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Lyrics & Song Stories:

Here're the lyrics to some of our recorded tunes. Many songs have "Song Stories" -- background info and secrets about the songs. Contact us if you'd like to request a song story or the chord changes to a song that is not yet posted.

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#:

33

It was something which very young
I caught like a lightning bug
The way they hold the sunshine

Now the driveway tree is all gone
Like the superheros on my walls
The headlights on the ceiling all gone

Do you want to drive by the old house?

In the yard again as
Children in the chocolate sand
The rhododendron leaves and all the oak trees

The peppermint pen in the fan
You’re the only one that understands
It was on the garbage cans – 33

Do you want to drive by the old house?


This song's story...

(Written April 10, 1997)

My sisters and I grew up on 33 Bennett Avenue.  Whenever I'm in New York I try to drive by.  Alot has changed -- they painted the house, chopped down the huge oak tree, and everybody's moved away to Florida or something.  It's magical to remember it, covered over by frosted bathroom glass. 

Our parents had this old square-ish fan they'd pull out in the summertime.  While "playing with the fan" at one point, one of us stuck this wierd candycane pen through the plastic grate of the fan and it fell in, forever trapped.  Every year when that fan came out the pen was still in there covered with dust. 

At the time I don't remember ever talking about it, but Lara and Iremember it.  That peppermint pen is one of those unexplainable things that sometimes happen. It's one of those deep childhood memories that we all have.  The kind that probably never goes away.

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A:

A Couple More Raindrops

Just a couple more raindrops gonna fall
Just a couple more raindrops then it’s all over

On top of the tar top ceiling
Tonight big old raindrop
Won’t stop falling and guttering
Down puddles getting deeper
The chance to take a drink

But just a couple more raindrops gonna fall
Just a couple more raindrops then it’s all over

Into the mud your bones
Soaked through the sun
Won’t shine on you
Don’t get upset
You can’t get more wet
When you’re already drenched
Ain’t it so strange how
Suddenly things change
It’s the same with the rain
Lift up your eyes
And clear your inner skies

Just a couple more raindrops gonna fall
Just a couple more raindrops then it’s all over
Just a couple more raindrops gonna fall all on you and I Just a couple more raindrops

 

This song's story

During the wintertime, it really does rain a lot in Seattle. During my second winter in the Northwest it rained for 90 days in a row. Not build-an-ark rain, but grey skies and water persistently falling. I wasn't ready for it, and it was difficult.

That winter I was listening to a lot of Bob Marley. I love some of his songs for the simplicity of the subjects and metaphors. Like "Craven Choke Puppy" about the greedy dog or "Bad Card."

For me, "A Couple More Raindrops" is a hopeful song. Whatever it is that is difficult, or painful, is going to pass and you'll move on.

Lorne had some great ideas for making his congas sound like raindrops, and he and I were shooting for that in the Underneath Your Umbrella version. The hand drumming and the finger tapped harmonics are musical raindrops.

Tom Robbins (from the Northwest and author of "Still Life With Woodpecker" and other amazing books you should read) says he draws power from the rain; he knows it's coming so the grey soggy weather doesn't bring him down.

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A Paper Heart

Girls named after months april
Girls named after flowers june
Girls named after birds
And she said "you'll sleep so much
Better that your shirt matches your sheets"
But this pillow's dry of dreams

Pretty words and truth are not the same tonight
So gather up your thoughts deep within your heart
I put a little dream inside you there
Between your face and your pillowcase
I want to know what you are doing now
In your attic room across the canal
Pretty words and truth are not the same tonight
And I mean these things no I can't explain

I keep peeking through the blinds
I'm watching for headlights
And every pair is you ya know
Sitting on the floor
Cutting hearts out of cardboard
But paper kisses won't be
Good enough for me

I was just all thinking of you
Thinking of you thinking of you

Did you get the message that I left?
I spoke to your machine
And did you get the letter that I sent?
Well, I'm just asking you reply
Just to know you're still alive
You know I think about you all the time

You know I think about
You all the time

 

This song's story...

(Written February 14, 1997)

...Hasn't been yet written

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A Place to Stay

And boy this time I'm feeling
Kind of like a second arm
This time you better believe it
I ain't ever coming
Inside my mind I just can't see it
Her in the Volvo coming home
Each time I try and relieve it
It all just keeps coming back

And her hair sticks to her face
And to her mouth and to my brain
On my shirt I have some stains
I'm looking for a place to stay

Sometimes I just can't speak it
It hurts so much it hurts to talk
To you about my feelings
I think about you all the time
Standing there looking peachy
You're so lovely I wish I was
Better looking than pizza
I want to be a raisin
And grow so old remember
My own name or my face
Let my hair fall out in pieces
And join a club for people
Like you and me

And his hair sticks to his face
And to his mouth and to my brain
On my shirt I have some stains
I'm looking for a place to stay


This song's story...

(Written August 28, 1994)

I wrote this goofy little song when I was living in Virginia a longish time ago.  At the time I recorded a 4 track version of it and always had a crush on the song.

I rediscovered "A Place To Stay" in the winter of 2005 when I was working on Birds Falling from the Sky and re-recorded this song to sort of take a break from the album. I threw the shredding guitar solo in because I used to put solos in a lot of my 4 track songs. It cracked me up, but I also sorta like this song.

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A Shiny Few

Your eyes are the saddest few
But I don't have enough fingers
To point out the wonder in you
I may look happy
Beneath this big blue sky
But there's a hollow place
And I still feel
There's so much stuck inside

Baby tonight
Somehow
All I know
Is I got you now
Tomorrow night
Have a look
At the too few stars
Where ever it is your are

I'll just brush out a few
Of the tangles
Cause I know you
Have already got too many
Hands in your hair

Keep your pen near your pillow
Cause you do things differently
See I have got this disease
And you are sick with me
Lara says "it's the moon
Doing its swelling again"
Then she shines her eyes at me
Cause she sees things differently

Sister tonight
If I could let you know somehow
All I know
Is I got you now
Tonight
Take one last look
At the too few
Stars shine in
The backyard now I know
Where you are now I know
Where you are
While I know
Where you are


This song's story...

...Hasn't been written yet.

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A Warm Drink and an Old Friend


Hey man it’s summertime again
The days have lengthened
How come we’re always
Getting so messed up?
Outside it’s september time tonight
I think we should get high

Would you bring some more whiskey from the liquor store
I’ll wait here till you come home so you won’t drink all alone
I have a little dope i’ll make some ice i’ll bring some coke
And catch a bus around 8:15 to meet you up on calvert street

Hey man it’s summertime again
The days have lengthened
How come we’re always
Getting so you know
Outside it’s September time tonight
I think we should get high

Sit down on that shaggy rug and pour some more in your mug
Chatting strong and getting stoned can you turn down the radio?
If we talk into the morning blue then watch the sun come from the roof
I’ll pay you for the booze you bought, i’m just glad we got to talk


This song's story...

(Written July 14, 1998)

...Hasn't been written yet.

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Afraid of Heights

I play this song with a capo on the guitar at the 3rd fret. If you play the shape of a G Major chord with the capo on the 3rd fret you're actually playing a Bb Major chord. Play the shape of an A Minor chord and it's actually a C Minor chord.

Verse ||:Bb |Cm :||
Chorus ||:Bb |Cm |Dm |Cm :||
Bridge ||:F |Ab maj7|Cm7 |Ab7 :||

Tap and peck
Break the egg
Shell I can
Open it
'Cause it's time
To see what's outside

Take a rest
In the nest
Lift my head
To the edge
See the ground
It's a long way down

Whoever heard of a bird afraid of heights?

Way up high
Gonna cry
I'm in such
A dangerous
Place caught like
A tree tangled kite

Birds out there
And the air
Planes don't care
I am scared
Wish that I Just stayed inside

Whoever heard of a bird afraid of heights?
Sounds absurd but the world is made of all kinds

But I'm always looking
down at the ground
and I don't see the sky
But then it fills my eyes
For the first time

I think I might
Open my
Wings out wide
Going to
Reach the sky
I might as well try

Face my fear
Disappears
Catch my breath
Effortlessly
Fly up
Under the sky


This song's story...

(Written March - June 2008)

Another song written on the ukulele. I began plucking the melody to this song out in the airport on a trip home from HawaiI .

The melody was stuck in my head, so I wrote a bunch of verses on the airplane. And being up in that plane probably had something to do with how the song's story unfolded.

After writing the song I had to change the key from C to Bb. Some of those high notes were too high! The key change messes with the chord voicings so I don't end up playing this song on the ukulele anymore.

The turning point of the song is the bridge when the bird looks up for the first time and sees the possibility of the sky. I was trying out ways to create contrast in this section of the song so the time signature changes from 4/4 to 3/4, and the chords get all colorfully chromatic. I think this bridge is one of the prettiest chord progressions I've ever written in my life. But A Warm Drink With An Old Friend is pretty pretty too.

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Almost Sara Chestnut

I cannot recall
The exact day
The articulation arrived

Still it ain’t no surprise
I’m whistling through the pines
Almost Sara Chestnut

I am so tickled
To be with you
Tonight

I’m so tickled to be with you tonight

Swimmer you on through
This whiskey stinking room
Before you heard her reply

Sara said,
“No, no, no don’t please yourself
For somebody else
And don’t let your tongue tell no lies.”

So tickled to be with you tonight
So sick of all this starving conversation with no appetite

I cannot recall
The exact day
The articulation arrived

Still it ain’t no surprise
I’m whistling through the pines
Almost Sara’s chestnut eyes


This song's story...

(Written January 1999)

Here's an amusing outtake from our recording session of Sara Chestnut. This "oops" took place at Rat Trap studios in Seattle and gave us a little laugh worth sharing.

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Apple Apple

Apple
Banana
Mommy
123
1234
12345


This song's story...

This song was written on a ukulele on N's birthday on the beach. We were walking with a gaggle of friends and our party stumbled onto another party. For a while we made one big, confused party.

Our new friends were using a coconut to knock down some homemade bowling pins. One thing led to another and pretty soon we were singing this song. At the time and for a while, the words to the first verse were "Come a coconut." And we sang a bunch of other tropical fruit names like "Papaya" and "Banana."

After thinking about it I realized the song needed a "rule" for other people to be able to sing it -- that each note in the melody should get one syllable. At that point I discovered that the way the melody is concocted, you can sing two, three, four, and six syllabled words neatly within the melody. To sing a five syllable word you need to add an extra beat into the melody, and that's how the song ends on the album -- by counting to 5!

We have fun with this song at shows, pulling words out of dictionaries and seeing if we can sing them.

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Apple Eyes

The apples fall
From the tree
One by two by three
When they hear
Their name called
They follow gravity

Down to the ground
They close their apple eyes
And fall, fall asleep
For the night

The day is done
And the sun turned
Out the light
Fall, fall asleep
For the night


This song's story...

(Written September 8, 2011)

For a few years I've been planting trees. Mostly fruit trees because I want to eat food that I grow as much as possible. It feels amazing to plant a tree and then a couple years later to eat fruit off of it. It's a relationship.

I've planted a bunch of apple trees and by late summer these trees in my garden are full of fat, red apples. At some mysterious point they begin dropping off the tree. Everyday I go out and pick up 3 or 4 apples off the ground until I can get out there with a ladder and a basket.

One of those dusky evenings gathering apples the first line of this song popped into my head. The line "they close their apple eyes" surprised me. I like personifying things and seeing what happens. Same sort of thing with "the sun turned out the light." Just simple ideas with a simple melody.

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Are You A Monster Too?

I am a monster are you a monster too?
I'm getting hungry for some monster food
In the dark next to
A dustpan and a broom
I'm hiding because I'm scared too

Monster monster monster monster

I have monster claws and yellow eyes
My greasy monster fur is full of flies
Snuck into your bedroom
And now I'm watching you
I'm hiding because I'm scared too

Monster monster monster monster

Careful cause my teeth are razor sharp
Hiding here and waiting in the dark
Through the woods I follow you
Behind a shadow of the moon
I'm hiding because I'm scared too

Monster monster monster monster


This song's story...

(Written August - November 2013)

I almost didn't write this song. Or rather, I almost lost the song in a random notebook.

I was in a hotel down in California and needed paper. Grabbed a brand new notebook and started writing. Didn't get very far, a couple of lines and the concept about the monster who's hiding because he's afraid of something.

By the next day the notebook was packed away and I forgot the whole thing.

A while later I was getting rid of stuff at home and put that same notebook in the To-Go pile. Happened to open it first and rediscovered the beginnings of the song. Voilà!

In the Sundrops recording of Are You A Monster Too I played my electric guitar backwards. Actually I play the parts forwards and then use software to digitally reverse the tracks. But you have to think it through and play all the chord changes in reverse order so that they line up correctly when you flip it around. It's slightly confusing, but the effect is a unique swelling crescendo that ends abruptly. I did the same thing with some background vocals. Listen for those parts after the line "I'm hiding because I'm scared too" right before the choruses.

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B:

Bag of Never

I'm sick I'm drunk
And all I got
Is this t-shirt
That smells like you

It ain't right
What I do
I sit around
And think of you

3 a.m.
Awake again
Nothing to do
But think of you

I want to bleed your stones
With sticks and bones,
Lick your tooth,
And choke on you

I doubt you'll understand
So I'll whisper it again
Drop that handful of dirt
Pick up this bag of never
I doubt you'll understand
So I'll whisper it again
This love is bent and broke
This'll never work


This song's story...

(Written Nov 2001 - Feb 2002)

Bag of Never came from a dream.  It was an unusual, open ended dream, but pretty dark.

The dream begins with a dream-camera shot of an abandoned mine shaft, like something out of an old Western movie.  A person steps into the frame and squats in the opening of the mine.  He picks up a handful of dirt and examines it closely.  He realizes that there is no more life in the soil, that all the wealth has already been extracted.  He understands he must leave.  Looking over his shoulder something catches his eye.  Leaning against a wooden post supporting the mine shaft opening is a "Bag of Never."  He picks up the Bag of Never and leaves.

