Showing posts with label red river. Show all posts
Showing posts with label red river. Show all posts

Friday, April 26, 2019

What Inspires Creativity?

If I could live wherever I chose, I'd live by water. Not a brambly river bank, but near a cool blue lake, where I could stroll on the sand swathed in the rolling fog, my cheeks caressed by tiny droplets of spray.

Some people are inspired by mountains; others love getting lost in a dense forest. For me it's water, but a special kind of water. Not a dinky mid-Minnesota freshwater pool inhabited by leaping sunfish, but a BIG lake with a murky, mysterious history ~ Lake Superior, to be exact. Gordon Lightfoot will tell you ~ the skies of November turn gloomy there.

Lake Superior is my special place, a place tucked in the creases of my memory that I reclaim from time to time. It exists in the same state where I live, yet it's a whole world away, like nirvana chanced upon in the midst of a parched field of prairie grass.

I've ambled along the Lake Walk and spied painters, their easels braced into divots of grass, staining the canvas with splotches of sky blue and green and ash. I don't linger long, but I come away with the impression these people are true artists. They could be talentless hacks from The Joy Of Painting school for all I know, but they sure look like artists.

I wrote a song once as I lounged on a chaise beside the shore of Lake Superior. The words were good, but the song itself, unfortunately, turned into one of those airy Graham Nash ditties (he spent far too much time by the water). I also journaled a lot, which degenerated into amateur pencil drawings of trees. I, unbelievably, was blocked. And with all that nature surrounding me!

The bottom line is, one can be inspired, but don't look for miracles. It's not the place that incites creativity; it's the mind. I could write a better song about My Lake sitting in my desk chair in a stuffy bedroom than I ever did when I had the whole tableau before me.

So, what inspires creativity? It's part memory, part craving; but mostly it's simply long slog ~ elbow grease.

I still wish I lived by the Big Lake, though.


My Lake Superior song:

A better song:

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Red River's Latest Video

Have you heard? Red River's latest digital CD is for sale! Yes! Just scroll on over to the right-hand side of the screen to see this ^ cover and click on it to buy! Plus, if you join Red River's mailing list, you get free goodies! You won't be sorry! Red River has too many great songs to include on "Life Is A Dream", but you can get some of those songs for free. And as if that wasn't enough, I'll send you a missive every now and then that's even more intriguing than my blog...really.

The first track on "Life Is A Dream" is a personal favorite of mine. I've been messing around, trying to come up with a video for "As Best I Can", and the good news is, I finally finished it tonight.

Thanks, Mrs. Procrastinator!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Red River's New Digital CD!

All the cool kids are doing it, so we are, too! Nobody buys physical CD's anymore, but that doesn't mean Red River can't get its music out to the public.

Our new release, Life Is A Dream, is now available on our website, and will soon be available on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Shazam, Pandora, and YouTube Music, which I didn't even know was a thing. I'm unclear regarding Amazon ~ there's a bunch of legalese on CDBaby's site regarding that, but I'm rather pumped about all the different distribution sites at our disposal.

If you've ever uploaded something for sale online, you know that having one's teeth ripped out would be more fun, but I accomplished in an afternoon, after editing most of our music tracks for one reason or another. Now I wait...well, I wouldn't still be waiting, but when our CD went live, I wasn't happy with the sound quality of three of the tracks, so I re-edited them and re-uploaded. DYI is great...

I can say that I'm very happy with how the project turned out, and I want to thank our designer, m2design for delivering awesome cover art.

Even if you're not in the mood to buy, surf on over to our website and click on a couple of track previews, and leave us a message if you're so inclined.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Red River Is Back!

We've been away for a while due to financial considerations, but now Red River once again has its own website. And I managed to snatch up our old domain. I am rather averse to change, after all.

You can find Red River here:

We soon will begin selling our new digital album online. Stay tuned!

Am I excited? I am!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Red River's Annual Ring In The Old Video

Why so late, you ask? Well, considering all the technical issues I encountered, I'm amazed I managed to produce a semblance of a cohesive video (thanks, Microsoft).

Nevertheless, Happy 2019 from Red River!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

April Tompkins Has A Video!

