Biochemystery

I gave up coffee and chocolate and tea
to see if it might help me get well
10 days of headaches, kitten weak
there wasn’t any difference I could tell

so I had a cup of pricey Irish tea
it tasted like cardboard in a cup
eased my way into a pot of decaf
the icepick in my head wouldn’t give up

you think it’s logical and simple
like tuning up the engine in a car
start messing with the biochemystery
it’s glad to show you just how wrong you are

the cocktail of meds I take each day
warn about mixing them with drinking
the effects, they say, might be amplified
and yes, I know exactly what you’re thinking

make your heart rejoice with half a glass of red
but what really happens isn’t much fun
without overindulgence or waiting till the morning
take my hangover to bed, ’cause I’m done

you think it’s logical and simple
like tuning up the engine in a car
start messing with the biochemystery
it’s glad to show you just how wrong you are

when I was a kid I was skinny as a stick
distance runner, and played baseball
bought my graduation suit from the children’s section
wasn’t long until I outgrew it all

half a century I’ve been trying to eat right
I don’t drink soda; rarely touch red meat
big old salad is my favorite lunch
but biochemystery has me beat

you think it’s logical and simple
like tuning up the engine in a car
start messing with the biochemystery
it’s glad to show you just how wrong you are


Yesterday’s Moon

This was meant to be a hopeful happy coming home love song. Turned itself into an “I’d love to stay but you know I’m a traveler” song.

Lyrics

yesterday’s moon sleeps behind the hills far away
I’m chilled in the dark, the sun’s not yet risen today
hungry and tired but no matter, I carry on
around the next turn is the home where you wait with the dawn

these traveling ways are the only life that I know
in spite of the leaving and all the while missing you so
maybe this time I’ll have all I need here with you
and I’ll settle down and we’ll share a sunset or two

tomorrow night’s moon will soon peek over the hill
red setting sun is giving way to night’s chill
it’s warm here with you but I’m hungry to carry on
to see what’s around the next bend beyond the next dawn
to see what’s around the next bend beyond the next dawn
to see what’s around the next bend beyond the next dawn


Losing the Focus

Finally read the writing book “Writing Down the Bones” and one of her ideas is to write about memory, to just start sentences with “I remember . . . ” and every time you get stuck, start another line with “I remember . . . ” and plow through.

I’ve often wondered what makes our brain choose what goes into retrievable long-term memory, what gets tucked in back to play hide and seek, and what goes away without leaving a trace. I’m having a slight case of longing for the good old days, which I know full well weren’t nearly as good as right now.

Best Beloved was upstairs recording a podcast so I went out in the garage and sat in the back seat of my Juke to record this so I wouldn’t disturb her. You may want to note that the back seat of a tiny car is no place to play guitar, even a tenor.

Lyrics

I remember my dad turning dirt with a shovel
to put in a garden out back
I remember the grass as the yard tumbled down to the lake
I remember the fish on Saturday night
catch and eat and repeat
and the sound of winter geese flying south as I lay awake

I remember the waves kept knocking me down
and I never had the nerve to surf
I remember the peace of the bay on the other side
I remember bonfires at night
and roasting whatever we had on a stick
falling asleep on the deck on the incoming tide

I didn’t know then what would stick
what my mind would keep
the pictures I’d take
what went deep
I remember the smallest things from then
What will I remember from now?
I want to choose the memories
but I don’t know how

I remember the house on the beach was so cold
it was warmer when I went outside
I remember I didn’t go home when that tiny trailer sold
I remember the red motorcycle and a tiny grey car
and the cork tile roof of my bug
and my friend Ross and all the goofy jokes he told

I didn’t know then what would stick
what my mind would keep
the pictures I’d take
what went deep
I remember the smallest things from then
What will I remember from now?
I want to choose the memories
but I don’t know how

the apple tree, an old grey barn
piece of glass stuck in my foot
afraid because the bike was too big even though I was 8
the piano and the car we left behind
the stars in the mountains
and always wanting something and always being told I had to wait

I didn’t know then what would stick
what my mind would keep
the pictures I’d take
what went deep
I remember the smallest things from then
What will I remember from now?
I want to choose the memories
but I don’t know how


19 Questions

An old friend hasn’t been speaking to me and when I asked why, the answer was confusing. I asked again and it got more confusing and distressing. I finally suggested that maybe we weren’t good for each other and should move on to less complicated friendships and they said “Sounds good!” (Including the exclamation mark.)

