Track 32 Looking For The Wrong Things

rack 32

Dark_path

Recording and Mixing Dates: May 16 and December 12, 2015, August 6, 2016. Mixed August 6, 2016.

 

 

Genesis: I wrote this song on February 25, 2008, during the last days of my participation in FAWM (February Album Writing Month). I came up with the modal melody built on just two chords and within minutes I wrote the lyrics for the refrain. I revised the lyrics in May and December of 2015.

The person in the song is drawn to things that he knows are wrong but that he cannot abandon. He lives a life filled with lies, alibis, and guilt, doomed to repeat his actions again and again.

 Production: Bass Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Piano, Accordion, Cello, and Drums.

 Lyrics

Looking for the Wrong Things

Down the beaten path

Heading for a place I know too well

I walk alone

Summoned to appear

A voice inside my head says not to go

I walk on

REFRAIN:

Looking for the wrong things

Looking for the wrong thing tonight

Looking for the wrong things

Looking for the wrong thing tonight

Forlorn rendezvous

Border angels lift the veil of time

Then let it fall

Counterfeited dreams

Fingerprints left on a shattered glass

A souvenir

REFRAIN

Skim coat masquerade

Cracks erupt before the paint can dry

It’s come to this

Semi-precious lies

Living with the ghost of future’s past

That will return

REFRAIN

Copyright 2016 Fred Grittner All Rights Reserved

Track 32 Looking For The Wrong Things

Track 31 All Over Now

Computer-Gibberish-Printout-Crumpled-Paper-1197417

Recording and Mixing Dates: Recorded April 22, 26, and May 3, 2015. Mixed August 3, 2016.

 

Genesis: I wrote the music on May 4, 2003. In singing nonsensensical, placeholder lyrics for the melody the concluding line of the verse ended with “It’s All Over Now.” Nothing else survived when I wrote the lyrics on November 9, 2014. I revised the lyrics on April 30, 2015, just before I recorded my final vocal tracks.

The themes of aging, lost illusions, and lost dreams runs through the song. We all deal differently with these issues and change our points of view from time to time. If I were to write the song today I am sure I would be a little bit more hopeful… The line “In these last days of paper” came to me as I made the transition from printed books to e-books. When I retired from appellate court administration in 2011, the Minnesota courts were transitioning from paper to electronic documents, so that must have been an additional creative seed.

The arrangement is vintage singer-songwriter, keeping it simple. I had fun playing lead guitar.

 Production: Bass Guitar, Electric Guitars, Organ, and Drums.

 Lyrics

ALL OVER NOW

 Shoebox of photos

Cassettes, and keys

Resurrected moments

That have brought me to my knees

I can see those phantoms dancing

It’s All Over Now

 

Sleepwalked through changes

Both good and bad

Now I’m sorting out illusions

I never thought I had

I’m no Don Quixote

It’s All Over Now

 

Endgame is coming

With moves I’ve got to make

On the wrong side of something

My blinded heart can’t take

It can’t shake

 

Just down the hillside

I hear a speeding train

I used to race the moon

Now I can’t outrun the rain

The third act is the hardest

It’s All Over Now

 

I’m getting pushed

By the calloused hands of time

In a graveyard of dreams

Where remembrance is a crime

There is no time

 

Best of intentions

Are hard to carry through

Dark comes down

On whatever we must do

In these last days of paper

It’s All Over Now

In these last days of paper

It’s All Over Now

Copyright 2016 Fred Grittner All Rights Reserved

Track 31 All Over Now

Track 30 There’s a River

T and F-1

Recording and Mixing Dates: Recorded January 31, 2010. Mixed February 16, 2016.

 

Genesis: Theresa and I celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary two days ago. Theresa asked that I post this song in honor of this event.

I wrote this song in January 2010. I came up with the music just after New Year’s Day. I made up words to capture the melody and three words stuck in my mind: River, Rainbow, Tree. I titled the demo with these words. Over the course of the month I wrote the lyrics. All three words made it into the final version.

