mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

So, yeah. This week's big news is that I wrote a song (see previous post, and maybe the next one as well). It feels good -- I should do it more often. We also did some more garage-clearing. There's now about a three-foot strip cleared -- only about 17 more to go :P.

Apart from the post-songwriting high I've been pretty depressed, and my back has been giving me trouble. Makes for bad evenings. At least I've been able to get out of going on call while I'm on loan to another team, so that took a little pressure off. And my L-tryptophan arrived, which may help my mood. (One of the reasons for stopping my SSRI was to see whether an alternative would work better. Too early to tell.)

Oh, yes. Conflikt. As is usual for cons I was frazzled and unhappy right up to the last minute before leaving, compounded this time by having to rent a scooter. Spinlife will be getting a bill for that, though I doubt they'll pay it. Not much singing so far -- we've been too tired to stay up for the circles. We will get to the Smoked Salmon this evening, though, since it starts at a sane time. And we have a song to sing.

Anyway. Links in the notes, as usual.

raw notes, with links )

New song

2015-01-31 09:32 pm
mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

This is the song I posted a fragment of in mdlbear | Bits from three works in progress. It's finished now; the title has been changed from "Wherever" to Windward.


Lyrics © 2015 Steve Savitzky;
ttto: ``Where the Heart Is'' by Naomi Rivkis and Callie Hills

My grandmother came from Odessa
Left on the wings of a wild winter storm.
She swam the Atlantic in winter
To a place where her eggs would be sheltered and warm.
She pushed through the crowd at the beachhead to lay them
Crawled back to sea with a satisfied smile;
She said as she swam through the warm Caribbean,
"Now this is my home now, well at least for a while."
    And she told her new friends with a laugh in her eyes,
    Said, "I followed my heart, and the heart never lies.
    And where the wind takes me no turtle can tell,
    But I'm always at home in the seas where I dwell,
    Because home is wherever I carry my shell."
I was born within sight of Manhattan,
Knew the scent of the Hudson too deeply to speak
You swam Puget Sound with the salmon
And I loved you before I had known you a week.

I'd swum round Cape Horn on my way to Alaska
We met off Vancouver as I paddled through;
You smiled as you showed me your islands and beaches
But your eyes held the question Grandmother's friends knew.
    But I said, "I love travel as much as your eyes,
    So I'll follow my heart and the heart never lies.
    And where the wind takes me no turtle can tell,
    But I'm always at home in the seas where I dwell,
    Because home is wherever I carry my shell."
The water kept rising unnoticed,
A little bit warmer and wilder each year
Came a time when we couldn't deny it:
That the beach we called home would too soon disappear.
So we'll spend a few decades and visit our children,
They're swimming the seas from New Zealand to Nome.
We will leave with the tide, let the waves take us windward,
But whereever we wander we'll always be home.
    And I can't speak illusions, the pain to disguise
    But we've brought our hearts here and the heart never lies.
    Where the wind takes us next year no turtle can tell,
    But we'll still be at home come high water or hell,
    Because home is wherever you carry your shell."
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I've been reminded that this is the 25th anniversary of a very special newsgroup called alt.callahans. My own first post came a couple of weeks later, after I finally persuaded our sysadmin to add it to our news feed.

I have a lot of history with that Place.

I wrote a song, too: "Someplace in the Net". I probably need to totally rework my set list for Orycon. :P

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

Spent some time last night with [ profile] cflute working on a harmony part for Mike Richards' "Will Ye Come Back Home?" (since there are a couple of lines in the chorus that are way too high for me to sing, and it needs a low harmony anyway), followed by several hours tunesmithing "A Talk With the Middle-Sized Bear". Which, if you're paying attention, now has Callie as co-composer. Don't have a recording of the new melody, but there's a MIDI file if you can handle one of those. It crashed my ancient Iceweasel, but plays fine in timidity.

We finally crashed a little before 1am.

As far as process goes, it was me on guitar and vocals, with Callie transcribing into Concertware and me revising the lead sheet in Emacs. It would be good to have a note editor on Linux that imports Concertware files, though I suppose I can get by with something that can import MIDI files.

mdlbear: (h2)

Remember that song I posted a couple of days ago? The music isn't quite stable yet, and it's a very rough performance as one might expect, but it'll do for the moment. A Talk With the Middle-Sized Bear [pdf] [ogg] [mp3]

Tomorrow I can haz Callie!

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

No music yet, though I have a few vague ideas. Inspired by a number of conversations over the last year.

A Talk With the Middle-Sized Bear

© 2008 Stephen Savitzky. Creative Commons by-nc-sa License Some Rights Reserved.

