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HUXLEY STONES – The Song

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Wedding Day June 8, 1899 – Margaret Gray and William Miller (my grandparents)

In nighttime fog, as you press yourself through tangled cobwebs and gauzy mist, where do your dreams take you in time and place?

Do you, like me, sometimes “chat” with a departed relative or friend almost as if you’re at a seance?

Might it seem so real that you can feel your grandmother’s hand on your arm… or smell the scent of tobacco on your favourite uncle’s breath? Hear the excited timbre of your childhood friend’s voice?

I have very fond memories of childhood (and adult too) visits to a cemetery at a countryside junction between Wellington Rd 24 and Sideroad 27 in the bucolic rolling hills just outside of Hillsburgh Ontario. Huxley Cemetery.

There, I’d commune with my grandparents and their siblings, my aunts and uncles – some that I had met, and many more that left this little blue planet before I drew my first breath of air.

Nowadays, when I’m not at the actual cemetery “visiting”, I sometimes have nighttime explorations in my dreams and fill my head with the imaginings of these ancestors whose very presence made mine possible.

My life rests upon their lives, even though I never knew them apart from family stories and old worn photographs. They were real flesh and blood people with all of the troubles and joys that I have felt in my own life.

In this week’s lyrics post, I’m taking one of my imaginary journeys into the world of my forebears for a dusky chat with my grandparents, Will and Maggie, buried side-by-side many years back along the grassy slope of Huxley Cemetery.

What sort of conversations do you have with your past?

Huxley Stones

by Larry Green

Intro

Before these stones

before this granite’s tome

before you go no further this day

before your sand returns from bone…

slip through the cracks of Craigh Na Dun…

Verse

“… pull up a chair beside

and chat for just a few, would you?

tell us first, where have you been?

We’re sure there’s been so many changes

Since your last drop by to see us

We’re not mere misty strangers

hazy illusions of a painter’s brush”

Verse

“Could you tell us all we’ve missed

these 80 years or so

the big the small dear share it all

parcel up the news from near and far

Were you your parents’ sheen and shine?

we worried so about your mother

to carry such a worried mind”

Verse

“We catch the roamer’s stories

in glimpses as they pass

what war or peace was seen of late

whose hearts are filled with love and hate

If only we could trade places,

to wander streets and dance vivacious

what might we see out there?”

Verse

“And what of your siblings dear?

So sad we never got to know you all

anywhere ‘cept here

by this chiselled quirky stone standing tall

where kinfolk talk in whispered tones

We see the wrinkles on your brow have grown

reminding how days and nights have flown

your face now weathered like our own”

Verse

“Oh my we yawn and close our eyes

under sun it’s hard to fathom

how we weary now, no chore or two to ply

God knows we toiled long and hard

in our many days gone by

this stone of dates you touch is chill and sterile

but in you our hearts stay warm this while”

CHORUS

Tell me, are you a

caregiver creator lover jester

warrior outlaw explorer sage?

Blow the grass, lie with us forever

look up and see the clouds as we do

your bones and blood a part of us together

PAPER ROSE – The Song

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In days past when we gathered in groups and sat close beside each other (remember those days?), there was a bi-weekly Open Mic at a small re-conditioned church cum Gelateria in Oliver, BC called Medicis, owned and run by a friend of mine, David.

We would head down to Medicis once a month on a Friday evening and I would perform my three allotted songs.

The place was cozily warm and comfortable with about a dozen or 15 tables scattered about, an inviting atmosphere to play or to listen (think Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe).

One of the really fun parts of attending this was to see and listen to other performers. Listening to their songs, their style, while watching their frayed nervousness or professional polish, was a highlight of the night.

We listened to many dozens of musicians over a few years, but only a few performers really stand out in my mind. There was the: really good, the really bad, and the eccentrics, of which there was no paucity.

One of those eccentrics was an elderly lady with a sweet temperament and a very folksy presence on stage.

I called her Paper Rose which I’ll explain more about in a moment.

