R.I.P. Forgotten songs

Behold! He has made the grave a holy place!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a monument to all those songs that have been forgotten, or somehow left behind, in my endeavor to record all the songs I have written. A moment of silence, please, for Blackbeard, Bring Back the Sun, Beaverlick Clothes,  The Day 1,000 Flutes had to Die, Mama Can I Make Love to a Plant?,  and others whose names I cannot even remember. In some cases, the lyrics have been forgotten, in other cases the melodies, but there is one I feel especially guilty about, “Down and Free” because technically I have both the melody and the words, but cannot bring myself to sing it.  Why?

Well, the official reason is that I cannot figure out the chords. It is one of the first songs I wrote and I didn’t know many actual chords back then, just string formations that I would settle upon through endless trial and error, making it very hard for me to replicate what I was playing.

The unofficial reason is, due to references to nudity, I cannot bring myself to sing it! As I’ve mentioned before, my husband grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness, and although he is no longer practicing it is still hard to watch a movie without him screaming, “Harlots!” at the point when a couple kisses, or “Man-whore!” when a man takes off his shirt to mow the lawn.

Although truly, I must say he has never made me feel like my songs were spawned by the “whore of Babylon” (one of his favorite expressions). His notion of “sluts and sodomites” seems to have more to do with a person using sexuality- or things like money- to hook and control others for selfish reasons. I grew up with the idea that you are supposed to manipulate the world for your own gain, in whatever way you can, or else you are an idiot, so it stretches my brain at times to see things from his point of view. Still, it does occur to me that you never know who might be working the pearly gates on the day you arrive, so even from a practical perspective, taking what you can from others may be an iffy proposition in the long run.

But to return to the point, the truth is that my husband does approve of my songs, even ones that contain the word n-k-d, but still, exhuming so much of my past has been hard work, and I am tired, so just this once I am going to let myself off the hook.

So rest in peace, forgotten songs. Songs lost in the sands of time, songs struck down by the hand of man,  may you rise in a better world and be sung again.

 

 

Made Love to My Father

 

I made love to my father and now I must pay... The True Story of a Confederate Soldier by Julien AkleiWell, it looks like this is my final song! I have finally recorded and posted all the songs I have written so far. Phew. Now I am free to move on to something new… maybe I will grow my fingernails out into out long, golden talons studded with rhinestones and tiny teddy bears. Ah, that sounds like paradise!

I think this is a decent song for my grand finale, because… well, I remember when I wrote it, the sky was so so blue and the song unfolded page by page in my mind like a storybook, filling me with a sense of eternity. Which is to say, I have positive associations with it.

Also, this song captures a world I frequently try to capture in my songs– a place I call “Checkerboard World.” Checkerboard World is more or less the same as this world, except that everything seems slightly more luminous, more crisp and defined. Plus there is a giant checkerboard that covers the earth and one in the sky as well. The checkered squares in the grass are large- maybe 10 feet wide on average- but in the sky they are even larger, maybe up to a mile wide! But the size of the checkerboard grid varies from place to place, sometimes expanding, sometimes condensing. It all depends on how much space the space contains.

But don’t confuse Checkerboard World with heaven. This is not the land of golden angels. There are still thugs in their dark alleys and scoops of chocolate ice cream that topple onto new white shirts. But there may be something about the clarity and spaciousness of the place that makes it easier for people to recover completely from the bad things that do happen. And in Checkerboard World there is no time, meaning there is plenty of opportunity to sit and cry for as long as you need to. Well, technically time does exists, but only as a way of subdividing eternity, which stretches out around people in all directions (like a checkerboard). Even death is nothing but an opportunity to evaporate up to the giant checkerboard in the sky so you can pour down again like rain.

Download MP3: Made Love to My Father

Desert Squirrels

 

Spirit of a plant talks to a nude womanSoon, I will be done with my project of posting up (almost) all of the songs I have written. I’ll be glad when it is over. I am sure I will keep writing songs, but I am not sure that I will keep blogging about them. That part is hard work. I have plenty of things to say and share, yet none of them ever seems quite true. I mean… they are true… and yet never entirely true. Pictures and songs can feel true to me, but statements of opinion and fact always have a fractured quality- they never encompass the whole picture, just a carefully selected fragment. So how do you choose which aspect to express, which way to portray reality? I don’t know.