You've had a rough journey; a hellish long day;
There's a fire in your throat and an ache in your head
And you long to be back in your own cozy bed.
But the world you grew up in has vanished away.
You're weary and sick and you're frightened by change
When something wraps 'round you like a swirl of warm air
For there's no place as comforting, gentle, or strange
As the mind of the Middle-Sized Bear.

    For the Middle-Sized Bear is a creature so rare
    He'll feed you on honey and tea in his lair
    And you don't think you trust him, but maybe you'll dare
    Have a talk with the Middle-Sized Bear.
He's clumsy, forgetful, ill-tempered, and shy; )

The last repeat of the refrain may want to be modified or left off altogether depending on who's singing it. YMMV.

The Middle-Sized Bear is a character out of science fiction: the section ``Conversation With the Middle-Sized Bear'' in Cordwainer Smith's novella, Mark Elf. For several years I've used it to refer to the aspect of my personality that is, so people have told me, comforting to talk to and be around.

This song is very much a composite; the first verse is almost entirely out of Cordwainer Smith; the last two are more about the women in my life who have encountered the Middle-Sized Bear over the last year. The last refrain is mainly for anyone who may encounter him in the future.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

Having obtained approval from [ profile] pocketnaomi, who inspired commissioned it by promising to come to ConChord if I would sing a song either by her or about her, here it is at last.

Note that the audio files were done during last night's practice session with Joyce; the tune is still quite unstable, and some of the words have changed overnight, as they often do. I'll probably have a better one tomorrow, since Joyce is going to try to make it down for Wednesday. [pdf] [ogg] [mp3]


© Stephen Savitzky. Creative Commons by-nc-sa License Some Rights Reserved.

When you see her in the evening in a bright green dress
Walking fast down the hallway you might never guess
That the lady has a weakness she's reluctant to confess.
No, you might not notice when she's dancing reels
That she made it through the airport on a set of wheels,
And she still isn't certain that she likes the way it feels.

    With her lover right behind her lookin' tired but proud
    They were wheelin' their way through the airport crowd;
    The way it made her feel made her want to weep out loud. 
    'Cause they were cuttin' past the line at the TSA
    Asking healthy young people to get out of her way
    Savin' her strength to make it through another day.

When she has a good day she can walk a mile
Dance through the evening with grace and style
Greet her lover at the door with a tight embrace and a smile;
Next minute she's collapsing like she's half-way dead
With a fire in her body and an aching head
And she'll pay with pain and the rest of the weekend in bed.

    So with her lover right beside her lookin' calm and cool
    She walks up to the counter feeling like a fool
    And tries to tell herself that a wheelchair's only a tool.
    Soon she's wheelin' past the line at the TSA
    Feeling weird watching people getting out of her way
    But it's the easiest journey in years to the end of the day.

Well, her body is a battleground and life's a war,
And she's lost against her limits many times before;
But she's still fighting with a few new tricks in store;
Because a wheelchair is a weapon, not a mark of defeat
And she can stay standing longer with some time off her feet
The battle isn't over, and winning will be sweet.

    With her lover right behind her lookin' fierce and proud
    They'll be cutting a swath through the airport crowd
    The way it makes her feel will make her want to laugh out loud.
    'Cause she'll be wheelin' past the line at the TSA
    Watchin' tough young punks scurry out of her way
    Savin' her strength to make it through another day.

    Yeah, savin' her strength--to fight another day.

This song is the answer to ``I can walk, damnit! What do I need a wheelchair for?'' Once I learned that Naomi was booking a wheelchair for the airports at both ends of her flight to ConChord, it all fell together in a day and a half and promptly attached itself to one of my blues-style noodling patterns.

It's remarkably hard to write a song "about" someone that's both specific enough to be about her, and yet might be of interest to more than a handful of people. But since you might be in a similar situation, or you might know someone who's in a similar situation... (oh, wait -- that's another song altogether).

mdlbear: (nike)

Lyrics page [pdf] [ogg] [mp3]

Quiet Victories

© Stephen Savitzky. Creative Commons by-nc-sa License Some Rights Reserved.

Sit down with me and talk a while;
And please believe me when I say
I don't need much to make me smile,
Just tell me how you spent your day.
I don't need tales of heros bold
Gentle lady, tell to me,
Some tale of yours you've never told;
About some quiet victory.

    Forget heroic fantasy
    That's not the tale I need to hear,
    Tell me of quiet victory
    Of love and life against your fear.

Don't tell me of the Amazon
The battle-lust hot in her breast;
Just tell me what the mirror showed: 
A warrior's scar across your chest.
Would he still love you after that?
Would you die beneath the knife?
The cancer gave you Devil's odds;
You rolled the dice and won your life.

