adventures in dysthymia

Monday, June 23, 2008

SCARS

This scar is from the time
my dirt bike fell on me
on a sand road back behind
the new high school. Yeah, Lely --
I did sub teaching there

later, when I was older
but not much wiser.
That bike threw me more
than once; I'm just too clumsy,
I guess, to go that fast.

Give me water. It's more
forgiving than sand and rocks,
though I've been bounced off the bottom
a few times too, felt the sting
of salt water wounds.

The only visible reminder
would be this lop-sided toe
I broke. Nothing like the scar
on my leg, the one from the bike,
nor my much-broken nose.

That's another story
but I'm always happy
to talk about my time
in the ring and only
exaggerate a little.

I was no golden boy,
nor even Golden Gloves,
just a skinny kid
with long arms and no punch
who lost every fight.

Oh, and there's that seam
down the back of my skull.
If I ever develop
a bald spot it will show
but just take my word

on it for now, okay?
Not the small scar, that's where
my little brother whacked me
when I was six and he
was a terrible brat.

I reckon he never grew
out of that, but I
digress. The long scar there,
that's the one I got
when a cable broke

in the gym and the pulldown
bar slammed into the back
of my noggin. I should
have sued, I suppose, but, hey,
the owner was a friend.

Oh, that one? I didn't
know it showed. Every
wound that heals must leave
a scar, a little mark,
a bit of stiffness to remind

us to be more careful.
Maybe next time, I
should not go quite so fast,
ride the smaller wave,
stay out of the ring,

not risk a broken heart.
But then, what would the point
of living be? I shall show
my every scar, wear them
on my skin, my face,

my soul, let them be
the handwriting of time,
the tale of who I am
and who I will be,
come my next scar.

Stephen Brooke ©2008

How did those ads go? No fear? Just do it? Maybe not the best of advice for the accident-prone among us! :)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Just a mention that I put up a couple more simple 'work tape' recordings of my song at the Insolent Lad site. The songs would be August and Coffee, Kisses and Goodbyes. Simple voice-and-guitar one-take stuff. The voice mike being, for those who might care, a CAD M177 and the guitar mike -- on my nylon string Alvarez -- a CAD GXL1200, into a Fostex VF80 recorder, dumped to Power Tracks in my computer, a little compression, a pinch of secret ingredients...I'll have to do some 'real' recording soon. In the mean time, I'll be putting up more of these whenever I feel ambitious.

TODAY is International Surf Day! Grab your boards, dudes and dudettes. Oh, the surf is a dud today, dude...typical for summer in the Gulf. Well, to make up for it, here's a pic of the beach where I grew up. Looks like the south side of Naples Pier, a break I rode many a time -- small (OK, tiny!) waves but one takes what one can get in SW Florida. I knew some of the guys in this photo but can't recall any names now.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

ONCE

Once, I fell in love
and, falling, broke my heart;
each time I think it mended,
it once more comes apart.
Need it be bound and bandaged
till it no longer feels;
allowed to sleep a season,
lest it never heals?

Once, I was in love
and. loving, spoke my heart;
left it undefended,
a target for each dart.
Such wounds I'll bear gladly;
they speak not of defeat,
for hearts can not be hidden
without their loss complete.

Once, I fell in love
and, falling, broke my heart.
In time, it may be mended;
then, perhaps, I'll start
to fear not once more falling,
to trust again my wings,
and, guarding not my heart,
to hope for all love brings

Stephen Brooke ©2008

Steve goes somewhat traditional -- I labored over this one quite a bit and I'm sure it could take further revision and polishing. Lots of revision and polishing...

In my typical creative approach, I started from words rather than ideas here. I hardly ever have a 'plan' as to what I intend to say but let the words grow into a concept. This is as true with songs as with poems and, I suppose, prose as well.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I WATCHED The Outlaw Josie Wales last night (it was shown on History Channel) and was reminded what a good movie that is. Not a 'great' movie perhaps, but pretty darn good. If I were a reviewer I'd give it a thumbs up and a bunch of stars. But I'm too lazy to do a review so I'll just say I like it.

