Observations – Track 8

Track 8 – Keep Your Eyes Wide

The last song on the album is also the last one I wrote for this collection. It was written in the early days of the pandemic, when I was seriously quarantining. I didn’t leave the building for months. All the horrors of disease and death were so close you could hear the hoofbeats of the apocalyptic horseman. It was fascinating that in the middle of such destruction there were silver linings everywhere. Including a glimpse of a better world. Something profound happened to society when we all stopped running on the treadmill for a moment.

Sometimes the dream that comes true is not the one you expected to.

Keep your eyes wide, my son
These days will only be here once
And sometimes the dream that comes true
Is not the one you expected to

Because dreams work that way
Because dreams work that way

I've had enough solitude for now
And enough staring at screens for the rest of my life
For the rest of my life

Keep your shirt on, old man
This is not the way to the promised land
But I can see it from here
Keep your eyes wide, it will become clear

Because love works that way
Because love works that way

I've had enough solitude for now
And enough violence and hate for the rest of my life
For the rest of my life

Observations – Track 7

Track 7 – Bad

One afternoon, around 3:00, I was home alone, with that weird combination of boredom and anxiety that rears its head on the lost days, and as I popped open a beer I thought,

I know it’s bad, baby 
Baby, I know it’s bad 
I mean no harm 
but I know 
people who mean no harm sometimes cause the most

I started to think about all the harm that is done by people who mean none. And other reasons for feeling bad. I pulled up a stool at the piano and this song came out. As the recording process progressed, the piano became a smaller part of the sound, as layers of everything from the holy rock’n’roll trinity of guitar/bass/drums to harmonica, handclaps, and tambourine piled on top.

Like the remote recording that went into this album, when I wanted to make a video for this song, I looked no further than my laptop in the Bronx and this time found a talented woman in Pakistan named Maryam who create this:

I know it's bad, baby
Baby, I know it's bad
I mean no harm but I know
People who mean no harm sometimes cause the most

I got it bad, baby
Baby, I got it bad
And there's no cure for it
Now that this absence has found a presence in me

I need it bad, baby
Baby, I need it bad
'Cause it's been so long
Since we went to that place where all the dreams come from

Observations – Track 6

Track 6 – I Love You So Bad It Hurts

I probably like this song more than it deserves. Most of the things I like have that effect on me. I particularly enjoy the way that the last line of each verse repeats the first line but from a slightly different perspective. I also like the sound of the acoustic guitar with the capo on the 10th fret – the highest I have ever used it – because the chords sound a little unfamiliar at that pitch.

The song speaks to one of the universal truths about love: even when it hurts, it is the best thing in the world. A kind of pain that I don’t mind at all.

I love you so bad it hurts
with a kind of pain that I don't mind at all
I love you so bad it hurts

I love you so much I don't
have anything left for anyone else
I love you so much I don't

I love you so much I can't
drink enough so I can forget
the way your love burns like a lit cigarette
but I love you so much I'll never regret
that I love you so much I can't

I've loved you so long I can't see
all the way back to the morning before
my love came knocking around at your door
and I might as well admit that I'm yours
I've loved you so long I can't see

Observations – Track 5

Track 5 – Magdalena

This is not a song about Mary Magdalene, unless it is to you. Who am I to tell you what this song is about? To me, it’s about missing someone or something that was probably never more than a vague dream. Or something that was real but is gone now, living only in memories that get foggier all the time. Sometimes, it is the lack of definition that makes for attraction. When there are things we don’t know about someone or something, we can fill in the blank spaces with our imagination. And my imagination doesn’t need much to set it off.

I also got to throw down a little banjo on this track, which always makes me happy.

I know Magdalena's not real
But I still remember how she made me feel
It's a lie no truth can conceal
And I miss Magdalena
Oh yeah, I miss Magdalena

I know there's some things I can't fix
But maybe I can still teach this old dog new tricks
Like how to stand on his hind legs
Before he rolls over and begs
Come on, old dog, roll over and beg

I know that time just moves one way
But memories linger from long ago days
Not every memory is true
The only one matters is you
Yeah, the only one matters is you

'Cause I know Magdalena's not real
But I still remember how she made me feel
It's a lie no truth can conceal
And I miss Magdalena
Oh yeah, I miss Magdalena
I miss Magdalena

Observations – Track 4

Track 4 – Let That Bird Fly Away

This is the oldest recording on the album, performed in that distant, pre-Covid world. It is one of the few songs I have recorded with a drum machine and I thought it made a nice change of pace in the middle of this collection. It came fully formed, in a dream or an after-dream, and I walked right from the bed to piano to work it out. The video for the song is an official selection of the Lift Off Global Network Film Festival 2020. The album version is a little different from the video version, with a different guitar solo and some bird noises at the end recorded out a bedroom window in the house where I grew up. There is never a bad time to find a new kind of inspiration.

Let that bird fly away
Find a new kind of inspiration
Don't keep her in that cage
Not in that cage or any other
Let that bird fly away

She's brushing back her hair
From eyes that hold another world
Of possibilities,
realities, and mysteries
Let that bird fly away

Let that bird fly
Let that bird fly
Let that bird fly away

There's more for you to see
Places that you can't imagine
There's more for you to be
There's more pieces to this puzzle
Let that bird fly away

Let that bird fly
Let that bird fly
Let that bird fly away