Saturday, November 26, 2005

Enslaved by an Angel

Enslaved by an Angel

This is probably one of, if not the, shortest songs that will be featured in AYoS. A simple quatrain, it has defied all my attempts to draw it out or elaborate on its wispy hint of a premise.

It grew, perhaps amusingly, out of a single phrase in my notebook, "torched by an angel." (At the time, my beloved Law & Order reruns were being interrupted by frequent promos for the syndicated reruns of the old show, Touched by an Angel.) Late one night when I was working on another song, I stumbled on a simple little fingerpick thing and came up with the lyrics below on the spur of the moment.

By the way, I fell in love with this painting (above) by Adolphe-William Bouguereau (1825-1905), which I have since learned is titled "Cupidon." I was sorting through various Renaissance and post-Ren paintings looking for the perfect angel... I was thinking something more "Biblical" -- but I stopped dead when I saw this. (And, yes, I know "Cupidon" is French for "Cupid." And Cupid was not an angel or even, well... in my target sex. But, damn, it's a cool painting. In my mind, it's a girl angel. A 19 year old girl angel. Make of that what you will.)

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Enslaved by an Angel

Enslaved by an angel
I never knew a thing
I strode across continents
now I cower beneath her wing

Friday, November 25, 2005



This gruel is about as thin as it gets.

Inspired, for a moment, by the superfluity of meaningful lyrics to a good blues song, I threw these sketchy lines across some appropriately minor blues changes and, for a while, it made its way into my live sets on an at least occasional basis.

Sharp-eyed fans of 60's lit may notice a few references to poet-novelist-folkie Richard Fariña's nearly forgotten novel, Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me, which attained near scriptural significance for me as a young man.

Perhaps because it was very much a young man's book, perhaps it was because Fariña had died, still a young man himself, only a year or two before I discovered him... at any rate, I read and reread it and then went on to read his pal Thomas Pynchon's V and Crying of Lot 49, looking for some sort of clue about where to go from there. (If you've read V, you probably know how scary that notion is... And, no, it wasn't the source book for the 70s sci-fi TV show.)

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Wake up baby, turn your
dimmer lights down low
When it gets yellow like this it hurts my
eyes -- but it eases my soul

Come here baby pay those
monkeys in the shadows no mind
Those monkeys are my demons -- they been
waitin' for me such a long time

I been down -- but it
never looked like up to me

I been down but I guess
down isn't what it used to be

Thursday, November 24, 2005

All I Need Is the Sun

All I Need Is the Sun

A thanksgiving song.

I'm at that point in my life when I'm mostly beyond being afraid for myself, but like anyone, I have my moments of darkness and doubt.

When things are darkest... I count my blessings.

It's a tactic that not only dovetails nicely with my innate perversity, but which has served me well over the years. As I mentioned in a previous post, 25 years ago (last month) I was hit by an inattentive driver while riding my motorcycle and ended up in the hospital for 2 months (most of that in traction) with an "exploded" hip, a smashed femur, and a shattered ankle.

They pieced me back together (my ex-rays look like I was attacked by the contents of a hardware store), but there were some tough times along the way, I was on crutches for 6 months and a cane for 5 years. (Turned out I was walking on a leg that was still broken. Long story that reinforces the importance of second opinions, which I discovered late.)

Anyhow, the thing is, when things got tough, as they occasionally did, I counted my blessings. (I used to feel bitter that I didn't have any shoes until I saw a man who didn't have any feet. You know?)

I also drank... I'd say 'but that's another story' -- but it's actually this story, or more properly the story of this song.

At any rate, here's a guy who, I'm thinking, is living in that tiny postage-stamp sized bit of grace afforded those with little left to lose...

These lyrics were originally written as a sort of rap to go with music from Brit techno whizkid Deakin Scott but, while Deakin and I collaborated more or less successfully on an earlier track (the lyrics for which are my "Mountains Come, Mountains Go") the track these were written for never came together and I finally sat down with my acoustic guitar a few months later and came up, more or less, with these chords.

I say 'more or less' because I actually had all but forgotten this song and before yesterday and had quite likely not played it twice since 1999. A shame, since I really like it. It's not the first song I've written or track I've recorded in a 'creative phase' that's gone forgotten for a long period after the arc of sometimes fevered productivity has passed.