It also made me realize that I say 'I reckon so' almost as frequently as Josie. However, I do not spit tobacco after doing so.

I hope bad things come in threes and no more than threes because I got a third wasp sting a couple days ago, right on my left thumb as with the second one. Fortunately, on the pad where the skin is thicker so it wasn't as bad. I'm back to where I can do stuff again, like play guitar properly (I couldn't brace the left hand well enough to do certain chords). Can I finally get to doing some recording?

I reckon so.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Now You CD It, Now You Don't

I want to mention, for all of you out there who were eager to purchase the 'Wind' CD (there must be someone!), that Cafe Press has some 'problem' with it and it is not available at the moment. I tried to order a few for my own sales -- and to check out the product -- and heard from a CP rep that they had canceled the order and needed to sort things out. Might have to send a new disc, redo the project, etc...well, maybe, but I'm thinking (having heard from other folks who had troubles) that it might be best to let Cafe Press stick to tee-shirts and mugs and have the CD done elsewhere.

Or do it myself; either way, I'm reinstating my Pay Pal account and preparing to do direct sales from the website. It was awfully attractive to let CP do everything but, shoot, if they can't do it properly, it's up to me. Also, the discs are actually a lot cheaper to produce elsewhere so I can offer a lower price.

REVENGE OF THE WASPS

Them darn paper wasps got me again, this time on the left hand. Looks like I'll be typing one-handed for a while and we might as well forget about the guitar for a day or two. It's the stinging season -- the wasps are putting up their papier-mache nests everywhere, the jelly fish are showing up in the Gulf, not to mention mosquitoes, sand gnats, yellow flies, horse flies, fleas, ticks and chiggers!

HEAT WAVES GOODBYE

It looks like the heat wave is gone and we're back to 'normal' summer temperatures in the lower 90s. I can live with that -- even without AC -- but not when it get up to 97, 98 or above. Some afternoon rains are showing up too. That's always welcome, except it makes the grass grow faster! It also encourages the Wisteria That Ate Peanut Road (soon at a drive-in near you!) to spread. Time to hack and saw and clip again.

ALVAREZ GUITARS

Alvarez makes -- or, I should say, imports -- some quite nice guitars, well-crafted instruments from Japan. They also, as many others do, have some low-end Chinese guitars. Nonetheless, these can be nice instruments as well. Leading up to the fact that I took the plunge on an Alvarez RC20SC, an electric-classical such as I mentioned lusting after a while back. I saw it on a 'scratch and dent' sale with $150 off the normal price and couldn't resist!

I will admit, I can not find any blemish on the instrument, so I don't know why the price was knocked down so far...but I'm more than happy that it was. It's quite pretty, sounds OK, plays OK. It does have a solid cedar top so it should improve a little sound-wise with time. The back/sides are plywood (mahogany), of course, but I've never seen anything wrong with that. Does it dampen the sound? I suppose, but not as much as having the guitar pressed against your body while you play. The neck, I found (no where could I discover this info online) is not full classical width, 1 3/4 inches rather than 2 inches, but that's not a problem; it's still fine for finger-picking. I strongly suspect that this will become my #1 performing guitar.

Now, I just need to get out and perform...

Friday, June 06, 2008

OBSESSION can be a great songwriting subject. This one definitely isn't from personal experience -- I've never been obsessive about anything worse than playing Tetris.

I KNOW WHO YOU ARE

Last night you slept with my ex-girlfriend;
I shouldn’t care, ‘cause we’d reached our end.
But it twists something inside of me,
The pain that never lets me be.
That’s why I know who you are;
That’s why I know who you are.

I’ve watched you laughing at her side;
I can’t help myself, I’ve tried.
And even though it made no sense,
I knew you laughed at my expense.
That’s why I know who you are;
That’s why I know who you are.

There’s a gun in a box, under my bed,
And one of us may turn up dead;
Not sure which I hate the most,
You or her or my own pale ghost.
For hatred cries out in my heart,
Urging me to play this part;
Lord, help me if I go too far –
I know who I am and I know who you are.