In this dream the "Bag of Never" was an object that just appeared out of nowhere.  It's one of those personal dream symbols that arrives spontaneously and complete out of the subconscious.  Although I didn't know exactly what this meant, it did make sense in the context of what was happening in my life at the time: that some changes needed to be made.  Right away. 

I did the only thing I really know what to do with my dreams: write an obscure song about it.

In the Birds Falling From The Sky version I added a little whispered section and buried it somewhat inaudibly in the mix. This whispered part was improvised and paraphrases the dream. If you care, here is what is whispered:

"In the dream sequence, the entrance to an old abandoned mine shaft. Our hero steps into the picture, squats, picks up a handful of dirt. He looks at it deeply and realizes -- understands -- there's no more wealth or life in the soil. He must leave. He picks up the bag of never and...."

I thought my friend Chrisopher Blue would fit in well on this song, so I asked him to sing a little on the Birds Falling version.  He ended up doing some spoken-word improvisation in the instrumental section which eventually turned into what you hear in the version on the album.  We took a similar approach with A Couple More Raindrops on the previous album Underneath Your Umbrella.

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Bare Feet

Verse ||:Em |C |G |D :||
Chorus ||:G |Gmaj7 |Am |Am :||
Bridge ||:Bm |F#dim |D |Cm :||

Kick off my shoes
Pull myself up by my own hands
A breeze blows through
Everything moves and we slow dance
Above me only clear blue sky
So good to be outside
I forget sometimes
That I need to play
Everyday

And all I need are my bare feet
climbing up to the top of this apple tree

I'm all alone
And looking down between my feet
No one knows
No one else except this tree
Remember when you leave the ground
You gotta come back down
Just hold on and breathe
And feel this tree holding back onto me

And all I need are my bare feet
climbing up to the top of this apple tree

You don't have to climb up to the top
You just gotta know when to stop

All I need are my bare feet
climbing up to the top of this apple tree
Wood and dirt and sky and earth
Beaks and birds and leaves and worms
And all I need are my bare feet

Kick off my shoes
And look up at you
In my bare feet


This song's story...

(Written 2009 - 2010-ish)

I love trees, and I love climbing them. Always have. Although I took a long break from it, I've been known to disappear up a tree now and then.

When I was a kid I remember climbing up into the apple tree in my backyard. It was a place to get away from everyone, and to think about stuff. No one knew I was there. It was a safe place.

I purposely tried to make the first verse of the song elusive, so that you wouldn't exactly know what the song was about until the chorus. The reference to the "slow dance" is about being in a tree when the wind gets blowing.

I wanted to write a bridge to this song, but didn't know how to approach it. I ended up climbing a bunch of trees near my house and hanging out up there, thinking about it. That's when I realized that you don't have to climb to the top of the tree. You only go up as high as you're comfortable. And then you come back down.

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Black-Eyed Susan

Somehow inside among chocolates and kisses
Looking at things those that's and these thises
Faces remembering mine
Yeah and those crazy black eyes
Trace the words from her lips through the room to the floor
Just a girl who insists on maroon all the more
Faces remembering mine
It's been such a crazy long time

The curve of the earth in the sea at the shore
And the tide of the wheat and the rye out the door
You never did understand what was in my hand
Somehow inside a bed under blue sheets they sleep
And dream and the music passes through
You never did understand what was in my hand
No you never really cared

If I gave you a black eye would you
Run away from me tonight?
If I gave you a black eye would you
Run away from me tonight?

If I gave you a black-eyed susan
Would you run away from me tonight?
You and me rolling faster and faster
On this rollercoaster
Would you like to come inside?
For a couple of kisses
I mean some chocolate milk
You know it's been so long since I cried
I've got tears in my ears I don't know why
I've got tears in my beard I don't know why
I've got tears in my eyes I don't know why


This song's story...

(Originally written November 1996 and re-worked in May 2001)

...Hasn't been written yet.

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Bumblebee Lullabye

And then she says “bumblebees
Always follow me.”
But that’s just because
They thought you were a flower

And then she asks me
“Where are the bumblebees sleeping?
Where do they go when they’re tired?”

Although I don’t know
Where it is they go
I’ll sing you to sleep
Just you and me and all those bumblebees
I don’t know why
Or where they go when they fly away
Just try to dream along
With the bumblebee lullabye

And then she asks me
“Why do bumblebees sting me?”
Well it’s just because
They don’t know how to hug you
But they still love

Although I don’t know
Where it is they go
I’ll sing you to sleep
Just you and me and all those bumblebees
I don’t know why
Or where they go when they fly away
Just try to dream along
With the bumblebee lullabye

Fly fly fly


This song's story...

(Written July 10, 2004)

...Hasn't been written yet.

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Butterfly Away

I'm a caterpillar crawling
Through the tall grass under the sun
With a tiny tear in my eye
Cause it's time to say goodbye

I'll be beautiful someday
When I butterfly away

I'll be spinning silk very soon
Roll up in my little cocoon
The new year wrapped up like a wish
Disappear into chrysalis

I'll be beautiful someday
When I butterfly away

Butterfly
Butterfly
Butterfly

And the life I knew left behind
So I'll try these wings on for size
Floating through like a lullaby
I'm a beautiful butterfly

Ain't I beautiful today?
Watch me butterfly away

Butterfly
Butterfly
Butterfly


This song's story...

(Written 12/28/12 - 1/4/13)

I wanted to try some new sounds in the Sundrops recording for Butterfly Away so I bought an Ebow. An Ebow is a battery-powered gadget that you hold over an electric guitar pickup to make long, sustained notes. There's a bit of a learning curve to figure the thing out but you can simulate a violin being bowed and make other crazy sounds with it. I used my Ebow to track 3 and 4 part harmonies on my electric guitar. I like to geek out on that stuff and figure out how to voice my chords and make things sound all lush and pretty.

I read once that when caterpillars are wrapped up in the cocoon during metamorphosis, their bodies turn to a gel and radically recombine into a butterfly. Some of their organs stay intact. Others parts, like muscles, break down into clumps of cells that get recycled in the butterfly's body.

The electric guitar parts were informed by this science lesson. I split an electric guitar part in half and then played the first half on one track in the right speaker, then the second half on another track in the left speaker. The idea was this coming together of two distinct parts to create the one. Like a caterpillar reorganizing its inners to become a butterfly.

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C:

Call This Sleep

Emaj7 - AMaj7
I put one last kiss on her cold head
And it's still her though her body's dead
Please don't try to comfort me
Because I could never call this sleep
Annie do you know where your sister's gone?
Do you know why you're sleeping all alone?
I break down when these thoughts arrive
This terrible sadness is still stuck inside


Gm - A - B - B
So please take this weight off of me
Please take all this sadness away

I been out in the freezing cold
Praying and crying and digging a hole
I wrapped a blanket around my girl
And then covered her up with frozen dirt
No I don't know where it is she'll go
Maybe to heaven but not in this hole
I know with time this all will pass
But I'm so sick of kissing her photographs

So please take this weight off of me
It's overwhelming
Please take all this sadness away
And bring back yesterday


This song's story...

(Written 1999)

Call This Sleep has been an important healing song for me.  It helped me bring about closure to the death of someone who was very close to me -- my dog Callahan.  The song used to be called "Callahan's Song."

Closure, for me, is about coming to terms with something. And being able to move on. With life. For me, writing things down has a way of helping to bring that closure about.

Call This Sleep is related to another song titled Annie Didja Go?  Annie (named in Call This Sleep) was Callahan's sister.

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Come Back Down

Wondering why
I’m drinking my mind
Into this flood again
When you say
It happens everyday
But it’s the last time

Will that be the final lie?
You need to tell it
Just one more time

Lie down, dry out

Gotta come back down
You better come baby
Gotta come back down


This song's story...

(Written January 2001)

...Hasn't been written yet.

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D:

Diaperman

Intro
|E |C#min |B |B7 |

Verse
||:E |A |E |B |
|E |A |E |B |
|E |A |E |B |
|E |A |A |Amin |Amin (this is a 2 beat bar)
|E |B |E |E :||

Outro
|E |C#m |E |C#m |
|E |C#m |B |B |


Diaperman with his diaper on
Hovers over the front lawn
Diaperman flies high and straight
In his mustard-colored cape
Diaperman surveys the scene
His diaper is always clean
Diaperman patrols the skies
Pooing on all the bad guys

Down below in the grass
A Nincompoop drops some trash then
Flees the scene in tennis shoes
Diaperman's in hot pursuit
Nincompoop ducks and hides
Diaperman flies on by
Nincompoop is safe at last
In his hideout by the railroad tracks

Diaperman doubles back
Setting up his sneak attack
Nincompoop looks both ways
Creeps out from his secret cave
Diaperman loop-d-loops
Swoops down on the Nincompoop
Diaperman gives him a hug
Don't be such a litterbug

When you look at the Nincompoop
You'd never know he knows kung fu
The two of them join forces
Faster than two racehorses
Now Diaperman is superdupe
With his sidekick Nincompoop
With a birds eye view they protect the land
Nincompoop and Diaperman

Diaperman does it again turning foe into friend
Diaperman does it again another happy ending


This song's story...

(Written April 2011)

When my son Montana was born I had a lot to learn about babies.

I had put diapers on lots of babies before, but I had never used cloth diapers. One day when I put the diaper on him it flew out the back of his pants a few inches and Nala laughed and said it looked like a cape. In my defense, Montana was a little baby and the diapers were huge! But that's when we started calling him "Diaperman."

Nala also made up the first Diaperman song, now known as "The Diaperman Theme Song." It goes:

Diaperman
Diaperman is here
Diaperman
Diaperman will save the day
Diaperman is here
Diaperman is here to save the day

Anyway, we started laughing about this for a while and thought that Diaperman needed his own folk song. "Diaperman" was born.

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Digga Dog Kid

I can dig in the dirt
I can dig in the sand
I can dig a big hole down
With my little hands
I can dig up some worms
Who are living way down there
A little dirt under my fingernails
I don't really care

Dig dog a digga dog dig
A dig dog digga dog dig
Dig dog a digga dog dig
I'm a digga digga digga dog kid

I can dig in the soil
I can drop in some seeds
I can dig a big hole then
Plant a little tree
And I sing a little song
As I'm covering the hole
Then I do a little dance
So its roots will grow

Dig dog a digga dog dig
A dig dog digga dog dig
Dig dog a digga dog dig
I'm a digga digga digga dog kid

We could dig up some gold
If we had a treasure map
If we found a treasure chest
There'd be nothing wrong with that
So grab a shovel quick
And let's get looking for the loot
If you do a little digging then
I'll share it all with you

Dig dog a digga dog dig
A dig dog digga dog dig
Dig dog a digga dog dig
I'm a digga digga digga dog kid


This song's story...

(Written June 2013)

For my son's 2nd birthday I bought him a dump truck load of sand.

The dump truck driver dumped the sand in our big, grassy yard and the pile was about four feet high. The sand pile quickly became a neighborhood hangout, with all ages of kids playing and building crazy castles together. Grownups would plop down and get sand in their shoes too.

His next birthday rolled around and the pile was all spread out. So I ordered another truck load of sand and the party continued.

One sunny day I was hanging with the kids at the sand pile and had my guitar. I was just goofing and the chorus to Digga Dog Kid came out. One of the boys -- little Owen -- kept laughing and laughing when I sang it. I kept singing it over and over to keep him giggling because his laugh was so adorable.

The first verse was partially written that day, but some of the words were different. The 2nd verse was added later, and the 3rd verse about the treasure chest was written in the recording studio when Johnny Bregar and I realized the song needed another verse. I asked Chris Ballew (Caspar Babypants) to sing the 3rd verse and was happy that he agreed to do it.

Not many people have noticed but the first half of the chorus very closely resembles the melody from O Susanna. That song (written by Stephen Foster and published in 1848) is now in the Public Domain which means adaptions such as this are legal under copyright law and accepted as common practice.

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Drag Me Under

What would you like me to say?
Things got so messed up
Everything fell down at once
Don't say what you always say right now
("Things always work themselves out")
What are we fighting about?
I forgot a long time ago

I'll wait right here while you disappear
What would you like me to say?

Who cares about the weather?
And by the way today
Ain't tomorrow's yesterday
You don't have to change no one else
You just have to change yourself
And don't just walk away
If you could be swayed either way
Say what you need to say
What would you like me to say?

I'll wait right here while you disappear
Where will you be?
Will you be here with me?

If your boat is going down
Please don't drag me under
If your boat is going down
Baby don't drag me under the water


This song's story...

(Written May 2001)

...Hasn't been written yet.

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Dream a Dream

Now I lay me down to sleep
May I remember my dreams

Tall tree dreams and dreams that shake
delicious dreams that I can taste
Sweet dreams like little sugar lumps
Sticky dreams, slow as slugs
Big sky dreams and dreams of birds
Rainbow dreams without words so

Dream a dream a dream

Backwards dreams that finish first
Snow day dreams with no homework
Losing dreams and dreams of winning
Scary dreams and dreams worth singing
Quiet dreams I'll take them too
And any dream that might come true
Dreams of all my favorite friends
And then some dreams that never ever

Dream a dream a dream

Now I lay me down to sleep
May I remember all of my dreams


This song's story...

(Written January - December 2011)

I wrote most of the lyrics to this song on New Year's Day (1/1/11!) but they just sat in a closed notebook for a year. When I rediscovered them I knew they needed some music.

This song uses that same device as the song "Monkey Love" where one word gets repeated over and over again. (English majors...is there a name in the textbook for that?) And it's one of those songs that could easily fill a hundred notebooks if you had the paper and the time.

For many years I wrote down my dreams. I can go back to those pages and vividly remember most of them. And yes, I did have a wordless rainbow dream -- just colors and spinning shapes. I woke up from that with a peaceful feeling.

I love asking kids about their dreams and hearing what they have to say. My five year old friend Tuva draws her dreams in a notebook she keeps. Maybe she'll write a verse to this song.

