adventures in dysthymia

Monday, April 28, 2008

THE LAST of the old, old, really old songs:

WALK LIKE A SAILOR

Walk like a sailor, roll with the waves,
pace your decks with pride;
the seas are growing in the gale,
we must go with the tide.

Pray for a strong and steady wind,
a star to be our guide;
we voyage far and the empty seas
that we shall sail are wide.

Walk like a sailor, walk like a sailor,
and never forget who you are;
cross your oceans without fear,
a true son of Jack Tar.

Walk like a sailor, walk like a sailor,
who’s traveled the world ‘round;
though you stop at a thousand ports,
you know where you are bound.

And when you stroll your native shore,
your true love at y our side,
walk like a sailor, yes, like a sailor,
a swagger in your stride.

Stephen Brooke ©2008

This is the oldest of the bunch -- the original poem on which the song was later based was written in 1983. Revised a lot since then! A good bit of the lyric/poem was written in my head as I took a long walk along the beach (down in Naples) one day.

I am attempting to FTP an album's worth of wav files via my erratic dial-up connection. It's going to take a while but the manufacturer with whom I would prefer to work (Lulu) doesn't accept mailed discs, only uploads. So, 48 hours or so of uploading ought to do it...gee, maybe I should've gone with my second choice!

***OOPS...I just 'finished' with the transfer of the first file and after four hours or so it tells me there were too many errors and the process failed. Guess I'll go with that second choice (Cafe Press) after all.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

YET ANOTHER really old song:

TO SEA ONCE MORE

The sea’s awakened in my heart,
I can not stay ashore.
My love, it’s time that we must part;
I’ll go to sea once more.
A wind in my soul has broken free,
And bears me from my home;
Await me by the cold gray sea
As long as I must roam.

Can your love carry me across the sea,
Back to the land that gave birth to me?
Cry no more, what must be will be:
A sailor’s heart must sometimes be set free.

Long bridled winds are rising free
To bear me from my home;
Await me here beside the sea
As long as I must roam.
My ship sails on the morning tide,
Bound for some distant shore;
But I’ll return and here abide
And go to sea no more.

Stephen Brooke ©1986 and 1990

Again, one of the songs that I recorded in the 90s and have been remastering. Finished the remaster job, actually, and intend to combine the ten songs from that album with the six from my cowboy music EP onto a single CD and make it available. I'm thinking a 'print on demand' approach at Cafe Press or Lulu (but NOT Amazon!) might be sensible. No overhead, other than my work, and they do all the distribution/sales. Anyway, I won't burn and print them myself, as in the past, though I may alternatively just order a small run of discs and do the covers and packaging. The cost to the multitude of fans clamoring for my work would be much lower that way!

This song was originally a poem. I suppose that's somewhat obvious. The semi-repeated verse (right after the refrain) was part of the conversion into a song, as was the addition of the refrain itself. I'll probaby convert some of these to mp3 format and post 'em somewhere eventually. There will be one more old song lyric from the upcoming album to put up here, when I get it worked up properly.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

YET ANOTHER old old song -- this one being the title song from my one and only mid-90s album, Southern Seas. I'm in the midst of remastering the recordings (I'll probably post some about that at the Peanut Road blog eventually) and working up good copies of the three original songs:

SOUTHERN SEAS

Long ago, in a northern land,
the outbound tide called me
to come and watch the hot red sun
rise o’er a tropical sea.

And though no more than a country lad,
sixteen and alone,
I found my way down to a port,
gray with fog and stone.

A tall ship beat up from the south,
sails spread like white doves’ wings,
with cargo of spice and bales of silk,
the treasure of savage kings.

So I shipped aboard and we sailed away
to the southern seas and beyond;
we sailed out of an amethyst eve
and into a golden dawn.

Like some ancient god’s forgotten gems,
islands I have seen
scattered shining in the surf,
emerald on aquamarine.

Now I’ve not looked back nor have I voyaged
again to my cold birth land;
I made the southern seas my home,
with their corals and silvered sands.

Till I came to anchor in a lost lagoon
and watched the seabirds soar;
then traveled no more but lived out my life
upon its jungled shore.

