Tag Archives: early work

Where did you hide that shining light?

I Called Your Name

As I wrote in January of 2006, when this song first appeared in A Year of Songs, it’s the third song I wrote — and considered a real song, as opposed to one of the several score of pretty awful early attempts. What can I say — I grew up writing free verse… no rhyme, no meter… lots of self-indulgence. It takes a while to get into the very different discipline of songwriting. Or it did for me.

Anyway, this tune’s maybe a little long on portentuous vagueness — though I was clearly shooting for evocative mystery.

But, believe it or not, it’s all more or less grounded in actual events. Where the song says, a man said you were the queen… well, that’s exactly what someone said about the young woman the song addresses. To this day, I really don’t know what he meant.

And that blinding, shining, white light? Well… someone stole it.

I Called Your Name

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

I Called Your Name

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, 2007, TK Major


We picked up our places in the game that went before…

I Was Just a Kid






How did I live so long?

Ah, well, the one thing we can be sure of is that it once and for all disproves any positive correlation between virtue and longevity. Not that I’m that old. But I’m definitely well past the good die young age band. More in survivor territory, I’d say.

Anyhow, gettin’ old. It’s hell, yadda yadda.

They talk about wasting youth on the young — but, really, I don’t think I could take what I went through when I was young, now.

Or put myself, through, more than anything. But it had to be gone through, apparently: driven by a highly personal vision of my dharma, I plunged on.

At any rate, nowadays I have philosophy on my side — and plenty glad I do. Getting old is hell…

I Was Just a Kid

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

I Was Just a Kid

I was just a kid who’d
memorized some lines
I never dreamed
I would hurt you
you said we couldn’t run
from the pain that would come
now you wear that pain
and it suits you

we picked up our places
in the game that went before
the path lay in lies
to be burned through
if I could run back home
I would lay me back down
and suckle at the breast of virtue

(C) 1972, 2007, TK Major


Judgment Day

A Bird Hung in the Sky

A change is gonna come…

You’ve been hearing that your whole life, probably. But now the change is here…

Of course, it’s been happening for a while. We’ve heard increasingly dire warnings since the 1960s and even before.

But it was easier to say, oh sure, that’s tomorrow . That’s for those folks in the future to worry about. For sure, they’ll have the technology to cope. For sure…

Well, kids… the future is here and it don’t look like it’s gonna be pretty.

And you can blame all those people in the past… who — like a lot of folks today — just didn’t want to hear about it…

A Bird Hung in the Sky

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Friday, October 28, 2005

A Bird Hung in the Sky

A bird hung in the sky
dipped and whirled and then it spun
A bird hung in the sky
dipped and whirled and then it spun
It flew between the clouds
and dove right into the sun

I stood upon a hill
looked up into the sky
I stood upon a hill
looked up into the sky
The sky turned black
as the sun burnt into my eyes

Don’t the city sure look strange
cars scattered all around
The city sure looks strange
cars scattered all around
Don’t the people look funny
lying there dead on the ground

(C) 1975, 2007, TK Major

Smogsville, USA

PS… It’s actually kind of a nice day here in the smoggiest urban area of the United States… except, I guess, for the smog. It was stinkin’ hot yesterday but today there’s a nice breeze coming in off the ocean. Of course, that ain’t gonna help the poor SOB’s out in the inland empire or even OC. But if you can overlook the brown haze stacked up on the horizon like multiple blankets of steel wool you could almost fool yourself into thinking it was a nice day. (Check out the layering in the picture above — it’s like a merde parfait… so to speak.) See those long ugly things out in the harbor? Those are a source of a huge amount of pollution — they’re oil tankers and container ships and they pump brown, heavy particulate matter across the harbor area 24/7, never turning off their engines completely, pumping out poisons that put the area at the top of the asthma risk index — and harming anyone with lungs. Long Beach used to have the cleanest air, on average, of all of Southern California. But, in the name of trade — that is to say importing cheap, shoddy goods from offshore businesses owned by multinational corporations — we’ve had these poison-spewing behemoths shoved down our throats.