She would climb the three creaky stairs to the stage holding her guitar, smiling somewhat shyly out at the audience as she fumbled to slide the guitar’s strap over her head.

Her physical appearance was strikingly reminiscent of Minnie Pearl, the flower-hatted lady on the old TV show HEE HAW, her voice a bit less shrill. And yes, she actually wore a flowered, round-rimmed straw hat, sans dangling price tag!

Once settled a bit, she would begin to tell in expansive detail a narrative of her recent life and health issues. This could go on for some minutes.

In many cases it might irritate an audience to listen to her go on, but her engaging manner just endeared her to us.

By the time she began to play her guitar and sing, the audience was rooting for her, no matter what she sang.

And after seeing her on more than one occasion, it became clear that one of the 3 songs she would always sing was Paper Roses (made most famous in 1973 by Marie Osmond).

Invariably, halfway through the song, “Rose” would lose track of the chords on her guitar and stop playing mid-stride in apparent embarrassment.

She would try one chord and hum a bit, try another chord and hum some more… then the audience (maybe slightly lubricated by this time) would begin to pick up the well-known tune and sing aloud until she just joined back in without any guitar accompaniment.

At the end of the song, a great burst of applause would ring out. Rose would beam in her awshucks folksy way.

Rose may or may not be alive today, I don’t know. I hope so.

I only know that she was adorable and adored.

The following song lyrics I’ve written are an ode, an homage, to the sweet lady that invariably brought a smile to your face… a lady that I call Paper Rose because of this song that she sang.

(NB. Following these lyrics, you will find a new song recording I’m pleased to share…)

PAPER ROSE

by Larry Green

These old church steps are harder to climb
guess it’s a telltale sign
my heart’s grown so weak and tired
the doctor says, “watch your fire
you can’t do everything you desire”
then reaching the top stair a quiet voice draws close
“Sing your song Paper Rose.”

Medicis’ door swings open wide
I’m not so crippled when I come here to hide
but I’m not feeling too good of late
just a whispery shadow of a merciful fate
light upon the smile in my eye
my dancing heart that soon may die
the stage is calling “Sing your song Paper Rose”

CHORUS
Paper Rose, Paper Rose
you’ve shown me this mirror
this window of life
I’ll thank you for singing
I hear Angels singing
I’ll exit this stage with my Paper Rose

Wood floor warm, full of innocence again
sparked to make memories and preserve them
Strum this first chord on my guitar
house holding out to me their dance card
Kind David babysits over the gelato counter
hear my heart it’s fluttering fast
I search to find the song of my past

“These strings just won’t tune” I babble
struggle and giggle, peer up and prattle
adjust my Minnie Pearl hat to where it belongs
Can I remember the darn words to my favourite song?
the song I always sing, that song I always sing
I’ve got it, that mysterious ghost
The words, the music for my Paper Rose

“Oh dear my friends I’ve lost my chords”
burning flush pouring through my pores
wiggle and squirm “oh I’m clumsy as an ox”
Losing my smile on the ragged wrecked rocks
then musical words rise aloud from the house
as they sing along on a moment’s notice
Sweet Lord, “Paper Roses, Paper Roses…”

BRIDGE
The party’s growing wan
the band still plays on
little girl in the photo withering

CHORUS
Paper Rose, Paper Rose
you’ve shown me this mirror
this window of life
I’ll thank you for singing
I can hear Angels singing
I’ll exit this stage with my Paper Rose

…………………………

I’m proud to share this next song with you.

An eternity ago, at the start of the COVID isolation, I got together with a long-time musical collaborator of mine, Marie Delmaire. As a duo, we perform publicly as Green Sea Âmes, a nod to each of our last names and Marie’s birthplace of France.

We recorded this lovely song called GREEN EYES. The song was written in 1982 by American folksinger Kate Wolf. Wolf died a mere 4 years later of leukemia at the age of 44.

I hope you like it.

GREEN EYES

THE NOT SO DUSTY ROAD – The Song

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OK my friends… I’ve had a couple of weeks of fun and frivolity in my recent blog posts… recess is over for today… so…

Back to the harder work of lyric and songwriting.