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Drive

I want to drive
I don't want to
Fly this time

Down on La Amorita
Parked under the highway roar
Passing kisses with a bottle of tequila
Down so low they roll so slowly

In madrona yellow under an umbrella
Electric leaves drop like sneezes
And on my mind on my way down Pine
How will I say goodbye?

I want to drive
I don't want to
Fly this time

But I'm still young and I'm not done getting drunk
I see you see me all too clearly
Are the dogs across the street
Hungry are they smelling me?
I'm afraid I'm paranoid

Somewhere up there up sixteen stairs
She's crashed out from the tube on the couch
I think I might drive home now but I can't decide
Where'm I gonna sleep tonight
If I can't drive?

I want to drive
I don't want to
Fly this time

Next time I'm walking in another direction

I want to drive
I don't want to
Fly this time


This song's story...

The chorus for this tune was written in May 1995.  I originally played it rock-n-roll style screaming the lyrics in D major. If you want to hear an early version of it here it is.

Three years later when I revisited the song my playing had mellowed out and my voice had changed.  The verses were written Fall 1998 and the key dropped first to C major, and eventually to B-flat where I like to play it these days.  Each time the key changed the chords were voiced differently and the feel of the song changed. I have version in C major on a tape somewhere, too.

"La A'morita" is a hacienda style building on East Lake in Seattle. It's a beautiful place with a red tile roof practically under I -5. You can see it on the right side of the road as you drive south on I -5 just before the Harvard Exit. I used to swing by when I needed space and sit in my car listening to the highway cars overhead. I love that spot.

The rest of the song is like a walk or a drive down Pine Street during the wet-ish Seattle fall. I was threatening to leave Seattle for a while, but I always found it difficult to actually leave.

I think a person needs proper closure to say goodbye to anyone / anything, and that takes time and intention. For me the drive metaphor is about taking something slowly and understanding it, as opposed to flying across the country and not really comprehending where you end up. Or how much distance you actually covered. Or what you missed.

On the Birds Falling version I mixed a hearty sneeze into the song after the line "electric leaves drop like sneezes."

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E:

Earth Over Air

Cm - Eb - AbM - Abm
Don't know why I don't know how
She was on the carpet next to the couch
I talk to her cause I could see she's scared
But I don't know how you got in there

Bb - Ab
Man I don't know why birds be
Falling from the sky
Gm - Bb
But I understand it to mean
Ab - Abdim - Cm
Sometimes the world's a little
Like a Picasso painting

Dandelion (I'm calling her)
And I go outside and sit in the dirt
It was quick some words were said
She's pretty even when she's dead
Dig a hole with a busted-handle hoe
And bury the burden and lay some stones

Gm - Bb - Ab - Abdim - Cm
To put a bird down in the dirt instead
Of feeling the thrill of flying again
Ab - Abdim ||: Cm - B - Eb :||
Instead of feeling the trill of flying again

Eb - Cm - Ab - Bb
I still don't know how you got in there
I'll pour a little earth down over some air
Gm - Bb - Gm - Bb
The words are stuck inside my head
She's pretty even when she's dead
Eb - Cm - Ab - B
I still don't know how you got in there
I'll pour a little earth down over some air
Gm - Bb - Gm - Bb
The flies are eating out her eyes
But dandelion's still flying
||: Cm - B - Eb :||
Dandelion's still flying


This song's story...

...Is difficult to explain. 

Earth Over Air is the impossible story of my experience waking up from a vivid dream with the words "Earth over air" being spoken repeatedly, getting out of bed to write down the dream in my living room, and with pen in hand discovering a half-dead bird under my couch. 

I spoke gently to her -- this bird -- and carried her outside to lay her in the garden on some flattened dandelions. She died later there that morning. It was a strange day.

To read the dream and other notes, go to the morsels page and click on "earth over air."  The following are some lines from my notebook that morning, many of which got recycled into the lyrics:

birds falling from the sky
the bird (dandelion I'm calling her)
is dead. pulled a few weeds out
and dug a hole in the garden
with a broken handle hoe.
it was a quick, quiet ceremony
and ended with me filling the hole
back up with dirt. laid a few stones
and pushed some broken dishes into the dirt
to mark how unnatural it was that she died.
the spider ants were already eating
out her eyes. she was pretty
even while she was dead
pretty even when she's dead
but can she ever feel the thrill of flying again?
 
Earth Over Air features the title line "birds falling from the sky."  This line appears in three other songs on this album and it was a theme I was trying to weave and re-weave throughout the record with various words and sounds.  I thought it was a good first song and in a way serves as an opening "bookend" on the album (the closing bookend being Up in the Sky and Please Don't Leave Us).

The song is set in C minor / Eb Major with some interesting chromatic changes listed as best as I could manage in the lyrics section above.  I was experimenting with holding long notes in the melody against chromatic changes in the harmony.  In this way Earth Over Air resembles The Stars Are All Out.

While we were recording Birds Falling From The Sky my friend Dave left an interesting message on my voicemail.  I ended up cutting up the voicemail and using samples of it in the recording of the song.  He was describing his experience watching swifts fly into a particular chimney somewhere in Portland, Oregon.  Here is a youtube of this annual  event.

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Echo

Do you remember chatting with me?
It was barely december in this circle of trees
The blue through the branches the stare in your eye
Build us a fire stay us all night

I sat and I stared while you slept in a chair
Your watery eyes and long puddled hair
And watched as you counted the stars in the sky
A halo above you in rachel’s eyes

Sometimes you can hear the train
It carries across the town
Do you think you could be swayed
Are you gonna come back down?

And it’s getting night like it always is
No one’s around like there never is
This is the night and look what it do
This house is vacant with an echo of you

Sometimes you can hear the train
It carries across the town
Do you think you could be swayed
Are you gonna come back down?
At night this house creaks and leans
Keep sleep away from me
Sometimes you can hear the train
Are you gonna come back down?


This song's story...

(Written September 28, 1997)

My high school friend Mike came down to my house in Virginia for a visit and to record a rock opera we had written together called The Jigsaw Dog.  We had a good time reconnecting, going out to a couple parties, and we even got the opera recorded.  But after we packed up all the gear and he went home the house was so quiet.  I was pretty down.

The first verse takes place in the woods in New York where, when I returned for a visit one time, my old friends were hanging out, lighting bon fires, and drinking yellow beer.  The second verse is in the living room in my house in Virginia.  Rachel was a girl who took a liking to Mike while he was passing through town.  And yes there was the train that you could only hear at night when all the other sounds we sleeping.   These are just snapshots of times we spent together captured in a song.

The recording of Echo on Underneath Your Umbrella has a tiny story too.  I recorded the acoustic guitar and vocals at about 3 or 4 in the morning in James's basement studio.  We were always running out of time together and I got on a plane a couple hours later.  After I left James and Mike spent some time producing the song, adding drums, bass, and electric guitars.  They surprised me with the mix, and other than a few minor changes the song went on Umbrella just how they gave it to me.  I recorded two other songs that night with James and Mike. One was called Switchblade and I can't remember the other one.

Mike later told me he heard Echo being played on MTVs The Real World sitting on his couch on Long Island.  If you ask me, that's one big, full, weird circle.

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F:

Firefly

Pleased to meet you and my name is Firefly

I am a firefly a firefly
I fly through the sky
A firefly a fire
Fly through the sky

When the day turns to night
I glow in the dark
During the day I sleep
On a star

I’m a firefly a firefly
I fly through the sky
A firefly a fire
Fly through the sky

Is it a star on my tail
Or a tiny flashlight
Made for an insect
Exactly my size

I’m a firefly a firefly
I fly through the sky
A firefly a fire
Fly through the sky

When I fly through the room -- zim-zam-zoom
O I fly through the room -- zim-zam-zoom
O I fly through the room -- zim-zam-zoom
O I fly through the room -- to be next to you
Pleased to meet you and my name is Firefly


This song's story...

(Written February 12, 2006)

I play music with kids at schools.  One of those schools is called "Firefly Academy."  I always loved the image of kids buzzing around the room like a flock of fireflies. 

I wrote this song for us to sing together, as sort of a theme song for the school.  Firefly is probably tied with Ladybug 123 for most-requested-song at children's shows.  A lot of people tell us it's their favorite on Mary MacaronI .

If you listen closely to the choruses on the Ladybug One version you can hear the tree frogs singing.  They come in very subtly after the line "I fly through the sky" but they are pretty low in the mix so you have to turn the volume on your ears way up.  I recorded these sweet little frogs mating in early spring and mixed their voices with the ringing of a Japanese Bell.  Since fireflies aren't famous for making any particular sound, I was trying to create something that sounded like nighttime.

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Float . Fall

F - Am - Bb - BbMaj7 - C7
I feel the need to leave this place
F or the same reasons dogs run away
Do you ever feel the same?
That either on this road or when I get back home
Gonna find this thing I'm searching for

Bb - Gm - F
I feel it all falling down
I feel it all falling down
Or float away no I can't tell if
I feel it all falling down down

Dreampt a bullet through my heart's so sore
Sadder than an airport full of goodbies
But now I realize
That either on this road or when I get home
I'm gonna fill this hole and heal my broken down busted soul

Feel it all falling down
I feel it all falling down down
Or float away no I can't tell if
I feel it all falling down

EbMaj7 - Dm
But look at all those crows
They are the breeze
They are circling
I see birds falling from the sky
No I don't know why
They are my darkest dreams
If I have to understand what this means
In order to be free I may never be

I feel it all falling down
I feel it all falling down down
Or float away no I can't tell if
I feel it all falling down down


This song's story...

I couldn't decide on an appropriate name for this song, and I'm still unsure about "float fall."  For a while it was called To Leave This Place but that wasn't it either.  I feel like the title should be comprised of new words not taken from the lyrics, but that hasn't happened yet.

This song took a series of months to write.  I knew what I wanted to say, but a wise person once told me "truth comes quickly and in few words."  and I was having a hard time distilling my thoughts.

I came across a RumI poem that pretty much said what I was trying to get across.  The poem, titled "In Baghdad Dreaming of Cairo: In Cairo Dreaming of Baghdad," was written sometime in the late 1200s.  Below is a long-ish excerpt from that poem which seems like it fits here...
 
Excerpt from "In Baghdad Dreaming of Cairo: In Cairo Dreaming of Baghdad" by Rumi

There was once a man
Who inherited a lot of money and land.

But he squandered it all too quickly. those who inherit
Wealth don't know what work it took to get it.

In the same way, we don't know the value of our souls,
Which were given to us for nothing!

So the man was left alone without provisions,
An owl in the desert.

                         The Prophet has said
That a true seeker must be completely empty like a lute
To make the sweet music of Lord, Lord.

When the emptiness starts to get filled with something,
The one who plays the lute puts it down
And picks up another.

There is nothing more subtle and delightful
Than to make that music...

...So this man with nothing, who had inherited everything
And squandered it, kept weeping, Lord, Lord!

Finally in a dream he heard a voice, "your wealth
Is in Cairo. go there to such and such a spot
And dig, and you'll find what you need."

So he left on the long journey,
And when he saw the towers of Cairo,
He felt his back grow warm with new courage.

But Cairo is a large city,
And before he could find the spot,
He had to wander about.

He had no money, of course, so he...decided,
"I will go out at night
And call like the night-mendicants that people
Throw coins into the street for."  

                       Shame and dignity and hunger
Were pushing him forward and backward and sideways!

Suddenly, he was seized by the night patrol.

It so happened that many had been robbed recently
In Cairo at night, and the police were told
To assume that anyone out roaming after dark
Was a thief...

...So the night patrolman grabbed the man.

"Wait! I can expain!"

"Tell me."

"I am not a criminal. I am new to Cairo. I live in Baghdad."

He told the story of his dream and the buried treasure,
And he was so believable in the telling that
The night patrolman began to cry.
Always, the fragrance of truth has that effect...

...The night patrolman said, "I know you're not a thief.
You're a good man, but you're kind of a fool.
I've had that dream before.

I was told in my dream
That there was a treasure for me in Baghdad,
Buried in a certain quarter of the city
On such and such a street."

The name of the street that he said was where this man lived!

"And the dreamvoice told me,
'It's in so-and-so's house.
Go there and get it.'"

Without knowing
The patrolman had described the exact house,
And mentioned this man's name!

"But I didn't do
What the dream said to do, and look at you,
Who did, wandering the world, fatigued,
And begging in the streets!"

So it came quietly to the seeker, though he didn't say it out loud,
"What I'm longing for lived in my house in Baghdad."

He filled with joy. He breathed continuous praise.
Finally he said,

"The water of life is here.
I'm drinking it. but I had to come
This long way to know it!"

--Written by RumI between 1260 and 1273 A.D. 

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Fold Like Flowers

His arms fold
Like flowers
Around her
He is so broken
How? Because
She could cloud
A clear blue sky
Or
Make a cactus cry
Just from walking by

It's nothing new
It's just another broken heart


This song's story...

I wrote this song for my friend M, who was going through an ugly divorce. Super sweet guy. It was sad to see him so broken.

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Four Spaces

I have four
Spaces between my toes
And though I'm not sure
It's the same on most people

When you get the next chance to check
Would you do a quick count
So I don't have to guess

If you don't have four
Spaces tween your toes
I promise to accept you


This song's story...

(Written March 19, 2007)

Listening to some of the old timers play, I liked how they would double the melody with a guitar line.  I wanted to try that out too, and this is what I came up with.  This song came out quickly, in one brief push.  I remember writing it and not exactly knowing where it was going, but trusting that it was going somewhere.

Tolerance.  Listening.  And acceptance. That's what this tiny song is about for me.

I originally played it with a capo on the 10th fret in Bb major, which is what you hear on the Ladybug One version.  Although Bb is probably my favorite overall key to sing in, I think the song fell here because I was trying out my new Bb harmonica. It ended up being too high for me to hit the pitches consistently, so these days I play it with a capo on the 7th fret in the key of G.  I really love the simple melody of this song.  It makes sense to my ears.