The song reflects the fact that time is moving quickly for us these days. We have to confront the inevitable changes that will come as we grow older. Theresa has been my muse since we started hanging out in 1974. She has also been my champion, believing that my music should be nurtured and heard. My rainbow does indeed begin and end with her.

I recorded the song on my iPhone, using an adapter that allowed me to plug in a high-quality microphone. I love the interplay between the guitar and the high-string guitar. I came up with an arrangement that featured piano and cello, but in the end I realized this recording captured the essence of the song.

Production: Acoustic Guitar, Nashville High-String Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin.

 Lyrics

There’s a River

There’s a river

Through these trees

We’ll take it down to New Orleans

We can run away

But I know we’ll stay

 

Shine some diamonds

In the sun

Blind ourselves from what’s to come

If our memories fade

We must not be afraid

 

With dreams and a compass

And a shifting point of view

Somehow I found my rainbow

That begins and ends with you

 

We come running

Down through time

To separate unknown finish lines

I will see you through

That’s what I want to do

 

With dreams and a compass

And a shifting point of view

Somehow I found my rainbow

That begins and ends with you

 

I’ll keep turning

Every key

There’re some good songs locked in me

That I’ll sing to you

You can sing them too

 

There’s a river

Through these trees

We’ll take it down to New Orleans

We can run away

But I know we’ll stay

Copyright 2016 Fred Grittner All Rights Reserved

 

Track 30 There’s a River

29 Sometimes Love

blackjack 1

Recording and Mixing Dates: Recorded December 11 & 19, 2007, July 16 & 21, 2016. Mixed July 21, 2016.

 

 Genesis: The hardest type of songwriting for me is writing lyrics to a piece of music in which I have no inklings as to what the song should be about, what title to give it, etc. I recall during the early 1980s when Jon Vezner (later a Grammy Award-winner) and I tried collaborating. Jon played me his music and I tried to come up with lyrics. It was difficult and nothing came of our work except for a song where Jon refashioned my music and lyrics into a very cool tune (“My Rainbow Ends with You”). I think Jon auditioned a number of Minnesota writers this way before moving to Nashville, marrying Kathy Mattea, and becoming a well-respected commercial songwriter.

I wrote the music for this song in December 2007 and quickly had a fully realized tune. I think I wrote the music while in the thrall of Neil Young’s 2005 album Prairie Wind and his 2006 concert film, Heart of Gold. I liked the simplicity of his songs and arrangements.

I struggled for several weeks with the lyrics. To jump-start the process I combed through my notebooks of titles and lines, looking for inspiration. In my green-covered notebook I found a quotation from Thurman Arnold, a lawyer, law professor, author, and co-founder of Arnold and Porter, an influential Washington, D.C. law firm. I think I copied the quote from a biography on Arnold that I had read a year or so before. The quote: “The things I remember best, never really happened.”

I reshaped that line into the concluding two lines of the bridge music. After that, the title “Sometimes Love” appeared. I wrote the first draft on January 7 and 8, 2008, revised it on January 25, 2008, and then put the song away. I stumbled across the 2007 band recording last week and then recovered the lyric sheet from my hard drive. I forgot that I had not finished the last verse, so last Saturday I completed it and make a few more revisions.

I have built on the 2007 recording and added a little more punch to the song with the addition of the electric guitars.

 Production: Bass Guitar, Electric Guitar, Electric Baritone Guitar, Piano, Drums.

