Week 494 // In Search of the Loon

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A long way
I have traveled to find
Somewhere
In a ripple in the dusk
It’s here
Oh in the corners of my heart
I’ll know

A long way
I have traveled to find
Somewhere
In a ripple in the dusk
It’s here
Oh in the corners of my heart
I’ll know

Notes
I’m lucky to be where I am. In the midst of all this madness, I have found myself enjoying an unexpected season with my parents. It means a lot to me to be with them. I’ve enjoyed dinners, jigsaw puzzles, walks, and conversations. Finally the weather is turning, and we’re able to enjoy nature more fully together.

Yesterday my dad and I took a ride on the lake in his pedal kayaks. They’re peculiar devices intended to keep my father’s hands free to cast his line. I don’t fish, so I thought of another way to use my liberated hands. I brought along a little guitar and I wrote a song.

As always when I take to the lake, I hoped to see one of our loons. They are magical and ancient creatures, and they are my spiritual center. As we set out, I thought I caught a glimpse of a black beaked head peeking just above the surface of the water. I searched and I searched, but I didn’t see it again before the sun began to set and we headed for shore.

Still, I know it was there.

~M.E.

Week 493 // Folding at the Weight of a Feather

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When will it feel like the weekend?
Everyone is worried about it
What do owe to each other?
Everyone is talking about it

What does it mean to be empty?
When can I stop dreaming about it?
Turn like a season is ending
Learn it all again in a new day’s sun

The past in a photograph ages
I’m sleeping it off hard
As the rain comes down

Hold me up
See to it that the morning breaks

Think about the shape your burden takes
And place your arms around it
Think about the place your body aches
And hold yourself above it

Dogeared old pieces of paper
Recognize the writing upon it
Study the tilt of the letters
You’re folding at the weight of a feather

Pack for the length of a season
Learn your heart again
In the new day’s sun

Hold me up
See to it that the morning breaks

Hold me up
See to it that the morning breaks

Hold me up
See to it that the morning breaks

Notes
This is a song about putting the old world to bed and staying up to watch the sun rise over a new one. None of us knows exactly what that means, but this is a unique moment when we can feel the change in motion. It is so painful to watch the old world go and take so many lovely souls with it. But something new is happening as we contemplate our responsibility to one another on a societal level, and as we attempt to reimagine the future from scratch. This song wrestles with holding onto bits of the past as they slip through our fingers, and trying to embrace the new day even though we can’t see the morning light breaking just yet. Let’s try to hold each other up as best we can and wait for dawn to break.

~M.E.

Week 492 // Holy Signs 2

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Signs
I’ve been listening forever
I’ve studied calls of the morning birds
Assigned too much meaning to the minor chords
That they form

And I’ve run out of context
Does the light move across the blinds
To remind me I’m losing time

And into the water we go
Into the water and out of sight
I could swim clear to the opposite shore
To find the perspective I’m looking for

Fall asleep in the afternoon
Shake with a dream I don’t want
Wake with a start as the light falls
And finds its way home

What would I do with context?
Would I sort out the beats of my past
Or decipher what’s coming up next?

And into the water we go
Into the water and out of sight
I could swim clear to the opposite shore
To find the perspective I’m looking for

Holy signs
Oh holy signs
Holy signs
Oh holy signs

And into the water we go
Into the water and out of sight
I could swim clear to the opposite shore
To find the perspective I’m looking for

Notes
Shortly after I decided to name this song “Holy Signs”, I remembered I had already written a song by that name. No matter. It’s my habit to reuse song titles when the mood strikes me, creating a series where there could have been two songs standing all alone. Amazingly, the last Holy Signs came out almost exactly two years ago on April 16th, 2018. That was week 387, if you’re counting.

Of that other song I wrote: “This is a springtime song. As such it is filled with the sun and rain, the warmth and the chill, high hopes and hedged expectations, and at the center of it all a bright, warm light to follow.” That was another kind of spring, and I have to admit that this song had a harder time finding the bright warm light. That said, this is every bit as much a springtime song as the other. Maybe it’s a bit less hopeful, but It longs for cleansing renewal, and perhaps even rebirth. Maybe on the other side of our trials, that’s what we’ve got in store.

~M.E.