Stephen Brooke ©1990

The song has some back-story, not particularly interesting but I'll tell it anyway. The tune was originally written as a setting for a poem by R E Howard (yeah, the Conan the Barbarian creator) with a somewhat similar subject matter. Later I wrote my own lyrics, admittedly a tad derivative, and did the recording largely as an exercise in learning technique, so only a handful of friends have heard most of the material.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Multiply, then Subtract

For anyone who might care, I'm simplifying my online presence a bit by closing down some blogs. The one at StBlogs is gone as is my Multiply account -- Multiply is a nice place to while away some time but I don't have time to while away. I also intend to close some of my superfluous MySpace pages.

Right here at Blogger is the best place to blog so I'll continue to maintain my current pages.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

ONE MOMENT

In one decisive moment, she jumped from the rust-bucket car as it paused at the corner. In one decisive moment, I became protector, knight-in-shining-armor, for a drunken redneck chick who bore the wounds of her drunken redneck man and had used that decisive moment to do something about it.

I kept a 38 tucked in the back of my trousers, under my jacket, a snub-nose Harrington and Richardson I had prayed I would never need to pull. The cops knew I carried it and winked at the illegality – they knew the streets, too.

So I stood there, her behind me, looking at this car where half-a-dozen or maybe eight drunken rednecks were looking back at me and I looked at my one stoned buddy who didn’t seem to quite grasp the situation and thought again of that H and R and did not like the thought.

But only her abuser stepped out to confront me, a little Charlie Manson sort of guy and drunk as shit and I knew I could take him out with two or three punches if he didn’t have a gun himself, or knife, and he stood there, staring me down, I guess, until he said, The hell with it and got back in
and they lurched away.

A deputy showed up soon after I called and drove my damsel in distress off and I don’t know why but I asked about her later and was told the husband picked her up and she never charged him. It was no longer my concern, anyway, and I can’t remember what she looked like but I remember him and I remember the fear that one moment might ride with me into eternity.

Stephen Brooke ©2008

As I was saying in the last post, it might be a good idea to rewrite/reformat some of my more matter-of-fact (and semi-biographical) poems into short fiction or prose poems. Hence, this one -- the story is, yes, essentially true though I cobbled together a couple different incidents (one from when I was all-night tollbooth attendent, one from when I managed a pool room). Gee, I'm more interesting than I remember...

Monday, April 21, 2008

CLIFFS, take 2

Having given some thought to the poem I posted yesterday -- and poetry of that sort in general -- I'm thinking it might be better presented as a prose poem (or flash fiction, if you prefer). Yes, it was laid out in rough metric form but that's not really integral to the piece and may well have limited it somewhat. So, here is 'Cliffs' reshaped (with only a couple word changes)....

Cliffs

'A bear's been here,' he said, pointing to the torn pine, but even at eight I knew enough to suspect my brother of having snuck up here, sometime before I woke, and using his hatchet. Still, I kept a watchful eye as we climbed slowly, the path growing steeper among the trees, up to the cliffs, the sandstone terraces, the vultures' apartment house.

I would watch them from my wood-framed window, the little bedroom at the back of the farmhouse, leaning out to see them rise, soar from the rock ledges, into the summer sky. You couldn't really see them from the top of the cliffs, though, even if one were foolish enough -- or had a negligent brother -- to edge out to the edge and look over.

No doubt it wasn't as far down as I remember but it would have broken my eight-year-old neck, all the same. The vultures would surely have approved.

Stephen Brooke ©2008

I'm thinking some of my older poems of a similar sort might also benefit from being rewritten as prose pieces. I'll see about it...when I have time.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

CLIFFS

'A bear's been here,' he said,
pointing to the torn pine,
but even at eight I knew
enough to suspect my brother
of having snuck up here,
sometime before I woke,
and using his hatchet. Still,
I kept a watchful eye
as we climbed slowly, the path
growing steeper among
the trees, up to the cliffs,
the sandstone terraces,
the vultures' apartment house.
I would watch them from
my wood-framed window, the little
bedroom at the back
of the farmhouse, leaning
out to see them rise,
soar from the rocky ledges,
into the summer sky.
You couldn't really see them
from the top of the cliffs,
though, even if one
was foolish enough -- or had
a negligent brother -- to edge
out to the edge and look
over. No doubt it wasn't
as far down as I
remember but it would
have broken my eight-year old
neck, I'm sure. The vultures
would surely have approved.

Stephen Brooke ©2008

A bit of departure, I suppose, though only a bit. I've been trying to write some stuff lately that recalled some of my childhood memories of life in the Hocking Hills of south-western Ohio. Hardly a polished (nor even finished) piece.