Lyrics

Long night bleeding into day

Sidelined truths put into play

Sometimes Love

Will blind your heart

To things you’ve known

Right from the start

 

Broke down fancy easy chair

It took some time to wear and tear

Sometimes Love

Is not enough

To smooth the way

When times get rough

 

Things she remembers well

I don’t recall

Things I remember best

Never happened at all

 

Living thick in this gambling town

Counting cards doubling down

Sometimes Love’s

A losing game

Cash out now

While you’ve got your name

 

Things she remembers well

I don’t recall

Things I remember best

Never happened at all

 

Pulling out leaving home

Close my eyes for points unknown

Sometimes Love’s

A true romance

Sometimes Love’s

A song and dance

Sometimes Love

Don’t stand a chance with me

Copyright 2016 Fred Grittner All Rights Reserved

 

29 Sometimes Love

Track 28 Topsoil Blues

topsoil 2Recording and Mixing Dates: Recorded June 10, July 5, and July 14, 2016. Mixed July 14, 2016.

 

 Genesis: I wrote the original lyrics on September 24, 2000. In my head I heard a traditional three-chords blues progression, so I phrased the lyrics that way. I let the lyrics sit for years, until singer-songwriter-friend Jan Hauenstein asked me in early 2009 for any song lyrics he could set to music. I sent a bunch of stuff for him to review. Jan liked “Topsoil Blues” and sent me a demo recording in February of that year. Jan’s music was wonderful but it had nothing to do with American blues. I hadn’t told him any of my thoughts on the song lyrics I had sent because I wanted a fresh take on them.

The problem was that the chord progression Jan employed did not resolve properly on the last line of each verse and chorus. The music remained suspended in mid-air. Something was missing. I realized I could solve the problem by adding two more lines at the end of each stanza. For example, the last line in the original first verse was “But it’s burned into my skin.” Adding two new lines and using Jan’s music from the third and fourth line of each verse worked. A similar tweak to the chorus did the trick as well. I also cleaned up a few lines.

Jan recorded a beautiful version for his next album and he posted the recording to the Folk Alley website. Over the years thousands of people have listened to his version. I have always wanted to record my own take but I didn’t want to mimic Jan. I finally came up with an arrangement I liked. I did shorten Jan’s musical interludes just a bit but otherwise the music is all Jan’s.

Although there is agricultural imagery in the song, the “topsoil” I refer to is metaphorical. Listeners can figure out for themselves what the song conveys to them. A very open-ended lyric to my ears.

Production: Electric Bass Guitar, Electric Guitars, Piano, Organ, and Drums.

Lyrics

Topsoil Blues

I’m beginning to question

Will my crops come in?

There isn’t any sight of rain

And my topsoil’s much too thin

I should leave this place

But it’s burned into my skin

The holy ghost of order

Is my next of kin

 

I’m starting to consider

All my options now

I try to stay on message

But I can’t speed this plow

No one wants to listen

They know anyhow

I swore that I’d be silent

But I can’t keep that vow

 

The time between Natchez

And the gulf coast sand.

Could fill up a dump truck

Or a one-night stand

I can see your lips are moving

But I don’t understand

You speak a long dead language

In this no-man’s land

 

I’m going to the pay phone

Try to make a line

I should get me a tattoo

Not the homemade kind

You can’t erase the past

Unless you hit rewind

So many broken borders

In this state of mind

 

I used to have nightmares

That would come and go

Now they’re circling over Texas

In a barnstorming show

It’s hard to read the wine list

When you’re eating crow

I’ll wash it down and wonder

What seeds I’ve left to sow

 

The time between Natchez

And the gulf coast sand.

Could fill up a dump truck

Or a one-night stand

I can see your lips are moving

But I don’t understand

You speak a long dead language

In this no-man’s land

Copyright 2016 All Rights Reserved Fred Grittner & Jan Hauenstein

 

Track 28 Topsoil Blues

Track 27 New Confederate Blues

1Recording and Mixing Dates: Recorded March 2002 and June 9-10, 2010. Mixed July 4, 2016.

