Welcome to the first issue/episode of BTS (Behind the Songs). The idea of blogging about the songs on our new CD “Searching for Neverland” was not an original one. Far from it. I’ve seen this type of thing done by others – most recently Mary Gauthier – and it was her who inspired me. Plus, I thought it would be fun. Anyway, I’ll be trying to dig up early versions of the songs to share and do my best to be honest. I hope you enjoy.
BTS- Episode #1:Take Me To The Fair
It all started with a chord progression and a picking pattern… no words. I’d been pretty obsessed with this instrumental piece, playing it over and over every time I picked up my guitar … but no words. Then I caught wind of this interesting song challenge being promoted by a local music promoter named GW Staton. He provides a title and songwriters are challenged to write a song using that title. I was in a slump lyrically to be sure and not being one to write deliberately this was definitely a challenge. By way of example, I have attended Lamb’s Retreat for Songwriters a number of times and John Lamb gives much more than just a title to work with but I still have yet to see one of those song assignments to its satisfactory completion. In any case, I am a bit foggy on how the words started to come. The title “Time Gone” conjured up mostly cliches for me …“let bygones be bygones” “where has the time gone?” “Holding on to time”… That sort of thing. I don’t like jumping on the obvious, whether it be a rhyme or a thought but ultimately the theme of ‘letting go’ kinda took over, and I let go of the worry about cliche and put ‘em all in the song.
Here’s the contest version:
Looking back I think the rhyme scheme informed the whole darned thing… gone, song, dawn, wrong…
So the first line… “Holding on to time gone is kind of like trying to catch a song in mid air when you don’t believe that it’s out there.*” One big long sentence…with rhymes built in.
*Its fun to listen to the original version and interesting to hear the lyrics in that first line which said the opposite “even if you know that its out there”. Glad I changed that but there is so much about this version that I like – particularly some of the melody choices. Here I am wishing I’d revisited this before recording it.
So let bygones be bygones
Make way for another dawn
to clean the slate and take me to the fair
Digging a little deeper, I know a lot of songwriters who believe that we are merely the conduit through which songs are brought into the world, that we aren’t actually the authors. We’re just the ones who catch them as they passed through us or we passed through them … like a ghost … cause we happened to be paying attention and were in the right place at the right time. The idea of doing that intentionally does not compute but you do have to be open to it which is why the metaphor felt right in this case. You can’t hold on to time that’s gone any more than you can catch a song if you’re not open to it.
The fair/circus/carnival metaphor was a bonus.
“We can go hang out with all the circus freaks
maybe eat some cotton candy on the tilt-a-whirl
till it gets stuck in our hair
And when the moment disappears
and [cause] you can’t believe your ears
Hey Mr. have you got some time to spare?”
Cause I fell in love with time gone
How hard it can be to go on
10 a.m. caffeine kicks in
a shiny new day lies out there
Oh where oh where has time gone
How could we have been so wrong
Just clean the slate and take me to the fair.
We can go sweet talk the scruffy man who runs the Ferris wheel
maybe he’ll let us go around all night or roll away from here
When no wayward soul replies
And this old photograph belies
Darling, please the evidence is clear
Holding on to time gone
Is kinda like trying to catch a song
in mid air when you don’t believe that it’s out there
So let go of time gone
What’s your name? its been so long
Just clean the slate and take me to the fair