    And still you see your friends and kin
    Make their throw, to lose or gain
    Against the old familiar foes
    Grief and fear and death and pain.

Don't tell me of the shieldmaid bold,
Her laughter in the face of death
I'll take the smile you gave your son
To cheer him as he fought for breath.
No matter that your heart was filled
With fear you gamely had to hide;
No matter what it cost to spend
The next two days there at his side.

    You tell me that it wasn't hard,
    Snd it was love that saw you through.
    Yes, I believe you when you say
    It's what a mother has to do.

I've heard you sing a Goddess' praise
On Athens' ramparts standing fast;
What did your grey-eyed lady sing
When she proclaimed her love at last?
What does it cost you two to share
A love that half the world despise?
What did it take to tell your Mom
And face the anger in her eyes?

    It's not a myth you're living now
    The hate you'll face is all too real;
    You'll make it through the coming years
    With hearts of glass and nerves of steel.

That tale of dwarves, and rings of gold,
Dragons flying through the air
Is that the movie that your girl
Was watching in intensive care?
And when at last she's home again,
You dread the word you'll have to say:
She asks, can she walk home from school?
You swallow hard, and say ``OK''.

    Tires squeal all afternoon;
    Tbe sirens make your blood run cold.
    She'll be a woman all too soon;
    You let her grow up strong and bold.


    Forget heroic fantasy
    That's not the tale I need to hear,
    Tell me of quiet victory
    Of love and life against your fear.

    Here's to the women, gently brave
    Mothers, daughters, lovers, wives,
    And to the quiet victories
    We seldom notice in their lives.
Notes: )

This song was largely inspired by the last few weeks on and off LJ, though it's pulled in a few other things along the way. It could easily have been two or three times as long, and may yet; I have the feeling that this tale may grow in the telling.

Future posts on related subjects will have the qv tag; feel free to use it. You're also welcome to the icon (ganked from Wikipedia -- seemed appropriate).

Your comments are very welcome. Did you see yourself here? Do you have a totally different story to tell? I want to hear. But if you want to tell me that you weren't being courageous, that it wasn't hard at all, that you didn't have to think twice about what you did--well, go ahead, but that's kind of the point, isn't it? Stand up and take a bow anyway.

6/10 5:30am Stupid, stupid bear. The [mp3] link will work now.

And if you want to record it, just drop me a note -- and a copy of the CD -- and send the royalties to an appropriate charity.


2008-06-07 03:59 pm
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Took the five-mile loop by Los Gatos Creek today. No blisters to show for it either. So Yay! I think I used the time pretty well.

See, I've had this melody stuck in my head for a couple of years now. Probably cobbled together from stolen bits, they all are, but I've made it mine by now. It's basically a march, and has (to my mind at least) a sort of noble, high-fantasy feel to it. It attached itself to Quiet Victories.

Never mind that it blows my original 3/4 scansion to smithereens. That's where it seems to want to be.

Forget heroic fantasy
Those aren't the tales I need to hear
Tell me the tale you never told
Of quiet victory over fear

Still very fragmentary; that's all I have that's reasonably solid at the moment.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

"The River" [ogg] [mp3]. A little rough, but since it's only about 12 hours since I finished the melody... (11:00 ... and I think the tune could still use a little work; I'm not entirely satisfied yet.)

lyrics behind cut )

There haven't been many songs that grabbed me the way this one did; I started out yesterday afternoon with the one line, "It's a river so deep...", and got as far as a rough version of about half the lines in the refrain before heading back to work from my lunch. At that point I thought it was a pretty metaphor, but kind of lightweight on content.

I was wrong.

There were a couple of lines I choked up on, and when I got the last two lines of the second verse I actually cried. It's only the second song where I've done that; the first was "For Amy".

I was wrong about a lot of things on this song. It started out to be about a new friendship where it seemed as though we'd known each other for a long time. And it still is, but it's also the story of me and my beloved [ profile] flower_cat, and it pleases me tremendously that I was able to finish it in time to present it to her as a Valentine's Day gift. The recording, flubs and all, is from this evening's gathering at the Starport.

I can tell I've been hanging out with [ profile] cflute and company -- I'm starting to hear a flute line and at least one, maybe two, vocal harmonies. And I had to totally resequence the tracks in the next CD.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

Lyrics here; audio when the tune stabilizes a little more. It ended up going a lot deeper than I'd originally expected.

Somewhere in the last couple of weeks I seem to have become a morning person: I was up before 5am yesterday and today. I'm not sure where the time went. Well, OK, I do know, this time.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

So, I was just sitting here at the computer thinking about making a pre-preorder flier to hand out at Loscon, and this song just popped into my head. Sorry about that.

lyrics behind cut )

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