Saturday, January 21, 2006

I Called Your Name

I Called Your Name

The sun poked down through tall pines in a mountain canyon in early fall a long, long time ago.

The air was cool but the sun was warm on his shoulders and back as he squatted on a rock above the little creek watching insects skitter across the surface and small, silvery fish darting in and out of the shadows. A big crawdad waved its arms a bit and crawled under some rocks.

She was a little farther up the creek, her long, freckled legs draped across a sunny rock, her even-more freckled face turned, eyes closed, to the sun.

They'd talked for hours, for days, for years, for centuries, until their thoughts seemed so synchronized that speaking out loud seemed unnecessary. He could close his own eyes and feel the sun on her face as though it was his own, the rock underneath her.

But something was missing.

Some part of him that had always been there was now gone. He couldn't find it... even though he wasn't sure quite what it was. But it was gone. He knew that.

As the day began to fade and the canyon chill set in he began making the fire as birds darted from tree to tree or sang their evening songs.

Later they sat wordlessly staring into the fire. He glanced at her face in the flickering light... her face that was so familiar, her face that he'd traced with his fingertips and kissed a thousand times was a mysterious shroud... he could feel her thoughts like a distant storm... but all he knew was... she was going.

download [2 mb]
play [broadband]
AYoS radio [broadband]

I Called Your Name

y'know I called your name
when I was afraid
but you were upstate
and you didn't come
though I thought you might

there was a time when I'd play any game
just to be alive
there was a time
long enough to wait
time enough to wait
time enough to bring it back
and stash it away

a man thought you were the queen
did not mean a thing
but I thought it did
and if you were the queen
I wondered
and I wondered
how you kept it hid
and how did you steal
that shining light
how did you steal that blinding light
how did you steal that shining light from me
how did you steal that pure white light from me

(C)1972, TK Major

[This is, more or less, the third real song I ever wrote. The second (which won't be appearing here unless I make an archaelogical dig into the darkest reaches of my garage) was a bit of an epic involving spiritual paralysis, crafted around a central metaphor of the carved ebony icons I saw being sold under the elevated railway near the Gare du Nord in Paris in 1971. I don't even remember what the first one was about.]

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Final Score

The Final Score

People complain I don't write enough sports songs...

download [1.5 mb]
play [broadband]
AYoS radio [broadband]

From the junkies in the Cooper Arms
to the whores of this old shore
I've seen the winners
I've seen the losers
and I've seen the Final Score....

I've seen all your tomorrows
and then a couple more
Ive seen the future, I've seen the past
I don't wanna see no more

I've seen the fear strike across their faces
I've heard their sorrowed cries
I've felt the void explode within
after the dream dies

I know what's gonna happen but
I'll never know what for
Still I'll bet the game begins again
after the Final Score

(C) 1997, TK Major

Thursday, January 19, 2006

When Baby Can't Go On

When Baby Can't Go On

Like Connan Doyle killing off Sherlock Holmes, I decided in 1998 that it was time to write my most famous character out of future episodes...

Maybe my heart wasn't in killing off Baby, the self-destructive, half-woman, half-goddess who tormented the wounded, emotionally tortured protagonists of more than a handful of my songs. At any rate, I found myself writing this pretty much by brainpower alone -- and I'm afraid it shows.

Like the half-hearted series finale wrap-up of a canceled TV series, this song shows the wrenchmarks of uninspired, but dogged craftsmanship (y' listinening, David Lynch?)

Still, I thought it was appropriate as a wrap up for those previous (and thoroughly inspired) Baby songs here in the last few days of Phase One of AYoS. (Phase One, for the unitiated, is the roughly first third of A Year of songs wherein I set out to do every [presentable] song in my songbook, one after another [although in no special order]. Henceforth, my song choices will be guided by whim, inspiration, and the fierce whispering of my legion of demons, guardian angels, and muses.)

Careful readers -- or those familiar with popular serial literature and media -- will note that, while Baby appears to have made her final voyage into the sunset... we really can't be sure... perhaps she will show up in some future song, resurrected by sheer force of personality like the indestructible villain of an old Saturday afternoon serial.

download [2.1 mb]
play [broadband]
AYoS radio [broadband]

When Baby Can't Go On

When Baby can't go on
she wont wonder why
you open up the bottle
and go home when its dry
when the darkeness hits the dawn
and the ocean meets the sky
there's never in her "always"
and forever in her "goodbye"

baby lived forever
for almost thirty years
then she sailed away one day
on a ship of frozen tears

baby had a house those days
way up the shore
we all knew that she was hiding
but we never knew what for

baby lived forever...

the last time i saw her
i knew it was her time
there was sadness in her laughter
and a long-way-off in her eyes

baby lived forever
for almost thirty years
then she sailed away one day
on a ship of frozen tears

(C)1998, TK Major

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Mantra of the Summer Rain

Mantra of the Summer Rain

OK... even in 1975, I knew this song was a bit, you know, what was the word we used then? Ah yes. Lame.

I mean, I really thought there was a song there, somewhere, and it would just take time before it found the surface. Or I reached into the muck of the existing lyrics and pulled out a song.