I’ve accepted that it’s not always me, that I’m not necessarily a blundering oaf socially, but I’m sad today, about this friendship and one I’d wanted to write about this year which gets rolled into this one as part of the same bundle of hurt.

Lyrics

how do you know what someone wants?
what does it take to be loved?
what can you do to make them stay?

who gets to take? who needs to give?
why is it so? when does it change?
what can you do when they’ve gone away?

how can you see it coming on?
what do you do to see the truth?
who do you trust if not a friend?

why do we bother? what’s the point
when does it end? where do you go?
who do you turn to in the end?

and how do you know that’s true?
and what can you ever do
to stumble past the last miscue?
how do you move on from two
now they’re them and you’re you?
I ask cause I don’t have a clue


Here Before

It’s one of the 5 gloomy days of the year here in southern Arizona and that makes me gloomy. Coming home from airing up the tires in the van I was struck by the deceptively disconnected details in “All Around the World”, the last song on Paul Simon’s “Graceland.” These pictures came up on their own, images from a hard time in each of my lives which I combined into something that never happened, but it feels like it did.

Lyrics

Winding through a tiny sliver of West Virginia
It was late and we needed gas in the worst way
Between Ohio and Pennsylvania lost in the dark
We got in at 11, had to leave before the break of day

I’ve been here before and I got through
maybe because I didn’t know what else to do
it’s a shame
no one’s to blame
that’s how it’s always been for me and you

so sick I was hallucinating
tingling all over and sweaty, I was a mess
desperate for something, I still don’t know what
and I cried out for you, and then I fell asleep I guess

I’ve been here before and I got through
maybe because I didn’t know what else to do
it’s a shame
no one’s to blame
that’s how it’s always been for me and you

instead of asking me to leave you left me here
alone and empty, lying on the floor
and I’m lost in the dark and sick to death
but we both know I’ve been here before

I’ve been here before, I’ll get through
maybe because I don’t know what else to do
it’s a shame
no one’s to blame
that’s how it’ll always be for me and you


Fibethos

When Fiona was a baby her sister would put her finger in the middle of the baby’s eyebrows, push down, and make the baby’s face into an evil scowl. She claimed it was the little one’s evil twin and named her a contraction of the kid’s first 3 names: Fibethos (fee BETH ohs)

It’s more ridiculous than it sounds.

Since these lyrics are a bit of a parody of what she’s like as she approaches 14, I figgered naming it after her evil twin would be appropriate. And then explaining it to death.

Lyrics

She always comes and says good morning
At least the days she’s up before noon
And her mom asks her how are you
She doesn’t answer; too soon, too soon

Then it’s back upstairs to her room
Where the creature is reanimated
In an hour or so she’s back in the kitchen
Where her breakfast patiently waited

Our seventh child is a little bit odd
That’s how some peppers grow
She laughs when I’m funny
She don’t cost much money
She reminds me of someone I know

Her sister is her very best friend
When they’re together who knows what goes on
Singing and laughing and making art
They’re rarely asleep before dawn

chorus

Her supper is 1 ounce of chicken
And eight or nine, maybe 10, peas
In the morning I discover overnight she’s consumed

  • A package of Ramen
  • A bowl of apple and cinnamon instant oatmeal
  • Four granola bars
  • A slice of toast with strawberry jelly
  • An apple
  • A banana
  • Half a sleeve of Ritz crackers

And a cup of microwave Mac and cheese

chorus


Purple Sky

As much as I miss the greens and whites of northern Wisconsin, I’ve long been in love with the purple orange sunsets of the Arizona desert.

This song owes much to The Sons of the Pioneers, especially by way of Michael Nesmith’s album Tropical Campfires and the songs Moon Over the Rio Grande and Twilight on the Trail.

