Saturday, January 28, 2006

I won't say that I didn't have some dreams
[Not One of Those Dreams]


I did a somewhat different take of this song the first time around. This version may take up-front intimacy to a slightly unnerving extreme -- and I manage to perform an almost Sinatraesque dismemberment of the title line when I sing it but I sort of like this, anyway.

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Not One of Those Dreams

If I had time to count the lies
or that hours that you stole
but it ain't like me to wonder why
all the same there's some things one needn't be told

I can see it in your smile
it's there behind all your words
something dancing behind your eyes
I can tell that you think it's
me that's gonna get burned

It ain't like you're the only one
that ever threw away love
I've sinned your sins and some again
it's all the same, it's all been done

I can see it in your smile...

I'm not saying that I'm sorry
I won't say I didn't love you
I won't say that I didn't have some dreams
but not once did I dream they'd ever come true

I can see it in your smile
it's there behind all your words
something dancing behind your eys
I can tell that you think it's
gonna be me that's gonna get burned

(C)1981, TK Major

Friday, January 27, 2006

Where did you say I signed?
[There Ain't No Heart in My Heart Anymore]


This version of Heart seems often to teeter on the edge of falling apart (a not always successful balancing act that should not surprise AYoS fans). Still, I think I like it better than the previous version here from October, which was a bit faster.

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There ain't no heart
in my heart no more
I don't know where it's gone
but it's gone for sure
Maybe it went with you
when you went out that door
but there just ain't no heart
in my heart no more

i feel like giving up and maybe I should
I cant go on and I know it's no good
There aint no meaning
in life any more
no there aint no heart
in my heart anymore

The end just means
we begin again
where did you say I signed
I've lived this life
one two many times
I don't think I can take it twice

Too many loves
too many lies
too many broken lives

too much night
too little love and way too little love
and nothing to show for a life

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Trouble comes knocking... whenever Trouble wants
[There's Always Trouble]

Trouble comes knocking...
[There's Always Trouble v.2]

I had lived in my midurban neighborhood for two years when I wrote this song and I would live there for 13 more. Not quite two years after I wrote this, the '92 riots would claim buildings within 100 yards of my house -- I could see flames between the buildings as I hung on my back fence, a fire axe in one hand.

I fell in love with my house -- and I lived there longer than I've ever lived anywhere, 15 years. But my relationship with the neighborhood was more complex. I made a lot of friends of all races and cultures and all economic strata from canners in the alley (a very tough alley, I'm afraid) to a middle aged gay couple in a (truly) fabulous two story Spanish style house with a beautiful tiled atrium fountain and a white grand piano (not a baby but a full grand) that actually looked good in the room. (OK, I understand your skepticism. It sounds pretty Liberace but it was really very cool looking. Honest. Oh, skip it.)

More typical was the Philipino World War II veteran. He'd been a guerilla, fighting with a machete -- and later a gun -- against the Japanese occupation, joining up with US marines to help route the Japanese. In return, after the war, he was made personal chef for an admiral and allowed to apply for citizenship. He bought a house in my neighborhood in the late '40s or early '50s and they had lived there since.

After their home was invaded by thugs with guns and he -- at the age of 82 -- got a nasty pistol whipping when he tried to stand up to them, his wife made him agree to move, but the property values were then in a long slump (aggravated by the riots a few year prior). And they liked people in the neighborhood. (The thugs were not from our neighborhood, of course.)

In the city, stuff happens.

I hadn't been in my charming little Spanish style duplex bungalow more than six or eight weeks when a guy tried to crash through my kitchen window. While I was home. Entertaining friends. Less than ten feet away.

I ran out to the kitchen, thinking I'd tip the fellow off that he'd picked an inopportune time to do a little B&E on the new guy's house, perhaps saving us all the embarrassment of a surprise front-to-front confrontation.

Dropping my jaw as far as I could to deepen my voice I said, "Hey! I'm calling the police, right now."

Window glass and splintered wood was flying every direction and it was impossible for me to see more than two big bleeding arms in a flurry of flying mini-blinds.

It didn't stop. "I'm calling the f------ cops, right now!"

My heart skipped a whole beat, I know, when this gravelly voice finally replied:

"Yeah, call the f------ cops."

I pushed my friends (among them a former army tank commander and a woman (his wife) who would later become a police officer, herself) into the back of the house. Behind me the breaking glass stopped and I did not want to wait to find out if that meant he was now inside or if he had given up. I would later find that was because there was virtually no glass left in the window frame. But the guy was so big, he couldn't get through the window, anyway, although it appeared he tried. But I didn't find that out until later.