Neither circumstance came to pass.

I tried, here, to give the song a straightforward reading appropriate to its metaphysical aspirations... but I couldn't. So I ended up with a dizzyingly sloppy bizarro acoustic funk that cracked me up so much I couldn't think straight and spare you good people from my incomprehensibly self-indugent whims.

This is one of those dregs I mentioned a day or two ago. There'll be another head scratcher or two and then a couple of old faves (mine, not necessarily yours) that I've been saving for last. (Well, actually, one of them I've been been putting off because I've never actually played it all the way through. It was a song that came together over a period of time on the computer and... well, this will be interesting.)

At that point, I'll have posted all the songs from my suitcase of songs that I can stand to put in public (a lot fewer than I had imagined) and I'll once again be free to record what I want, which ought to improve the ol' band morale.

In the meantime, I'll give you license to laugh at me, if you can't laugh with me.

download [1.6 mb]
play [broadband]
AYoS radio [broadband]


Mantra of the summer rain
displace my words
still my brain
behind my sadness and the shadow of myself
behind these shapes
spirit remains

rain streaks my face
mats my hair
the past is washed away
to find nobody there
I'm clear as rain
empty as space
configurations fade
and I'm everywhere

celebrate my sorrow
use my life
watch the shadows come
while I bathe in the light

(C)1975, TK Major

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I Might Be the Wind

I Might Be the Wind

I first got to know Rick Routhier in 1976 when I moved into a tiny shoebox of an apartment a 30 second walk from the bay in Long Beach. When I met him he was drinking a beer and sitting on the second floor sundeck staring off into space picking out "I Shall Be Released." He was a big fan of old Dylan, as well as Tom Waits. But when I found out he was deeply into Captain Beefheart (and from the Captain's hometown, Lancaster, California, even), I figured we'd become good friends.

(Odder still, it turned out we had owned the same model of Aria acoustic guitar... and they were even bought at the same store -- but his was beautiful and played and sounded great while mine had had a tweaked neck, buzzing frets and a strange, kind of flat sound. Still, I was bummed when -- just before I met Rick -- someone I knew borrowed it "for a few days" while his Les Paul was being worked on and then hawked it, calling me from Las Vegas to tell me he'd send me the money and the pawn ticket. I told him, just send the pawn ticket but, of course, he never sent either.)

In fact, I ended up getting Rick a job in the warehouse I was managing. He'd just graduated with an English/Creative Writing major, seldom first call at the employment agency -- and in the lingering post-Vietnam recession, he seemed glad to have a job working with someone who'd seen the inside of a book a few times.

When you live in the same building and you work in the same warehouse -- there's a lot of potential for a certain kind of interpersonal claustrophobia, but I actually missed Rick when he took a swingshift union job down on our company's loading dock a year and a half later. The money was a lot better and I couldn't blame him but... well, I've never had a regular coworker I could sit around talking about Marcel Duchamp or Bill Burroughs with before... or since. It was a rare experience.

Eventually, Rick followed his longtime dream and moved to Santa Cruz. He liked it a lot and moved far back in the hills, living in a few of the most beautiful spots any of my friends have ever lived in. The coolest one was built right over a tiny babbling creek and it was a delight. But one night he awoke to frantic knocking on the door. Get out, now, his neighbor said, there's a wall of water coming down the canyon. He grabbed his car keys and a jacket and ran out to his car in a pair of jeans, barefoot. But he got out and drove up out of the canyon safely.

When he came back a day and a half later he had to dig mud away from the door to get in. He opened the door and there was a foot and a half or so of water still in the house. He figured later that there was so much mud that it had sealed the house up with the water still inside.

Floating in the muddy water was his beautiful old Aria guitar. The case it was in was just starting to get damp on the inside, but he threw some silica gel packs inside the guitar, bought a new case, and he played it the rest of his life.

Rick ended up working at a Santa Cruz electronics manufacturing company in a small warehouse not that different than the one he and I had worked in more than a decade before. He did well, making enough money to have his own tiny house and drink and dine with a small, lively set of bohos, artists, and alternatively oriented professionals.

One day at work he ended up talking briefly with a marketing exec who was surprised to find Rick had a bachelor's degree. He didn't say much to Rick at that point but a week or so later he called him to his office and asked him if he was happy in his warehouse job and had he ever thought about taking on a little more responsibility?

One thing led to another and Rick took the gig, buying a new junior exec wardrobe (happily, this was Santa Cruz in the early early 90's, so a few pair of Dockers, a few button down shirts and a a couple of ties -- for dress-up Friday, he joked.

He did well at the job but he said it took a lot of his time and energy. He was hoping once he got in the groove he'd be able to relax a bit and get back to his boho lifestyle.

I talked to him maybe 8 or 9 months after he switched jobs. We talked a lot about his work but the last few minutes of our conversation he mentioned he'd been having some health problems. Nothing serious, he said, but they'd been treating him for phlebitis, swelling in his foot.