I don't know what else to say except don't blink...it's a quickie.

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G:

Getting Night Now

It ends up night but it's light at first
Evening's like morning but it happens in reverse
The sun drops into the west without a sound
And birds fly home 'cause it's getting night now

Slip to sleep
But don't fall too fast
Life's a dream
But don't let it pass you by

A tiny tummy growls on a skinny hungry cat
Trees are losing color turning into black
A little puff of smoke from the chimney on a house
Supper's on the table 'cause it's getting night now

Slip to sleep
But don't fall too fast
Life's a dream
But don't let it pass you by

Climb the golden stairs and find my toothbrush
I'm winding down raccoons are waking up
The world grows dark now that night is laying down
Crawling into bed 'cause it's getting night now

Slip to sleep
But don't fall too fast
Life's a dream
But don't let it pass you by

So I stare and I wonder
About these stars I am under
In between joy and sorrow
Yesterday and tomorrow
Another day another one
Another trip around the sun
Another dusk another dawn
Another dream another yawn
Hold on tight or it's gone
Hold on tight before it's gone


This song's story...

(Written Sept 2012 - June 2014)

I thought I was going to write a simple little bedtime song for my son. A going-to-bed-let's-brush-our-teeth kinda thing. Then this song comes out.

I don't mean to shrug off the writing of a song by saying it just "comes off." It's a process. You start somewhere, maybe you have an idea where you'd like it to go. But then you get surprised sometimes. Sometimes the song doesn't go where you want or expect it to. Those are some of my favorites because it's a process of discovery.

My cat Tania sings on this song. If you listen closely you can hear her in the 2nd verse after the line "A tiny tummy growls on a skinny hungry cat."

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H:

Happy Mother's Day

Gm - D7
Mother I love you
I love you so
Mother I love you
I love you so
I love you like the wind blows
I love you so
I love you like a red rose
I love you so

Gm - D7 - Cm - Eb
How could I ever repay
D7 - Eb - D7
All the gifts you gave?
Gm - D7 - Cm - Eb
The only way is simply to say
D7
Happy Mother's Day

Mother I love you
I love you so
Mother I love you
I love you so
You gave me breath and bone
I love you so
You walk with me as I grow
I love you so
You hold me in your rainbow
I love you so
And carry me back home
I love you so

How could I ever repay
All the gifts you gave?
The only way is simply to say
Happy Mother's Day


This song's story...

(Written April-May 2009)

A few years ago we were booked to play a show on Mother's Day. To prepare for the gig I searched songbooks and the internet for tunes about Mamas, but came up empty-handed.

So I wrote this little song.

The song is written for my mother and also for Mother Earth. Like Shel Silverstein's story of "The Giving Tree," our mothers feed us, help us grow, and continue to give throughout our lives.

"Happy Mother's Day" is somewhat of a chant and is superfun to sing with audiences at shows. I love singing the harmonies and all of the the long "O" rhymes. I deeply love reggae rhythms, so we decided to record this Jamaican-inspired version for the album "Apple Apple.

Happy Mother's Day to Moms everywhere!

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Hummingbridge

Nobody knows how a hummingbridge goes
They just hum
Nobody seems to know how hummingbridges go
They just hum

Some people know them as drawbridges
That allow tall ships to pass through
I like to think of them as the part of the road
That wants to sing along too

Nobody knows how a hummingbridge goes they just hum
Nobody seems to know how hummingbridges go they just hum
I'm just a hummingbridge and everytime I sing
People know the part I'm humming


This song's story...

(Written May 1995)

I grew up thinking that this is what everyone called drawbridges -- "hummingbridges."   It took a few years to figure out this was just the cute name my parents used for the kind of bridges with a metal grating that "hum" when you drive a car over them.

Does anyone else use this word?  I have no idea.

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I :

I Love Ukuleles

I love ukuleles
I love ukuleles
I love ukuleles
And I love you too

I love unicycles
I love unicycles
I love unicycles
And I love you too

All my life
I've wanted to
Love someone
Somebody like ukuleles

I love U.F.O. sitings
I love unique people
I love unanimous decisions
And I love you too

I love useless banter
I love unicorns
I love ukuleles
Oh and I love you too

If I could find
Space in my heart
Would you like
To come inside for a while?
All my life
I've wanted to
Love someone
Somebody like ukuleles

I love you completely
I'll love you forever
I love you my sweetheart
Oh and I love ukuleles too


This song's story...

(Written Feb 2013)

You either love or loathe this one.

I Love Ukuleles took a surprisingly long time to write. It was hard to find the right words and then to set them up properly within the song. At one point I scanned a dictionary for ideas. Then asked for ideas on our Facebook page.

The whole time I'm working on this song I'm also nervous because Hawaiians pronounce the instrument's name "oo-koo-lay-lay." But I'm using the Americanized pronunciation "you-ka-layl-lay." The idea was strong enough that we turned it into a duet and just tried to have some fun.

I thought it was amusing to have a little kid correct my improper pronunciation of "ukulele" at the end of the song, so I had my 3 year old son set the record straight. Only problem was he couldn't pronounce the word "pronounce," so the punchline came out extra sweet.

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I'm Gonna Count

F - Bb - F - C7
I'm gonna count all the stones on the beach
Do you want to count the stones with me?
1 2 3
4 5 6
7 8 7 6
5 4 3 2
I'm gonna count all the stones on the beach
Do you want to count the stones with me?

Dm - Db major - Bb - C
Pretty shell pretty shell that don't count
Put the pretty shell back on the ground
I'm gonna count all the stones on the beach
Do you want to count the stones with me?

I'm gonna count all the leaves on the trees
Do you want to count the leaves with me?
2 4 6
8 10 12
If you don't sing it with me
Gonna sing it myself
I'm gonna count all the leaves on the trees
Do you want to count the leaves with me?

Little leafy little leafy green
Filling up the sky and an empty tree
I'm gonna count all the leaves on the trees
Do you want to count the leaves with me?

I'm gonna count all the stars in the sky
I never counted up that high
5 10 15
20 25
30 35 40 45 50
55 60
65 70
75 80 85 90 95
100 stars up high in the sky
I'm gonna count all the stars in the sky
I never counted up that high

Like counting cars on a chooka-chooka train
Don't you know I love that game
All the highest number's names
That ever crawled across your brain

I'm gonna count all the stars in the sky
I never counted up that high
I'm gonna count all the leaves on the trees
Do you want to count the leaves with me?
I'm gonna count all the stones on the beach
Do you want to count the stones with me?


This song's story...

(Written July - December 2009)

On a day off from tour, we visited my friend Brian at his lovely beach front house. He had a long staircase down to the beach so we all found our way to the water after breakfast. I probably had my baritone ukulele with me, but I can't really remember.

Brian's niece Morgan was with us and she must've been 4 years old at the time. She and I got to talking and wondering how many rocks there were on the beach. Neither of us knew the answer so we started counting and this little song practically started singing itself. The other verses about the leaves and the stars were added later.

I wanted to play with different ways of counting in songs and these were some of my ideas. There were more, but I'm going to save them for another song...

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It's Gotta Rain (If You Want A Rainbow)

It's gotta rain if you want a rainbow
It's gotta rain let your little seed grow
It's gotta rain we're singing in the same boat
It's gotta rain if you want a rainbow

The flower in your heart
Cannot grow all night
So dream on through the dark
And bloom into the light cause

We always love hellos
It's hard to say goodbyes
But it's the letting go
That brings the next sunrise and

It's gotta rain if you want a rainbow
It's gotta rain let your little seed grow
It's gotta rain we're singing in the same boat
It's gotta rain if you want a rainbow

Another starless sky
They cannot all be twinklers
I know one day you'll find
A rainbow in a sprinkler
But till then it's gotta rain


This song's story...

(Written Feb 2013)

There really are a lot of rainbows in Hawaii.

I went for a nice long visit one February during record Hawaiian rainfall, including flash floods. It was crazy. So much for a sunny getaway.

The title line (It's gotta rain if you want a rainbow) came and I thought it needed to be turned into a song. Everyone loves the sunshine. It's an easy thing to do. But sometimes it's a struggle to make it through those rainy days. There's a lot of things like that, where you have to wait or push or work through the rough spots to get to the gold on the other side.

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J:

June

Jill and I in June
Parked underneath the moon

We climbed up
On the roof
Of her old school

I haven't seen Jill since June


This song's story...

(Written April 22, 1995)

...I miss my old friend Jill. We used to drive around in her little yellow car and listen to music. Sometimes we'd talk and sometimes we'd just sit together not saying much.

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L:

Ladybug 123

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven,
Eight, nine, ten, eleven

One ladybug lands alone
And tickles up your thumb
One more ladybug appears
One plus one is two
One, two ladybugs go floating
On a yellow breeze

Then in the trees a tiny sneeze
A ladybug with allergies
One plus two equals three

One, two, three shiny red ladies
Swimming in the sun
They fly away goodbye away
Come visit another day
One, two, three shiny red ladies

Ladybug’s don’t lie
They always tell the truth
You’re doing something right
When a lady lands on you

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven,
Eight, nine, ten, eleven
Ladybugs are the same
Colors as watermelon
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven,
Eight, nine, ten, eleven
Twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen
Years ago and we are children
We are children


This song's story...

This is the third ladybug song I've written, which is halfway why the "1 2 3" is tacked on the title. I recycled some of the lines from song to song, but this song goes somewhere new. 

(For the music nerds reading this) When I was writing Ladybug 123 I was trying to write in the lydian mode.  For this song it turned out to be a better idea on paper so I chucked it and dropped the song into ionian (do-re-me-fa-sol-la-tI -do) like 99% of all the music out there.  If you listen to the vocal harmony in the counting part of the chorus, you can still hear the old lydian melody.

Ladybug 123 is a fun tune to play at the children's shows because everyone instantly knows the words and usually ends up singing along.  Nala has come up with some "fingerplays" for this song which we do at the children's show.  Fingerplays are hand and body movements that help bring the words of a song to life for younger children.

We try to get all the kids to follow Nala's fingerplays bringing that next layer of interaction to the song.  Then Nala hops up on her hulahoop and shows off some of her tricks. And then we have a ladybug dance party.  If you've come to a show you know what I'm talking about.

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La Luna

Luna la luna la la luna
La luna la luna

Luna’s still
Shining over
The night time sky
She’s always growing
And she’s so tired
From always shining
It’s time for bed
She puts the dream
Inside your head
O la luna and
Soontime
The full moon
Will shine on you and I

Luna la luna la la luna
La luna la luna

La luna todavía
Brilla sobre el cielo de la noche
Y la luna siempre está creciendo
Ella está tan cansada
De estar brillando siempre
Es la hora de dormir
Ella pondrá el sueño
Dentro de tu cabecita
Y prontito
La luna llena
Va a brillar sobre tí y mí

Luna la luna la la luna
La luna la luna


This song's story...

(Written June 2006)

Whenever I hear old doo-wop records I like to pick out the nonsense syllables they always sang.  It occurred to me that some of the sounds were parts of speech in Spanish, so I set off trying to fit some into a tune.  That's where this "la la" stuff came from.

The two verses pretty much have the same meaning; one's in English and the other Spanish.  Translations are difficult, especially to capture some sense of rhyme in there.  Mí amigo (and amazing bilingual poet) E. M. Test helped me with this translation.

It's partly a song about the moon, and also about a little girl named "Luna" who really needs to get to sleep.

The little voice at the top of the Ladybug One version is a friend from one of the schools where I play music.  We've been practicing some simple Spanish and he says "Luna is the Spanish word for moon."

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Lemonbomb

Hey Mike Lemonbomb
Can't you carry on
Cause you're too gone

I wear a shirt the same color as my mouth
Pinned down to sleep on your butterfly pillow
When he's alone at least he's by himself
And he got sick from kissing you

I heard there's a net up over your head
To keep you safely inside your bed and body
I suspect nobody else wanders
And I take the time to consider you

Into the deep blue
We all strain our eyes
We lied on our backs
And saw angels

A pair of angels up over your head
They may've been mosquitos no I ain't sure
And I suspect nobody else wonders
If you cared and your wandered
I know you know
I take the time to consider you

Hey Mike Lemonbomb
Can't you carry on
Cause you're too gone
Hey Mike Lemonbomb
Can't you carry on
Cause you're too far gone


This song's story...

(Written October 10, 1996)

Without trying I've written about nine songs for my good old friend Mike. But this isn't completely one of them.  For purposes of this song story my old friend Mike will be referred to as "The Other Mike."

Because in Virginia I had another friend named Mike (imagine that!).  Even then I couldn't remember his last name -- it began "Lemoin..." something -- so I just called him Mike Lemon.  I had a phone number list hanging on the wall, and his was one of the numbers posted.

The name "Mike Lemon" on the phone list caught my eye one afternoon on the way to the shower.  As I was scrubbing down I started humming this little melody:

"Hey Mike Lemon bomb
daka da da dah
dah da da da."

So Lemonbomb was born in the shower.

I could have probably kept the song in straight 4/4 time (if this makes sense) by making the last "gone" overlap with the next "hey." This is what I did on the intro of the 4-track version on the Lemonbomb album.  The Birds Falling version keeps that "extra beat" in the intro, just like in the shower.

I later wrote the verses and the rest of the chorus.  This time for The Other Mike.

Over time The Other Mike and I developed a theory of existence we called "puddle theory."  I cannot remember the full details but we came up with it by drinking a bunch of beer and staring into puddles one long ago night.  The "too far gone" is part of that hopelessly lost puddle theory.

The words:

"Into the deep blue
We all strain our eyes
We lied on our backs 
And saw angels
In the sky"

Are borrowed from another song called Woodpecker - the last track on the album Lemonbomb.