I called the police and with my friends locked in a back bedroom, I let myself out a bedroom window and stealthily came around the back of the house to the front corner where my pretty little breakfast nook more or less was. It appeared the guy was gone. I let myself in.

The police came 25 minutes later and couldn't be bothered to file a police report. When I protested that I would probably need a police report to file with my insurance claim, they said, over their shoulder, "It's under your deductible, forget about it." (Fortunately the donut eaters who clogged the force in those days were all put out to pasture or fired after their stunning nonperformance during my town's unwilling participation in the so-called LA riots. We have a younger, more multi-ethnic and considerably more modern force, now. They actually do some policing and manage to treat citizens with respect, usually. It shows it can be done.)

Anyhow, all that aside, though this song is, to some extent, about the city, it's worth pointing out that trouble can come knocking anywhere, anytime. I've seen a lot of trouble int he city. It's plenty real. But I also have seen trouble in the country -- and sometimes, it can be even scarier.

Or just plain weird.

I knew a family with a house on a small, very unglamorous lake. Their property extended a fair distance to the water's edge. On two separate occasions (as I recall it... next time, it might be three separate occasions) they had skydivers "go in" on their property, due to malfunctioning parachutes. One can imagine the skydivers' thinking in those last few seconds, perhaps guiding themselves toward the murky waters of the lake and then wondering in the last moments if that was really such a good idea after all. Now that's what I call trouble.

You can find the first AYoS version of Trouble here.

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There's always trouble in a fool's paradise
There's always trouble but the fool don't realize

Trouble comes knocking just when trouble wants
trouble knock down your front door and take everything you got

There's always trouble but the fool don't realize
there's always trouble in a fool's paradise

There's always suffering, plenty to go around
but give it to some other guy, on some other side of town

I don't know my neighbors, buy they seem nice enuff
and if some guys come and blow them away makes it hard to maintain my bluff

There's always trouble but the fool don't realize
there's always trouble in a fool's paradise

Trouble stay out of my backyard
I pretend it don't exist
sure enough I feel real bad
for that poor fool the trouble hits

but it really aint none of my affair I fold the paper away
cause I sure enough know I don't wanta read bout
the trouble (clearly) headed thisa way (comin any day)

There's always trouble but the fool don't realize
there's always trouble in a fool's paradise

Theres always turmoil in the heart of Babylon
but you go where the gold is and the rest just tag along

theres always losers in the race to stay alive
theres always casualties but sometimes the strong survive

There's always trouble but the fool don't realize
there's always trouble in a fool's paradise

(C) 1990, TK Major

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Version Creep
[Beta Girls Go]

Version Creep

He was awake anyway, so, a little before 5 a.m., he drove out Highway 17 through the mountains between Santa Cruz and San Jose.

The cleaning crew was still working as he let himself into the office. The lights were off in his section and he sat at his desk in just the light coming in from the hallway. When they finished and left, he went into the lav and shaved and slicked back his hair. He made some coffee and sat staring vacantly at his screen floating on an arm in front of him.

Sometimes a project just goes bad, he decided.

And a love affair is a project like any other, he told himself.
Beta Girls Go
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other versions
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Saturday, September 09, 2006

It wasn't that the team members were unqualified or even insufficiently motivated. He felt like they had both done yeoman work in trying to make a go of it. Although it did surprise him when she, the one whose idea the whole business was in the first place, the one who was so hopeful and so enthusiastic -- it did surprise him that she was the one to withdraw support for the relationship.

As he went through the motions of his work that morning, he found himself composing in his mind a lengthy memorandum, an analysis of the fundamental problems they had faced, explored with what he considered a generous and mature nonassignment of blame.

About noon she came in. He tried not to look but he noticed her eyes were red and puffy. Later, when he had to walk, quietly, past her door, he thought he heard her crying.

The first version of Beta Girls back on November 15th came out very differently. That was punkish, hard edged and fast; this is mostly slow (I find a dash of unpredictable rubato keeps the audience nicely off balance). I wanted to give the lyrics more of a chance to sink in, since they're a bit terse and somewhat oblique.

