When I wrote this song I was taking a class in Renaissance Astrology, and I had read a book- which I think was by Cornelius Agrippa- in which he describes the Soul of the World as loving all things sweet and shiny. I was glad to read that, because it matched up with my idea (at the time) of the Universe being one giant woman who loved flowers, candy, jewelry, and greeting cards, and had the power to turn everything bad into something good. Download MP3: Fanciful
I heard this song in my head one morning while making corn bread.
The next day, I had to spend hours at a fair. While there, I started to be overcome with anxiety from being surrounded by so many people. James said, “Maybe some corn will help you.” and bought me a gigantic bag of kettle corn. And it did. Just like magic, with every sweet and salty bite, the claustrophobia began to melt away, until I ended up feeling quite comfortable and having a good time. Thanks corn!
Feeling impressed, like me and corn were on the road to becoming good friends, I googled corn when I got home and found that it is used homeopathically as a remedy for discomfort in crowded environments. I also learned about corn’s checkered past. Corn is definitely a grain more focused on power and success than being a nice guy. But I like that about corn. We all need a tiny (diluted) drop of pure evil in us.
I do feel that corn itself is the driving force behind genetically modified corn, and not humans. Corn has been inspiring humans to tamper with it since its inception. Personally, I think there are MANY cases in life when humans are simply carrying out the will of plants or other life forms. Would people feel less afraid of genetic modification if they thought that corn itself was in the driver’s seat? At the very least, it would be harder to consider the process unnatural.
Recently, I saw a great corn movie- “At Any Price.” It really captured the impact corn can have on people, and the perils of having too much corn running through your veins. Next up, “Children of the Corn.” I wonder who inspired Stephen King to write that book?
Download MP3: Corn Man
I wrote this song while living in Santa Fe, in a weekly motel off the side of the highway.Perhaps if I had lived in a different part of town, I would have enjoyed it more, but as it was the only things I liked were the pinon coffee and the gazillions of stores that sold stones and crystals, which was the beginning of a new hobby for me. Otherwise it was a harsh place to live- expensive, windy, dry, and so far away from anything else! People say it is a spiritual place, so I tried to tap into that by decorating my motel room with dream catchers and Mexican blankets, but ultimately I concluded that desert plateaus are not the place for me.
If I remember correctly, the archangel Sandalphone is responsible for the souls of those who die as infants.
Download MP3: Sandalphone
I wrote this song during winter in New Hampshire. Most people here seem to like the ice and snow, but to me they were prison bars. Staying indoors all the time can feel very claustrophobic, but so can walking around under gray skies covered from head to toe in thick black fur, unable to breath and still freezing.
But, since everyone else seemed to love winter, I figured there must be something I was missing. I wanted to love winter too; I just needed to know how. So I went to the library to check out books about eskimos, hoping to pick up some tips on how to be happy in an all white world.
From the eskimos, I learned the importance of drinking fresh seal blood so your soul will be part human and part seal. I learned that you can eat raw brains, liver, and intestines, and that meat doesn’t have to be cooked, it can be eaten frozen as well. I read about wife swapping, and giving away babies you couldn’t feed, sometimes even leaving them outside on the ground in the hopes that someone else would find them before an animal did. Their lives reminded me of White Fang and Call of the Wild- deep, rugged, brutal, and nothing like the lacy white wonderland I had been hoping to read about!
The cold seems to drag everything down, forcing you to make tough choices between what to hang on to and what to let go of. I know some people choose to live in super cold environments where the sun doesn’t shine for months at a time, but I still don’t know what their secrets are. How does a person keep happiness alive when all the fruits and flowers have died?
Download MP3: White World
Yesterday, on WSCA Portsmouth, I interviewed Mark Olson (of the Jayhawks), one of my top two favorite musicians of all time. I liked him a lot. For someone who writes such wistful, nostalgic music, he was a very fiery and down to earth kind of guy. He said his favorite stone is carnelian, which I thought was fitting.
I wrote this song when someone I knew was dying. I was expecting death to be black and grim, like suffocation in a haunted house. Instead, it felt as though a hole in the air had been ripped open, flooding the room with golden sunlight. And this sunlight kept flooding into the man, absorbing him, even as he fought against it.
His will was like an anchor, holding him to this time and place, but his will began to break down beneath the bombardment of golden light, until his mind detached and was floating in the air, half of him in this world and half in another one.
On the other side of the rip in the air, it looked like outer space, except that the space was gold, not black, and all the stars were closer than moons, like gigantic golden orbs filling the sky. And as it shone into the man’s room, the light surrounded ordinary objects with rings of gold, so they, too, began to seem vast and awe inspiring, the sight of a spoon suddenly causing your heart to catch in your throat.
Download MP3: Golden Afternoon
Download MP3: America
This song started playing in my head while I was living in Brooklyn, but I refused to write it down because I was determined not to write any more songs. Living on the outskirts of Brooklyn, a two hour walk to the subway, the idea of writing songs for nobody seemed both pointless and depressing. I thought my head space would be better used for something practical, although I wasn’t quite sure what that would be. It felt like I had reached the end of the my universe… no more hopes and dreams… no future to look forward to… just a never ending stream of three inch cock roaches to kill or run from.
The only thing that kept me going was a nearby drug store where I could buy 5 packs of potato chips for a dollar. They came in about 15 flavors ranging from Cool Ranch Doritos to Cheetos. Every evening I would walk to the drug store and select five packs. I would eat one (which was always thick pretzels) on the way home, and then eat the other four while watching a movie on my computer.
I didn’t want to be in Brooklyn, but with no money and no car, what could I do? One day, I decided to paint my apartment sky blue and decorate it with pictures of airplanes, hoping they would magically give me the power to fly away. A few days later, the answer struck me like lightening- I could rent a car and move back to Kentucky! How could it have taken me so long to realize something so obvious?
Leaving New York was the best feeling ever. Driving through the Amish countryside in Pennsylvania… buying fried chicken liver at a gas station on the Kentucky border… in comparison to Brooklyn, the rest of the world was one giant paradise! The people didn’t yell or throw glass bottles at you, the streets were wide and clean and the cars seemed to glide along in slow motion. There was no trash that blew down the sidewalks, no curly dark hairs in the breadsticks. Suddenly, every good experience had become affordable and within reach.
And so, at last, I had enough energy to buy a legal pad and write down this song.
Download MP3: Cabin Boy
I wrote this song while living in Egg Nest, Beverly Hills. At the time, I was attempting to support myself by selling paintings, which was a reasonable idea, since I had sold many of them, especially portraits, over the last couple years. Except that something about the IQ mashing euphoria of southern California had gone to my head, causing me to think it would be a good idea to multiply all my prices by one hundred. That way, I’d be a hundred times richer, right?
Needless to say, having prices that started at $20,000 made paintings difficult to sell, and being the owner of a twenty million dollar art collection was of little comfort once my food supply dwindled to candy bought with street quarters and online dating sites.
Download MP3: Jokerman
I wrote this song while living in Nashville. At the time, I had a band called the Jordan Almonds, which consisted of me, a drummer, an egg shaker, and a guy that would dance with a bucket on his head that said “2 YOUNG 2B GAY.” Sometimes, the Almonds would dress up in lavender silks, and once they even agreed to superglue mustaches to their faces made of faux fur. They made it much easier to get up on stage, because all the criticism that used to be directed at me was now magically redirected to the bucket on Cobey’s head.
Download MP3: Run Away