Radio Depot

This is the first song that I’ve written where I used the keyboard to write a vocal melody first with lyrics, then the guitar, then I sang – before adding bass and mandolin. I’m very pleased how it turned out – since I figure I need vocal lessons and a year of singing practice before I become at least “OK” at singing. Its a different way of writing songs, and a very good challenge.

Radio Depot
Railroad station
Used to broadcast
Across this nation

Railroad Depot
Radio station
Trains that travelled
Across this nation

I've been blessed
To know these things
Experience the change
That progress brings

Tubes that glowed
Into the night
Orange amber
Radio light

Trains that whistled
Into the night
Tenders hot
Engine light

I've been blessed
To know these things
Experience the change
That progress brings

Garden Variety

In my garden
Lizards scurry
Past the flowers
In a hurry

Then they stop
Doing their pushups
Stick their tongue out
Leave abruptly

Chirping babies
In the birdhouse
Sing for supper
Mother Titmouse

Father Titmouse
Back and forth
Bringing food
From backyard source

Pocket Fisherman

Pockets full
Pocket book
Going fishing
With a hook

Cast a line
In his pocket
What he found
A rusty locket

Rusty locket
Her young face
Left him stranded
Left in haste

No remorse
Out his door
Jaw hung open
And hit the floor

Wallet empty
Wallet bare
Moths flew out
They were scared

Heart a wallet
Nothing left
Now she's gone
He's bereft

What's the use
Gave up living
Pain's a gift
That keeps on giving

Lint and moths
Pocket rust
Ashes to ashes
Dust to dust

The Door is a Jar

The door
Is a jar
On the hood
Of a car

The hat
Is a lid
On the head
Of a kid

The key
Is a switch
On a wall
Of red bricks

The rug
Is a hat
Made of hair
From a cat



Broken Wagon

This one requires a little set up. It was 1987 and I was teaching programming classes at a company called PSDI in Cambridge, Mass, in the Boston area.

On the weekend I took a photo pilgramage trip to Lowell, Mass, birthplace of Jack Kerouac. I saw his inspiration for Dr. Sax, and just what it would have been like growing up there. But while crossing a bridge over the Merrimac, near an old mill, I saw a Radio Flyer Wagon, frozen in solid ice on the river.

For me, that was the image that has always stuck with me regarding Lowell.

Kerouac (and my father born in the same year a month apart) would have turned 100. I’m glad to see there were quite a few mentions of this anniversary.

Last night
Last flight
Radio Flyer
Solid Ice

Merrimac
Lowell Mass
Mill Town
Ti Jean

12 Stations
Oblations
Dr. Sax
Notations

Dharma Bums
On The Road
Vue Girard
Very Odd

1914 Ghost Bridge

While I can’t make any sense of this Russian Invasion (or any other war), I can at least think about my parents and grandparents who were part of the two World Wars. My grandfather fought for the Germans in WWI – but was a pacifist and refused to shoot and kill anyone. My father landed on the beach in Normandy in WWII fighting for the Americans, and was in ordinance fixing tanks and jeeps and whatnot. By the time Vietnam rolled around I just missed the draft by a couple of years. My father said he’d move us to Canada if he had to to avoid another senseless war.

You laid in your foxhole
You couldn't hurt a fly
Grandpa Dearest
You're a hero of mine

No country too big
To take another's life
You lived and let live
The Teachings of Christ

Ghosts of that war
Have come back to haunt
The bridge in the valley
What the enemy wants

Chorus

1914 Ghost Bridge
Just over the hill
The enemy advances
Against our will

Sacred Music

Subject to change
A favorite subject
Writing a song
That is opulent

Three instruments
One human voice
Guitar, cello, piano
That is my choice

The opulence
Of ringing strings
Hammering keys
Of thee who sings

Thee who sings
Could it be me?
Learning to sing
So Gracefully

Grace takes time
Flowing with rhyme
Practice makes better
Songs come alive

Music is life
Life is sacred
What you get
Is how you make it

What you get
Is how you make it
From start to end
Music is sacred

Le ROI Est Mort

The King is Dead 
He won't be missed
Let's dance on his grave

Born unto privilege
Died deep in debt
He couldn't be saved

Only a mortal
Choked during dinner
On his silver spoon

Rushed to the doctor
It was too late
For fat old King Buffoon

Chorus
Justice ain't just
But Karma sure is
Our Wannabe King
Has bitten the dust

in a nutshell

  • All kings die, eventually
  • Dictators and kings never last long
  • Its amazing how much damage, pain and suffering one human can inflict

discussion

It’s an age old song, sung through the years. Few countries seem to have avoided the king syndrome where one (it’s almost always a white male – certainly male anyway) rises up, then falls.

theme

The rise and fall of kings, tyrants and dictators.

conclusion

And this too shall pass

Weaklings

There may be many anti war protest songs, but one thing that is clear is that the aggressor is usually afraid of something. The US in Vietnam was afraid of Communism, Bush was afraid of what 9/11 looked like – so he went after a bad guy – but a guy who had nothing to do with 9/11.

Putin must be afraid of his weak economy – smaller than Italy’s, and also in large part he’s to blame. Besides Vodka, AK-47’s, Oil and Gas what goods or services does Russia export? Not much at all.

Russians are smart – their repressive Government is not. They hold their people and economy down. War won’t fix anything. The Common People in Russia (like the US have been lied to and cheated for centuries). The US at least allows discourse, pushback and protest, (although the GOP under Trump would much rather follow their “Dear Leaders” authoritarian leader examples). Yes, it CAN happen in the US!

Only weaklings start wars
Inhuman monsters they are
Broken dreams, stolen lives
Only weaklings start wars

Only weaklings start wars
Pure evil we can't understand
There's a place in hell for them
Only weaklings start wars

Ode to Emperor Norton I

I need to re-record the Cello and use it as a bass – no bowing and use a high pass filter to get rid of the low frequency boom.

Born in Kent
Of London town
San Francisco's
Royal Clown

Colorful 9er
Wealthy man
Speculator
Lost all he had

Made decrees
Rattled a sabre
Gentle sort
Beloved neighbor

Some say mad
Some say smart
Entertainer
Played his part

Had a vision
Tunnel and bridge
Other things
Seemed unhinged

Eccentric yes
Crazy no
Endearing man
Fantastic show

Chorus
Emperor Norton
49er
League of Nations
Brilliant designer

in a nutshell

  • Emperor Norton I is a beloved San Francisco legend
  • He earned and lost a fortune gambling on the price of rice
  • He was eccentric, not sure if was crazy
  • He had several ideas way ahead of his time like The League of Nations and the Bay Bridge

discussion

Everyone has probably heard the story of Emperor Norton I. I’m curious as to why he didn’t get back into business. He did enjoy life in SF as a celebrity. Maybe he had a breakdown or just enjoyed his “act”?

I didn’t sing the chorus – it didn’t fit as well as I had expected. I’ll keep trying to sing – maybe even take lessons. I’m finding that even just “roughing it out” with my vocals I get a better idea of how to arrange and orchestrate the song. In my dreams, someone would take my songs and play them live.

theme

San Francisco Legends

conclusion

The more I research eccentrics, the more I love them. They are the most human of humans in my book. Let your freak flag fly!