Altruistic as I am known to be, I wanted to share April Tompkins' latest book video. I think it's awesome.

I am honored she chose to use Red River's music as the backdrop for her video. In case you don't know about Red River, you can find us here

I urge you to buy April's novel, Radio Crazy. It's a "crazy" ride. Unintentionally funny at times; dark and scary at others, April's characters act like real people; often annoyed and put-upon, until circumstances converge to create terror and mayhem. 

April is somebody I thought I knew well, until I read her prose. Then -- what the hell? I might be a bit wary to stroll down to the cafeteria with her, come Monday. 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Life In 1964 ~ With Music!

It occurred to me that 1964 is akin to the nineteenth century to many people. To me it's my childhood, albeit somewhat hazy by now. My mind flashes on scenes, but they sort of run together. My "fun adventure" possibly lasted no more than six months, but my brain squeezes it into approximately one week.

My regular life wasn't what one would call exciting. I rode the orange bus two times a day and in between I endeavored to grasp knowledge inside my third grade classroom. Granted, third grade was my favorite grade. My teacher, Mrs. Thomlinson, abetted my natural show-off tendencies. I was a third grade star. Then came summer vacation and I tried to find adventures, but living in the country demanded that I engage my imagination in order to find things to do that didn't involve traipsing along a dirt road, riffling my outstretched hands across the tall wheat-heads. No wonder I made up little melodies and told myself stories. It was just me alone with the sapphire sky.

Then my Uncle Howard stepped in. He'd invested in a triple-threat business in a tiny town called Lisbon; a splotch of a village criss-crossed by Highways 27 and 32 in the southeastern sector of North Dakota.

This is it:

As you can see, it's now an Eagles Club. And smoke free? Ha! Not in 1964!

The establishment was called Triple Service - because it contained a bar, a restaurant, and a service station. One-stop drinking! The problem was, my uncle was a bachelor and he didn't exactly know how to cook. So he presented a proposal to my mom and my aunt. He'd pay them handsomely to alternate weeks functioning as fry cooks. My mom, scouring her checkbook, acceded. Farming was a credit business. One charged everything; gas, seed, groceries, clothes -- everything except ice cream cones -- and waited for a late fall certified check to grace the mailbox so the charge accounts could be settled up. 

Mom had two little kids and me. Luckily my big sister was eighteen and negligibly responsible, so Carole was tasked with minding the little ones while my dad harvested the wheat and potatoes, and Mom and I packed our pink Samsonite suitcases and crunched inside the Ford Galaxie and aimed it down Highway 81 toward Lisbon.

My Aunt Barbara had two kids roughly my age. The deal was that the three of us kids would reside in Lisbon, North Dakota, trading off "moms" every week. It wasn't at all strange, because we'd had sleepovers our whole lives, so Aunt Barbara was really my second mom. 

Living in an apartment attached to actual real life was an awesome experience. We could step outside our kitchen door and inside a tiny room stocked top to bottom with all manner of crystal liquor decanters. Next to that was a cavernous dance floor, hollow in the daytime hours, but slippery and shimmery when the klieg lights were flipped on.

The cafe itself was a parcel of cushiony booths and twirly stools straddling a long Formica counter. 

The Triple Service bar was dark and smoky, lit by lavender sconces, jam-packed on weekend nights, the glow of the Wurlitzer heating up the corner; smelly with whiskey/cigarette butts and hops in the bare-bulb light of day.

My cousins, Paul and Karen, and I, forged a new life inside Triple Service.

We'd formed a little trio, thanks to our accordion teacher back home. Paul manned the accordion, Karen strummed a guitar, and I burnished the snare drum, brushes in hand. We had costumes and everything -- white-fringed felt skirts and western shirts and boots. I don't remember if there were hats -- possibly only neckerchiefs. Rules prohibited us from actually entering the bar area (when it was open), so we set up in the "triple" area of Triple Service, abutting the service station counter, and put on a show. Our big number was "Bye Bye Love". It's a funny thing about men who'd imbibed -- they turn into philanthropists. We raked in dollars and quarters and nickels from patrons who exited the bar through the service station door.

