Track 51 Unless


Recording and Mixing Dates: Recorded December 16 and 18, 2016. Mixed December 18, 2016.



Genesis: On February 22, 2009, Theresa and I were enjoying a getaway to the North Shore of Lake Superior. I brought my laptop to check email and one message appeared that morning from Jan Hauenstein, my songwriting collaborator in Germany. He sent me a song fragment with each line beginning with “Ain’t no,” followed by noun, followed by the word “unless,” followed by a verb, and concluding with the word “it.” I sent him back a verse based on this structure. He in turn responded with more verses. Then I wrote two bridges to break up the monotony. In the course of four emails we wrote the lyrics to “Unless.” (I made a few changes before recording it.) I suggested Jan write some bouncy, ragtime music to fit the words and he came up with a cool set of chords.

There is nothing profound in the song but it was fun to write and now record.

Jan released his version on his 2009 CD, Late Bloomer. For my version I decided on a classic jazz piano quartet sound.

 Production: Acoustic Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Piano, and Brush Drums.



Ain´t no beard unless you grow it

Ain´t no seed unless you sow it

Ain´t no lawn unless you mow it

Ain´t no row unless you hoe it

Ain´t no beauty ‘less you show it


Ain’t no snow unless you flake it

Ain’t no sin unless you snake it

Ain’t no stop unless you brake it

Ain’t no rouge unless you cake it

Ain´t no time unless you take it


With a stockpile of abuses

Hiding in your drawer

Not taking your excuses

You gotta check them at the door


Ain´t no boat unless you row it

Ain´t no nose unless you blow it

Ain´t no line unless you toe it

Ain´t no debt unless you owe it

Ain’t no truth unless you know it


Ain´t no bread unless you bake it

Ain´t no beast unless you wake it

Ain’t no dance unless you shake it

Ain´t no love unless you make it

Ain´t no time unless you take it


I came looking for some comfort

And the chance that I might find

Shelter from the winds of change

That strut and cut across my mind


Ain´t no knowledge ´less you stow it

Ain´t no boast ´less you crow it

Ain´t no earth unless you quake it

Ain´t no lie unless you fake it

Ain´t no song unless you make it

Copyright 2016 Jan Hauenstein and Fred Grittner All Rights Reserved




Track 51 Unless

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