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looking for my place in the sun
ah but everything is already gone
a bottle in a bag and a bun
now all I need is the sun

caviar and champagne are fun
limos and callgirls the run
but those cocaine days are done
now all I need is the sun

kingdoms and palaces galore
yachts and planes for sure
diamonds and oilfields and mines
yet I traded them all for this wine

caviar and champagne are fun...

I've spent a thousand times what you'll ever own
I had twenty people answerin' my phone
You-- you'd never get through... yet now
here I am drinkin' with you

caviar and champagne are fun
limos and callgirls the run
but those cocaine days are done
now all I need is the sun

(C)1999, TK Major

Wednesday, November 23, 2005



First up... the lyrics for this song expose one of the dangers of writing a 'serious' song in colloquial idiom. The lyrics, on the page, look... how shall I put this to spare my delicate feelings... stupid.

Sure... I grew up saying things like "he might 'a fell" instead of the proper "he might have fallen" and it does sound completely natural to my ear. But, dang, it looks stupid when you write it out. I look like a gol dang illiterate, I do. Yup.

Anyhow, I never really felt like I finished this song (weak second verse... some too obvious phrasing... whaddya know, everyone is a critic) -- but that never stopped me from performing it frequently back in the 90's. I suppose it fit my mood at the time, which was to the dark side of melancholy.

When I performed it back then, I often mentioned that it was my understanding that there was a Jewish tradition (probably picked up from friends, books, or movies, since I, myself, am not Jewish) suggesting that, without proof otherwise, a possible suicide should be considered an accident -- so as not to send a message of despair and futility to the community, particularly young people.

That was the context in which I conceived this song, building what little development there is around that central ambiguity.

Several years ago I became acquainted with an Americana band that I discovered on the web, The Pernice Brothers. (They were a Subpop band, so it wasn't like they were deep underground, or anything.) I liked them enough to buy the 1998 album, Overcome by Happiness.

On that album, I discovered a song about suicide that had a line strikingly like the opening line of this song ("They found his car" in my song, "Her" car in the Pernice Brothers tune) with a melody nearly identical to the melody I used to use. (On this version I somewhat unconsciously changed the melody and decided to leave it.)

From there, the songs deviate quite a bit and, entres nous, I believe the Pernice Brothers song is a decidedly superior song (and has a very pretty string arrangement, to boot).

Still, I thought it might be worth noting, should any fellow Pernice Brothers fans stumble on my song here and note the (to me) small but striking similarity: my song was written in 1991 and performed frequently in public in the next few years -- often at the Long Beach club Bogart's, host to many a touring band over the years.

But, hey, great minds think alike (ahem) and I have no doubt that if you put 10,000 moody songwriters in a room and turn them loose at least a couple of them will come up with the intro lines to the song below...

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They found his car
didn't find a note
but they found this rose
lying by the side of the road

The sky was dark
when I got the call
her voice shook bad
She could barely talk at all

the rocks were slick
you could never tell
the sea so far below him
he might 'a fell

I knew he was sick
never knew how bad
but I know he fought
gave it everything he had

I guess we'll never know
what the end was like
I know he cursed the dark.
I hope he saw the light

the rocks were slick
you could never tell
the sea so far below him
he might 'a fell

1:29pm Sep 12,1991
(C)1991 TK MAJOR

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

This Perfect Day


A perfect day at the end of time.

The day I wrote this song, cherry blossoms drifted across impossibly blue skies. it was a warm day in January and the air was sweet with the smell of the tiny floating flowers.

I found myself thinking about stories I'd heard of the day they dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima... how it was a beautiful day with blue skies and people were in a good mood, despite the war troubles.

And in my mind I saw a young couple walking down a street, maybe in East LA, his hand in her back pocket and his nose nuzzling her behind the ear. When I see it, there are lowered Hondas and people in the park. It's a beautiful day.

Later, they make love all night as the rain comes down. He holds her in his arms. A single tear rolls down her cheek.