Time to get back to some serious reflection and contemplation. Thoughts viewed through the poetry and filter of music.

In these COVID times, it’s quite simple to see our time, our lives, as difficult and maybe even unfair. There are so many sad and unfortunate stories across the globe that push us towards a feeling of despair.

I can only imagine not being able to hold the hand of a loved one dying in a care home or a lonely hospital bed. I can only imagine being held in a desolate refugee camp with little hope for the future of my small children.

It’s fair to say I’ve lived a sheltered and charmed life.

My good fortune was being born in a time and place, along with a gender and skin colour, filled with advantage. I’ve known little other than peace, health, and abundance.

There have been real fears over my years, such as nuclear war, but for the most part – in historic context – my life has been low on dire threat to me or my brethren. I’m not a great believer in random luck, but in this way, I truly have been lucky.

………………….

The lyrics I’ve written in today’s song The Not So Dusty Road – the road that you and I have walked as children of the late 1900’s and early 2000’s – are my attempt to strike a comparison of life 100 years ago with today’s western world.

One hundred years ago, life was lived on the edge of survival, with hunger, war and disease readily prepared to snatch away the breath of any who ventured too close to those ravages.

My images lean in on childbirth and war, gender issues, schools and technology.

The first half of the song is written viewed from the year 1920, the second half from 2020. Each consecutive verse is constructed from the angle of woman, man and child.

Let’s dive in:

THE NOT SO DUSTY ROAD

by Larry Green

(1920)

1.Woman

You heard the baby cries through ether fog
Victorian images, blooded queen in silken sheets
whose fate and fortune bestowed by God
whose joy to live and breed

2. Man

Childs’ faces pocked, lungs assailed by smog
crushed sons in mud, infected feet in bogs of icy thaw
returned at last
to steal the bread from kitchen ledges

3. Child

Stand in line and heed the bell
no shoes to wear, lunch from fields soaked in your sweat
your blood-red hands declared
from shaming eyes, the severe Judas prayer

CHORUS

The not so dusty road
so few have ever seen
the tarnished one that others strode
lost afar on the not so dusty road

(2020)

4. Woman

Ads tell me “Baby, you’ve come so far”
I aim the gun, I own my house, I drive my car
I cross my X, I boot my Ex
I squeeze my thighs with MeToo flex

5. Man

My baby’s fed, makin’ bacon in the house,
swapped the plow a few years back for bits and mouse
Sim life just moved onto my street
Sweet Niagara, the carpet’s moving under me

6. Child

What’s it like outside today she asked
wind or rain I’ll check the weather cam
smartboard lessons since burnt the chalk
wisdom’s candle, the cellphone aftershock

BRIDGE

The troubled bridge that brought me here
from where so many tumbled
dim voices distant in the tunnel

CHORUS

The not so dusty road
so few have ever seen
the tarnished one that others strode
lost afar on the not so dusty road

 

 

THE VACANT CHAIR – The Song

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little voice

Do you feel a song coming on?

Good, because today is lyrics’ day… the muse has decided to take a staycation – the motivation and inspiration pushed gently along the track by a show on Apple TV that I accidentally stumbled upon called Little Voice.

The show is a bit saccharine (which, given my love of all things sugary, sounds about right) and loosely based on the early experiences of singer/songwriter Sarah Bareilles.

I’m probably drawn to the romantic sentimentality of the series in direct parallel to the main character’s description of her music as: very… earnest.

Earnest is one of the ways I think of myself when I write lyrics, and most likely, my blog posts as well.

I can’t impress upon you enough the number of times I’ve sat down to write a fun and light-as-icing-sugar blog posting…*laugh track rises* – the writing angels take flight and I type away like some mad creature for 20 or 30 minutes.

Then I exit my trance and stop to re-read my first 500 words…. and… WTH? Where’s the light touch, who stole away the fun in this?

man flipping wig

I reveal myself to myself despite myself. Yup, earnest. Let’s say Earnest Lite.