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Little Little Baby

Little little little little
Little little baby
Little Baby
Little little little baby

Little little little little
Little little baby
Little Baby
Little little baby

Little nose
Little eyes
Little ears and your
Little little head
Little tongue
Little mouth
Little lips and your
Little little breath

Little toes
Little feet
Little knees and your
Little little legs
Little slurp
Little squeak
Little dream in your
Little little head

Little kiss
Little laugh
Little smile and a
Little koo chee koo
Little sneeze
Little burp
Little toot and your
Little little poo


This song's story...

(Written March 2, 2011)

This song was definitely inspired by the birth of my son. And by Woody Guthrie.

The melody is simple but it's pleasing to sing because of the rhythm of the phrasing. If you count it out, the chorus is 7 ½ bars long, so it "turns around" in a surprising way. I've always liked to play with adding or subtracting beats in my songs.

When we play this song live Nala does all the sign language for the different things we sing about. I love the sign for "dream."

On the version on "Apple Apple" I couldn't resist using some audio of Montana making his cute baby sounds. Don't worry, I made sure to ask him if he wanted to sing on the album first!

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Lullabye #7

Carmen Sofia in your mother’s arms
Nina Sofia it’s time to go to sleep
Carmen Sofia close your little eyes
Nina Sofia dream a little dream


This song's story...

Luz (who did the painting on the back cover of Underneath Your Umbrella) and her husband had a baby a few years back.  As I remember she kept asking me to write a song for her baby.  At the time this was the seventh lullaby that I wrote and I thought that was a fine name.

I played the version on the album on a Kalimba -- an African thumb piano.  Towards the end of the song, when the music gets light and bouncy, the baby is dreaming.

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M:

Monkey Love

Monkey me Monkey be Monkey free
Monkey me Monkey climb Monkey tree
Monkey play Monkey run
Monkey me Monkey one
Monkey me Monkey be Monkey free

Monkey me Monkey sad Monkey be
Monkey me Monkey lone Monkey -ly
Monkey laugh Monkey with
Monkey friend Monkey wish
Monkey me Monkey sad Monkey be

Monkey hey Monkey you Monkey one
Monkey here Monkey I Monkey come
Monkey me Monkey two
Monkey friend Monkey you
Monkey you Monkey me Monkey we

Monkey you Monkey me Monkey we
Monkey me Monkey you Monkey two
Monkey please Monkey scratch
Monkey itch Monkey back
Monkey you Monkey me Monkey we

Monkey me Monkey you
Monkey be Monkey one Monkey two

Monkey yo Monkey one Monkey two
Monkey I Monkey be Monkey new
Monkey may Monkey be
Monkey me Monkey three
Monkey one Monkey two Monkey three

Monkey one Monkey two Monkey three
Monkey me Monkey he Monkey she
Monkey love Monkey we Monkey be family
Monkey one Monkey two Monkey three
Monkey me Monkey he Monkey she
Monkey one Monkey two Monkey three

Monkey give Monkey hug
Monkey me Monkey you Monkey love
Monkey give Monkey hug
Monkey one, two, three Monkey love


This song's story...

(Written January 2012)

For a while I wanted to give my first-born child the middle name "Monkey," but I couldn't convince his mother to go for it! What can I say, I've always loved monkeys.

I wrote this song because I was amused by the idea of singing the word "Monkey" over and over, and because I wanted to try writing a duet. But when I got to the end of the 2nd verse I realized the story wasn't complete. Not even confident what a song written for three people was called (a trio? a triette?), I added the verse for the third monkey.

I like how the simple, ungrammatical language gets supported by the rhymes. And how the monkeys decide to be a family.

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Mere Bacche Ke Liye LorI (Lullaby for my Child)

So ja raja kumar

Chanda mama aare aawa
Nadiya kinare aawa
Lal ke nindiya leke aawa
Nadiya kinare aawa

-----> translation:

Go to sleep my Prince

O Uncle Moon
Come shine on the river
And please bring sleep
To my child


This song's story...

I co-wrote this lullaby, which is sung in Hindi, with Deobrat Mishra.  Debu -- his nickname -- is a classically trained Indian musician and vocalist, and travels through the Northwest once a year doing concerts.

I love playing with Debu and we have written a handful of songs together relatively quickly.  It's nice....we sit down with a guitar and write a song.  It feels easy.

For this song, since I was writing children's songs, I asked Debu to think about singing for his young children who he is away from for long periods of time. This is what came out.  As I remember, we wrote the song and then immediately recorded the version that ended up on Ladybug One.  We didn't have much of an arrangement, we just faced each other and improvised through the song. 

Aunty Gairola and her niece helped me translate the song.  They taught me that the Hindi word LohrI (pronounced "low-ree") means lullaby, Chanda means moon, & Nindiya is sleep.  I found it interesting that Hindu culture considers the moon to be masculine ("Uncle Moon"), whereas in the west the moon is considered feminine.

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Morning Blue

F#m - A
Karson crazy mixing gin with watermelon
She stand naked doing dishes wedding ring
In the kitchen on the sink

A - E7 - F#m - D - F#m - E
Sitting beside her
Might as well be a spider
Love please don't touch me
I'd love you to be right
Here in this room
To paint the morning blue
Blue in the dark of the night
I leave the door open wide
To let the night inside
I'd love to have you here right
Here in this room
To paint the morning blue blue

In the late dark of the night
I leave the door open wide
To let the night inside
I'd love to have you right here
In this room to paint the morning blue

A - G#m - B - C#m7 - D - E
But you said you'd throw it away
Put it in the ocean your letter didn't say
You said you'd throw it all away for me
Put it in the ocean your letter didn't say
It'll all be explained someday


This song's story...

(Written December 1999)

I really love that pre-dawn time of day when everything becomes blue in the half light.  I've done a few paintings during that time of day and I call it the "morning blue." 

For me, Morning Blue is about the different degrees of gravity between two people. 

What happens when the balance of love is unequal?  When one ingredient is more attracted to the other than the other is to it?  Now let the black night spill in through the open window and wait there thinking about everything until morning comes.

Here's the original page I scribbled which has since fallen out of my notebook.

*~~*~~~*~*~~*~~~*

I don't know if you've ever thought of songs as having colors.  what color is this or that song?  Ironically for me when I close my eyes and listen to Morning Blue it sounds more like a red crayon. I think that has something to do with the key (or pitch) of A, but I don't know a whole lot about that music color theory.

The bridge section ("you said you'd throw...") was originally written for another song called Fingertip Touch sometime in 1997.  The melody and music is totally different, but the words were only minimally changed. That song Fingertip Touch goes:

"You said you'd throw your paints away
Put them in an ocean, no the letter didn't say
It'll all be expained someday
He says he thinks of me on Sundays"

But in Morning Blue the narrator is asking for more to be thrown into the ocean than just some paints.

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O:

O Susanna

Well I come from Alabama
With a banjo on my knee
I’m going to Louisiana
My true love for to see
It rained all night the day I left
The weather it was dry
The sun’s so hot I froze to death
Susanna don’t you cry

O Susanna
O don’t you cry for me
I come from Alabama with
A banjo on my knee

Had a dream the other night
When everything was still
I thought I saw susanna come
Walking down the hill
A red, red rose was in her hand
A tear was in her eye
I said I come from Alabam’
Susanna don’t you cry

O Susanna
O don’t you cry for me
I come from Alabama with
A banjo on my knee


This song's story...

O Susanna was written by Stephen Collins Foster and was first published in 1848.  Apparently the song first appeared in a minstrel show, and another version of O Susanna became popular with the miner 49s as they were heading west into California and beyond during the gold rush.  One of the main reasons I chose to record this song was for the irony in the lyrics.  It's definitely a song I'd like to see stay alive and the way to keep songs alive is to sing them.

On the Ladybug One version of O Susanna I collaborated with Deobrat Mishra and Marco Zonka.  Deobrat is an amazing sitar player and vocalist from Benares India, and Marco is an accomplished American tabla player.  Over the years I had been inspired by Marco's versions of traditional songs set in different time signatures.  I came up with this arrangement of this American classic in 5/4 time and presented it to them. 

5/4 is a common time signature in North Indian Classical Music and these musicians had no trouble stepping right in and coming up with their parts.  We tracked the song in an easy afternoon recording session.  Incidentally, Deobrat had never heard the song before performing it!  Nala and I wrote some vocal harmonies and layered that on top of the rhythm section in a separate session.  It's a pretty straight forward jam without any tricks.

Part of the song's powerful impact for me is that we are taking a one of the most American songs in existence and giving it a North Indian treatment.  But if you think about it, it is also the other way around.  At a time in world history when intolerance and racism are rampant, we find a meeting place somewhere in between two cultures.  We expose each other to new ideas and ways of thinking, and it is at this intersection that my ethnomusicology and world music interests live.

Marco, Deobrat, and I have co-written and recorded a number of other original songs, and we hope to have a full length release available somewhere down the road.

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One Tree Said

One tree said
To another tree:
“They ain’t gonna build a house outta me
Try to cut me with a saw
Or chop me with an axe
But I can outrun any lumberjack
My legs are strong
My trunk is long
I’m staying right here where I belong”

We’ll give you all you need
Any more than that is greed
Just let me be where I belong

A little blue fishy
Swimming in the sea:
“No worm on a hook can outsmart me
Try to sell me to the market
Or keep me as a pet
But I ain’t seen a net that could catch me yet
My fins are strong
I’ll sing this song
I’m staying right here where I belong”

We’ll give you all you need
Any more than that is greed
Just let me be where I belong

You already have so much
Will you ever have enough?
Just let me be where I belong

Just let us be where we belong

Please don’t please yourself
By hurting someone else
Just let us be where we belong

All you see is dollar signs
How can you be so blind?
Just let us be where we belong


This song's story...

There is a simple and powerful Native American proverb which goes something like: "Take what you need, and leave the rest." This is the main message in One Tree Said

For me One Tree Said is about not being greedy.  It's about considering, understanding, and accepting the perspective and needs of others.  This is something I'm working on.

I am not saying that it is wrong to cut down trees, or eat animals. 

I am saying that we all need to think about how we do these things, and how we treat other plants, animals, people, and our planet.

If you have ever seen a "clearcut" (when ALL of the trees are cut down in a given area by chainsaws and big machines) you probably know what I'm talking about. Clear cuts are a familiar sight along the highways where I live in Washington State. 

We humans could be a little more responsible and begin thinking sustainably.   It's becoming more and more clear that our decisions and our choices affect more than just us.  For me, One Tree Said is about acknowledging these things. 

To experiment with bringing the lyrical images to life, we made sounds with two different types of saws in the Ladybug One album version of One Tree SaidBob Antone (an amazing storyteller and fiddler from North Bend, Washington) played the musical saw.  This is a traditional style of "bowing" an actual handsaw to get it to sing.  I find it to be a very haunting sound, which is what I was initially going for on the song's recording.

As a finishing touch, Nala and I also did a recording session with a chainsaw.  We set up the microphones outside, and listened to the song on headphones while "playing" the chainsaw. Here is a photo from that recording session.

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On The Rail

Gonna lay my head
On the rail, the railroad line
My body dead but my soul be fine

Fly into the golden blue
Cause I love the up above
And I pray angel carry me away

Forget this all and roll away, roll away
Forget this all and roll away

Conductor let me hear your whistle wine
Will you take me on a ride on the railroad line?
This boxcar heart and train wreck soul
Empty as a parking lot never felt so all alone

Forget this all and roll away, roll away
Forget this all and roll away

Gonna lay my little head
On the railroad line
Gonna wait for the whistle wine


This song's story...

(Written April 2001)

...Hasn't been written yet.

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P:

Pocketful

Fly as a kite
Carry the sky around in your pocket
And you might but you haven't decided
I'll trade you to be me for tonight
Cause something isn't right

You're pretty on paper
I never would have
Thought you up myself
The paint on mud
Is an original touch

But God's been practicing sunsets on me
And all those angels just turn out to be
Bumblebees in white there's something
Buzzing in the breezes tonight

I know you cause I could see right through
The white outfit with empty pockets
You're too young for your soul
And your pockets are all full of holes
So I ain't sharing these pocketfuls


This song's story...

...Hasn't been written yet.

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Private Parts

Naked in the snow with you
Our private parts all turning to
Wonderful shades of blue


This song's story...

(Written Fall 1993)

Private Parts is one of a handful of "8 second songs" I was writing a few years ago. It's a partially true story.  You decide which parts.

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Pumpkin Song

** Listen to an mp3 of Pumpkin Song

A pumpkin is a circle
Orange, bumpy, cold
Pumpkins in my little yard
Come from seeds that grow

I do know
How pumpkins grow
In the ground
But I don't know about
Our pumpkin house

We might have to live
In that pumpkin
It'll be like sitting in the sun
Cozy and so soft
In my pumpkin
Sitting underneath
A jack-o-lantern leaf


This song's story...

(Written October 21-29, 2010)

Pumpkin Song was co-written with the students of Little Wings Preschool who were aged 3 and 4 years old.

Lisa, the school teacher, always does amazing projects with the kids. In October the kids got excited about pumpkins, and in talking, thought it would be really great to be able to sit inside a pumpkin. Lisa helped them bring their idea to life and when I visited the school they were sewing and paper mache-ing an enormous jack-o-lantern.

So we decided to write a song about pumpkins.

Each line in the song was spoken by a student. The melody of the first verse was written by one of the students. She sung it so high that I originally had to sing the song entirely in falsetto! We talked a little about chords and they helped to decide which chords would be in the song too.

Below are a few of the lines that the kids spoke.

Some of this group songwriting process was informed by my work with Songwriting Works, a non-profit program that helps elders tell their stories through song. More info about this project can be found on songwritingworks.com.

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R:

The Radio

I don’t want to trace your spoons
But I find it hard not to
I woke up with you in my head
But I guess that’s what I get for going to sleep
Tripped around in town a while
Looking for Julie
Stole a radio so I could hear your voice
Now i’ve given up sleeping completely

I want to hear you on the radio

Got a photo on the wall
Of you and lara at heckscher park
Stole a button down blue just like you
With red rubber band wrists
You’d be so proud i’m losing sleep
Finding out what it means to be out of reach
Once I thought of coming home
But when we talked on the telephone
I think I found a new one

I want hear you on the radio


This song's story...