Week 491 // Quiet Seasons

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Walk out in the woods
Walk and I feel something good
When I watched you cut your hair
The finest smile I saw there
You let your laugh into the sky
If only heard by you and I
If only heard by you and I

See the table’s set
We dine like we cannot forget
We can say a prayer for us
And all lost souls who we’ve forgot
And all the battles fought out there
And lonely people everywhere
Lovely people everywhere

And out under the moon
I turn and tell truth
That it’s good to be alone with you
Anytime

All this is bound to end
And what will we tell of it then?
Will we say we held a line
Once all these days are lost to time?
Once all the quiet seasons are through
What will I have to say to you?
What will be left to say to you?

Oh out under the moon
I’ll turn and tell truth
That it’s good to be alone with you
Anytime

Notes
When I began writing the lyrics for this song, I wanted to start with some good things that have been happening around me these days. I had a feeling the words may angle toward bittersweet rather than purely positive, but I was okay with that. I just wanted to start someplace light. So I thought of the peace of walking in the woods. I recalled the spontaneity of Rebecca giving herself a haircut in the middle of the night. I paused for a moment on the feeling of togetherness during Passover and Easter dinners shared with Rebecca’s family (joining from afar) and my parents in the same week.

Sure enough, the world crept into the song, and it became important to sing about other things. Of course the world is in tough shape outside my walls and beyond these woods. Of course people are fighting to survive both illness and hardship right now. Of course humanity is lonesome out there, and I am no exception to that even as I have my wife and parents with me.

Ultimately I came to a chorus that pays honor to Rebecca, whose company is everything to me now. I don’t mean to be insensitive to those who are pushing through this experience by themselves, but I have to sing my own song. It is right that this comes back to her.

Remember, time is slow and the future is uncertain, but this won’t be forever. Love to you all.

~M.E.

Week 490 // Gone for a While

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Old wind
You’re older than the mountain
Blow me over
Clear across the county
And I’ve been gone now
For a little a while

Rent a place
At the far end of the river
All I’ve got
Is what I what I want to give her
And we’ve not been back
For a little while

Stand with you looking out
At what could be oblivion
Smile as we peer across
The chasm into dawn

Woke at
The wrong end of a dream
And morning’s
Even stranger than it seems
And I been dreaming
For a little while

Count the birdsongs
Drifting on the breeze
And count your blessings
And share a few with me
I’ll hold on to them
For you for a while

Stand with you looking out
At what could be oblivion
Smile as we peer across
The chasm into dawn

Notes
Rebecca and I have been away from home for three weeks now as the world has grappled with the way things suddenly are. It’s strange being someplace so beautiful. New York is like a distant roar over the horizon as I calm myself to the birdsongs and babbling brooks of New Hampshire. For moments I can trick my mind into believing I’m on vacation, and I allow those moments to wash over me because I know other harder moments will soon visit. I put off real worries about job security and disease and I breathe the fresh air. I take a walk with my wife and find a pretty view. I enjoy an evening with my parents. I tend to the fire. I write music. I remind myself that there is an end to this, and that in the mean time I have a lot. I’m grateful, but I’m also scared. This is not a vacation, but this place is beautiful all the same.

~M.E.

Week 489 // A Late Winter Song

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Snow
In slow motion
Take me out of time

Remember
What comes first
When troubled days arrive

Remember the faces you have loved
Remember the silence of the snow

Seasons
It’s only time
And time is known to pass

Remember
Even footprints
Tend to fade at last

Remember the laughter all around
Remember the silence of the snow

Snow
Snow snow is drifting
I feel fixed in place

Remember
We can drift like snow
In different ways

Remember the warmth beside the glow
Remember the silence of the snow

Notes
Where you are, it may be springtime. Here it is late winter, and I have spent two Mondays in a row writing music to gentle snowfall out the window. The snow suits the moment better than the spring, even as I envy those of you who have sunshine and green things to greet you when you go outside. It is a time of great anxiety, and the peaceful falling of the snow is a beautiful counterbalance to that anxiety. I wanted to write a song to capture that peace in order to balance out my own dark currents. For the moment, It feels like it worked.

~M.E.