You held her hand at a restaurant;
I knew it was an open taunt.
And if I must deal with my shame,
I won’t be the one to blame.
That’s why I know who you are;
That’s why I know who you are.

I feel this poison steady seeping;
I fear to wake what’s best left sleeping.
Self-control is bound to give
When I have no reason to live.
That’s why I know who you are;
That’s why I know who you are.

Stephen Brooke ©2003

I have put up a music page ( at http://insolentlad.com/music1.html ) at my site. Only some midis right now; I'll have demo mp3s and such there eventually.

MEAN MARY: not just oldtime and folk!



Mary and band -- with brother Frank on lead guitar -- play the electric blues at a festival in Alabama. The girl is doing her Elvis impression again....

Thursday, June 05, 2008

GIRLS AND LIFE

verse 1
I was on the floor, lookin’ up;
She was at a table, lookin’ down.
I told her she looked like an angel;
She said that I looked like a clown.
I sat down right by her side,
And asked ‘Why don’t we get out of here?’
She just slid her chair away
And gave me a look that would curdle beer.

chorus
Sometimes you crash, sometimes you fly,
Sometimes she’ll leave you wonderin’ why.
But you never know unless you try;
You can’t let girls and life go by.

verse 2
I reckoned she was only shy,
So I bought her a beer but it wasn’t her brand.
I asked her sign, she said ‘No vacancy;’
I asked her to dance, she didn’t like the band.
She said I was wastin’ both our time;
I’d know if I had half a brain.
Every move I made, she’d shoot me down;
I guess likin’ me went against her grain!

repeat chorus

bridge
The bartender said ‘I admire your brass,
But you know it’s against the law to harass;
Forget that girl, she has too much class
And let me pour you another glass.’

verse 3
She got up to leave with this remark:
‘You’re nowhere near as cool as you think,’
And then took off with two other guys;
Our love had hit a little kink.
But I hit on her and she didn’t hit back,
So maybe I still have a chance.
Next Saturday night, I’ll try again;
I’m not givin’ up on this romance!

repeat chorus

Stephen Brooke ©1997

Another one I thought I had posted here before, but a search doesn't show it. Very much a country song -- obviously, huh? I'm over 30 songs worked up and into the files now of the two hundred or so I've written. Admittedly, that's not a particularly high songwriting output for a guy my age, but I've had other creative endeavors that took up my time.

Looks like I'll finally get back to performing, at least a little...we'll see how my situation goes. I'll be playing in Dothan next month and may hit an open mike or two before then as a warm-up.

THE EAGLE AND THE DOVE

On the wings of an eagle, I flew,
Blown by the winds of fate;
And never found what I needed,
A soul without a mate.
Far and fierce I gazed,
Searching from on high;
On weary wings I wandered
Through a dark and lonely sky.

You brought me to earth on the wings of your love,
You showed me the eagle can fly with the dove;
At home in a world I once soared above,
Now the eagle can rest, he’s built a nest with the dove.

My way was cold and bleak,
Restlessly, I ranged;
But the day I found your haven,
My life forever changed.
Borne on the wings of despair,
I was doomed to live apart,
Until your love redeemed me;
You tamed the eagle’s heart.

Stephen Brooke ©1990

A bit of grandiose schlock from years ago. The music is equally over the top.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

FROM A FEW years back, a decidedly maudlin exercise in 'traditional' country music:

COLORS IN THE RAIN

Flowers grow outside my window,
Colors in the rain,
As Spring once more has brought its showers
Rattling on the pane.
I miss the perfume of the blooms,
I long for it in vain,
But this year I must be content
With colors in the rain.

There is a journey I will make,
A task that I must undertake,
For seasons change and life goes on
And flowers bloom when I am gone.

Time is precious, I have learned,
A gift from God above;
And now I know that you and I
Will never have enough.
Next Spring you’ll catch the scent of blossoms,
Hear the mourning dove;
Then let the colors in the rain
Remind you of our love.

