Songs, Video Recording

Song: “Free Range Chicken”

“Free Range Chicken”

You ever think about how many words and expressions come from chickens?

Don’t be a chicken.

I feel cooped up.

It’s time to fly the coop.

Don’t brood over your problems.

And many more. Now that I’ve lived with three backyard chickens for three years, I understand how those expressions got their meanings.

Chickens are cowards. They get squawky they’re shut up in their coop. And when they turn “broody” — sit on their nest for days straight because they believe they’re hatching an egg even when they’re not — they stare daggers at you.

Most of these expressions are kind of negative. Chickens don’t come out looking to strong or worthy of emulation. But they do have a lot to offer — fresh eggs every day or so during laying season — that’s not too shabby. They keep a lot of bugs out of our garden. They create compost. They recycle our food scraps into eggs for our breakfast.

Now, I didn’t set out to write an anthem for chickens with today’s song. And it’s not really about chickens. It struck me as strange and a little funny to be using a chicken as a viewpoint character. But I like it; maybe because the chicken, to mix a metaphor, is an underdog.

The first two lines came to me: “I’m a free range chicken / don’t fence me in.” And I got an image of a character with a chip on his shoulder. Yeah, he may not be the strongest of the bunch; he may not really be able to “fly”; and yeah, he may have been bred and domesticated for someone else’s goals. But he’s going to live his own life, dammit. So just let me be.

Humans are kind of a domesticated species too, it seems — a species that has domesticated itself, with its long childhoods and its immersive cultures. As children of parents and children of cultures, we can feel like our lives are not our own. But dammit, they should be.

This one’s SALTY

Lyrics

I’m a free range chicken
don’t fence me in.
To a free range chicken,
fences are a sin.

You may have bred me
to feed your own design.
But just ’cause you gave me life
don’t mean it ain’t mine.

I’m a peckin’, I’m a scratchin’
if you corner me, I’ll fight.
But I’d rather keep on searching
for that open light.

Don’t clip my feathers.
Don’t trim my wings.
I may only fly for a second or two,
but while I’m up there, I’m a king.

I dash for cover
when the eagle swoops down low;
but I’ll be back in my good time,
so just let me go.

I’m a peckin’, I’m a scratchin’
if you corner me, I’ll fight.
But I’d rather keep on searching
for that open light.

I’m a free range chicken
don’t fence me in.
To a free range chicken,
fences are a sin.

You may have bred me
to feed your own design.
But just ’cause you gave me life
don’t mean it ain’t mine.

Just ’cause you gave me life
don’t mean that life
ain’t mine.

Songs, Video Recording

Song: “A Little Fame”

“A Little Fame”

Here’s a cheeky song … with a little basis in biography.

From 8 years old onward, I acted in plays every chance I got. I remember having a conversation with my mom, I think, about whether I should audition for commercials, movies, etc. (We lived in a small town, nowhere near close to major TV/film markets, so it’s not as if I was turning down solid opportunities. But the effort could have been made.)

If I remember right, I said something like “no, I’ll keep on acting in local plays. Have a normal childhood. Then I can get famous when I’m older.”

Now, much older, I don’t have too many star-studded dreams anymore, and I’m pretty much fine with it. (I’d like to share my songs … but not so sure about being in the spotlight.) But every so often I get the itch to stand at the center of a stage with all eyes on me. This song takes that little urge, embiggens it, and has some fun.

Not really bittersweet … but I don’t have a flavor for “cheeky.” Hmmm … maybe salty? Taffy?

Lyrics

I'm glad I wasn't famous 
early in my life.
No refreshing crop of groupies
to spoil me for my wife.

And I'm glad I learned the value
of eking out a wage.
Learned to grin and bear it
and bottle up my rage.

But now I think I'm ready for the movie to begin
Close up on my sparkling blues and my million-dollar grin ...

Ooooh, just a little, Ooooh, just a little,
a little star-struck when they see --
Ooooh, just a little, Ooooh, just a little,
I think I'm ready now
for a little fame
a little fame for little old me.

See I always had the feeling
that I should be a star.
Like everyone should know me,
but like, know me from afar.

When I speak I'd hook my listeners
without the need for a sharper wit.
And I'd just kind of glide off problems
on the wave of my latest hit.

Yes I know I'm ready for the movie to begin
Close up on my sparkling blues and my million-dollar grin ...

Ooooh, just a little, Ooooh, just a little,
a little star-struck when they see --
Ooooh, just a little, Ooooh, just a little,
I think I'm ready now
for a little fame
a little fame for little old me.

Won't I be unhappy with that spotlight in my eyes?
Just hand me a pair of designer shades
and I'll be fine.

Yes, Lord, I am ready for the movie to begin
Close up on my sparkling blues and my million-dollar grin ...

Ooooh, just a little, Ooooh, just a little,
a little star-struck when they see --
Ooooh, just a little, Ooooh, just a little,
I think I'm ready now
for a little fame
a little fame for little old me.

Songs, Video Recording

Song: “Crom”

“Crom”

This song started as an exercise for a lyric class I was taking, and quickly took on a life of its own.

As gods will.

When I was in high school, my best bud Jesse and I got into the musical score for the great and grim film Conan the Barbarian (the Schwarzenegger/Milius version.) The score was composed by Basil Poledouris, who deftly captured (and help create) the archaic, unforgiving, desolate feel of the film.

I wanted to echo that same feeling with this song. And have a little fun while I was at it.

A little sea salt sprinkled in, too

Lyrics

Their gods may be the four great winds 
they may strip my hills to stone.
But I reap the rock and shape it to my will
with blades that splinter bone.

I am Crom
the god of doom.
I shroud the earth in dread
and fields of blood.

If you seek to earn my bloody blessing
I demand a heavy toll.
Your sword will leave many widows weeping
and the price is your soul.

I am Crom
the god of doom.
I shroud the earth in dread
and fields of blood.

I will turn you on my wheel of pain
I will turn your skin to stone.
Your hand will strike down every man
you will trod my earth alone.

I am Crom
the god of doom.
I shroud the earth in dread
and fields of blood.

Why do you call my name?
Beg for me to speak?
Crom feels no pity
for the weak.

You will build your throne on a stack of skulls
their skins will be your cloak.
The world will know you're coming
when they smell the blood and smoke.

I am Crom
the god of doom.
I shroud the earth in dread
and fields of blood.