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Beta Girls Go

"version creep" is all she said
as she stared at her feet on the edge of the bed
"data drift" as she stood in the door
"we just don't vector anymore."

counting the holes in the ceiling tile
analyze the sex, index and file
measure the angle of the afternoon sun
measure the darkness when it is done

beta girls come and beta girls go
leave not a mark upon his soul
beta girls beta girls beta girls beta girls go

pools of light and soul-black night
17 at first daylight
silent complex cleaning crew
wait to shave until they're through

she gets to work just by noon
takes her laptop to the old break room
he trys not to look when he has to walk by
but as he closes the door he hears her cry

beta girls come and beta girls go
leave not a mark upon his soul
beta girls beta girls beta girls beta girls go

(C)2000,2006 TK Major

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Baby's On TV

Baby's On TV

The rec room curtains drifted in and out of the open window, so slowly as to be all but unnoticeable. A fly droned several times around the room and smacked itself against the smudged and dingey closed half of the window.

He looked at the fly and knew it wanted to die.

The rec room TV was stuck on MTV. Which wouldn't have been so bad if the sound worked. But one night a few weeks back someone had put a pool cue through the speaker so far it got stuck and stayed there sticking out into the room like a flagmast. But the picture was great and no one had bothered to turn the set off since then.

Now, laid off for at least a week by a downturn at the plant, he was idling away the days nursing beers that soon turned warm and flat, watching Beavis and Butthead reruns, and thinking about what how good he had it before Mavis Jean went off with the talent scout from the spokesmodel try-out fair.

It was looking like it was going to be another hot, smoggy San Bernardino Christmas but the deep greens and bright festive reds on the TV transported him for a few moment s to the fantasy Christmas he'd imagined everyone else enjoyed when he was growing up: a smiling family gathered around a glowing hearth, snowflakes fluttering outside frosty windows.

And as he floated in the sway of the moment, the family holiday was replaced by sleek images from a trendy perfume ad, a stark modern art montage leading up to an oddly familiar, hollow-cheeked, waif-like face filling the screen. And then a series of flash-lit jump cuts to reveal Mavis Jean's too-skinny body draped in dark pajamas, her blank eyes staring hypnotically into the camera.

Her lips moved a tiny bit. At first he thought she was blowing a kiss to the camera as her level gaze held the camera. Then he realized she must be saying something... and it was hard to tell for sure, but he was convinced he knew what what it was:


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Baby's On TV

Send for the doctor
send for the priest
The End must be coming
'cause Baby's On TV
She's talking with her eyes

She couldn't hold a job
could hardly spell her name
now she's lunching at the polo lounge
and wintering in spain
(she's speaking from her heart)
she's talking with her eyes

I'd been expecting
to be surprised
but when I saw that advert
the sun fell from the sky
she's talking with her eyes
saying what a fool I've been to never realize

just an average girl next door
without an ounce of style
now she's a jetset darling
soul-kissing me good-bye
shes talking with her eyes
I met her in a cross-dress bar
down in San Antone
She was draped across some gigolo
and most of her clothes were gone

Her eyes were blue her hair was green
and her legs were impossibly long
but most of all it was her blank-eyed stare
that really turned me on

I knew right then
she was the only one
who would ever break my heart
I took her home and we settled down
in the Camelot Trailer Park

But Fate intervened in the mall that day
at the Spokesmodel Try-Out Fair
they loved her look they loved her legs
they loved here blank-eyed stare
send for a doctor send for the priest
the End must be coming
'cause Baby's On TV
Shes talking with her eyes

Shes got clothes She's got cars
she's seen with politicians
she's seen with handsome stars
I'm sitting home watching baby on TV

Babys on TV
Babys on TV

she's talking with her eyes
saying what a fool I've been to never realize

Monday, January 23, 2006

I'm Gonna Write a Soap Opera

I'm Gonna Write a Soap Opera

Why tell your story to the tabloids and settle for a one time payout and a little cheap notoriety?

With a properly jaundiced eye and a flexible sense of ethics, you might just parlay an interesting set of friends into an ongoing paycheck.

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I'm Gonna Write a Soap Opera

I'm gonna write a soap opera
you're gonna be the heroine
I'm gonna show the world just how ya think
I'm gonna write a soap opera
I won't have to make up a thing
When we get the ratings back
you know I'll take you out for a drink

I'll get a famous model
to play your part for you
I was gonna ask you but you're always busy
We'll get a famous model
I know she'll do real good, too
When the plot gets thick
She'll be skinny enough to wriggle through

I'm gonna sell the rights
everywhere I can
there'll be games and dolls and underwear
I'm gonna sell the rights
I suggest you buy up while you can
I said I'd make you famous
I think by now you understand

(C)1990, TK Major

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Mid-Winter Waltz


This waltz is as brief as a few moments of sun on a winter day.

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