Continue reading “Purple Sky”





Like the Sea

Em
we’ll be together
D
now and forever
Em D
like the sea and the earth and the sky
Em
yes we’ll live forever
D
always together
Em D Em
my golden-haired lady and I
Em D Em

gulls cry above us
here on the hillside
smell the sea spray in the air
we walk hand in hand
through gentle green grasses
the sun glinting gold in your hair

and we’ll be together
now and forever
like the sea and the earth and the sky
yes we’ll live forever
always together
my golden-haired lady and I

like waves of the sea
that will never give over
their flowing forever to shore
there’s room in two hearts
who’ve found one another
for loving to flow evermore

and we’ll be together
now and forever
like the sea and the earth and the sky
yes we’ll live forever
always together
my golden-haired lady and I

we’ve nowhere to go
our whole lives to get there
and never to walk alone
fill me with joy
and I’ll fill you with laughter,
golden-haired lady, my own

and we’ll be together
now and forever
like the sea and the earth and the sky
yes we’ll live forever
always together
my golden-haired lady and I


New Song: Every Happy Love Song

Every 3 months, I set aside time to write 3 songs. I wrote this one last Sunday.

joel_guitarseems like every happy love song sounds the same
them country singers are the ones I blame
I hear those pretty tunes of moons and junes and pretty soon
I’m hoping for a minor key and just a little misery

seems like every happy love song sounds the same
I think those britpop singers are to blame
you know those tears will start so they can rhyme with broken heart
and I’m hoping for a minor key so they’ll politely disagree

seems like every happy love song sounds the same
I’ll bet all those old jazz singers are to blame
you can bet their sorrow will still be around tomorrow
and I’m hoping for a minor key and maybe epic tragedy

why does every dance
involve taking a chance?
amazing that a light
can brighten up the night
and that star
down at the bar
is gonna go far

seems like every happy love song sounds the same
maybe those folky popsters are to blame
do they really think that girl will ever rhyme with world?
and I’m hoping for a minor key and lovers who are absentee

seems like every happy love song sounds the same
I think I know exactly who to blame
I hear those pretty tunes of moons and junes and pretty soon
I’m hoping for a minor key and just a little misery
seems like every happy love song sounds the same


Home Like No Place (Me and Stephen Foster and Boll Weevil)

Huddie sang about that old boll weevil
And how that bug was looking for a home
Every time I hear that song
Seems he got it wrong
I know that old bug just liked to roam

Even Stephen Foster’s great plantation
And old folks at home were far away
How ever many times
We all sing Stephen’s rhymes
He’s wandering creation to this day

Me and Stephen Foster and boll weevil
We’re travelers not looking for a home
Roads rambled, rivers crossed
Some wanderers ain’t lost
We’re forty years from the milk and the honeycomb

Life ain’t some great eternal baseball game
There’s more for you and me than rounding third
Every child knows the poem
There’s no place like home
Don’t you believe everything you’ve heard

Me and Stephen Foster and boll weevil
We’re travelers not looking for a home
Roads rambled, rivers crossed
Some wanderers ain’t lost
We’re forty years from the milk and the honeycomb

Best beloved’s sitting by the fire
Simm’ring supper smell fills the air
But when Foster and the bug
Look up from the rug
You’d best believe they’ll take you off somewhere

Me and Stephen Foster and boll weevil
We’re travelers not looking for a home
Roads rambled, rivers crossed
Some wanderers ain’t lost
We’re forty years from the milk and the honeycomb
We’re forty years from the milk and the honeycomb


Long, Long Ride

Hi. My name is Joel and I cheat at 333.

chorus
I’ve got a long long ride
And it’s a dark dark night
With nothing but the stars to light my way
I’ve got some big big dreams
And some good good friends
And I know I’m gonna make it back someday

I left my small small town
For the bright bright city
I knew that I could make it if I tried
I had a true true heart
And a deep deep love
For a dream I had that would not be denied

chorus
I’ve got a long long ride
And it’s a dark dark night
With nothing but the stars to light my way
I’ve got some big big dreams
And some good good friends
And I know I’m gonna make it back someday

There were some rich rich people
Heard my hot hot music
Heard a gravy train a-comin’ from afar
Now they were sharp sharp thinkers
Had some fat fat bankrolls
And they spent it so that I could be a star

chorus
I’ve got a long long ride
And it’s a dark dark night
With nothing but the stars to light my way
I’ve got some big big dreams
And some good good friends
And I know I’m gonna make it back someday

bridge
I know you’ve heard this story two too many times
Mean city breaks a country boy’s heart
I’m telling you right now that’s not how it was
I made a name
And got my fame
I had it good
As one man could
But missing home was tearing me apart

chorus
I’ve got a long long ride
And it’s a dark dark night
With nothing but the stars to light my way
I’ve got some big big dreams
And some good good friends
And I know I’m gonna make it home today
And I know I’m gonna make it home today

performance notes
banjo in G
verse and bridge begin in C
vamp in bridge is D