(Written in Australia October 24, 1995)

...Hasn't been written yet.

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Raindrops

Raindrops
Won't stop
So let's
Get wet
We'll dry off someday
It's just water anyway

Raindrops on my head
The clouds are full of tiny holes
The world is getting wet
But I'm dry on my umbrella stroll

Raindrops small at first
Warm and wet and falling down
On flowers bent in thirst
Puddles gather on the ground

Raindrops
Won't stop
So let's
Get wet
We'll dry off someday
It's just water anyway

Wearing my rain boots
Raincoat and my rubber pants
I'm almost waterproof
All dressed up for my rain dance

Raindrops
Won't stop
So let's
Get wet
We'll dry off someday
It's just water anyway


This song's story...

(Written November 2012)

Since moving to Seattle in 1997 I have written a growing stack of songs about the rain. It really does rain a lot out in this corner of the country. One year it rained everyday for 100 days straight! That was crazy.

I commissioned myself to write this song. It was winter in the Northwest and I needed a fresh tune for an upcoming show. I wanted something upbeat and in season. Put a kid next to a puddle and they jump in it. They don't even care (in the moment!) if they have the right shoes on. They jump and splash in the thing because it's there and because they're alive. It's a celebration. It's a beautiful thing that most grown-ups including me have lost touch with.

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Reflections

If you wave
I will wave back
If you smile
I will smile at you
And if you wink
I will wink at you

In the middle of the night
When your eyes are both shut tight
I'll be here with you
And my eyes will be closed too
We have this deep connection

And for sure
I'll be yours
If you'll be
Mine for me
Reflections

Tomorrow
When you wake
And you go
About making your own way
Through the ups
And the downs of your day

If you're angry or you're scared
Trust me I'll be there
If you need to shed a tear
I will cry with you my dear
Just look in my direction

And for sure
I'll be yours
If you'll be
Mine for me
Reflections


This song's story...

(Written July 7, 2011)

Since becoming a father in 2011 I started taking more walks. It became a little ritual with my son and I, and we'd take a couple walks a day to help him fall asleep. Sometimes we'd be walking in pitch dark in the middle of the night when he couldn't sleep, other times early in the morning just as the birds were waking up.

This song "Reflections" began on one of those walks. I was just humming and singing and this song started to come out. I sang the verses over and over to him so I would remember them by the time I got back home to a pencil. While he slept I quietly plucked out the melody on the guitar so that wouldn't get lost either.

The recording on Apple Apple was accidental. When I'm recording I'll often take a break by recording songs that I don't intend to release. This was one of them. I added some harmonies and a second guitar part, but left it pretty minimal. I thought it was truer that way.

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Rockingchair

They won’t rescue you this way
Your wallowing won’t take away
All your crazy troubles
Silent fits won’t fix a thing
No they won’t rescue you this way
At least not today

Rocking this same old rockingchair
All alone just sit and stare
I’m all stuck around this old place
No escaping your freckle face

Radio out the open door
Drink this beer on the front porch
Today is done is good for me
Sooner or later I’ll get some sleep

They won’t rescue you this way
Your wallowing won’t take away
All your crazy troubles
Silent fits won’t fix a thing
No they won’t rescue you this way
At least not today

I wish this rockingchair could fly
I’d brush my teeth and say goodnight
Until then consider it
Guess this rockingchair ain’t a rocketship


This song's story...

(Written September 1999)

1999 was a difficult year for me. I think it's fair to say I was depressed.

I remember spending time on my front porch in Madrona rocking on a busted-up rockingchair (one leg was wired onto the rocker and every now and again it would slip off and the rocking would abruptly stop). Sipping tea or a beer, just sitting and thinking about my little life.

I remember the color of the light and shadows down from the street lights at night.  I remember grass growing on top of a telepone pole. I remember losing two of my closest friends in the world that year.  I remember being lonely.

I knew I couldn't fix my situation and move on by just sitting there. But that's how I felt and that's all I could do at the time. Sit and stare and keep wishing my rockingchair was a rocketship.

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S:

See Ya Maria

G - Em - Am7 - D7
I remember you sniffing glue
In a mink coat just staring at the boats
With an empty candy sack in your hand
I wouldn't expect you to understand

G - Em - C - G/B - Am
C - D - G
So I'll see ya Maria
I still think about you sometimes
Like whenever we're drinking water
With whiskey and wine

Was it coincidence or providence?
You next to me just rolling down the street
Like a pocketful of ectasy
The colors never tasted so sweet
Do you remember that december
Was the winter without rain
We waited it out
On sugar and champagne

I went to the sea but could not find she
So I buried myself down by the beach
And I was all alone so I threw some stones
Then I dug her up on her cell phone said
"Now that you're all gone and lost,"
My tongue was stuck but fingers crossed
Still I said "I'm sunshine fine"
But baby you could tell
From my haircut I ain't doing well

G - Em - C - D
G - D/F# - Em - D
C - G/B - Am - C - D
Without you
I've given up on lips
Now I'm using cheap chapstick
And baby can't you tell
From my lip balm
I'm not doing well
Without you
From my lip balm
I'm not doing well

I've taken time and lots of space
Still I can't bring myself to say
That I'll see ya Maria
I still think about you sometimes
Well actually I think about you all the time
You know I think about you all the time


This song's story...

(Written February 2003)

In the fourth grade I was given the assignment of writing the life story of an inanimate object of my choice. Even though I didn't know anything about the sport, the title of my first draft was "The Life of a Basketball." Sure enough Mrs. B returned my handwritten paper full of red ink. Basically, she wanted me to write about something I knew a little bit more about.

We all know a little bit about love. I think we all feel somewhat of the same thing -- in the same place in our hearts -- when our lover leaves us, or when we're lonely, or when our pet bird escapes in the middle of winter, or whatever romantic dysfunction is currently going down. But still I've never felt like many of the popular love songs that I've heard.  I'm sorry, but I cannot identify with lines like "I can see that you have fire in your eyes." Am I just a dull blade or do people really feel like that?

I wrote those two paragraphs above to describe why I wrote a song called "See Ya Maria."

See Ya Maria is somewhat of a fictional, dysfunctional, love song that doesn't take itself too seriously. I've been dumped and have also been the dumper. I've studied both roles and I know enough about the two sides of the friggin' nickle.  Most of us do.

I believe humans create their own personal symbols.  For me some of those things are stones at the beach, and chapstick. But I want to be careful about revealing too much. I hope people pick up the different references in the song based on their own experiences and do their own things with them.

I will say that on Birds Falling from the Sky, I wanted to comment on the previous love song Sun Maiden.  I wanted to suggest "Hey this 'love song' thing doesn't have to be all superserious" -- that's one of the reasons why See Ya Maria appears on the album where it does.  Beyond that there are other things that connect Sun Maiden  to See Ya Maria besides haircuts and the key of G, but my fingers are tired.

Oh yeah, want to know the title of my fourth grade second draft? It was something I was more familiar with than basketball: "The Life of a Tissue."

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She Went Pretty

Suddenly she is everywhere
In my eyes on my mind
I keep finding her pink hair everywhere
On my clothes and everywhere

It was you were in my dream again
It was you were in my dream

She in the simple dress she wore
Went pretty to the grocery store
She wore a sweater and a smile
And went warm down the frozen food aisle

I want to touch your eyes
Hold them like fireflies
Stay with you here too


This song's story...

(Written August 2001)

This song is related to another song called Black Cherry Yogurt because they both take place in a grocery store. No matter what time of year it is or what I am wearing, I always get cold in the grocery store.

She Went Pretty was written for a beautiful girl I used to call Ms. Pink. Since recording the tune I've changed one line of the song to:

I want to touch your thoughts
Hold them like tater tots
Stay with you here tonight

 

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Sing In The Sun

We can make the sun come out
We can make the sun come out
Singing in the sun
Sunshine

Rolling in the dandelions
Rolling in the dandelions
Singing in the sun
Sunshine

We can make the sun come out
We can make the sun come out
Singing in the sun
Sunshine

Yesterday was grey with rain
A beautiful day has begun
Sunrise up shine in my eyes
And everyone sing in the sunshine

We can make the sun come out
We can make the sun come out
Singing in the sun
Sunshine

Kiss your face and kiss your eyes
Kiss your face and kiss your eyes
Singing in the sun
Sunshine

Yesterday was grey with rain
A beautiful day has begun
Sunrise up shine in my eyes
And everyone sing in the sunshine

In the sun
In the sun
In the sun
In the sun

We can make the sun come out
We can make the sun come out
Singing in the sun
Sunshine


This song's story...

(Written 2010 - Jan 2014)

Sing In The Sun was written on my front porch with a handful of friends sitting around. I was just improvising some words and didn't know a new song was being born. I love musical discoveries and surprise like that.

The sun was doing the thing where you can see its bright, round shape behind the clouds but it was still a cold and grey-ish day. The thought was that if we all sang together maybe we could "sing in" the sun, or call it through the clouds towards us with our song.

The song wasn't completed that day. I got as far as writing the B Part ("Yesterday was grey with rain….") but the words were awkwardly different:

Clouds can't hold us back no more
Your love shining on everyone
(Something something) lift your voice
And everyone sing in the sunshine

So I put the song away and didn't look at it for a few years. I'm not exactly sure, I was probably thumbing through an old notebook and found the song, but I started working on it again. It took me a while to get the words for that B Part right, probably because of the unusual rhyme scheme and phrasing. I remember being jet-lagged in New Jersey, watching the rusty sun rise, when I discovered the words "Sun rise up shine in my eyes." They seemed to set up that final line "And everyone sing in the sun shine."

When I was in the studio recording the Sundrops album, I almost forgot to include the Bridge section of the song ("In the sun, sun sun"). It was a good thing I didn't know the lyrics at the time because I had to pull out the notebook where the words were scribbled and re-discovered that part of the song.

Listen closely and you’ll hear a glockenspiel. That’s the bell-like chimes you hear enter with the horns when the words sing “Yesterday was grey with rain...."

The buzzing sound on the acoustic guitar is a piece of paper woven between the strings. When the guitar is played this way it’s called “prepared guitar.” You can hear this guitar enter the music after the words sing the line “Everyone sing in the sunshine."

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Spiders In My Breakfast

Whenever you’re looking for me
I'll be at the bottom of a bowl of cheerios

Whatever is cooking for me
We’ll meet at the or-ee of an oreo
Or maybe

I’ll meet you in the middle
Of a peanut butter pickle o
Uncle Freddie SpagettI made his way to baby toe
Sift me out of flour
Pour me out of cheerios
But I’ll meet you in the middle of
A peanut butter pickle o

Whenever you’re looking for me
I’ll be at the bottom of a bowl of cheerios
Whenever you’re looking for something to eat
Beat you to the bottom of a bowl of cheerios

Maybe Baby Broccoli fell out of the alphabet
soggy swampy lumpy me
Kissing Mary Macaroni
Spiders in my breakfast
Now there’s spiders inside me

Sorry so unlucky to
Now have spiders inside you
Holy moly macaronI
Spiders in you tickling
Spiders in your breakfast
Now there’s spiders inside you
Spiders in my breakfast
Now there’s spiders inside me

Whenever you’re looking for me
I’ll be at the bottom of a bowl of cheerios


This song's story...

(Written March 25, 1997)

Originally called O Cheerio, the idea for this song occurred to me on the front steps of my house in Virginia. 

I was eating cereal out of a big black bowl.  As I finished I tipped the bowl to my mouth to drink down the remaining milk.  It surprised me to see my reflection in the bottom of the bowl, and it gave me a private giggle.

This front porch experience inspired the chorus. I thought it would be funny to try and spin a story around the idea told from the perspective of a spider.  Over time the lyrics have changed, and might keep changing.

If you listen closely (or just read the credits in the album artwork) to the Ladybug One version, you can tell that there's quite a few instruments and players in the mix. 

The children's recording session was pretty funny at times.  The whole room cracked up after little Henry said his beautiful opening line :"Spiders in my breakfast and now they're inside me and they're in my head and I can't get them out."  I really liked some of the genuine laughter sequences, especially at the song's fadeout, so decided to keep some of those in the final mix.

When we were recording the rhythm tracks in a basement studio in NE portland, I went snooping around a back room looking for a table to set some gear up on.  I opened a door and found Tony's Casio Keyboard vault -- he has a closet full of 80s style keyboards that you wouldn't believe.  As I remember there are 5 different keyboards used in this version, including a pastel pink and green keyboard, a Casio SK1 (which samples your voice), and a toy piano we referred to as "The Jaymar."

Also buried in that version is the "wind wand" -- those musical tubes where you grab one end and spin the other end around to sound the noise.  You can hear it enter the song right at the transition to the "itsy bitsy spider" part.  Gavin actually plays two part harmony on the wind wand. 

And that's also three part kazoo harmony, just for fun.  I wanted to put kazoo in Spiders as a reference to the instrument's history.  In my research for this album I learned that the earliest ancestor of the kazoo comes from the African continent where it used to be made out of an animal's horn.  The horn had a hole drilled through the side and spider's eggs were mushed up and squashed into the hole.  When a player hummed through the horn, the spider's eggs would vibrate the air inside the horn to make a sound very similar to the modern kazoo.  So spiders and kazoos are forever tangled up in each other's web.