OK, enough navel gazing (kind of like last week’s post with all of its exposed navels and twigs and berries!).

The song I’m writing this week: THE VACANT CHAIR.

This time out, I return to the year 1935 and a letter composed by my grandmother Margaret (Maggie) to my Mom.

It’s written less than 2 weeks after my grandfather William’s “unexpected death” at the age of 63 in the wintry chill of January.

Although I never met either of my maternal grandparents, the obituary described my grandfather as having “a kindly disposition [that] gave him a wide circle of friends and neighbours.”

I’ve written the lyrics in the voice of my grandmother; not alone, but lonely in the short winter days living on a potato and pig farm in the tiny, rural, southern Ontario town of Hillsburgh.

The soft, rolling hills of Hillsburgh (named for an early family, not the topography) can make you cry with their beauty.

In putting music to this biographical piece, I foresee giving it a misty, deep-bass moody feel in an unusual guitar tuning like that used by Beck in his song, Heart is a Drum.

I hope you find something in this song, because I know we all have or will one day have the experience of sitting down at a dining table and feeling the ghostly presence… the melancholy emptiness of a lone unoccupied chair that was once brimming with life.

(After these lyrics I’ve attached a rough recording of a song I wrote a few years back called San Lorenzo’s Bells. While practising our Spanish in Sevilla, Spain, my wife and I sat in a small square sipping cafe au lait and people watching. I spotted a tiny encounter between an older couple who appeared to be strangers… but… I could also sense a tiny affectionate connection forming in the few seconds they spoke. It was a delicious fragment of humanity that wouldn’t let go of my head.)

THE VACANT CHAIR

by Larry Green

Its cold outside today Will
there’s sun and bitter chill
The barn is full with bins of hay
tiller stowed back by the sleigh
jack and jenny eat their fill,
and the ricks piled next to the mare
it would all feel oh so normal Will
except all I see is a vacant chair

I’ll get Lloyd to fix that darn fence
the one you swore you’d get onto
like the wobbly wooden chairs
where we read poems, recited the Lord’s Prayer
me screaming so loud when you pulled my hair
back in our schoolhouse where
I never dreamed I’d live these last few days
and all I see is your vacant chair

I suppose the pet names we shared
are set loose now in the dusty sky
til Will and Maggie share our rest in Huxley
our muddy boot marks washed away
I still stand at the door in each day’s dusk
and search the fields for you out there
It’s so hard to face the dark alone
when all I see is your vacant chair

BRIDGE:

Could I ever dream
my eyes tricked by shadows and whispers
you might be the home in my heart

I guess I don’t feel it yet
I write these letters to the kids
Thinking back on our Hillsburgh picnics
I climb into our icy bed and whisper low
sharing the day’s words with your pillow
It’s good to know your pains are gone now
but mine have just begun
And all I see is your vacant chair

Did I mention it’s cold outside today Will?

 

 

THE COLOUR OF RAMBLER SUMMER – The Song

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Carlos Santana and band on Stage at Woodstock Music & Art Fair

Where were you in ’69?

Or maybe… were you YOU in ’69?

I was ME… 12 years-old with a galaxy of unseen stars in my eyes, a limitless future of the still-to-be-known.

Almost heading into high school… sometimes over-confident, sometimes fearful, sometimes insecure, eternally hopeful.

Formative years… for me the most exciting, most challenging, most disruptive years of my life were probably between 1969 and 1977.

When you’re young, a whole life can be seemingly lived in just a few short years. The emotional heights and depths soar and crash. The intensity of our teenage times can feel like an eternity.

In 1974 I bought my first car.

It was a brown 1967 Rambler American bought off a used car lot. $900. Automatic. Bench seats. Defrost that rarely worked. Windows that kept some of the rain out.

rambler

Bought with the “riches” from my McJob with a starting wage of $1.55 per hour.  A full shift of flipping burgers put a little bit more than $12 in my pocket. I was good at it. Making burgers, that is…

I was a McDonald’s ALL-STAR (yes, Truly).

