Saturday, February 18, 2006

Ain't no such thing as too high to fall...
[Kingdom of Fools v.2]

Ain't no such thing as too high to fall...

There can only be one winner. It's a zero zum game.

The competition is fierce.

Unexpected hardships are faced by all.

Most will lose everything and be forgotten.

Warriors will fall. Brave champions will lie in defeat.

Some will face infamy and shame.

But only one will emerge victorious.

In the Kingdom of Fools... only one can wear the crown.

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Aint no such thing
as too high to fall
aint no place so low
you cant get there
if you crawl

Aint no bro'
so close you can't play him down
'cause in the kingdom of Fools
only one can wear the crown

Ain't no truth so pure
you can't turn it to a lie
ain't no love so deep
you can't drain it 'til it's dry

Ain't no flower so pretty
you cant crush it to the ground
in the Kingdom of Fools
only one can wear the crown

Aint no lie
that can ever make you see the truth
and your life til now
just so much living proof

Ain't no one but you
can keep you from where you're bound
'Cause in the Kingdom of Fools
Only one can wear the crown

(C)2005, TK Major
2005 Jan 29

Friday, February 17, 2006

I'm a Rambler
I'm a Gambler

Shambles of a Man

Let's call him Bob.

I got to know him when I was in my early 20s. It was the tail end of the hippie era. I used to take my guitar down to Recreation Park, a sprawling urban park next to a municipal golf course that butted up against a little salt water lagoon.
continues below...

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[As these things go, I think this version of Rambler turned out really pretty well. If you can stomach my stuff at all, you may want to take a listen.]

All the hippies and bikers would get together in snowballing circles of people sitting, crosslegged on the lawns, under towering trees planted back in the days that Long Beach was called Iowa by the Sea. Multiple circles would build like city states. And usually in the center of it all were the musicians. Not me, mind you. I'd been playing a couple years and I was... not a fast learner. So I often passed off my guitar to other guitar players I knew.

Often that was to my friend Tony, a young black guy with spidery fingers and an unfailingly rocking approach to guitar (later murdered in a tragic case of mistaken identity). I never minded loaning my guitar to Tony, since he was always gentle with it and checked often to see if I wanted it back -- a rare trait among people who borrow guitars at parties and beaches and parks, I assure you.

While Tony tossed it up with the other fretgrinders in the center of things, I would often sit, drinking wine, looking for girls, talking to friends.

One of them was Bob, who was always around, even when I'd come early on a day off, typically hung over, wanting to simply sit by the concrete flycasting pond and play a little guitar in the morning sun.

Bob would be there. And, typically, as darkness enveloped the park and drunk hippies stumbled through a green forest of empty Red Mountain bottles, Bob would often be there, his eyes barely more than slits and as beatific grin wide across his face.

Eventually, I figured out that Bob lived in the park. He had a small, extremely well hidden home he'd made in a particularly heavily wooded area. The employees who knew about him looked the other way. He was a friendly guy with a sunny disposition. He was in his early 30's with long, wavy hair that hung mid-back. He was a vet. If I remember, he served in Vietnam in a support role.

Seems to me I remember a failed marriage in his bio. He let go a bit after that. Stopped bothering with things like jobs and houses.

But he was a smart, funny guy. He had, he said, a lot of time to read. And he read all the time.

Over time the scene at Rec Park took a dark turn. As crowds got bigger, the hippies seemed to be getting pushed out of the ecosystem and a hard-drinking, pill-popping crowd seemed to be taking over. Fights were increasingly common and a new intruder threatened the musical ecosystem of the park:

The giant cassette portable, the boombox, the ghetto blaster -- blaring funky 70s soul sides or the heavy-bottom, tweedle-centric metal of the era -- and the sad phenomenon of blaster wars.

It just wasn't the same old Rec Park any more.

A new, exotic, and high maintenance girl friend seemed to cut into my park time. I'd moved to the nearby beach and, by then, playing guitar by myself on the beach or on the sundeck of my apartment house with buddies like my pal Rick beat fighting the crowds and noise at the once-sylvan park.

But one day when I was scooping up some cheap breakfast at Egg Heaven, a little corner breakfast joint not far from the lagoon, I ran into Bob. I hadn't seen him in months.

He looked great.

He, too, had been driven away from the park. He said the crowds ruined living in the park for him. He ended up staying at his mother's for a while, took a job at the local college at a maintenace worker, got interested in ceramics, earned enough to get a little apartment by the lagoon, and was taking ceramics classes and writing poetry and prose.

I ended up visiting with him a number of times over maybe a year and a half while he lived there. He kept working, taking classes. He ended up buying a van, that 70s symbol of independence and self-containment.

The last time I saw him at Egg Heaven he said it was all falling into place. He was in the process of taking most of the things he'd accumulated at his apartment -- and his writing and his ceramics -- to his mother's garage. He was giving notice at work.

He showed me the van. He'd begun to carefully outfit it for what was clearly intended to be an extended road trip. It reminded me of the kind of camping van retired engineers on tight pensions put together, an ingenious and methodical reinvention of everyday items and found objects.

After I'd admired his work, I said, "Well... where ya goin', Bob?"