We became jaded, as neuveau-riche people do; and stuffed our glass piggy banks with coin and greenbacks, until we made that Saturday expedition to F.W Woolworth's to stuff our pockets and plastic purses with candy necklaces and molded Beatle figurines.

The only hitch in our (at least my) resplendent lives was the fact that our mothers had enrolled us in Catholic school. For my cousins, who were used to it, this was de riguer. For me, a dedicated public school girl, it was cataclysmic. My new fourth grade teacher was a nun! Nuns were evil, my catechism experience had taught me. Evil and sadistic. However, this teacher was semi-youthful and frightfully timid, so I settled in. The curriculum, however, was predicated on 1963 topics, and this was 1964! So, I was bored because I'd already learned all this stuff, and I hated my new school, because I didn't like new people. I wasn't what you'd call "easy to get to know". I'd always had a best friend back home, and it hadn't been easy choosing that honor. Best friends had to meet exacting standards. Karen, on the other hand, always had a group of friends, so the pressure on her was less. She adapted to our new school the very first day. I was miserable for at least a month.

And the nuns at the school, especially the "Head Nun" (sorry; I am not up on Catholic school lingo), heartily disapproved of our living arrangement. "Oh, you live at the place," she would comment. Yes, Sister Denunciatory, we lived at a bar. B-A-R. That sin-soaked den of people enjoying life. Scandalous!

Uncle Howard had a plaque affixed to Triple Service's wall that read:

There's no place anywhere near this place
Quite like this place
So this must be the place

I guess Mother Condemnation was right after all.

Kids being kids, we found all manner of off-duty pursuits, most of them stupid. Karen and I climbed up on the roof and perched between the big red letters that spelled out T-RI-P-L-E S-E-R-V-I-C-E and serenaded the guys who'd pulled up to the gas pumps below. "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" was our favored choice. Paul, Karen and I hid in the liquor room, which was right off the cavernous dance floor and did stupid things, like slide ice cubes across the linoleum. Paul, one night, captured a frog outside, and released it to hop across the floor. Essentially, we were scientists -- we just wanted to find out what would happen.

The juke box was Karen's and my tether. We inspected the white and red title strips and gleaned our musical education from Uncle Howard's ten-cent singles and fifty-cent album showcases. She and I created a comic book, the premise of which was, what happens to musical artists when they get old. That juke box really assisted our creativity. I do remember that Bobby Bare was a bear. Bent Fabric was shaped like -- well, I guess you can figure that one out. Uncle Howard passed our creation among his patrons and they loved it. We got orders for more, which we had priced at twenty-five cents each; but you know how it is with designing something -- once you've done it, it becomes monotony the second or third time. We made a half-hearted effort to produce more copies, but finally drifted away and into more interesting endeavors.

So, what did we glean from Uncle Howard's juke box? Bear in mind that Uncle Howard's clientele didn't go for that rock 'n roll "noise", so his musical choices were relatively sedate.

This was the hottest, I meant hottest, new act of 1964:

 Here's that "Bent Fabric" guy:

Little Millie Small:

One can never, ever forget Bobby Bare (who is not, in reality, a bear):

My dad liked this song; therefore, I, too, like it:

Dean Martin:

A gal named Gale Garnett:

Believe it or not, this was huge in '64. Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz (I guess):

Karen's and my seminal number:

Roger Miller again:

There was no one, however, who dominated country music in 1964 like Buck Owens dominated. Buck Owens was everything. I wasn't even a country-western fan (I was a Roy Orbison fan), but all I knew about country music revolved around Buck Owens.

The couples who stepped onto Uncle Howard's dance floor on Saturday nights contented themselves with Ernest Tubb covers played by a bolo-tie-clad trio of local musicians.We, in the liquor supply room, listlessly tapped our feet to the thump-thumping bass guitar. Had Buck Owens suddenly made an appearance, especially with Don Rich and the guys, it would have been like Uncle Howard's juke box come to life.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Damn You, Microsoft

I do not understand why a company that has a good product suddenly decides to discontinue it. Windows Movie Maker was so intuitive. I created countless videos using that software. Then suddenly it was gone. I had a light bulb idea last night as I was falling asleep for a new video -- with a specific song as the backdrop. I'd forgotten that Windows 10 didn't include Movie Maker, and in searching, I found that Microsoft no longer supports it, and doesn't even offer it without support.