Buying that Rambler in the hot summer that I turned 17, symbolically and utterly shifted the shape of my life.

I instantly looked cooler and more attractive (I thought), but it also allowed me, in reality, to be “grown up”. Paying for gas, insurance and repairs matures you in a New York Minute.

The purchase of that car marked my transition from a green-behind-the-ears teenager into a young adult living in the world of weighty responsibilities, giddy romance, love, and a new kind of heartbreak that felt so totally different from what I experienced when my Mom died.

The lyrics I’m posting here this week reflect a little of this Rambler Man period of tumultuous change in my world.

Maybe take a New York minute yourself and think about your teenage days and how they helped mould you – for better and worse – into the person you are today.

(Following the lyrics below you’ll find a link to a song (When Atlas Shrugged) that I wrote and posted lyrics for October 4, 2019. The song is my reflection on the #MeToo movement from the other side of the gender fence, acknowledging the privilege of being born male. The music has a slight Spanish flamenco-styling to suggest the bull in the ring… the one who believes he has the power, but ultimately ends up dead in the centre of the spectacle).
bull and girl

OK… today’s song… Let’s go:

The Colour of Rambler Summer

by Larry Green

Cool Butch and handsome Sundance
were the heroes of this laddish young’un
and I’d pretend to be the thuggish
bad boy that held the school hall fun
watching the shag cut kids with tabs to share
droopy eyes singed by drugs

We sat in movie theatre matinees
cool dark balcony with Steve McQueen
while outside buses fumed the air
sidewalks seared shoppers’ feet
city streets scorched humid in the sun
that curled the women’s hair

CHORUS
The colour of my Rambler summer
was a camouflage tone
like the melt of ice cream
syrupy sweet sauce
light and dark
wholesome and harmful
dreams only come free at a cost

The year before, the crickets chirped
Cool water sucked up from sprinklers
between turns at the bat
then Charlie slashed Sharon’s blood
ugly sickness stole the life unmet
death to pigs spelt in bloody black

This acned face shiny and pure
I craved and hoped with boy hormones rich
like trees draped with vines
I tasted alcohol I tasted kisses
in bittersweet Summer of ’42 flavours
not the tang of Bryan’s Summer of ’69

CHORUS
The colour of my Rambler summer
was a camouflage tone
like the melt of ice cream
syrupy sweet sauce
light and dark
wholesome and harmful
dreams only come free at a cost

I don’t know if I learned the truth at 17
or in my older days
pages turn and still I learn
the colours of a rainbow’s arch
seemed so clear in my first car
shared tones between the bars

The colour of my Rambler summer
… the colour of my Rambler summer
… the colour of my Rambler summer

WHEN I BECOME INVISIBLE – The Song

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invisible

This coming Tuesday would be my Mother’s birthday.

Happy Birthday Mom I’d gladly say and sing to her if she wasn’t so long gone (1973 to be precise).

Every one of us has or will most likely say a final goodbye to our parents. It’s a sad but very natural day, and a universal experience.

My children will one day say it to me as they carry forward in life.

I’ve lived long enough now following my mother’s sudden death from a heart attack at 61 years to lose a huge amount of the memory of her. The fine details, the individual days – like a Vaseline-smudged camera lens – are mostly badly faded or well tucked away in my brain’s recesses.

I declare my day a success when I can remember where I set a single pair of my many reading glasses… aye aye aye…

Mom didn’t change the world in any outwardly measurable way… no discoveries, no political or professional accolades… but the thing that really lingers, and is a testament to her meaning is the satisfied feeling and warmth she left inside me and her family around her. No resentments, no angers, no bitterness. Just pleasant smiles and warmth.

This song is about her last day, and the final moments I shared with my mother. Her death came without warning, or providing any opportunity for me to reflect or share with her her importance in my world, to even say thank you or I love you.

goodbye

Most songs I write these days I tend to fill with a good deal of symbolism and metaphor. I like representation by symbols and the pictures they create in my mind.