Week 488 // Where We Are

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Here we are
We’re where we are
We’re every solitary place
We’re lost in dreams out in the park
Without a trace

Here we are
We’re where we’ve gone
We twist in currents through the waves
We call out answers through the fog
We disappear without a trace

And all the lights are on
No matter where you look

Here we are
We’re where we are
We nest and write each other’s names
We’re lost in faces in our hearts
Without a trace
Without a trace
Without a trace

Notes
This is a song about isolation and displacement. I don’t suppose I need to explain why I’d write about those subjects this week. I’m thinking of my friends and colleagues hunkered down, alone in apartments. I’m thinking of those I care about stuck in other countries, waiting with great hope for a chance to come home. I’m thinking of my dear friends whose livelihoods are threatened. I’m thinking of all our loved ones whose very lives could be at stake.

Rebecca and I left our home last week because it felt safer not to stay there. We are in a place of extreme privilege to be able to make that choice. We all do the best we can under the circumstances. Still, it was hard to go. We think of our neighbors always.

I like it when one of my listeners decides they like a track enough to buy it from me on Bandcamp. I’m not a professional musician. I do marketing for a nonprofit. I am able to work remotely, and I do not expect to miss a paycheck in the near future. If you like this song, please download it for free, and then spend your money instead on beautiful music from Nat Osborn or Lyle Divinsky. They are dear friends, and dizzyingly talented professional musicians whose livelihood has been interrupted by cruel necessity. You will absolutely love what they do.

~M.E.

Week 487 // Out My Window

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Waiting for war to come
It wasn’t a war at all
Looking out my window
I don’t see the change at all

Ring the bells to wave all the world away
Ring the bells to wave all the world away

Follow the road northward
All the way back home
Follow the constellation
All the way back home

Ring the bells to wave all the world away
Ring the bells to wave all the world away

Notes
What an extraordinary moment. It’s hard to overstate what an unusual time this is, and how important each decision feels. As I wrote this song, Rebecca and I decided to leave New York. We might come back soon. We might come back after a long while. We can’t know yet.

We are uniquely privileged in that our respective work and school have gone remote, and that my parents have room for us in a place where we can sequester ourselves until we are confident that we don’t risk infecting others. New Hampshire just seems like a better place to be right now.

This is a song about making a decision even though the world outside our window doesn’t yet look very strange. Certainly, I’ve had many experiences over the past couple of weeks to drive home the reality that the fabric of society as we know it in Brooklyn has shifted and is shifting still. We have decided to go because we have the option. The day after tomorrow, we may not have it.

I want you to be cautious and safe. I want you to be careful with human contact. I want you to vote and flush out the irresponsible hacks who have made the situation worse than it needed to be. I want you to learn and carry forward important lessons once this is over. This is our generation’s crucible. Please make good choices.

~M.E.

Week 486 // Other Moments

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Thinking I could sleep in
Thinking I could lie next to you

Thinking I could sleep in
Thinking I could lie next to you

Other moments seem lost
I’ll take the moments we get together
I’ll take the moments we get together

Other moments seem lost
I’ll take the moments we get together
I’ll take the moments we get together

Thinking I could wait up
Thinking I could lie next you

Thinking I could wait up
Thinking I could lie next you

Other moments seem lost
I’ll take the moments we’ve got together
I’ll take the moments we get together

Other moments seem lost
I’ll take the moments we’ve got together
I’ll take the moments we get together

Notes
I appreciate this song for its immediacy. I made it with one microphone, one guitar, and one voice, all in one take. It’s got a lot more fret noise than I’d typically put up with. The tempo gets a bit lost. There’s a fair amount of street noise from my window. I’m a bit pitchy in my vocal performance. But it’s here and I appreciate those things about it. It’s a song about patience, and I didn’t exercise any at all while I was making it.

~M.E.

Week 485 // The Forest I’ve Been

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In the clearing
See the forest I’ve been

In the clearing
See the forest I’ve been

And the feeling is old
And the feeling is old

In the morning
See the night that I’ve been

In the morning
See the night that I’ve been

And the feeling is old
And the feeling is old

Notes
I wrote this song with a persistent headache. I didn’t want to be writing music, but that’s part of this project. Sometimes I need to sit with a song even when I don’t have the feeling for it. Sometimes I have to push through some unpleasantness to stay true to my commitment to this thing. By necessity, I drifted into something gentle and quiet. The song speaks of traversing darkness, and coming out the other side. Maybe right now it’s about a physical pain, but it’s also an emotional experience I’m familiar with. Listening back, the song is simple and soothing. I’m glad I pushed through to write it.

~M.E.