Btw, the Spring issue of Peripheral Vision is now online and ready to read. Maybe I should add a guest book or comment form to see what folks think...or maybe I'd rather not know!

ANOTHER OLD OLD SONG

Yes, even older than the last one (from the late 80s this time), but I recorded it for the same EP four years ago. This is one song that I actually managed to sell and was recorded by someone other than myself, not that it sold any copies! I think I made like nine dollars...

THE RIDER, THROWN

Faith doesn’t come easy and the truth isn’t free;
Answers aren’t handed to you and to me.
We spend our lives searching for something to trust,
Hoping there’s more than ‘dust unto dust.’

But the knowledge we seek has been well hidden,
For life is a steed not easily ridden.
Though some may ride far, in the end it is known
Each man is unhorsed, each rider is thrown.

So try to ride boldly and try to ride well,
Keep firm in your seat where other men fell;
Then maybe before you go down to the dust,
Before you go down as all of us must,
You’ll have learned just enough to know the time’s near
To let loose the reins and to go without fear.

When we take the long fall from saddle to earth,
Can it mean the end of all that’s of worth?
Believe what you will, but the truth won’t be shown
Till we share the fate of the rider, thrown.

Stephen Brooke ©1987

When I did this I was still very much feeling my way as a songwriter, but it came out reasonably well. It was revised only a bit later on.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

AN OLD OLD SONG

I've been trying to make some order of my old songs, some of them little more than notes scribbled in pencil and stuck in folders, some a little more polished. This is one I originally wrote in 1991 and rewrote some later, when I recorded it for my cowboy songs EP, also titled Dust and Stars. The lyrics, even revised, are somewhat dreadful but not bad enough to chuck into the circular file cabinet. The tune is servicable and sounds 'Western' enough. Even has a little key modulation in the refrain (or, more properly, a dash of flavor from mixolydian mode).

DUST AND STARS

I chose to live beneath the sky
And wander many roads;
Dust and stars, no questions why,
No burdens and no loads.
My clothes have been my only home,
Roofed by my hat brim;
My companion, as I roam,
Ever is the wind.

Dust and stars, dust and stars,
Blow the winds from afar;
In the end that’s all we are:
Dust and stars.

Earth’s the bed on which I lie,
To slumber well and deep;
I ask no better when I die
And sleep my final sleep.
A few men will remember me,
Then they will be gone too;
Like a river to the sea,
The world’s always new.

Dust and stars etc.

And I hope I’ve done some good,
I’m sure that I have sinned;
Only the good Lord above could
Know what it has all meant.
In time the rocks are worn to sand
And scatter on the wind;
Yet dust one day will turn to land
And then to rock again.

Dust and stars, etc.

Stephen Brooke ©1991 and 2004

Friday, April 18, 2008

THOUGH I haven't much to say, I logged in anyway...been sort of 'under the weather' this week. And not so wonderful weather it was, with the return of temperatures in the thirties. I suppose I tend to hole up and use my eyes too much in front of the computer and get head-achey.

Not much creativity going on here, in the writing poetry or songs or painting sense, but I did finish putting together the first issue of the magazine (such as it is) so I was writing articles and messing with graphics and so on. I'll upload the Spring '08 edition of Peripheral Vision on Monday the 21st, as planned. Or, more likely, on Sunday night...after all, that's Monday morning in Australia, isn't it?

Now -- before I start worrying about that distant Fall issue -- I need to get busy on my website. It's been sitting while I worked on other projects. I need to make it more friendly to a wider variety of screen resolutions and browsers (though if y'all used Firefox or SeaMonkey, the browser part would be fine).

Gosh, when will I find time to cook? At least I get bread baked every week or week and a half so I don't have to depend on the stuff off supermarket shelves (though I do buy in the bakery occasionally, usually stocking up on the day-old stuff and putting it in the freezer). And, of course, I must make hummus from time to time. I suppose what I make most of the time now isn't strictly hummus, in that I prefer black beans to the garbanzos (or chick peas if you like -- I grew up around Cubans so I use the former name). Prefer the taste and they're a little cheaper too.

Naturally, I'll be cooking something good for my birthday (and magazine release party?) on Monday. Eggplant lasagna, more'n likely. I have all the fixin's ready, as well as a nice bottle of Zinfandel. Vegetarians don't have to suffer, y'know.