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This Perfect Day

petals drift through the warm spring air
got my hand on your butt got my nose in your hair
got my heart on my sleeve and it's all too clear
everything i wanted is all right here

this perfect time this perfect place
a perfect tear slides down your face
It's such a shame
It's such a shame...

the rain comes down all night long
we just lie there until the dawn
the world's in your eyes and you're in my arms
everything I wanted right here all along

this perfect time this perfect place...

one last kiss one last sigh
one last wish though you know it's a lie
One more laugh just to not have to cry
I love you baby til the end of time

this perfect time this perfect place
a perfect tear slides down your face
It's such a shame
It's such a shame...

(c)1999 Thomas K. Major

Monday, November 21, 2005

Swim or Die

Swim or Die

Ever get really good advice and not seem to be able to take it -- even though you think it could maybe even save your life?

No, I'm not talking about quitting smoking. (OK, maybe I am; you have to decide for yourself.)

Sometimes you're just a deer in life's headlights, frozen, agonizingly in what should be a moment of indecision... and maybe it is just a moment but it seems to stretch on forever almost as though retelling your life in one of those "How did I get here?" flashbacks. Live or die. Love or hate. Go to work or sleep all day and lose your job.

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forget her eyes forget her voice
forget her soft caress
she's just some phoney made up girl
up inside your lonely head

forget the night that could have been
the time that never was
forget the dreams that turned to lies
then crumbled into dust

swim or die
it's understood
I know just what to do
swim or die
it sounds- so - good
if I could only move

the waters cold
the moon is pale
the lights sparkle on the pier
the musics faint & far away
the ocean's like a mirror

I see myself for what I am
it all becomes so clear
just a wave upon the sea
and this ocean's just a tear

swim or die
it's understood
I know just what to do
swim or die
it sounds- so - good
if I could only move

(C)1996, TK Major

An autobiographical note: the protagonist in this song is most assuredly not me. But it's his emotional paralysis that spoke for my matrix of moods as I was writing this song. Autobiography-wise, the smart ass a few songs back who sang "Sometimes at night I call your name / a thousand girls have told me so," is more up my alley. Pathetic as I understand mature people will think that. Talk about the footprint of pathology, huh? This footnote sez it all.

Sunday, November 20, 2005



s promised, here's the song I wrote immediately before yesterday's "She'd Be Mine" -- telling much the same story from a somewhat different perspective -- and in a significantly different style.

Although this was originally written as a country/roots oriented song, as well, it seemed to drift inexorably toward a funky stripped down reading, as can be seen in the 'studio version' below.

(I'm not really sure how to make the distinction between the fully produced versions that already exist for some AYoS songs and these, highly informal -- okay, slapdash -- acoustic versions. The 'studio versions' were also recorded at home on my own gear. My studio at my old house was my office. Here in my tiny beachside flat, my studio -- and my office -- is my dining room table. Hell, it's the dining room table, too.)

Just below is the little story/blurb I sometimes used to promote this song in the "good ol' days" at the old (where the 'studio version' garnered many thousands of plays over the several years that indie music paradise was open for biz).

You'll note that it's more or less a prose retelling of yesterday's "She'd Be Mine":

That last time he saw her will always stick in his mind. She was getting out of a white Volvo, a toddler nearby and a baby in a stroller. The wind and the sun caught her hair and it drifted in slow motion. For an instant the last eight years were a dream.

He hadn't seen her since just after her wedding. He'd been invited, she even called, but he didn't go. He told himself it was just an accident he was playing guitar in the park across from the church as she and her new husband ran out to the limo in a hail of rice. The sun caught her hair, then, too.

He could smell the Eucalyptus trees at the edge of the parking lot and for a second he was aware of his own cigarettes and whiskey, dirty denim smell. He shifted back a little into the shadow of the awning and tipped his head into the big paper cup of acrid chainstore espresso -- but she might as well have been in another universe. He guessed that, really, she was.

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Sometimes I think about ya
think about, think about
think about the things
I thought I'd do for you

Sometimes I wonder
how you're doing now
I think about it
but I think it turned out best
when I think it through

I know I let you down
I let you down, I let you down
I let ya down hard
and blamed it all on you

I threw your love away
and I laughed and I laughed
I laughed until I died
and when I came to...

the world -- it was dead
and I walked around and I walked around
I walked around the world
but I couldn't find you

I tore my soul open
it was empty, it was empty
a tunnel into nowhere
and I never got thru

sometimes I think about ya
think about ya, think about ya
think about the world I mighta had with you

(C)1999 TK Major