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Rough Cuts

buzzsaw These are rough recordings of songs that I’ve written or arranged. Most will never be recorded professionally on one of my CDs.  But they are good songs that I’d hate to lose; songs people should be able to hear. The second one is special, was recorded in a studio, not at home. It is for my wife’s father. It deserves second place on the page, right behind the newest song.  As songs are added, the older ones are moved into alphabetical order (how me!).


God’s Blessings On and Through You – June 21, 2017

This song was written on May 7, 2017. But it wasn’t recorded until June 21. In that time the words simmered. Many were changed just before the recording. I’d been using a phrase that I thought of as a closing for invitations to our monthly Christian jam, “God’s blessings on and through you”. Blessings aren’t just to be received. Instead they are made greater by passing them on. They are active, not passive. The idea called to me. Hence the song. On a musical note (pun intended), the song was written in E. The voicings are integral to the song, played on the 9th fret. But it sounded too thin. So just before recording I dropped it to D, on the 7th fret. I’m surprised at how much better it sounded and that the voicings survived, may even be better.


TataSiCata
Gather All Her Tears – October 15, 2014. For Ioan Cascuescu (Tata)

Catalina’s father died on Thursday, October 9, 2014. It struck a heavy blow to my wife. She talked to her mom and dad ever day either through the phone or the computer. It will take time for her to recover, not to get over, as you don’t get over this.

I was downstairs playing my morning guitar when I heard her cries. I knew instantly what had happened. The song, which somehow I had started the day before demanded to be written. It’s hard to write a song when you are crying yourself. I finished it yesterday, recorded it today at Two Egrets studio. Mike did a great job.

This has been recorded and is the title track on the CD of originals, Gather All Her Tears released December, 2015.

This one is for Tata. I will and do miss him.


Amazing Grace /Home – Recorded  April 2, 2005

A local radio station was running a battle of the bands over the internet.   I recorded this and entered myself as a band.  Figured if I won I would have to put together a real band.  I came in third.  This is an arrangement, a combination of House of the Rising Sun and Amazing Grace.  Used to do it as part of my duo Burning Brooke.   It ‘s fun to hear the vocal gymnastics.  Ten years later, I don’t know if I can still do them.


Everything – September 29, 2014 –  dedicated to Catalina Burns

This song is for my lovely wife Catalina, dedicated to her.  We choose to live our lives together, to love, and be loved.  I have been taken by how many songs are about falling into love, losing love, finding love… all things that happen to us.  I wanted to write a song that was about actively choosing to love.  Musically this song appeared over the course of a week.  The words took another week.  Sometimes they go that way.

This has been recorded in the studio, is on the CD of originals, Gather All Her Tears released December, 2015.


Fire in the Sky – September 24, 2014 – For David

This  song was written over the span of a year or two. It just wouldn’t leave me alone. It started from an exciting riff that soon became stale. I threw it away. Next thing I’d know it would pop up again, demand my attention. A few weeks ago it surfaced yet again. But this time the word “Joy” bounced off my lips. It nearly wrote itself then. Turns out it is about the good times that my high-school-best-friend, David Webster, and I had constantly seeking out adventures. That’s the way it is with me: I never know what a song is about until it’s finished.  Volume is a little low.  You’ll need to turn it up.


Got No Coffee – December 28, 2014

This may be the first true blues song I’ve written.  Blues, filled with double entendres.


Hey Girl – January 27, 2015

This is just some fun, almost a fifties tune. What is it about simple love songs?


Joy to the World – Recorded  October 11, 2014

This one will only stay up here for a while.  We will be recording it on the Christmas CD.  At the end of a morning playing session, I sleepily wondered, “What would Joy to the World sound like in minor.  I played a little and it all fell together.  Catalina instantly wanted it on the CD.  I made this recording so that my daughter Brandon would have something to work from.

This has been recorded in the studio, is on our Christmas CD, Silent Night released December, 2015.


The Last Time I Saw You – February 1, 2017

The first song in 2017. I was playing with extending the melodic rhythms over the bar but with more of a meandering effect, not syncopated. Unlike most of my songs this is not about someone in particular. Instead it is a combination of people from my past that have wandered past recovery. And yes, that word is fallen, not falling. And yes, that ending is exactly the way I want it.


Now That Your Gone – November 23, 2013. For my friend Earl

Last year my friend Earl’s wife Joan died.  Cata and I had Earl over for supper and to sing a few times.  After one of the sessions Earl asked if he could send me an email of a letter he’d written to Joan after her death.  I read it, got his permission to use his words and ideas in a song for him.   I wanted the song to be something Earl could play and sing in his style; so I modified my style. Earl likes waltzes.  At the time I was working on a waltz.  Earl beautifully plays a finger picking style.  This song is almost that.  The range is his as well.  Finally, the guitar is integral to the song; it plays with it’s own voice.  So in a way, the guitar is Joan’s presence, quietly singing a duet with Earl.

The recording of this song isn’t perfect.  I’m not sure that it could be.  Even more, I don’t believe it should be.  So I’ll leave it like this, filled with flaws, but still right.


She Dances with the Moon – February 5, 2015

Unbelievably, a song written from my memory of a Maxfield Parrish poster.  For more details, click this link She Dances with the Moon.


Thalia – December 20, 2015

This song is for my yet-to-be-born granddaughter, Thalia. It came all in an hour, just a lullaby. I wanted something simple, pure, reassuring, something that allowed for wonder. It’s recorded on my song writing guitar which better has the intimacy that is required.


Time’s an Illusion -November 21, 2014

This song took maybe 3 years to write. The A section was always right. And the melody has been there for a long time. But the B section was wretched, refused to be right. I put it away for a while. Early this fall I picked it up and the B section materialized. If you listen carefully you will hear my signature missing beat in the B section. But it isn’t missing, it’s the way I want it. Thanks go out to my friend Earl for giving me some recording tips with the little zoom recorder I’m using.

This has been recorded in the studio, is on the CD of originals, Gather All Her Tears released December, 2015.

One Comment

  1. Steven, I am a friend of Earl’s and was looking for his recordings on your blog when I decided I wanted to know more about you of whom he has spoken with great admiration. I listened to all of the selections above…enjoyed them all. Then I came upon “Now That You’re Gone” and it has touched me so on many levels and for several reasons. For one, Earl is a very sensitive man who often is very private about his deepest heartache. You have taken his words/feelings and matched them with a tune that speaks perfectly of and to that heartache. I am a widow (going into the 4th year) rebuilding a life on my own and of my own. It sometimes becomes like a game of “Mother, May I?”- two steps forward, one step back, stay where you are and wait for further instructions. The adjustments one makes to being alone seem to always include the one who’s gone in some way or another. For example, eating alone I am very aware of his absence and long for our conversation, and by the same token, when something wonderful happens (say, the budding of a new relationship) and I am over the moon with joy and anticipation of the future, I feel his saying, “I am happy you are finding joy and moving on with your life. I want that for you.” I don’t think we will ever live a day without the echoes of our former spouse somewhere in the weave, but it does get easier with time and new dawns. But every once in a while, something comes along to open up the wound- there’s the “one step back”- which these lyrics and your music have done this morning. And I say that without negativity because it has given me pause and cause to understand the depth of Earl’s pain and to revisit mine. Pain makes us feel alive and gives us something to overcome and that moves us forward, hopefully. This little stream of consciousness might be highly inappropriate for public viewing, but it has been cathartic for this gal! Thank you for sharing your talent as well as Earl’s words and sentiments.

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