But this set of lyrics is largely straightforward and more prose-like (OK, there is some symbolism and metaphor)… a bit more straight from the heart.

One final note: I’ve been publishing a good number of song lyric posts lately sans music. I know this feels incomplete, only half the “story”. Many of you have asked for the actual song in its musical form.

TA DA!

I’ve been struggling for months about how I might best post some of the lyrics in their song format for you to hear. It’s not perfect, and of course my singing isn’t stellar, but at the bottom of this post you can follow a link to one of the songs about our COVID times that I posted (The Blessing and the Curse) on April 26, 2020.

Now onto today’s song:

 WHEN I BECOME INVISIBLE

When she said the simple words
See you tonight
there was no real meaning
it happens a billion times
like stars we see on cloudless nights
it’s so easy when we can’t
see our future moments
through our eyes or through our mirror

CHORUS
When I become invisible
Will my final words be as plain and
filled with meaning as yours
See you tonight

Could I have ever guessed
what your final words would be
Could you know your push for me
to earn a buck or two
was our final blurb
Could I know I’d soon watch you
take your final breath
on the asphalt by the curb

CHORUS
When I become invisible
Will my final words be as plain and
filled with meaning as yours
See you tonight

We think we know the boundary
is the cliff’s edge far and distant
hidden beyond the horizon
myopia makes a foot away
seem like the angels outpost
sweet heart and smiling eyes
her days come down to seconds
her memory becomes her ghost

BRIDGE
In evening twilight
the stalking lion
slithered its way
through your veins
struck fast with madness
longer spring days
couldn’t hold off the sadness

CHORUS
When I become invisible
Will my final words be as plain and
filled with meaning as yours
See you tonight

 

THE BLESSING AND THE CURSE – The Song

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blessing curse

INTO Week Six of isolation here and now we’re disinfecting our outer AND … by gonzo suggestion from the top… inner… surfaces.

It’s like a Shakespearean tragi-comedy, except we can’t spit out our words like dramatic stage actors for fear of an impending manslaughter charge. No aerosols please!

Last week I mused about our collective situation of isolation and suggested some ideas that might help deal with our fresh new world. I quoted singer Garth Brooks who noted that everything we want comes with both a blessing and a curse.

The words stuck in my head like a *yum* peanut butter and banana sandwich does to the roof of my mouth.

Blessing AND Curse.

garth

Neither you nor I know what our world will look like in a year, there are too many moving and interactive parts for any rational assessment. This is the scientist in me speaking. My inner Bill Gates. We need rational thinkers like Bill and Melinda.

But with all of these unknowns… the artist, the creative me … holds onto a desire to think also in loftier terms, more emotional terms. It’s our artists – the musicians, the writers, the painters – that give us hope and joy in difficult times. We need artists as much as we need scientists.

And so I’m finding a bit more time in my days to write more prose, more song.

Yes, we’re on a ride folks.

And since the peanut butter phrase Blessing and Curse stuck with me I’m using it once again this week, this time in poetry and song form.

I hate cliches, but I’ll stoop now.

Be Humble. Be Kind. Stay Safe.

69465831 - young man composing the song with guitar on table with tea cup

 

THE BLESSING AND THE CURSE

by Larry Green

Little ones chase that coin
the one rolling down the street
towards the gutter or the drain
your two hands reach to grab and save
both mamas pull the chain

Last month I sipped sweet coffee from your cup
stopped in narrow grocery aisles and chatted
you pass me by at distance now
wild-eyed like something rabid
can we resurrect the sacred cow

CHORUS
Flip the hands, see the change
litter scattered in the desert whirling
shrink from shadows watch the afterbirths
there’s beauty and there’s hurting
Fill me up don’t leave me empty
The blessing and the curse

Stash your voice inside your house
Strike x’s through your plans
Bake bread to soothe your troubled soul
Muse about the coulds and shoulda-haves
Search blind and madly fill the holes

Alone now but are you lonely
put the Tanqueray away
this fog confines but stars abound in space
bright neon light will shine again
we’ll leave our separate places

Next year I hope we meet once more
unlock the chains and hug the children
I’ll touch your shoulder when you’re shaking
Wipe the tears with ungloved hands
we’ll walk the road untaken

CHORUS
Flip the hands, see the change
litter scattered in the desert whirling
shrink from shadows watch the afterbirths
there’s beauty and there’s hurting
Fill me up don’t leave me empty
The blessing and the curse

stars on beach

 

Take A Breath – The Song

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Harry Chapin2

A child arrived just the other day…”

.