UPDATE: Silly me! I forgot we had a brush fire raging in the hills to the east. Not that the tankers and container ships don’t deserve all the hell anyone can give ’em. They do. But they’re not the only culprit this time…

A Bird Hung in the Sky
This is actually a new fire, near Griffith Park, in LA. At 2:57 this afternoon…

A Bird Hung in the Sky
A few minutes ago, 6:17 pm

A Bird Hung in the Sky
L.A. as seen from the good ol’ LBC, about 30 miles to the south… don’t worry about us… one good thing about this city is that there’s precious little brush to catch fire…

A Bird Hung in the Sky

A Bird Hung in the Sky

A Bird Hung in the Sky

The Los Angeles Times has a good photo slide show on the fire here.


I been laughed at, I been outcasted, and I still don’t give a damn

I'm a rambler...



America loves a survivor.

Unless he’s camping in the park behind America’s house.

Now, don’t get me wrong… I ran off a lot of derelicts in my old neighborhood. They tended to be asleep behind my garage, in a very narrow inset from the alley… a driveway of sorts. One day I almost drove over (okay, the car never went into gear, but the engine was on) what at first looked like just an abandoned carpet (I was about 30 yards from one of “those” apartment houses. It seemed to swing back and forth between being inhabited primarily by petty dealers and being a rehab. Sometimes it appeared to be both. More than once. Tenant after tenant dumped couches, carpets, I can’t count how many refrigerators)… where was I? Ah yes… the abandoned carpet.

Something told me to take a second look. I jumped out of the car and walked out of the garage into the noon sunlight. Looked like a carpet.

Then I saw the hand.

I gingerly kicked a little at the carpet. Nothing.

But the hand looked pretty live, good color under the grime. I gave another, less gentle kick at what appeared to be the guy’s lower leg (padded, for sure, inside a couple layers of carpet, lest anyone think I really was kicking a guy who was down).

This time the hand made some clutching motions, I heard a grunt and then… nothing.

“Sir, you have to wake up and move,” I said in my most authoritative voice.


“Sir, you’re blocking a garage. I almost drove over you.”

A little movement. Another grunt… it sounded like, “Yeah” — well more like, “Yunh.”

“Sir, are you all right? Should I call paramedics or the police?”

That got a response. But he was sort of rolled in the rug and couldn’t get out at first. It would have been moderately funny if I hadn’t been thinking about how easy it would have been to drive over him. (It probably would have just been a foot or two but, you know, call me soft-hearted…)

“Sir? Are you injured? Should I call the police?”

He finally said, “No, no, dude, I was just taking a nap.” His grimy face was uncovered now. He was a white guy of somewhat indeterminate age, maybe 30-40, long grimy hair. His bluish gray eyes were watery and wildly unfocused.

He struggled to his knees. Seeing that he was whole and not visibly wounded, I cranked up my righteous pique a little.

“Man, do you know you’re in front of a garage and I almost drove over you? I couldn’t even see you when I walked up just now at first. I mean, for crying out loud!”

Or words to that effect. I’m conversant in the language of the street.


So… don’t get me wrong. The whole time I was chewing this guy out and hoping I never saw him again, I was also wondering at the presumed utter crumminess of a life where the narrow space in back of my garage and right off an alley that still gives me the creeps when I think about how it was once my alley — how that space was the best place he could find to be.

So I said a little prayer for him that night and tried to put him out of my mind.

Guess it didn’t entirely work.

So… this song’s for him.

Hope you’re sleeping dry and warm tonight, buddy.

Internet Archive page for this recording
December 21, 2005 version
February 17, 2006 version


Left my home and my woman
about forty* 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

*When I wrote this song, 33 years ago, the line was “Left my home and my woman / about four years ago.” Ah, youth. Back then, four years seemed like a long time. I mean… a long time. This time around, I was feeling the guy a little closer to my own twighlit age. Hope you don’t mind the liberty.