I subsequently downloaded and uninstalled various "alternatives" that were awful. I love how they all tout their "ease of use". Okay. No. The wondrous thing about Movie Maker was that it was drag and drop. How difficult is that to recreate? Apparently really difficult. I spent hours today adding photos and (sometimes) music, if the program would let me; only to find that the damn thing didn't work. As for effects? These programs claimed to have them. They didn't. The "fade" was imperceptible.

And either the audio track would start and stop -- hiccup -- or the app didn't hold the approximately eighty photos I had painstakingly added. (A three minute song requires a lot of pictures -- trust me. I've been down this road before.)

Clicking on a plethora of icons is a pain in the ass, hoping to find the one I need. And getting more and more pissed.

Trust me; I've done tons of videos for Red River. Granted, some of them weren't done well, but I learned. The creative process is difficult enough without having to deal with a dodgy program.

Tonight I found a YouTube video touting a way to get Movie Maker. And so I downloaded the program from a (hopefully) Microsoft site. We'll see. I've already wasted my entire day adding photos to sundry apps and then throwing up my hands and deleting the programs all together. And now the day is done.

I'll try again tomorrow.

In the meantime, just to demonstrate how easy Window Movie Maker was, here are a few of my favorite Red River videos:

Friday, December 15, 2017

Jobs and Things

I was thinking about work tonight, which is not like me. When I leave my workplace on Friday afternoon, bye-bye! One needs to maintain a separation between work life and actual life. I know people who live for their jobs. That used to be me, but I'm older and much wiser now.

I got my first real job in 1973; and by real job, I mean one in which I didn't report to my parents. As a newly-minted high school graduate, with no idea why I would want to attend college, I realized that I needed to put my two years of typing class to use. I'd also taken two years of shorthand, but you know what? Nobody in the course of history has ever employed shorthand in an actual job. Shorthand was a scam, but I prefer to call it a "lost art", because it sounds mystic.

Living in the capitol city of my state, government jobs flowed like water. Luckily for me. I landed a job as a Clerk Typist I in the State Health Department, Division of Vital Statistics. The office housed all the birth, death, and marriage records from the early days of Dakota Territory to the present day. Of course, the first thing I did when I had the chance was scan the shelves to find my own birth certificate, and then my dad's. Then I located my mom and dad's marriage document. None of those records contained anything eye-opening. But, after all, who wouldn't have looked? There were rack upon rack of big dusty books in the bowels of the Vital Statistics office.

Folks would pop in from time to time, ride the elevator (that had its own valet) up to the seventeenth floor, fill out a form and leave with a certified copy of their record of birth. I typed up my own copy for myself; made myself three years older than I actually was, so I could go to bars and not get kicked out. (Is it okay to admit that now? I'm thinking after forty-four years, the statute of limitations has run out.)

After a few months of manning the front desk and trying to look busy during the quiet times, I was chosen to be part of a new (exciting!) project. The big dusty books had to go -- we were now going to microfilm all the ancient reposing records. Microfilm. Much like shorthand, microfilm is a remnant of a bygone era. A microfilm machine was a big camera that one slid papers under and pressed a round red button. Oh, but I bet everyone else in the office was keenly jealous! Who wouldn't be?

As an eighteen-year-old, I didn't fully understand the solemnity of my charge. We were a three-woman team -- our new supervisor and a girl named Alice and me. We had an office in the back with a door that we closed behind us. We sat at two desks -- one for the supe and one for Alice and me. And we lugged those powdery books from the shelves in the catacombs of the warehouse back to our little cubby and traced with pencil over the ancient typing that had turned faint from decades of being encased between stiff binders. Ahh, the glamour! Then each of us would take a turn behind the secret curtain and snap pictures for an hour. Over and over and over.

Do that for a day and you will never want to come back. Do it for a year and you will be tempted to hurl yourself out the seventeenth-story window.