Many years ago I heard the music and writing magic of Harry Chapin… musician, songwriter, storyteller superb.

Harry transformed me.

The beauty in his storytelling had an incredible way of capturing the depth within a life’s soul with few words.

Perhaps no song of his is more gut-wrenching… more heartbreaking… than Cats In The Cradle, a song of father and son.

It’s a song of longing-to-be-loved in the moment, but both the dad and the son in their own time are unable to give the other what he needs.

In the end, the father sees and laments where those seeds of unintentional neglect that he sowed so early on have left him in his later years.

There seems to be many songs of fathers and their overlooked sons.

But what about mothers and their children?

Perhaps a bit unusual, I have seen some examples out there of strained mother-child relationships and pondered…

So, this week in my lyric writing, I’ve taken Harry’s wondrous inspiration and my own observations… but with a turn of the gender tables (yes, idea sex at work).

This song tells of a woman who truly wants to meet society’s expectation of what a mother could and can be, but sadly, is unable to unearth the ability to give, to step back from her own needs.

The song has no formal chorus like we come across in most current songwriting. Instead, I’ve set in a small 2-line bridge between each verse to show a transition of forward movement in time.

(NB: An inside scoop? Writing song lyrics requires deft rhythmic ability. I know from experience that when I write lyrics, the rhythm and pacing in my writing won’t run smoothly when I begin setting a melody to the words. So if you notice an unsettling unevenness to the lines, don’t be surprised. I’m not. This jarring arrhythmia gets worked out as I settle down to my guitar or piano and “fine-tune” in much the same way I edit a blog post, over and over.)

dandelion blow.jpg

Take A Breath

by Larry Green

Take a breath
it’s over soon
Take a breath
it’s over soon

They told her she’d be maternal
perhaps she’d live the dream
and when the searing scorch she felt
below as the infant came
was the burning birth of
shackled days in chains.

Take a breath
it’s over soon

Sleepless nights made hollow eyes
thank god she had her man
supermarket smiles a constant drag
with every aisle she slogged
expectation’s lure too great
smeared cheerless laughs across her face

Take a breath
it’s over soon

Her man he made the meals
most times he cleaned the house
normality like a pancake flipped
absorbed by her mother’s doubts?
but her kids still feel the sunshine so
she poured another glass of wine

Take a breath
it’s over soon

The job she chose meant pretty clothes
a steady stream of evenings out
the kids in bed when she came home
the bedroom lights turned dim
she swore she’d dance them to the moon
one day in her world of might-have-been

Take a breath
it’s over soon

Each year’s gift passed in turn
pencil lines marked the growth
kids blown afar with deeper scars
lamented choices too early sown
guilt’s voices sing their songs
the voices sing their songs

Take a breath
It’s over now.

The Christmas Twins

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xmas twins

It’s the most …..?….. time of the year.

I’ll leave you to fill in the blank because each of us has our own different word that lies in our head and our heart.

I’ve been struck… haunted actually… for a long time, by the juxtaposition of Christianity’s drive towards joy at a time when I see and encounter so many that are bereft and lonely, depressed and distant from the concept of “joy”.

I’m talking Christmas here.

It’s a snowflake dream and a teary conundrum.

…………………..

It’s the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It’s the hap-happiest season of all
(Best LGBTQ verse ever!)
…………………..
.

Who doesn’t love the idyllic dream of warmth, good food, and comfort in a time of family, friends, and sharing. Filled with iconic trees and sleighbells and characters, pious and secular.

