1. Box of Letters
I wrote this song a year ago, played it once last spring and then totally forgot about it, which is weird because I really like it. It's up beat. It's chorus is "wooo-hooo-hooo" instead of words, which is unusual for me. The music tricks you into thinking it's happy song.
"Now time rolls by window, but leaves nothing at my door
'cept a string of days roughly the same as the string that came before
And I read this box of letters damn near every month
My star may never shine again, but here's proof that it shined once."
2. The Long Winter
I took the story from the Little House book of the same name. It's a fast fingerpick pattern with a built-in bass line. It took a lot of editing and re-editing and re-editing to pare it down to essentials -- I can't sing the whole book. I could, I guess, put it would be a very long song. I played it in Holdrege, NE but this was it's Listening Room debut.
"If you can't hear that whistle blow
then the tracks are blocked with snow
If the engineer can't make that engine roll
Then the train can't bring the coal"
3. Still There
A camp song. I totally ripped off two songs in writing this: Cheryl Wheelers "Further and Further Away" and Nora Jones "Those Sweet Words" (the chords in the bridge), and I'm okay with that. I started writing this after our Soaring Hawk reunion last fall and played it during the summer, but this was it's LR debut as well. You can read the lyrics and hear a homerecording (I play the accordion!) here.
It may have been against my better judgement to play this, as I finished writing it the day before and the guitar part was difficult and not exactly executed as I would have liked. But people liked the song. A couple people told me it made them cry...so there you go. I'd like to tell you about it, but it's a story song and writing a synopsis of a tale that's told nicely three minutes kind of deflates the whole thing. Hopefully, I will have the means for you to hear it by the end of 2007. * When I walked off stage Mark Erelli was standing there and quoted back to me the last two lines below nodding his head in approval. Yeah!
"Sunday dinners at Granny's house -- ham and peas and mashed potatoes
When we were all thorougly stuffed we'd settle into board games and old tv shows
And I'd skate down the hallway -- hardwood floors and slippery socks
I'd sit at Granny's vanity and look through her jewlery box...."
5. Prairie Christmas
I wrote this after our second Christmas in Hastings. It's my ode to Nebraska. People really respond to this song. I am always asked if I really wrote it. I did. As it is seasonal, I have to really milk it during November and December. Listen to it here.
"Now our kids are grown, each one to their own home
St. Louis, Chicago, L.A.
They drive their S.U.V.'s to bring home plastic trees
But there are somethings that simply will not change
Top the tree with a cardboard star, sing carols with the guitar
Every week light a candle on the advent wreath
Bake the Christ a birthday cake, give more than you take
And contemplate the season's wonder on your knees"
*I am hereby committing myself to producing an album during 2007. My enthusiasm waxes and wanes constantly on this, but this last show was a huge encouragement. The last few shows people I don't know have asked me if I have a cd for sale. Many people. That's a good indicator to me -- because of course my friends want a recording, they love me, but strangers only know the music. Mark told me he recorded his latest album of lullabies in his apartment with one mic. Then on stage he encouraged the community of Hastings to hound me until I had a record for sale. My friend Todd has a digital recorder that he has offered to set up at our house for as long as it takes. This is all good news as I have built up a whole pychological aversion to going into "the studio." So...now it's out there, publicly...I am going to do this (start panic attack....now).