Luckily, we had our radio. And cigarettes. It was a putrid, smoky closet that had nice tunes.

AM radio was our suicide repellent. It was all that saved us. KFYR featured all manner of songs; radio was not yet compartmentalized in 1973-74.

We heard songs like this:

That's when I realized Barbra Streisand was actually a really good singer.

Nadia's Theme, we knew, was the theme song for the Young And The Restless. You can call it what you want, but come on.

I wonder if they still use that theme song today. My soap days are long behind me, so I don't know. I suppose Katherine Chancellor is long gone. She'd be about a hundred and ten years old if she were still around. 

I told Alice she should use this next song in her wedding. She demurred. I still feel I was right:

I liked this one. I knew BJ Thomas had done the original, but Blue Swede took it to a whole new level:

I guess the bandwagon was filled to the brim with old songs done in new ways:

I never lie on this blog, or try to recreate history. This was a big hit in 1974, and we liked it:

I'm somewhat proud to say that one of the two worst songs of all time was released in 1974. It's a minor conceit, admittedly, but I'm going to claim it:

No offense to my little sister, but these next two songs remind me of her. While I, at age eleven, was grooving to the Beatles, she was stuck with tracks like this:

I won't delineate here why this next song is, to me, synonymous with tornadoes. That's a whole different scary story, but here it is:

We didn't exactly think Jim Stafford was funny, per se, but he was odd. If I was of a mind to look him up, I'd probably find that he had some serious songs. To everyone's dismay, though, he will be remembered for stuff like this:

"Star Baby" was a revelation and taught me that Burton Cummings was a sex-drenched god. But the Guess Who chose to follow that hit up with this one. Nevertheless, we liked it:

There was also this new guy who popped up around 1974. He was British. He could sing. He could definitely sing. He liked feather boas and humongous eyeglasses. 

But, boy, could he sing:

Yes, the tunes went on forever in that tiny, choke-filled room, and we tried to remember that there was actual breathing life somewhere far below the seventeenth floor.

This song was to I struggled to believe that blue sky existed somewhere...everything:

And yes, I wrote about that time. Of course.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


I write about my life here on this blog a lot, mostly to try to make sense of it. I wasn't unique, growing up in a dysfunctional household -- every kid has his own story -- but my story is mine. I think I write a lot, too, because I was there, but I wasn't there; if that makes any sense. I was so busy trying to survive that I forgot to remember myself. This makes things difficult when I try to look back. Music is my prompt. Maybe that's why music holds such a dear place in my heart. It helps me remember me.

I wrote my autobiography and published it for a while. Then I unpublished it because I was embarrassed. I'm not really a sharing person. I wrote it for me and then realized that I told my story so well that it could be worth someone's time to read. Then I reconsidered. The point isn't to have somebody tell me that I write well. The point is to get the words down. If I was to re-write it for publication, it wouldn't be totally honest. I'm not on board with that.

I used to write songs. Used to. My husband is a songwriter and he doesn't understand why I am not flinging song after song out into the universe. Songwriting for me was a phase. I've had lots of phases in my life. I'd latch onto something and be completely immersed in it for a couple of years, sort of how my dad liked certain foods so much he ate them exclusively until he didn't. Everything is essentially finite. For years I made counted cross-stitch pictures; framed them, hung them on the wall, gave them away as gifts. Maybe for ten years in total. Then I stopped. I got tired of it. I don't know why. Crafting was a balm for me. Songwriting was like that. I did it for more than ten years, but I slowly slipped out of the need to do it. Now I don't do anything -- except blog.

The reason I bring up my songwriting is that I realized tonight that I wrote my whole life in my songs. Which leads me to wonder why I've spent so many hours putting words to paper. My husband put together a CD of our early stuff, songs I haven't heard in years. Most of them were autobiographical. Maybe that's why I stopped. Maybe I'd said all there was to say.

So, tonight instead of embedding my favorite top forty videos, I thought I would share some of my own.