About a month later, on a Sunday, I got a call from a good mutual friend of ours. Rick was dead. He'd entered the hospital a week or so after I talked to him. They didn't think it was serious but they couldn't control the phlebitis. My friend said that they hadn't been too worried at first. But on Friday, just two days before, the doctor had pulled Rick's mother aside and said, "Up until today, I thought Rick was going to come through this. Now... I just don't know." Rick's mom nodded in agreement; she'd had the same thought. The next day, he was gone.

We found out later that it had been cancer, undetected even at the end.

So, I never talked to Rick again.


A year or so after Rick's death I found myself one day, playing guitar, suddenly overtaken by an extraordinary sense of Rick's presence. I'm a pretty skeptical, feet on the ground kind of guy -- but this was intense. (OK... I'll admit that in the past I was able to occasionally slip into automatic playing on my 115 year old upright piano... I never really knew where that was coming from. And it pretty much never happens on my electronic keyboards, even my new hammer weighted keyboard, which sounds and feels a lot like a real piano.)

Soon, with the sense of Rick at my elbow, I found myself writing this song, very caught up, emotionally. When the line about Sharon Stone's chair came out, I was perplexed. I tried to change it, but the song resisted. Over the years I've toyed with changing the line, opening myself up to inspiration that never came and then trying by 'brute' intellectual force to come up with a substitute line. (That brute intellectual force thing never works well for me, anyhow.)

Now... I'm not going to try to tell you that Rick co-wrote the song with me (but the line about the 'virus on your PC/ghost on your TV' is mine, for sure, I was very proud of that back in '93). An I'm not going to try to tell you that it's he who's resisting the efforts to change the Sharon Stone line. But it sure sounds like him in one of his goofy neo-DADA moods.

I miss that guy...

download [2.5 mb]
play [broadband]
AYoS radio [broadband]

I Might Be the Wind

I might be this and I might be that
I might be a success or I might be flat
I might be them, I might be you
I might be the desert or the sky so blue

but wherever I go, whatever I do
I'll never, ever stop loving you

I might be the wind, I might be the sea
I might be deep space for eternity
I might be a dog, I might be a cat
I might be the chair, where sharon stone sat

but wherever I go, whatever I do
I'll never, ever stop loving you

I might be a virus in your PC
I might be a ghost on your TV
I might be a shadow where no shadow should
or a whisper from nowhere
that you almost understood

but wherever I go, whatever I do
I'll never, ever stop loving you

Monday, January 16, 2006

I Lost My Best Friend

I Lost My Best Friend

The first time I saw her, a long, long time ago, I couldn't take my eyes off her. She'd just got into town from West Virginia. She and her boyfriend and a tiny, tiny baby, whose father was back home. She had a soft coal country drawl and big eyes that made her look like a reticent, renaissance madonna (the religious painting kind, not the pop legend kind).

It's undoubtedly a sad commentary on my fit in the human race, but I usually avoided women with kids. And it was for that reason -- that I thought I was safe, that I let myself get sucked in, just a little.

She jettisoned her boyfriend within two weeks. I tried sympathy but she declared that he was a nice guy but a loser. She gave every sign of being a callous manipulator but I would look into those eyes and melt and think it was just the hard, tough life she'd led so far. I mooned around for awhile, unwilling to make any move (a kid... she had a kid... I was a kid... it couldn't work) but secretly hoping (I suspect now, to my chagrin) that something would happen to force the issue.

It did, in the form of an older guy with a house and a good job. All of a sudden she was married and less than a year and a half later they were selling the house and splitting the proceeds in a moderately nasty divorce.

Not quite the situation in the song below... but if I told that story, I'd be in trouble.

download [1.6 mb]
play [broadband]
AYoS radio [broadband]

I lost my best friend the day that I lost you

I lost my best friend the day that I lost you
I lost my best friend the day that I lost you
I may have lost my best friend but at least I got id of you

I feel so bad when I see him on the street with you
I feel so bad when I see him out on the street with you
I wanna rush up to him and say . . .
"Don't worry brother, I know just what you're goin' through!"

I lost my best friend the day that I lost you...

Sunday, January 15, 2006

I Slept with Your Sister


Probably the less said about the autobiographical aspects of this song, the better.

Suffice it to say that not every longing, not every wanton desire, not every restless passion can be fulfilled in this lifetime. But sometimes fate tosses you a...

Let me rephrase that.

Sometimes things work out in peculiar ways that seem at first to challenge what you think you wanted. But all too often they simply end up confirming it.

As the poet said, you can't always get what you want.

But you can try sometimes...

download [ 2.4 mb]
play [broadband]
AYoS radio [broadband]

I Slept with Your Sister

I slept with your sister
cause I couldn't have you
She was younger she was prettier
and she wanted me too

we rolled and we tumbled
all night long
and then the phone rang
just before we were done
It was you on the line
from the phone downstairs
maybe you were lonely
maybe you were scared
and maybe I'll never know
why you were there

I slept with your sister
'cause I couldnt have you
she was younger she was prettier
but it didn't ring true

we rolled and we tumbled
all night long
and when the phone rang
just before dawn

It was you on the line
from the phone downstairs
maybe you were lonely
maybe you were scared
and maybe I'll never know
why you were there

(C)2003, TK Major