And he looked around the inside of the van and out the door and up the street to the east and said, "Well, I though I'd start out by leaving -- and then just go from there..."

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Left my home and my woman
about four years ago
mostly don't know when to quit
but then I packed up my losses
and stumbled out on the road

Well I'm a rambler, I'm a gambler
I'm just a shambles of a man
I'm stumbling; my lifes crumblin
I'm just another loser on the lam

If the stakes are low then the time is right
I'm a fool for a penny-ante game
May be gambling with my life
but it's just small change all the same

Well I'm a rambler, I'm a gambler...

I've been beaten, I've been cheated
I've been shot at from Arkansas to Vietnam
I been shafted, I been laughed at
I been out-casted but I still don give a damn

Well I'm a rambler, I'm a gambler
I'm just a shambles of a man
I'm stumbling; my lifes crumblin
I'm just another loser on the lam

(C) 1973 TK Major

Thursday, February 16, 2006

No One Understands The Things That Lisa Says

The Things That Lisa Says

Lisa started drifting away from us when she was, oh, thirteen, fourteen."

Her gray eyes were cloudy and dark. He could barely see them across the dim room.

"By the time she was 16, she was hurting herself, with razors, you know? And then drugs. By the time she was 20, she..."

The darkness in Lisa's mother's parlor seemed to be sucking the light out of the day, as he imagined a black hole might suck the light out of passing stars.

Lisa had been his best friend for a couple years toward the end of grade school. They rode their bikes down the back roads, by the Eucalyptus trees. Her folks took them to the beach. They went to Knott's Berry Farm together on her birthday.

They talked in a way he'd never, ever talked to anyone. Never thought to talk to anyone.

She asked him one day what he wanted. They must have been ten.

He looked at her and she looked back, not blinking.

"I guess," he had said, looking beyond her toward the distant hills, "I guess I want a mountain bike."

She laughed.

He felt confused.

"What? Do you mean like -- when I grow up?" He tried to sound already grown up and archly sarcastic. He'd only recently discovered sarcasm and he equated it with worldly sophistication. He continued:

"Like a fireman, or astronaut?"

"Like that, but more, I mean... " her voice trailed off a bit. "I mean what do you want? While we're, you know, here. On earth."

In the years since, he'd thought back to that moment over and over.

Even when he was eleven, he thought it was an odd thing for another kid to say. He knew what she meant, here. They'd joked and prodded each other about their different religions, what they were supposed to believe -- and what they really believed. They'd talked about death, bantered about possible afterlives. But, still, he had thought it was strange, then.

"So, what do you want from your life?" he finally asked her. "Do you know?"

"Yes, I know," she said. She seemed satisfied with herself like she knew something good he didn't know.

"So, what? What's your big plan for your life? Doctor? President?"

She made a show of staring off toward the late afternoon sun. He thought she was about to tell him. For a long time neither of them said ainything.

Finally she said, "I should go. My mom worries so much."

She never told him what it was she knew she wanted. But he was pretty sure she never got it.

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The things Lisa Says

No one understands
the things Lisa says
they just shake their head
they think Lisa's strange

No one understands
the games Lisa plays
singing to herself
and dancing in the rain

No one's ever seen
the world where Lisa lives
it's all some crazy dream
she's just a crazy kid

No one understands . . .

No one really cared
and no one showed her love
she just sits and stares
since they locked Lisa up

No one understands . . .

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Have you embraced the beast?
I see the mark is on your face...

Have U embraced the beast?

When I posted the previous version of this song in early December, I was careful to paint a picture of the troubled time in which it was written. I was concerned that the stridently polemical, confrontational lyrics might be taken out of the context of a time of US taxpayer funded death squads in Central America and the US funded war by Saddam Hussein's Iraq against Iran, with its chemical gas attacks and overt and covert US aid to Saddam.

But then I thought -- well, damn.

So, without further excuses or equivocation here's a little slice of unapologetically self-righteous, blind fury.


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Have you embraced the beast?
I see the mark is on your face
Have you embraced the beast?
Are you a slave of greed and hate?

Have you embraced the beast?
Do you serve the war machine?
Have you embraced the beast?
Did you trade in your soul on (for) the finer thinsg?

Have you embraced the beast?
Do your taxes buy bullets for fascist death squads?
Have you embraced the beast?
They'll be coming to your hometown before too long . . .

Have you embraced the beast?
I see the mark is on your face
Have you embraced the beast?
Are you a slave of greed and hate?

Have you embraced the beast?

Copyright 1984
T.K. Major

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I didn't know I could still be scared
(Valentine's Day)


A clumsy, rushed, homemade card and a bouquet of flowers plucked between my car and the current GF's door and presented with the aw shucks charm of a little boy cozying up to someone he thought might give him a toy later if maybe he was charming enough.

That's why I live alone with my cat. Yep.

And, you know, I'm so far down that road that I'm okay with that. Mostly.

But every now and then I feel something stir -- and it scares me.

It's not loneliness. I'm absurdly content. Self-contained. Hermetic.

But sometimes, when someone catches me a little off guard, sometimes, I feel myself on that slippery slope that leads to the abyss...

