of a gear, that sweet metallic sound.

Nowadays a button's just a phantom on a screen,
won't be long 'till we plug our brains into someone else's dream.

So let's all mourn the passing
of yesterday's machine.
Let's polish up our memories
of the wonders we have seen.

They don't make 'em like they used to
(and even if they never did),
let's raise a toast to the passing host
of yesterday's machine.

The future may be brighter, but it's like staring at the sun.
I feel I'm just starting a game some kid already won.
Is the world really running faster, or am I just running slow?
Do I spend my evenings repeating things I already know?

Nowadays a button's just a phantom on a screen,
won't be long 'till we plug our brains into someone else's dream.

So let's all mourn the passing
of yesterday's machine.
Let's polish up our memories
of the wonders we have seen.

They don't make 'em like they used to
(and even if they never did),
let's raise a toast to the passing host
of yesterday's machine.
Let's make the most of the fading ghost
of yesterday's machine.
Let's raise a toast to the passing host
of yesterday's machine.

Songs, Sweet, Video Recording

Song: “Summer Sun”

“SUmmer Sung”

Summer is upon us. Let us celebrate its return.

Camping in the woods …

Picnics at the beach …

Familiar faces around the bbq …

… and the beginning of a return to how-it-was-before.

Lyrics

It's June, school's over
the lilacs have passed.
The pollen's gone from our windshield
spring blitzed by fast.

The sprinkler sprouted cobwebs
I'm clearing them away.
I'm ready for the summer sun
today.

O, Summer Sun!
C'mon, begin!
Bleach my hair!
Brown my skin!

O, Summer Sun,
winter was so gray --
I'm ready for your warm embrace
today.

Picnic at the ocean
dig a pit into the sand.
Roast a pack of hotdogs
scrape the marshmallow from my hands.

I'm sweating like a can of beer
pulled from the cooler's ice.
But don't you hide behind the clouds
I'll gladly pay your price

O, Summer Sun!
C'mon, begin!
Bleach my hair!
Brown my skin!

O, Summer Sun,
winter was so gray --
I'm ready for your warm embrace
today.

Fall is cozy
when leaves turn gold
and wood-smoke perfumes the air.

But I'm not done
with your marathon days
and the canopy of green full-leaf trees.

O, Summer Sun!
C'mon, begin!
Bleach my hair!
Brown my skin!

O, Summer Sun,
winter was so gray --
I'm ready for your warm embrace,
come on down and kiss my face,
brighten up this somber place,
yeah I'm ready for your warm embrace
today.