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Sprinkle It With Magic

The sun goes d-d-down
Over the ta-town
At na-na-night street lights turn on
And who's the guy who turns on
All those lights?
Or maybe it is a lady
Whoever it is must be cr-cr-cr-crazy
For even applying for that job

And w-w-why are all the stars
Rolling and winking
In the sk-sk-sky
To na-na-na-na-night
Oh you know we may not
Figure it out on our own
Although they think they do
The scientists don't know
You can't explain
The world away instead

Sprinkle it with magic

Pl-pl-please could you tell me
Who's the dude who hangs up all the
La-la-la-la-leaves in the tr-tr-trees?
I think I'd like it if it could be me

Man the scientist
Often misses the show
He's such a dope with his nose stuck in the ma-microscope
Stuck stiff in his scientific bliss
Someone oughta tell him
"You shouldn't try to breed the pits out of watermelon"
Mr. Scientist you must not be smart
because the seeds are the best part
And if you feel the need
To ask why clost your eyes
The reply's inside your mind
When you

Sprinkle it with magic

Wouldn't it be tragic?
If we figured out all
The who's and why's and how's
I hope they don't figure out
Everything
Until that time
We'll be sprinkling magic


This song's story...

(Written October 2004)

...Hasn't been written yet.

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Sun Maiden

G - D/F# - Em - C
My sunflowers need staking
Cause I forgot them in the car
Tie my smiling daisy
To some sticks I found in the yard
But the phone's been buzzing
The dripping drone of days
And she changed her mind
And that's alright
I'll be just fine

Bm - Esus2 - G - D
G - D/F# - C - D
But if I were a dog
I'd walk and walk and walk
Just to be let back in
And be most happy about anything
And everything

She somehow resembles
The sun maiden
Apple bright
Cigarette red
Sun-dried raisins
If you please
Leave it on the porch
I'll leave the door unlocked
If you want to come inside

Still sitting on an apple and an orange
Like I'm not even there
Things ain't all that different
Even though I did cut my hair
Let's go have a picnic somewhere and see

I'll talk to you
If you'll speak with me


This song's story...

(Written July 27, 1996)

Have you ever stopped to look at the brown-haired woman on the packaging for Sun-Maid Raisins?  Dated her for a short time.  Sort of.

To this day I still think my old girlfriend N looked a lot like the Sun Maiden.  This song was obviously written around the time we broke off our relationship. 

At one point I decided to bring her some big sun flowers, just like the picture on the raisin box.  They were doing well in their pots when I got them home.  But I left the flowers in the car too long in the Virginia summertime heat.  When I returned to retrieve them they had already become wilted, much like our relationship. 

The little identification tag on the flowers called them "Smiling Daisies."

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Sun Song

When the skies are blue and the whole world's sunny
I can laugh at things that aren't even funny
I feel so good don't want to be rude
Sunshine puts me in a happy mood

Wake up in the morning with the sun in my eyes
Still a little sleepy from the previous night
The warm daylight is a welcome surprise
Rush out the door and get into the light
The sun's so great nothing else can beat it
Open up my arms and attempt to greet it
When the sun comes out I forget my strife
And remember that it gave me the gift of life

When the skies are blue and the whole world's sunny
I can laugh at things that aren't even funny
I feel so good don't want to be rude
Sunshine puts me in a happy mood

I'm not doing much but it's lots of fun
Everything is better in the glow of the sun
All I see is sunshine for miles
And people outside wearing big old smiles
Gonna find a spot by the edge of a brook
And skip some stones or just read a book
I might lose my shoes and lose my socks
Take a dip in the water if it gets too hot

When the skies are blue and the whole world's sunny
I can laugh at things that aren't even funny
I feel so good don't want to be rude
Sunshine puts me in a happy mood

The sun is shining and ain't no chance of showers
I'm feeling like I got solar powers
I could be on the mountain, I could be on the coast
Sunny is the weather that I love the most
I love the sun when it's hot, love the sun when it snows,
Love the sun when it rains and makes rainbows
I love the sun summer, fall, winter and spring
I love the sun and all the life that it brings
I love the sun's heat, I love the sun's light
I love the sun all day and I miss it at night
There's one thing that can't be outdone
And everybody knows I'm talking bout the sun

When the skies are blue and the whole world's sunny
I can laugh at things that aren't even funny
I feel so good don't want to be rude
Sunshine puts me in a happy mood


This song's story...

I did not write Sun Song. This song was written by Ari Lesser, a spoken-word artist I met at the Oregon Country Fair a few years back.

An early morning, sun was rising on a gathering of morning people just waking up, and Ari steps out to sing Sun Song to us all. There was no stage or amplification. Just a guy and his voice. It was a beautiful moment.

I approached him after the song and told him I loved the song. He gave me a CD with a bunch of his music and poetry and it had Sun Song on the disc.

His lyrics had a number of references that I was uncomfortable singing on an album for families so I rewrote some of the words. I wrote some guitar accompaniment for the song and The Harmonica Pocket has been playing this song at summer shows for a few years.

As I was getting ready to release the album Sundrops, I got in touch with Ari again to ask for his blessing on the changes and additions I made to his song.

Ari is prolific and has a bunch of albums he has released. Here's a couple links to his music:

https://arithemc.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/arithemc

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Sundrops

Sundrops the rain's gonna fall
Sundrops might soak us all
Sundrops the sun's gonna shine
And the rain's gonna fall both at the same time

I'm getting thirsty I hope it rains soon
Been waiting on a cloud since late last June
My lips are dry my arm's so tired
From holding this cup up to the sky

Sundrops the rain's gonna fall
Sundrops might soak us all
Sundrops the sun's gonna shine
And the rain's gonna fall both at the same time

It's been a long winter damp and dark
I'm waiting on spring and a brand new start
Like a firefly caught in a mason jar
Keep a little bit of sun inside your heart

Sundrops the rain's gonna fall
Sundrops might soak us all
Sundrops it could rain or shine
Better get the laundry off the clothesline

Someday's I feel the same
I don't know if I don't want to
Be the sun or the rain
I don't know and I don't want to
Can't make up my mind
I don't know but maybe better
Let it rain and shine

Some wish for sun others for rain
All our wishes blowing up around the weathervane
Some come true, some do not
So I'm wishing to be happy with what I got

Sundrops the rain's gonna fall
Sundrops might soak us all
Sundrops the sun's gonna shine
Gonna put the laundry back on the line

Sundrops a break in the clouds
Sundrops might dry us out
Sundrops once upon a time
It's raining like a nursery rhyme

Sundrops the rain's gonna fall
Sundrops might soak us all
Sundrops the sun's gonna shine
And the rain's gonna fall both at the same time


This song's story...

(Written Dec 27, 2014 - Jan 5, 2015)

It was a struggle to find a title for the album that would become Sundrops. I had a handful of titles but none were jumping out at me as the one. I knew I wanted something that reflected these themes of sunshine and rain, but I couldn't make up my mind.

So Sundrops was the last song written for the album Sundrops. I wrote a couple variations of the first two verses and the chorus and wasn't sure if I had something worth pursuing or not. I shared a demo with a couple close friends and they encouraged me to keep going with it.

Over the next few days the song grew on me and I became obsessed with finishing it. I kept moving words around and polishing the thing. I took my notebook to bed and wrote down lines in the dark in the middle of the night. Trying not to rustle the paper too much and wake any sleeping people up.

When I finished the song I knew I had a title for the album. I like that this song's subject (not being able to make up your mind!) was informed by where I was with titling the record. I'm a little like the weather sometimes.

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Supermoon

||: F | C | F | C | F | Bb | F | C7 | F :||

Supermoon
Floating high
White balloon
In the sky
Your kite string
Just by chance
Tangled on
The maple branch
Supermoon

Supermoon
Fell down hard
Crash into
My backyard
Woke the birds
And us all
With the noise
From your fall
Supermoon

Pick you up
Off the ground
Take you in-
side my house
Wash your face
Clean you up
Put band-aids
On your cuts
Supermoon

Tomorrow
When we wake
We can build
A staircase
To the sky
Made of stone
So you can
Return home
Supermoon

Guess it's time
Say goodbye
Climb the stairs
To the sky
Don't be sad
See you soon
You'll be back
Supermoon

Supermoon
Floating high
White balloon
In the sky
Supermoon


This song's story...

(Written March 22, 2011)

Once upon a time I got a special request from a 2 year-old. His Dad emailed me saying his son Tyler wanted to hear "a song about a moon."

A few weeks later I heard that a supermoon was coming on March 19th, 2011. A supermoon? I had never heard of one, but it intrigued me with its poetic name.

(Remember from high school how orbits are elliptical? A Supermoon occurs when the moon is full at the point it is closest in orbit to Earth. If that doesn't make sense, read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wikI /Supermoon

Some people say supermoons are correlated with earthquakes and strange fish washing up from the deep ocean. And that terrible earthquake in Fukushima happened about a week before the March 2011 supermoon.

I told you that to tell you this...)

I love the moon. I'm not the first. Me and a few hundred thousand others have written about the moon hanging in the sky. During that supermoon time the moon was shining especially bright on my mind. Out under the big moon one night I began singing this song.

The song is definitely inspired by the magical realism of Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez (ants carrying off the baby, and someone's sister floating away one afternoon while folding sheets). But I had quick fun composing the story and playing with the moon in a new way. Yes, in a way it's a linear story with one verse leading into the next, but I'm never sure if it's about a balloon, a lover, or a child who won't fall asleep.

Anyway, I sent a quick recording of the song to Tyler and his Dad. Even though I was impatient to share it with everyone else, I waited until "Apple Apple" to release the song.

Our friend Aimée Ringle joins Nala and I for some 3 part harmony. She is a lovely singer and it was superfun to record Supermoon with her.

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Surprise

Blackbird why you on my front porch?
Blackbird why you knocking on my door?
Blackbird what are you here for?

Turtle why you on my front porch?
Turtle why you knocking on my door?
Turtle what are you here for?

Raccoon why you on my front porch?
Raccoon why you knocking on my door?
Raccoon what are you here for?

Eagle why you on my front porch?
Eagle why you knocking on my door?
Eagle what are you here for?

Bull Frog why you on my front porch?
Bull Frog why you knocking on my door?
Bull Frog what are you here for?

Cougar why you on my front porch?
Cougar why you knocking on my door?
Cougar what are you here for?

But we only
Decided
To come because
We were invited
And we can see
By your eyes
That the party
Was a surprise

Surprise it's your birthday today
Surprise it's your birthday today


This song's story...

(Written April 2013)

I have the raccoons to thank for this song.

One night a big, fat raccoon was sniffing around my porch, knocking stuff over. I went out in my underwear to scare him off, then climbed back in bed. Ten minutes later he's back making a bunch of racket again. Didn't get much sleep that night and had a hard time persuading that raccoon to go party somewhere else!

The next morning, guitar in my lap, I wrote the verse melody to this song. I didn't know where the song was going, but it was a fun phrase to sing, so I added some other animals. If you count it out, this song has a 7 1/2 measure phrase. Usually songs have even-numbered phrases (4, 8, 10, or 12 bars). By cutting two beats off one of the measures you get this unanticipated turn around which keeps the tune on its paws.

Over time I kept asking myself and other people "What are all these animals doing on my porch?" I found a lot of answers, but the one I liked best was that all these animals were showing up for a surprise party.

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T:

The Hills

Meet you at the fold of this letter home
Don't get used to me all like this
Don't watch me with the television
Feeling second hand to the clock
As hard as they try the lights are brown
Man I'm feeling mighty down

Tell the hills to go away
He tries to tell me it ain't that bad
So why you so sad?
You shouldn't leave yourself all alone

The copper april
Why you rusty may?
A bouquet of secrets
With a city-full of days
Why am I so nocturnal in the evening?
I wake up tired all the time
Unbeautiful and choking on a smile
Why am I suddenly so broken?

Tell the hills to go away
He tries to tell me it ain't that bad
So why you so sad?
You shouldn't leave yourself all alone

Tell them all to go away
He tries to tell me it ain't that bad
Yeah? then why'm I so sad?
I shouldn't leave myself all alone


This song's story...

(Written May 18, 1996)

As the first line suggests The Hills was written as a reply to a letter received from my old friend R. The letter is long gone but was urging me not to be down about the darker twists of life which happen to all of us at different points.

I found comfort in the line "tell the hills to go away." For me it's about the frustration of not being able to control something in your life and, in the end, accepting it.  There have been two recorded versions of this song, and in the 2004 version, R makes an ironic voicemail appearance in that this time he's the one at the bottom of The Hills.

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The Stars Are All Out

"The stars are all out
Of electricity,"
Said the power company.
"We're dead," we said,
"Dang they don't hang
The stars or the moon
Like they used to."

From the moon to you
Nothing quite
As beautiful as you

She gave him
A heart left it
Rather in a place kept
Between his face and pillowcase
As it turned out
It wasn't meant to be
It just happened
To happen this way
It just happened
To happen that way

From the moon to you
Nothing quite
As beautiful as you
Underneath the moon
Dee daa doo
It's just a pretty view
And I'm saving this seat
For the girl
With chocolate on her cheek

Maybe I ain't the one to say
But baby your stars are all dark today
Something very powerful someone wise
The mosquitos up in heavenly skies
Or the angels that live in your eyes

Took a moment from their busy week
To take the time to put a kiss on your cheek
With love so strong it left a mark
Which like the stars tonight are all dark

I just want to sit
And maybe one kiss
I just want to sit next to you


This song's story...

(Written Spring 2002)

On a trip through portland oregon in 2004, I met Heather Harlow.  She had worked on a number of music videos and we talked about co-producing a Harmonica Pocket song together.

The Stars Are All Out is an epic art song -- it has numerous parts, changes in strange places, and is often difficult to teach to other people.  I wanted Heather to understand the structure of the song quickly, and it was also important to be able to communicate our ideas about the different parts easily.  I ended up drawing a "song map" for her.  It was the first time I had ever done this. It really worked for us, and it facilitated some ideas that probably wouldn't have occurred to us without the map.

Basically, we broke the song down into a structure with these parts:

A - B - A - B - C - D - E - A

Each part was then considered a "room" and our goal was to define and decorate each room as distinctly its own thing. 

Music and light fill a room in a similar way and we wanted to explore different feelings and colors. So that when you crossed the line from one room to the next, you KNEW you were somewhere else. Instantly.

Lyrical images were one factor in determining the feel of each room.  In the first A section we were attracted to the words "electricity," "power company," and "stars."  On the map we scribbled the new related words "sharp," "charged," and "glass on glass."