Stephen Brooke ©2000

I have to admit that, although it is embarrassingly sentimental, I'm sort of fond of this piece. I do believe the first notes jotted down toward its composition go back quite a bit further than the 2000 date. Of course, it is worked up with a tune and all that and I'll demo it up one of these days.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

STORMY WEATHER was what he had, Monday night. Boy, it blew and rained and blew and then it just went ahead and rained some more. And blew. A good bit of tree parts scattered about the yard (along with some roof shingles, alas) but, hey, the precipitation was welcome, even if not the delivery system.

The storm also knocked out my phone for about 20 hours so I've had internet withdrawal symptoms all day. Y'all missed me online, right? ;) In the mean time, I had the pleasure of being stung on the forehead by paper wasps that decided to build their nest in my clothes hamper. Silly Steve let the lid rest against his head without noticing them...

And now, more silliness:

FACTS OF LIFE

Cows give milk
Worms give silk
(It's inside of 'em)
Bees give honey
Banks give money
(Can I have some?)

Hens have chicks
Dogs have ticks
(Little blood-suckers)
Mares have foals
Candidates have polls
(Big blood-suckers!)

Fish know swimmin'
Men know women
(Or think they do)
Cowboys know the West
And I know best
(Oh, it's true!)

Stephen Broooke ©2008

Monday, June 02, 2008

A STUPID SONG

I wrote another stupid song,
Where the rhythms were all wrong
And some lines just went on and on far too long.
I wrote another stupid song,
Where the lines didn't rhyme
Or were too short.

Gotta write those stupid songs,
Never go back and right the wrongs.
Write a new one every day
But they're might hard to play!

All the chords in my latest song
Take hands as large as King Kong
You have to be that big and strong
And sorta stupid to play my song...
And this verse is only five lines long

Stephen Brooke ©2008

This one, obviously, does not -- nor is it ever likely to -- have a tune! Just playing with a silly thought.

Hey, what's with Google? I'm having a lot of trouble getting to Blogger pages and keep getting 502 Server Errors.

AT THE FESTIVAL

Put new strings on our guitars,
Stock up on beer and granola bars,
We'll spend all night playing under the stars --
Going to the festival!
Get a program, flip the pages,
See who's playing at which stages;
Hey, I haven't seen this one in ages,
At the festival!

It's the Florida Folk Festival
We'll take three days and fill 'em full
Of friends and fun and song --
Y'all come along!

The sun is high, gonna get damp
When we make that long hot tramp
From the Gazebo to the Seminole camp,
Taking in the festival!
We don't mind, we're having a ball
And we can stop by the lemonade stall
On our way to see it all
At the festival!

It's the Florida Folk Festival
We'll take three days and fill 'em full
Of friends and fun and song --
Y'all come along!

'Round the campfires, after dark,
Songs are risin' with the sparks;
We're at the Stephen Foster park
For the festival!
A smile for everyone who attends,
Strangers now but before it ends
We're all gonna be old friends
At the festival!

It's the Florida Folk Festival
We'll take three days and fill 'em full
Of friends and fun and song --
Y'all come along!

Stephen Brooke ©2008

Okay, I know it's still rough-ish, but the tune and chords are in place. At least the tune and chords I'm using for now; who knows if I'll keep 'em. More a playing-around songwriting exercise than anything that's ever likely to see performance.

Speaking of songs, I intend -- eventually -- to put up low-fi mp3 recordings (okay, lo-fi mp3 is redundant, isn't it?) of my rough demos at the web site. Perhaps the lyrics too; I already have a lyrics page for the stuff that appears on my 'new' album (of old material). All this in due time.

In the meantime, some of the material from The Wind on the Prairie, the Wind on the Sea, as well as a few demos, are up at three different MySpace pages: www.myspace.com/stephenbrookesongs , www.myspace.com/deadmanbay , and www.myspace.com/artistsandvagrantssouth . More to come!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

MY PAIN

This is my pain.
I am greedy;
I will not share.
This is my pain
to hold like the last note
of a fading song.

Its emptiness
fills me, takes
away the breath
of everyday,
the ceaseless despair
of existence.

This is my pain:
meaningless,
mindless, a candle
left to burn
itself away
and cast no light.

Stephen Brooke ©2008


Oh dear, Steve's being gloomy again. AND I broke my rule about the word 'like!' :)