There are things going on this weekend, I see...will probably pass on most of them. I had considered the Celtic Festival and Highland Games over in Tallahassee tomorrow, but it looks like rain, and gas is more expensive every day. Or maybe it's every other day. It keeps going up anyway. Shoot, I don't even manage to drive up to Tuskegee these days, with my duties here. Life can sorta suck. I should write a song about it! ;)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

SARAH JANE

It was mandatory that I watch the premiere of The Sarah Jane Adventures on SciFi channel the other day. I must say, Lis Sladen is just about as cute at 60 as she was those many years ago when she was sidekicking for Dr Who. The show itself, however, seemed to be targeted at a fairly young audience, rather than adults. Fun to watch, none the less.

On the subject of Dr Who, it's nice to see the time lord truly regenerated. The newer shows are pretty darn good, as have been the recent Doctors. Of course, for me, Tom Baker will always be the Doctor. I don't think any of the actors who have played the role have been complete disasters and some -- like Peter Davison and Christopher Eccleston -- were pleasant surprises. Having seen them play other parts, I just couldn't imagine them as Dr Who!

And since we're talking science fiction, I have to mention Battlestar Galactica. I know the critics think it's wonderful and, yes, the characters seem to have depth (mostly because the whole show takes itself so darn seriously) but I basically hate the program. It's ugly and has nothing of the wonder that makes true sci-fi great. It lacks imagination, in other words, a drab political drama dressed up with fantasy elements. If I wanted to watch a good series about war and politics in some future universe, I would opt for reruns of Babylon 5.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

THE DEAD

Bring out your dead!
and I come forth to lay
myself in his wagon.
Bring out your dead,

bring out your dead!
Each cathedral bell
joins the requiem:
massed voices clamor

Requiem aeternam
dona eis, Domine.
Where shall I lay my head
now but on earth's pillow?

The time has come and gone
and will not come again:
dies irae, dies illa.
I have brought out my dead.

Stephen Brooke ©2008

I suppose on first read this could seem downbeat, depressing, even suicidal in its message...not so intended. It's more about acceptance and even more about just letting some free association take the piece where it will, i.e. it's 'meaning' is very much wrapped in metaphor and mist.

I'm going to continue to make this blog my 'poetry central' since giving up on 360 (although I did get me a Multiply account, that's not going to be my replacement literary blog).

In other news: 'Mean' Mary and Frank are going to be back down in this area on July 10 to perform at Landmark Park near Dothan. I've never been there but it looks interesting. Their father, Bill James, suffered a stroke a few days ago but has bounced back well and seems fully recovered -- doing great for an 88 year old guy.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

PIANO

What song is that the rain
plays on the window glass?
A long untuned piano
plinks random notes against
orchestral thunder.

Tell me again of love
and all it promises;
tell me who writes such empty
concertos of the night.
I'll listen this time

and try to understand
its nuanced rhythms yet.
Then maybe we can dance
our uncertain tango
when next it rains.

Stephen Brooke ©2008

Okay, it's not much but at least I wrote something.

In that I'm sitting in front of my PC here at Peanut Road, it's obvious I didn't get down to the Will McLean Festival today. If it's raining even half as much in Dunnellon as it is in the Panhandle, then maybe it's just as well! Still, I do hate having missed it this year...and I'm hoping I can manage more than just a quick one-day run to the Florida Folk Festival next month.

* * *

It seems that many of my friends and online acquaintances now have accounts at Multiply. I tried that 'social networking' site a couple months ago and was not impressed enough to stay. Maybe that's because I'm less interestd in being social than in simply blogging. Steve never chats or IMs (don't have any form of messenger installed). Shoot, I don't even like to talk on the phone and still refuse to get me one of them new-fangled cell phones (and could do without all those ugly towers than can mess up my radio reception in the truck -- I do not want to hear snippets of conversation coming over the top of Beethoven). Anyway, I'm happy enough with the interaction at my various MySpace pages and a few message boards so I probably won't give Multiply another shot.

And, assuming Yahoo isn't swallowed up, eventually the new Profile thingy there should arrive and all my 360 stuff will presumably be switched over. Not that I intend to ever blog there again, but their adoption of this universal widget stuff should give some flexibility.

* * *

Counting down to the first issue of Peripheral Vision Magazine later this month. My gratitude goes to everyone who submitted material. The Fall edition will be bigger and better! More opinionated, too!!