I've written about the time I lived at my uncle's bar, Triple Service when I was nine years old and how that experience shaped me. When one is nine, pretty much any experience will shape them. As a farm kid, moving to a "town", which Triple Service actually wasn't in, was the absolute most exciting thing that had ever happened to me. And it granted me my life-long love affair with bars. Things like that imprint on one's mind. Had I moved to a restaurant that exclusively served spaghetti and meatballs, well, I would be in love with Italian cuisine. It doesn't take much for kids...

Ghost Town is sort of about Triple Service, too. In my early forties, I traveled back to Lisbon, North Dakota, to try to find it. The building was still there, but it was lost and forlorn. The gas pumps were no more. The building was a big white blob. The big red letters that spelled out TRIPLE SERVICE had been torn down sometime in the sixties. Somebody in town told me that the premises was now an Eagles Club or something. Well, when I traveled down the lonely road and finally found it, nobody was parked in the lot. I guess the Eagles weren't a burgeoning enterprise in Lisbon. The only remnant, the only shard that told me I was in the right place was the bulging propane tank that still squatted at the far end of the abandoned rectangle.

I wrote a song about my dad, too, once I finally reconciled inside my brain everything that had happened. It took me a long time, decades, to see things from a perspective other than my own. Actually, it didn't happen until my dad was gone. I was so proud of my dad for getting treatment (that took) for his alcoholism. I'd endured his first two failed attempts as a teenager and had eventually turned against him and banished him from my consciousness.  I gave up on him and owned up to the fact that he didn't give a damn about anyone or anything except Johnny Walker. Age has a way of bestowing wisdom:

Too, I wrote about my first real job and the new dysfunctional family I'd inherited. In our little microfilm office in the back of the Vital Statistics Department, three of us sat and traced over ancient birth and marriage records to ready them for filming. And we smoked and listened to AM radio. And Gordon Lightfoot sent a dire warning through the radio's speakers:

I wrote a lot of songs, most of which don't have accompanying videos, because I didn't much feel like creating them. Which leads me to my "lazy" song. I will not deny that I was a lazy kid. My husband played a VHS tape once of family memories, and there I was, lying back on a chaise lounge, my head propped on my elbow, looking for all the world like the most bored child in the world. I was mostly bored, I'll admit, but that's really no excuse for laziness. Apparently I was waiting for the world to come to me. It actually never did. 

I'm still waiting.
This was supposed to be a dub vocal, but we never got around to doing it right. I'll chalk it up to laziness:

This is my favorite song of all I've written.

You can take the girl out of sloth, but you can't take the sloth out of the girl.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

That Year My Dad Forgot About Me

I've always liked bars. Not sterile hotel "bars", which are essentially lobbies with bottles of booze, but real honky tonks. An observer of life could do no better than to grab a corner table in a tavern, order up a Miller on tap, and sit back and watch.

When I resided on South Fourteenth Street, I one night found a little nook a couple blocks up the cracked sidewalk. It had a juke box and a dart board and a bunch of people who'd somehow staggered their way in. The establishment was tucked inside a skinny crevice between two white-brick factories, one skip past the Burlington Northern railroad tracks. That's why I liked it. It was out of the way; a private spot that only the absolute best alcoholics knew about. That's how a bar should be, if it was to call itself a respectable bar.

I've had a couple of bars in my life. There was my Uncle Howard's bar, Triple Service, where I lived when I was nine years old, and where I was introduced to the ways of life. Then there was The Gaiety, my dad's place. The Gaiety was a bit too fancy for me -- its outside sign had a cocktail glass with an olive bouncing out of it. The Gaiety, though, had all the accouterments of a proper bar. It was dark and musty. It was off the beaten path. Only the best drinkers could find it. And thus it was exclusive.

As a kid, I could make myself at home inside The Gaiety anytime I wanted. I was thirteen, so I didn't make myself at home there too much; only when I was bored with riding my bike around the big circle that surrounded Mom and Dad's motel. I had recently learned how to play guitar, and I knew that The Gaiety had a little stage with a microphone, and I was kinda bored one day, so I decided to stop in and give the regulars a show; demonstrate my prowess with forming C and E chords. It was summer and the July sun had already baked my skin and nobody fun was around to hang with.