 

Genesis: In September 1972, with just two weeks left in my Army service, my Saigon musical trio mate, Paul O’Keefe, invited me to visit his family in Fort Monroe, Virginia. Over the course of a long weekend, Paul showed me a lot of the sights around Hampton and Newport News, as well colonial Williamsburg. We went down to the Chesapeake Bay and walked on the beach. When I returned to Fort Detrick, Maryland I wrote the original lyrics for this song. I was playing off the blue and the gray of the Civil War uniforms and the immense body of water I had walked along. The story was imagined.

I couldn’t find the right music for the lyrics and in 1978 I asked my friend Dale Jernberg to give it a shot. Dale came up with an evocative minor key melody and chord progression. I revised the lyrics and let it sit for almost 15 years. I tried recording the songs in the early 1990s but I got some of the chords wrong and arrangement didn’t work.

In January 2002 I revised the lyrics. During the next six years I tried arranging and recording the tune but without success. Finally, in June 2010 I recorded parts that I liked. However, when I went to edit and mix the song this past weekend I realized I had overproduced the song. I deleted electric guitar tracks, synthesizer tracks, and an organ. Though the arrangement still is “thick,” I am happy with the mix. I added the waves at the end. This is a first for me using sound effects.

Production: Electric Bass, Electric Guitars, Piano, Pedal Steel Guitar by David Spires, Drums, Waves (Lake Superior near Larsmont, Minnesota).

Lyrics

New Confederate Blues

Midnight on the ocean

Midnight on the sea

An open boat

A tattered coat

I watch her anxiously.

The lighthouse beacon shows me

What I stand to lose.

Wish we could have straightened out

These new confederate

New confederate blues

 

A night to be remembered

A night to be endured

Gone away

She wouldn’t say

She took back every word.

Waves breaking at my feet

Wash away the clues.

The tide has turned against me and

These new confederate

New confederate blues

 

A cold night on the ocean

The wind is outward bound.

The open boat

Is still afloat

I’m sinking in the ground.

The shadows do down with me

Anchored to my shoes

No way of escaping from

These new confederate

New confederate blues

Music by Dale Jernberg

Words by Fred Grittner

Copyright All Rights Reserved Fred Grittner & Dale Jernberg

 

Track 27 New Confederate Blues

Track 26 Cancel the Wedding

Hank Williams

Recording and Mixing Dates: Recorded and Mixed June 28, 2016.

 

Genesis: I got hooked on Hank Williams in the early 1970s. I wrote “Once in Awhile Forever” (Week 13) in 1978 as a tribute to his style of singing, writing, and arranging. In 1982 I came up with the line “let’s cancel the wedding and start the honeymoon.” I quickly gravitated to a Williams song archetype. This one too went into the file cabinet. I rediscovered it last year and made a few lyric tweaks (dropping the “and” in the concluding verse line.)

June is a big month for weddings, so I decided to release this tune now.

Side note: I am halfway through the 52 Tracks project this week. I have lots of songs on the drawing board for this summer.

 Production: Bass Guitar, Electric Guitars, Steel Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Fiddle, Drums.

Lyrics

Cancel the Wedding

Tomorrow is our wedding day

My feet ain’t cold but I’ve to got say

I think I went and spoke too soon

Let’s cancel the wedding start the honeymoon

 

You don’t need a diamond ring

We’ve got each other that’s everything

I think I went and promised the moon

Let’s cancel the wedding start the honeymoon

 

We don’t have time to dawdle

You can leave your wedding gown

We can make it ‘cross the state line

Before your folks know we’ve left town

 

Half that get married get a divorce

We don’t need a license to keep us on course

I know I’ve gone and changed my tune

Let’s cancel the wedding start the honeymoon

 

Your parents won’t believe it

Till they’re standing in the aisle

The guests will cough and snicker

The preacher will flash a nervous smile

 

They’ll come looking by half past four

I left a note on my back door

It says I went and spoke too soon

Cancel the wedding start the honeymoon

Cancel the wedding start the honeymoon

Honey, honey, honey, honeymoon

Copyright 2016 Fred Grittner All Rights Reserved

Track 26 Cancel the Wedding