New Song: Oh, Great Universe (An Eclipse Lullaby)

Happy Eclipse Day!

Here in Austin – in the path of totality – it was a big thing for some people.  Folks from all over have been arriving for days. Unfortunately, it’s a cloudy day here.

But we caught a few glimpses of the eclipse, and the crowds here on UT’s campus roared each time a window through the clouds passed above us, revealing a bright crescent for a few moments.

Regardless of how much eclipse fever you have, I offer this humble hymn to our cosmos as a lullaby of wonder and a prayer for protection. I hope this helps you feel held in our Milky Way’s starry arms tonight.

Watch on YouTube, Facebook or Instagram.

Oh, Great Universe

Oh, great universe
cold, empty universe
Goodnight, sweet universe
old, plentiful universe

Warm me with your fiery glow
Reach me with your radiant rays
Sail me into solar space
As the magic hour fades away

Oh, great universe
churning, burning universe
Goodnight, sweet universe
roiling, boiling universe

Hold me in your starry arms
brush my hair with your windy fingers
let me rest my weary eyes
as I expire tonight let my soul take flight

Oh, great universe
endlessly intricate universe
Goodnight, sweet universe
pensively animate universe

Knit me up into these sheets
tuck me into cosmic scenes
sing me a secret lullaby
before my dreams unwind my mind, goodnight

New Song: That’s When It All Changed (Valentine’s Day 2024)

For Valentine’s Day, I recorded a song I recently wrote to tell the story of how I met my wife, Maile.

As part of a song game, I was given the title That’s When It All Changed. I immediately knew what changed my life and the story I wanted to tell: How I met Maile at the grocery store, how we started going out, and how, years later, I proposed there in the store.

That’s When It All Changed

On a day in the Summer in 1998
I went to get some groceries guided by the hands of fate
and I got in your line ’cause you were looking so fine
started a conversation, got your name and told mine
I’d think about you all week, find excuses to go to the store
I’d make sure we got to speak, told you I wanted more
Asked you out, but you had a boyfriend, you wouldn’t get a beer so I asked you again
What about lunch? You finally said Yes, that’s the first moment I’ll never forget

‘Cause that’s when it all changed
That’s when it all changed for the better
That’s when we caught flame
When I met you our love was new

We had a picnic by the pond and I walked you back to class
I remember when we parted thinking this could really last
Then we hung out at my place, took a walk around lake at night
Got coffee at Magnolia Cafe and everything was going right
Went to see a dollar movie, kissing in the parking lot
The power of those kisses is something I never forgot because

That’s when it all changed
That’s when it all changed for the better
As if it were pre-arranged
When I met you and our love was new

All the girls before when I just wan’t ready
All of the games I didn’t know how to play
All of the sudden everything is poetry
Only together could find our way

On a day in the Summer of 2003,
shortly after you got back from teaching overseas
We went to get some groceries at the HEB of Destiny
I knelt at the gumball machine and asked you to marry me
The magic was still working, you immediately said Yes
That’s another moment that I’ll never forget

Cause that’s when it all changed
That’s when it all changed for the better
The day we got engaged
Committed to each other as partners and lovers

That’s when it all changed
That’s when it all changed for the better
Got it all ordained
Goes to show you never know what you might pick up at the store

New Song Demo: Blue Moonlight

I am proud to present a new type of song that I have been working on for the last six months. I bought a looper (the Boss RC600) and a percussion pad (the Roland Handsonic) that allow me to layer all sorts of sounds and rhythms onto my songs in real-time.

I’m just beginning to understand everything these things can do and utilize them for new arrangements of my songs, but it’s already sounding good to me and I’m having a lot of fun making a bigger sound as a one-man band.

Here’s a recent demo of a new song I wrote for the song game called Blue Moonlight. I did not use Logic to record all these parts separately in multi-track recording software, as I would usually do to create all these parts.

Instead, I recorded each part as a separate loop and performed the song in one take, triggering different sections with the loop pedal. It’s rough, but I’m really happy with where this is going and the possibilities for making a fuller sound as a solo musician.

Blue Moonlight

I feel alive
I think I’ll sing tonight
My crystals are charging in the blue moonlight
But I can’t swim with the howlers tomorrow night
At the springs ’cause I’m sick but I might

I see my likeness
In every scene, in every screen
While my clothes dry in the moonlight on Sunset Ln
I can’t stay up for the meteor shower
I need my seven hours
or I run out of power the next day

I’m out for strides
I’m alone under the trees along the riverside
Moonlight is my only friend
Down the middle of the street
and through the trees along Blunn Creek

I lie and lie
And call it poetry and songwriting
Whipin’ up an alternate persona
That sings about anything that he wants to die
Just to get it out, at least for a while

The formula is thin, I’ll have to admit it
The camera frames a limited-edition life
So we can hear what makes us cry

New Song Demo: Boundary Detector

My boundary detector is acting up today
I can’t get a good reading off anything you say
I thought that when you smiled it meant that we were cool
But now I’m gettin signals I broke some sort of rule

I need you to help me take some readings
help me calibrate this thing before I hurt some feelings
I need you to help me read the scene
before I do more damage and say something I don’t mean

boundaries, boundaries
surrounding me, confounding me endlessly

My boundary detector is setting off alarms
Calling for security and locking up my heart
It promised to protect us, keep us safe and sound,
But when the lines got blurred it tried to turn you down

I need you to help take some readings
help me calibrate this thing before I hurt your feelings
I need you to help me read the scene
before I do more damage and say something I might mean

boundaries, boundaries
surrounding me, confounding me endlessly

My boundary detector is learning all the signs
The tones that are closed, the invite in your eyes
Wait for me up ahead, I’m slow but I’m true
I tunin my instruments to make my way to you

I need you to help me let you in
help me understand where I end and you begin
I need you to help me disappear
let go of myself so    I can let go of my fear

boundaries, boundaries
surrounding me, confounding me endlessly

I took the photo above of street art in Lisbon in the summer of 2022. I snapped several of this artist’s continuous line graffiti faces. The street art was wonderful and this artist was one of my favorites.

The Song Game

I am thrilled to report that the song game is on. I had played the song game with a group that Gray was in before, but fell off and really missed it. Now Doug, Gray, Danny, and I have started our own version and I’m so grateful to have this group.

Song Game Rules

1. song and next prompt due every Mon. 8 am.
2. everyone comments on every song.
3. 8 weeks on, 4 weeks off

Basically, you have to write and record a song every week. We added the break every 8 weeks because you need breaks. It’s a tough pace for me to keep.

We also added the requirement that everyone give some nice feedback because it’s a drag when no one comments on your favorite new creation.

We’re three weeks in and I couldn’t be happier. Why?

Because it’s so cool to trade songs with such badass players and interesting creators. We’re all trying new stuff all the time and it’s entertaining, poignant, fresh, raw, and inspiring.

Writing for my musician friends motivates me to keep up, make cool music, and get to hear theirs. Accountability and feedback are built in. We learn a lot from and about each other.

And there’s nothing I’d rather be doing than working on a new song. Nothing distracts me or motivates me like making music. And it’s a great way for me to balance the stress of work with immersive play.

As sure as I am that music brings me joy and I want to share it I am often unsure of what I’m supposed to be doing. But writing new songs is always at the top of the list and it brings a sense of focus, hope and confidence.

I will be posting new song demos again. May I play the song game forever.

I took the photo above of Beck and band at Moody Center, Aug. 2023.