But internally for me, there just isn’t enough money or time that I can give to others to square or compensate for the abutment of seasonal bliss vs sorrow.

The visions and sounds of Christmas fluff up intense exhilaration in some, while at the same time casting others into hell.

All of these opposing thoughts bring me to the music lyrics I’ve written this week.

The lines below are a troubled expression of the mixed emotions I feel and experience each year as December rolls around. Maybe I’m just emoting and puking out this internal dialogue of guilt in knowing that I have so much daylight in my world even as days grow short.

Christmas Echoes

Christmas Echoes

by Larry Green

Two echoes in the mirror
twins tied by ribbon and twine
Two troupes can’t quite see the other
one story yet never aligned
fa-la-las and white christmas
Gemini visions blur the same line.

Like Wolf and the Hawk
when night melts in decline
seek a god of hope and elation
or a god of life flat-lined
my season’s ecstasy meets foul
my smile spins to grime

The crescendo of hymns
the peal of the bells
cinnamon and clove scents
waged battles ‘tween heaven and hell
blazing fire in the hearth with
cozy stories of stables foretell

On the streets in the alleys
Grendel and Cain’s curse in hot flames
but this day isn’t their story
why should angels be ashamed?
my questions prickled thorns
my answers dark stained

CHORUS

I smile for the joyous
I cry for the pained
dissonance of a single note
free hope where it’s enchained
Cuz my eyes have looked round
both sides of this mirror
ofttimes the same day

hope twins.jpg

Photographs Of A Sponsored Life…

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scarlett

A year back a pretty young Instagram “influencer” from London, England, posted the photo above.

Nice, right? Picture Perfect Idealism …

A happy little breakfast scenario that ordinarily (I gather) results in comments like “WOW!” and “You’re so beautiful…“.

Standard Facebook/Instagram/Twitter stuff…

Not so this time.

She was slammed with more than 100,000 angry replies and “dislikes” and prompted a wave of criticism, with the more printable comments ranging from “Fakelife!” and “Bunny-boiler” to “Let’s pop her balloons” and “Who keeps Listerine on their bedside table? Serial killers, that’s who.”

The internet sharks smelled blood and encircled her with abusive rants and taunts. So much for the pleasant and innocent online communities of Instagram.

“Each time I refresh my page, hundreds of new nasty messages pour on to my Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, some of which have contained malicious death threats,” she wrote in a follow-up post. “There are now hundreds of thousands of tweets circling the internet, shaming me.”

There’s a hunger and need for likes and positive comments to allay our fragileness. I admit to swelling when I get “like”ed… affirmation and acceptance and approval are a part of my fuel too.

It is the darkness that quietly lies within/beneath our world of social media that inspired my writing of this week’s music lyrics.

As alluded to in these lyrics mentioning Janis Ian (who wrote a troubled teenage girl’s anthem, At Seventeen, in the 1970’s)… the burning desire for acceptance and love is a huge part of the human “story”.

How Liked I Am Today

The reply said fuck you lady
She shook and took a bite of Big Mac
some sauce dripped on her jeans
wiped it quickly with the napkin
then turned to see if anyone had seen

Sleepless held her hostage once again
no model hair was out of place
even 3:30 near the morning’s dawn
her jacket had the perfect cut
honey face perfection by Revlon

Sweet hearts surround the placid scene
jarred vampires in the web
teacup smile and hairline cracks
forged feeds of reality on a stage
faux bronzer on her back

A baby slurp of bottled water
head down she scanned her Instagram
past ads by KFC and acne cure
this barrenness of checking
flawless photos of her old friend’s wedding

Her Mother’s generation
embraced its FOMO too
the girls in high school bathrooms
where Janis Ian held their torment
wrinkles cursed like webs in wounds

Scales can lie, hold magic high
smiles that sometimes fool you
strawberries often hold no juice
while clots and plaque grow thicker
are photos forever true?

The table finally wiped clean spotless
sun stirs and rubs its eyes
as tears inside are swept away
another day of trademarked life
Look how liked I am today

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