Happy Valentine's Day, suckers!

[For additional insight into my Valentine's Day sensibilities, flip back a few days to Forget About the Moon.]

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outtake - unreleased 'studio' version [broadband] The vocal on this is a bit off but it was my late cat Dave's favorite song of all time... so I gotta post it here. I plan on recutting the vocal sometime soon. Or someday. Whichever comes first.


dont know what to do about you
I did'nt know that I could still be scared
empty dreams night after night
afraid that you'll never be there

I could give myself to love
but love would only break my heart
i could give my world to you
but you would tear that little world apart

one day I looked at myself
and then I began again
I built it up and I tore it down
and I won't do that again

I could give myself to love...

everytime I hear I'm doing all right
I know that I'm living a lie
everytime that I feel myself start to slip
I hold my hand to the fire

I could give myself to love
but love would only break my heart
i could give my world to you
but you would tear that little world apart

(C)1994, TK Major

Blog within a blog: It strikes us as surprisingly odd (we're so stunned we're back using the editorial "we") but we just realized that three of the four songs featured on the front page of (which is our portal for posting our audio material to are, well, we're almost too modest to say... but, OK, you dragged it out of us: they're TK Major songs. From A Year of Songs. We're amazed and pleased and we hope it doesn't get the Editor of the Week (who we don't know, we swear) fired before his week is up.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Chain of Mondays

A few months after your nineteenth birthday, you'll pass a different milestone. You will have seen -- and survived -- a thousand Mondays.

And, if you're lucky, by most measures, the Mondays will just keep coming at you. Like clockwork. Um... Anyway.

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Some folks love Mondays.

They can't wait to get back to work and see what their friends did over the weekend, catch up on gossip, talk about TV, maybe even get in a couple of licks of work.

For me, Mondays have always been rugged. I could work up a sort of grim, stoic enthusiasm for biz world battle on the way in, behind the wheel in traffic, but that was about the best of it. From there it was all the clash of sword on shield, the cries of the wounded, and the roar of the crowd.

Not even on vacations. Not even when Monday was my day off. I just moped around thinking what a waste it was to have Monday as your day off instead of a cool day like like Friday. Even Thursday. Tuesday. You could walk around singing Tuesday Afternoon and go on long walks or to museums. You can't even go to museums on Mondays.


It's a gorgeous, summery Monday as I write this and I'm in a really good mood because I just wrote today's song a few hours ago. (Consider the music/melody, especially, as a rough draft.) While I used to write a lot (I have versions of about 125 different songs posted in A Year of Songs so far), in recent years my songwriting had fallen to just a few songs a year.

So writing two songs, no matter how modest, in one week is pretty much grounds for frenzied celebration around here (Lemonade and soda anyone, Wild Cherry Pepsi?).

That said, as my own boss, I'm actually stealing time from myself writing this when I should be working. It is Monday, after all.

So, dude, I gotta go before I get busted. Later.

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a thousand mondays
that's just 19 years
put your head down
put yourself in gear

before you know it
the day is done
fall asleep
and there's another one

chain of mondays
wrapped round my life
chain of mondays
until the day I die

I'm good at what I do
but what I do is dumb
pushing things around
all day long

what's it all for
don't ask me
i'm just a well-worn gear
in the big machine

chain of mondays...

don't take off my shackles
i don't want to be free
cause theres nowhere to go
and no one to be

been at the grindstone
for so damn long
there's nothing much left
except this song:

chain of mondays...

(C)2006, TK Major

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Idle Hands


In 1988 a friend gave me her old upright piano, at the time about 95 years old. I had her tuner do some repairs and then the piano and I settled in together for the next 15 years.

I'm not a competent conventional keyboardist by the kindest stretch, but over the years I've spent some time with keyboards (sadly far too much of it with only my right hand on the keyboard and my left on some wheel or control or fader).

But that old piano is as different from the synthesizers and electronic keyboards that I'd been playing as a thing could be.

With a creaky, cranky action, mysterious thunks and deep rolling resonances that would stack higher and higher (I have the little kid habit of leaving my right foot on the sustain pedal for very long times at times... I think I become hypnotized) the piano seemed at times to be so awash in sounds that I often thought I heard voices, old fashioned telephones, sirens.

Again and again I would stop playing, the sound taking a while to die -- even with my foot finally off the sustain pedal -- trying to hear whatever it was I thought I heard... someone just outside the window or perhaps a radio that had somehow come on, a television. Anything. But the sounds seemed to come out of the piano, almost as though it was channeling them to me.

And sometimes, on that century old piano, I just liked to turn my antenna to the stars: put my hands down on whatever note or notes found me... and then just play whatever came next...

Today's track was recorded a couple days ago -- not on my old piano (safely in storage in my garage), but on my new, sometimes very-piano-like MIDI controller keyboard. That keyboard is the first I've owned that has anything close to the feel of a real piano and sometimes I can lose myself for a while as I used to on my old piano.

This improvisation I'm calling Idle Hands is very much like the sorts of rambling musings I used to indulge myself on on my piano. If it tries your patience -- imagine how my neighbors felt. 110 year old pianos don't have volume controls.

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