We wanted to thicken up the A sections with sounds of glass shattering.  Since we didn't have any of these sounds we had to go create some, and this is where things got ridiculously fun.

I have some wonderful and amazing friends in Portland who are always up for a good time.  We gathered up the digital recorder, some microphones, about three weeks worth of recycling backlog, and headed out to an alley behind the loft where we were working. 

We smashed A LOT of glass and did a bunch of laughing.  Some of those sounds were dropped into the mix with delay and other effects.  Here's a raw excerpt from that glass recording session.

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This Time of Night

While you were in the bathroom room
I said a tiny prayer
That you'd come back to my room
And say you were gonna stay
Half blink your eyes
And stay yourself inside
Please don't go
No I don't want to sleep alone

Try these on for size
You shouldn't leave
This time of night
It is up to you
To decide but you know
There's witches outside

It certainly is a delicate
Time of the evening
We drunk all the wine
And all I got is you
There's still the secrets
I've always wanted
To spend over you
Please don't go
No I don't want to sleep alone

Try me on for size
You shouldn't leave
This time of night
And it is up to you
To decide but you know
There's witches outside


This song's story...

(Written January 27, 1997)

...Hasn't been yet written

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Turkey in the Straw

I went out to milk but I didn't know how
I milked a cat instead of a cow
Went to the pig sty to gather up some eggs
Came back carrying a turkey leg

Turkey in the straw, turkey in the hay
Turkey in the straw and turkey in the hay
Roll 'em up, twist 'em up a high tuckahaw
Twist 'em up a tune called Turkey in the Straw

Down in the ditch by the Portland Road
I met Mister Bullfrog I met Miss Toad
And every time Missy Toad would sing
Mister Bullfrog cut a pidgeon wing

Turkey in the straw, turkey in the hay
Turkey in the straw and turkey in the hay
Roll 'em up, twist 'em up a high tuckahaw
Twist 'em up a tune called Turkey in the Straw

Oh the crow is in the corn crib sitting on a chair
Counting all the corn and a combing his hair
And the rabbit's in the pea patch picking up peas
I thought I heard a chicken sneeze

Turkey in the straw and turkey in the hay
Turkey in the straw and turkey in the hay
Roll 'em up, twist 'em up a high tuckahaw
Twist 'em up a tune called Turkey in the Straw

And if frogs had wings and snakes had hair
And hippopotamuses went flying through the air
And watermelon grew on a morning glory vine
Would we still have Winter in the Summertime?


This song's story...

(Turkey in the Straw is a Public Domain song written in the early 19th century)

Turkey in the Straw is an old, old song, probably dating from the early 1800s. Literally hundreds of verses and versions of this song have been sung over the centuries.

As a kid, holding a sticky dollar bill in my hand, I used to run after the Ice Cream Man's truck as he rolled down the street blasting an 80s midi version of Turkey in the Straw from his roof-mounted loud speakers. If that wasn't enough, the melody was further burned onto my brain due to a Murphy's Oil Soap commercial that was overplayed on my childhood television set. I became reacquainted with the song in a new way as a grown-up when I was putting together a show called "Singing Thanksgiving." That's when I began researching and seeking out its unusual stanzas and history.

Staying true to the adaptive nature of folk music, I tweaked and added my own lyrics to the version I recorded and released on Apple Apple. For me it was important to keep images that remain relevant to today's kids as well as maintain some of the important historical references in the song. For example, one reference I found indicated that "Tuckahaw" is an Algonquin word referring to an edible plant, possibly the root or tuber of the plant; and the phrase "cut a pidgeon wing" refers to an old dance step performed by jumping and clicking the heels together.

I gave the song my own twist by transposing it into a harmonic minor key and sprinkling it with harmonica and wah-wah guitar.

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U:

Umbrella

I thought I was going blind
There’s just nothing here to see
No use hanging around
Cause i’m just gonna leave
The sky is falling and thundering
I am soaked and wondering
Where is my umbrella when I need you?

It’s times like these and pretty please
Don’t leave because i’m jaded
I’ll just get more faded being all alone

I would like to be
With you underneath
Your umbrella let me tell ya
Cause it’s pouring over me
If I were more demanding
I’d be with you standing
By your side, rain or shine
Everyday until the ending

I sit, I sat in the sun
Until the day was overdone
Sun up and snuck all away
Guess he didn’t have much to say
When I can’t find
A single word to say sometimes
When I can't find
A single bird to sing
No I can't find
A single tree to climb
This ain’t no place for me
Baby I don’t want to be here like this

Hanging on a string
I might just snip the thing
Hopefully see you soon
Been too long this empty room
Sometimes I don’t believe
I have the strength in me
Or the heart to go on
It seems everyone else does

No one missing me
No one kissing me
Just a worn down wet and lonely fellow
Only looking for my umbrella


This song's story...

(Written July - August 2001)

...Hasn't been written yet.

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Unwritten Song

An unwritten song passes through the room
No one seems to notice it and it travels alone
And it floats like a dandelion and approaches quietly
And it spins with the ceiling fan then stalls
And suddenly swings like a wrecking ball
But stops before it hits the wall
And sneaks out behind the dog

And it's gone
One more unwritten song
Please help me to sing this unwritten song
Won't you help to me sing this unwritten song
Won't you?

The conversation wanders on
Please help me to sing this unwritten song
And it was never written
And was never missed
A lot like getting bit
When the mosquito got away

Please help me to sing this unwritten song
Won't you?

And it's gone
One more unwritten song
Please help me to sing this unwritten song
Won't you?


This song's story...

(written 10/25/04)

You know when you go to an art gallery and there's a painting hanging on the wall for $4000 dollars and you look at the little artist's tag on the wall next to it and it's called "Untitled." I secretly hate that.

Unwritten Song is kind of related to that, but in a differently way.

You know when you're 10 years and 3000 miles from home and you run into someone from 2nd grade and you're both going: "O my gosh, I can't believe we ran into each other here." Have you ever thought about the all the people you know who come within inches of you, maybe traveling the opposite direction on the highway, and pass right by?

Unwritten Song is a song about a song. For me it seems to ask "Where do songs come from?" and "How do you catch them?"   I believe that, before it is written, a song is sort of swirling around over your head, like an invisible breeze, or like a dream with one of its threads snagged on the smoke dectector in the middle of the night.  Some songs are written or "plucked" by just reaching up and grabbing them. 

Unwritten Song is about one of those songs that got away before any of us suspected or knew it was even there.

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V:

Vase

B - C#m
After all the butterflies are sleeping
And angel insects move across the room
The breath of wings is broken
Electric engines haul away the time
Pull on night

There's things I understand
I think you're growing sad
But I'll send along some stars
That grow out in the backyard
They shine out stars your eyes
So bright you never saw a satellite

This is the night
And look what it do
Man it'sa coming through
Through it's coming through

E - G#m - A - C#m - B
And she dreamed she was a flower
And woke up in the kitchen
In a vase
So she put petals in the mailbox
Pressed between the leaves
Of her page
So send along some new york flowers
While it's still september
Autumn bloom
Orange autumn's whiskey stale
And slightly falling
Out of tune

Give it time to reallign
Pull on night
Lay down night


This song's story...

(Written September 22, 1997)

...Hasn't been written yet.

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W:

Waiting Always Takes a Long Time

capo the guitar on the 5th fret

F - C
A rainy day and dreaming of a bicycle ride
C - F
And a hill to pedal down but it's too wet to play outside
F - Bb min
So I killed the time but now it won't fly
F - C/E - Dm
When you wait around inside for the sun to shine
Bb - C7 - F
Why does waiting always take a long time?

I couldn't hold it back my mouth started to burn
They told me to be quiet raise your hand and wait your turn
Now I'm stuck behind this red stop sign
And I really wouldn't mind waiting in this line
If waiting didn't take a long time

I'll stop to smell the roses but not for very long
I don't have time to wait for you to sing another song
I could wait all night for the lines to rhyme
Or the rain to fall when my cup is dry
Why does waiting always take a long time?

Gm - C7
Life don't happen all at once
Gm - C7
That's why we need some patience

Waiting for a phone call with a cat on my lap
When it finally rang I was underneath a nap
So I sat instead and let her snooze
And while she slept I sang this tune
Scratched her neck and it helped me through
It might of been the first time in my life
That waiting didn't take a long time

Waiting didn't take a long time


This song's story...

(Written December 26, 2009)

....Hasn't been written yet.

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Waiting for a Shovel

The nights were nice
I mean alright
In a bad mood with she
Singing water running
She make it all seem somehow plain
The thought of it all
It's outside in the snow in the moon
And it's on the sidewalk

I'd dig you out but I don't have a car
I dig you deeply but I don't know

I said something
Stupid about her brown eyes
I'm just unkind
But I'm still alright
Let's meet in the trees to talk about this
To change the pace
Cause I'm crazy sick of passing daisies that could derail a train

I'd dig you out but I don't have a car
I dig you deeply but I dont know
I'd take you home but I don't have a shovel
I dig you deeply but I don't know


This song's story...

(Written February 10, 1996)

There was a big snowstorm during the Virginia winter of 1996.  We got quite a bit of snow for Virginia and, except for the parties, everything shut down for a few days.  My friend J was visiting from out of town at the time and we were snowed in together.

One night we were getting ready to go to a party.  She was taking her time primping and strapped on a pair of high heel type shoes.  I suggested she change into something a little more snow proof and we ended up getting into a fight about shoes.  It was dumb.

We drove to the party in my little red car.

A couple hours later the cars outside were covered with a few inches of fresh snow and nobody was driving anywhere.  (I think there's like 6 snow plows in the state of Virginia.  When it snows nobody in the state knows what to do.)

We ended up crashing at the party and J was upset because there was nowhere comfortable for us to sleep and I was annoyed because we couldn't walk home in J's high heels.  We had another totally stupid fight.

*~~*~~~*~*~~*~~~*

I'm always surprised which songs people end up liking.  They're often not my personal favorite songs, and Waiting For A Shovel is one of these.  It's not that I dislike the song, it's just not my favorite.

The version of Waiting For A Shovel on the album Lemonbomb was recorded at my Dandrige Street house in Virginia sometime in 1996.  Quite a few of my friends liked that original version and that prompted me to revisit the song with Lorne on Birds Falling from the Sky.

Are you lost when listening to the first verse of the Birds Falling version?  We left off the first downbeat and started on the "1-AND."

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Waking Up With Daisy

The backwards yawn of daisies
Rests tired mine on days
Pull on the delicate rope
And tug it gently into fall
And it's such a pithy thought
That I scramble for my pen
I found another hole
In the pocket in my head

It's not just me
But you're crawling
Out of time
The disco moon
Tugging at my whiskey cheeks
I'd kill for a friend to call
But somehow I hate them all
It's terrible to think
That you're almost out of time

And if I go through windows
Answering the stones
And fall asleep
Thinking of you
She says "he says
He loves me and I know
If he does"
I drive around
Waiting for your call

Waking up with Daisy
Pulled from the fringe of highways
And if there's reasons for the risings of each day
So I go outside
And take a walk
Or for a drive
You threw me for a steer
I wish I had you
In my room

It's not just me
Yeah but you're crawling
Out of time
The disco moon
Tugging at my whiskey cheeks
You kno I'd kill for a friend to call
But somehow I hate them all
It's terrible to think
That you're almost out of time

You're almost out of time


This song's story...

(Written 1996)

...Hasn't been written yet.

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Y:

Yellow Lamp Press

Falling through autumn
Absolutely lost in orange
Collapsed on its own weight
Don’t we all react the same way?

All afternoon
The smell of vermouth
Sweet with cherry
The pieces of a room
All buried
We’re getting there somehow

Behind those curtain eyes
Find you and I and I collapsed on its own weight
Don’t fall into the smooth dismount
To the ground
Don’t we all react the same way?

Spending days like matches recently
Tear them off then burn em down again
Losing memory like leaves down off a tree
And it’s such a waste so find a way to compensate

It’s as simple as
A glass of water
Set down on the table
Momentarily beatiful
Tut meaningless
Still hanging from a string
This yellow lamp press.


This song's story...

...Hasn't been written yet.

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You Are My Sunshine

You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You make me happy
When skies are grey
You'll never know dear
How much I love you
Please don't take
My sunshine away

The other night dear
As I lay sleeping
I dreamt I held
You in my arms
When I awoke dear
I was mistaken
And I hung
My head and cried

You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You make me happy
When skies are grey
You'll never know dear
How much I love you
Please don't take
My sunshine away

The way you hold me
Just like a flower
Opens for
The honeybee
So wrap me up in
Your leaves and petals
Like love was made
Just for you and for me

You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You make me happy
When skies are grey
You'll never know dear
How much I love you
Please don't take
My sunshine away


This song's story...

You Are My Sunshine was written in the 1930s although it's true authorship is somewhat questionable. It may have been written by Jimmie Davis or Charles Mitchell or maybe even Paul Rice of the Rice Brothers Gang. I wasn't around at the time, or if I was I wasn't paying attention to that sort of thing.

This very American song has been covered by numerous artists including Aretha Franklin, Bing Crosby, Mississippi John Hurt and Brian Wilson. Since I was making a sunshine-themed album I thought I would take a turn with my own arrangement of the tune.

On one level this is a sweet song, and to me the storyline is like a child singing to its mother or father. However there were some verses that I just didn't want to sing. Check out this dark, co-dependent verse:

I'll always love you and make you happy
If you will only say the same
But if you leave me to love another
You'll regret it all some day

So as I was working up my arrangement I realized that I was going to need one more verse to balance the song out. I searched and searched and listened to a bunch of different versions, but never found what I was looking for.

So I grabbed my guitar and sat in a tall grassy meadow to write my own.

The version on Sundrops was actually the 2nd version of the song that I recorded. I had a much peppier version with drums, stand up bass, and all kinds of minor chords whizzing past. It was kinda cool, but I felt it was too experimental. I wanted a sweet version so that's what I put out on Sundrops.

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