Many people seem to have their angle on life worked out. Their personality and opinions stay relatively consistent from day to day. I’m not exactly sure what my take on life is, nor how I fit into it. I don’t know if I’m a democrat or a republican. I don’t even know if this life is a dream we’re all going to wake up from, though I suspect it might be.

But still, I try to say something, because it drives me nuts when I go to a concert and the musician just plays their songs without talking. It’s like french fries without salt. Bland. Seeing their human personality helps me to get my bearings and make sense of their music. So that’s why I try to say something.

Still, once I am done with this initial round of recapitulation, I plan to let my self off the hook for a while, to post songs and pictures without having to place a logical frame around them. Let someone else try to make sense of things for a change.

Oh yeah, this song is called Desert Squirrels. It is about the desert.

Download MP3: Desert Squirrels

Messenger of God

 

The most important thing I learned in school:

Professor (to me): “What do a crystal and the sky have in common?”

Me (thinking I must have misheard him): “What?”

Professor: “I said, WHAT DO A CRYSTAL AND THE SKY HAVE IN COMMON?!?!”

Me: “Uh, what, um, I don’t know… maybe that they’re clear?”

Professor: “NO! THINK!! THINK!!! WHAT DO A CRYSTAL AND THE SKY HAVE IN COMMON?!?!?!?!?

Me: “Uh.. uh… I guess they’re both maybe, um…”

Professor “HUMANS CAN’T LIVE IN THE SKY AND THEY CAN’T LIVE INSIDE OF A CRYSTAL, EITHER!!!”

 

Growing up in Kentucky, no one had ever pointed out the interesting fact that humans can neither live in the sky nor inside of a crystal, but once these words were spoken, I instantly recognized their truth. It is one of the few golden nuggets I collected from my four years at UVA, and hardly a day goes by when I don’t shout these words in my own ear.

What does that have to do with this song? Well, I suppose one theme that flows through a number of my songs is the feeling of being trapped in the sky and trying to come down to earth, or alternately, being trapped in a crystal and trying to break free. Perhaps, you could consider this a song about trying to find someone who will smash through the crystal and drag you down to earth.

Nude man by tiles and a window.
Someone like me, perhaps?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Download MP3: Messenger of God

Blue Valley

 

Nude woman with a bone and a raindrop.I made this song up while being driven around the New York highways, from the edge of Brooklyn to Manhattan. The person behind the wheel (well, my ex-husband, if you need to know) always seemed to be in various stages of falling asleep while driving, which caused me great anxiety. I tended to sing and clap loudly in the vain hope that this would help him stay awake. So that is where this song comes from and why there is only clapping and no guitar.

 

 

 

 

 

Download MP3: Blue Valley

Blue Bird

 

Two birds with dots and a setting sun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I like to think there is a part of our human brains that can understand the language of birds, even if we don’t realize it.  Someday, I am sure humans and birds will communicate freely, and we will realize what a large role birds have always played in our world. After all, birds are the type of creatures that make it their business to know your business, and to spread the word far and wide. Their sphere of interest and influence surely extends far beyond their own species. I have witnessed birds acting on behalf of both rabbits and humans on many occasions.

 

P.S. Yesterday, James pointed out that sometimes my blog posts, such as the one yesterday, might seem to be minimizing my songs. Well, I thought about it and he’s kind of right. Normally, my blogs do tie in more to the superficial meanings of the songs rather than their deeper undercurrents, possibly making the songs seem a touch more whimsical and airy than they might actually be.

But the thing is, when I write a song, I write from my feelings, and when I write a blog post, I write from my brain, and it is almost as though they have two different personalities. My brain is my less developed and more external self who strives to protect me, and the last thing he wants to do is expose guts and vulnerabilities for all the world to see.

