Track 17 Ten Thousand Midnights Ago

file_199345_0_Sunset_Blvd-642x362Recording and Mixing Dates: Recorded March 28, April 3 and 4, 2015. Mixed April 27, 2016.

 

Genesis: I love black and white movies from the 1940s and 1950s. One of my favorites is Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard, a film that dissects Hollywood of the early 1950s. In 2005 I read a book about the making of the film: Close-Up on Sunset Boulevard by Sam Staggs. One of the chapter titles used a line from William Holden’s opening voiceover: “Ten Thousand Midnights Ago.” I immediately wrote that line in my songwriter’s notebook, knowing there was a song inside it.

I came up with the music on September 8, 2005, written in 4/4 time. Five days later I changed the meter to 3/4 or waltz time. As for lyrics, all I had was the title line as the concluding line of each verse.

I fooled around with lyrics but didn’t come up with a final version until August 7, 2007. It is an enigmatic lyric: the story mysterious, the narrator imitating Holden’s voiceover, referencing the film’s themes and movie storytelling in general. I would be interested in hearing what listeners think is going on, as I resisted a straightforward approach and let my subconscious prevail.

Production: Acoustic bass, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, banjo, pedal steel, drums.

 Lyrics

TEN THOUSAND MIDNIGHTS AGO

Sipping a whiskey

And watching the northern night sky

The stars that I dreamed on

Have gone to the sweet bye and bye

The first chill of winter

Descended tonight

Along with a dusting of snow

The moon was much fuller

Ten Thousand Midnights Ago

 

Exterior morning

The camera pans wide for the shot

A man and a woman walk slowly

Then stop at a plot.

The woman starts crying

The man holds her tight

The close up shows more than we know.

Life was a mystery

Ten Thousand Midnights Ago

 

Falling from grace in a heartbeat

Suddenly yesterday’s news

Pushed off the track

Slow fade to black

And you’re gone

 

Sunrise is tricky

It promises more than it gives

I prefer sunset

It knows where the other half lives

Only a stranger

Could see through this town

And wait to deliver the blow

Fate drew a pistol

Ten Thousand Midnights Ago

The world changed direction

Ten Thousand Midnights Ago

The floodgates were opened

Ten Thousand Midnights Ago

The moon was much fuller

Ten Thousand Midnights Ago

 

Copyright 2016 Fred Grittner All Rights Reserved

 

 

Track 17 Ten Thousand Midnights Ago

Track 16 You’re Not Here

428817-pierRecording and Mixing Dates: Recorded November 14, 2009 and February 15, 2010. Mixed April 17, 2016.

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Genesis: I wrote the music and a different set of lyrics in 1985. I completely rewrote the lyrics in 1993 and tweaked them in 2002.   I used the phrase “chimes of midnight” as a homage to Orson Welles’ film of the same name.   I think the theme of the song is self-explanatory.

 Production: Bass guitar, electric guitars, organ, drums.

 Lyrics

YOU’RE NOT HERE

I can hear the chimes at midnight

And the rolling of the tide

I would be with you this evening

But the water is too wide

I fooled myself in thinking

The ache would disappear

Life don’t mean a thing

You’re not here.

 

I misjudged the situation

Took for granted what we had

You gave me ten last chances

I never learned to add

The love we had in common

Charged the atmosphere

Now I don’t feel a thing

You’re not here

 

I thought in time.

You’d come back to stay

But in those unforgiven moments

I drove your love away

 

Now the chimes keep on ringing

And there’s the turning of the tide

The torch I hold grows brighter

For the love that’s now denied

I’ll walk out in the darkness

To the farthest pier

The dawn is slow to come

You’re not here

Copyright 2016 Fred Grittner All Rights Reserved

Track 16 You’re Not Here

Track 14 Sorrows of the Moon

Sorrows of the Moon

 

Recording and Mixing Dates: Recorded January 13 and February 15, 2010. Mixed April 5, 2016.

 

Genesis: Sometime around 1976 I read a volume of poetry by Charles Baudelaire in English translation. In one of his poems he writes of the “sorrows of the moon.” I liked that phrase and recorded it in my lyric notebook. Two years later I used it as the title of this week’s song. I imagined the moon looking down on us and having no recourse but to observe our human follies. The singer is trying to console a friend or lover over some predicament but is also suggesting that things could be much worse and that it was time to move on.

I was deeply into singer-songwriters at the time, so it is no surprise that Jackson Browne influences my lyrics and music in this song.

 Production: Bass Guitar, Piano, Drums.

Lyrics

SORROWS OF THE MOON

 The teardrops angle down your face

Your voice begins to crack

Your words come in a torrent

As you take the long road back

Sad tales and bitter stories

Find their way into this room

But they’re nothing when compared to

The Sorrows of the Moon

 

So many disappointments

You’ve taken them to heart

Now your dreams are either hiding

Or trying to depart

Your song may be a sad one

But it’s an old familiar tune

And the music pales when compared

To the Sorrows of the Moon

 

Silent and forsaken

A piece of frozen stone

Shining bright – reflected light

Not its own

The dark side holds a secret

In the never-ending night

And whatever must be concealed

Time will not make right

 

You could be two miles wide of paradise

And never find the gate

You could miss your fateful moment

And never know you’re late

Your prayers have not been answered

If they are it may not be soon

So while you wait contemplate

The Sorrows of the Moon

 

Posted like a watchman

An eye upon us all

Observing our mistakes and lies

The risings and the falls

It takes these sights in nightly

Unless obscured by clouds

And then it hears our voices

Crying soft or shouting loud

 

I’ve dried your salty tears

But I don’t see a smile

I think you kind of like this mood

You’ll keep it for awhile

In time you will feel better

Freed from memory’s tomb

You will mend but they’ll never end

The Sorrows of the Moon

Copyright 2016 Fred Grittner All Rights Reserved

Track 14 Sorrows of the Moon