 

Download MP3: Blue Bird

Curtains

 

Girl with a bony arm holding a gray ball.Once upon a time, I consulted a  psychic, and she told me I should get a part-time job working in a coffee shop and do some light and feminine summer reading. Well, I knew I wasn’t going to get that job in a coffee shop, but I felt guilty about it- especially since I had just read an article that said married women without jobs are committing husband abuse- so I read a mountain of chick lit to make up for it.

This song was inspired by one of those books, I don’t remember it’s name. Probably “The Laces of Summer,” or something like that.

 

 

 

 

 

Download MP3: Curtains

Soul Baby


Nude woman with white raindrops, sitting on a log.

A song I wrote in Kentucky, at a time when I was obsessed with the color white. But not, this time, the clear icy white of the stars, but rather the thick and milky white of the moon.

During the summers I would cover myself from head to toe in the euphoric, almost dirty scent of jasmine flowers, stuffing handfuls of them in my shoes as well, and walk around for hours in the night, through the country and through the town. The moon and the humidity would mix to create a feeling of hope and possibility that soothed the despair which plagued me during the days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Download MP3: Soul Baby

Mister will you make love to me?

 

Brownie feeding a dog with a mysterious shadow.A song about my desperation to leave the cold world of outer space and feel earthed again. I wrote this song in Nashville. As a kid, visiting Nashville from Kentucky, I had always liked its warm, earthy vibe, like pizza cooked in a red brick oven. But when I moved there as an adult- around 2006, I think, it didn’t seem the same anymore. It had become citified, slick, black, stylish, and cold. Sure, there was country music, but there wasn’t anything country.

What is country music, anyway? To me, it would be any music inspired by a southern, rural life. It wouldn’t have to fit a certain mold- it could be strange, nonsensical, angry, dull, sad, or wild. It could express the full range of human emotions and the crazy imagination of nature. But Nashville music isn’t rooted in the country, it is rooted in the tradition of country music, which is a very different thing. It pulls its tradition from a handful of 20th century country heroes, a well that becomes more depleted with every song written. Art that draws on other art as its foundation… well, I think it can get a little inbred.  That is how we end up with blank canvases and the like hanging up in museums.

But that is just my opinion. The point is, I felt disappointed that Nashville had become more cosmopolitan than homey.  I wanted something soft, warm, and natural, but ended up with something cold, hard and plastic. It may be no coincidence that so many of the songs I wrote in Nashville relate to being lost in outer space.

Download MP3: Mister Will You Make Love to Me?

Clothes

 

Self-Portrait in a peach studio by Julien AkleiWhat a strange little song… probably in the top ten of songs I wouldn’t mind being washed away in the sands of time… why did I even have to mention the word clothes? Why did I think I needed permission to keep my clothes on?

At any rate, at one point in this song I mention my age and my weight, and- just to clear the air- I feel the need to say that neither statistic was accurate.

My weight came from a cop, who said it was his favorite weight for women and offered to write it down as being my weight (which I didn’t know) when I got detained for stealing gummy worms.

I didn’t mean to steal gummy worms- I thought they were free samples. It was my first time inside a giant superstore where they had those clear plastic bins filled with unwrapped candy. I thought I was in heaven eating handful after handful of gummy worms and other candies while wandering around an endless store. Next thing you know, I’m having my mugshot taken and bawling hysterically, certain my life as a respectable citizen is over. I think the cop felt sorry for me and was trying to comfort me by helping me select an ideal weight. At any rate, the whole event scared me so much that I promised God I would never break another rule again- a dangerous vow, since trying to be too good can land you in far more trouble than being a little bad will.

The second inaccuracy in this song was my age, which I lowered by five years after being constantly criticized by my boyfriend for being too immature. I agreed with him that I was immature (getting arrested for gummy worms!), but felt it would be more practical to adjust my age to reflect my development rather than the reverse. In some ways, changing my age was a good idea, since it did lower people’s expectations of me and cause them to praise me more. But I couldn’t keep it up for very long since my nerves were too delicate to be lying all the time.

Still, the basic idea of lowering people’s expectations seemed sound, so I decided to start telling people I was mentally retarded. But that is a story for another day.

Download MP3: Clothes