And that day I just needed to spill and to give a big FU to my dad.

See, my dad was never around. We'd almost forgotten about him. Honestly. We were bewildered the couple of times he staggered through the kitchen door. I'd once known my dad, but now I had no idea who he was. And he sure didn't know me. He actually didn't even know I was in the room. The Gaiety was only twenty steps away from our little apartment, but for Dad, it was like being banished from heaven and thrust into Purgatory to have to deign to step inside our little family dwelling. He only did it out of a woozy sense of obligation. Mom no longer cared if he showed up at all, my little brother and sister treated him like a visiting stranger, and I chose to ignore him. I was damn sure not going to show him how much it hurt me. Not that he would have noticed. Unlike the little kids, I'd known Dad as a hero; the man who'd taught me about music because he loved it so much.

And now he'd betrayed me. Everything that came before was a lie. You couldn't trust anyone, because people flat-out lied. They portrayed themselves as one thing, but they weren't that. And they didn't care.

I'd been carrying around a giant suitcase of resentment for two years. Granted, I now had a best friend, but friendship and guitars didn't wipe out the hell Mom and Dad had put me, a kid, through. Snubbing my parents was only a band-aid. It would take me about thirty years to rip the band-aid off. Lucky I didn't know that at the time.

Clad in a sage blouse with tied straps and corduroy shorts; barefoot, I walked in the back door of the Gaiety, nonchalant; carrying a big beige acoustic guitar with steel strings. Somebody had left it in a motel room (people were always leaving stuff behind and I was always confiscating that stuff). I hadn't yet saved up enough dollars to buy that red Stella I'd been salivating over in Dahner's Music's window. That cream-colored behemoth stung my fingers, but I'd long ago learned to strum through the pain.

I turned the knob on the amp that powered the microphone, pulled up a backless stool, sat down, bent the mic stand toward me, flipped the pick out from between the frets of my guitar and began my show:

Granted, I hated that song, but it was a crowd-pleaser.

This song wasn't from 1968, but it was an old standby, and I figured the drunks would like it:

An impromptu lounge performance would not be complete without this next song. As an added bonus, I knew all the chords:

Merle really knew how to reel the hard-core drinkers in. I knew this one would be gold:

It wasn't easy to sing all the parts of this song, but I plunged on ahead:

I didn't sing any "women" songs, because I knew I wasn't a good singer. I understood my limitations. Nevertheless, I put on a really fine show. Trouble was, all the sports-shirt wearing patrons kindly ignored me, including the guy behind the bar who was fizzing up drinks -- my dad. I didn't even get a smattering of applause. I got NO applause. Granted, the after-work guzzlers were no doubt puzzled about why some random pre-teen had shown up to give a performance, but the polite thing would have been to clap, at least half-heartedly. 

I don't remember ever being embarrassed by my kids. They were never brazen like I was, admittedly. But even if they had been, I would have offered an "attaboy". Courage deserves its own reward. My dad pretended like he didn't know me. 

I, for one, was satisfied with my one-woman show. In the moment, I chose to ignore my complete lack of acknowledgment. I hefted my freakish guitar out the back door I'd come in, carried it back to my room, and lay down to take a nap. 

I'd like to ask Dad what it was about that day that dismayed him. Maybe it was that I infringed on his lair. Maybe he sauntered off to The Gaiety to get away from troublesome burdens, like his family. Maybe I was wrong to infiltrate, but I was thirteen and full of piss, and I needed to do this.

Dad, you may be interested to know that I took my three chords and eventually wrote some songs of my own -- one, in particular, about you. 

You never know what a kid might turn out to be.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Missed It! (and a music video)

 I just found out (today) that July 8 was World Writing Day.  Waddayknow?  I didn't even know there was a World Writing Day....and I missed it.  I didn't write one single word that day.

Wait.....I might have scratched something on a notepad.  A reminder to myself to do something.  Does that count?

So, in order to actually have a purpose for this post, I thought I would include a music video I did last weekend for a Red River instrumental, called, "Sixteen Summers".

Thank you.  Happy writing, no matter the day!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

I Just Completed A Songwriter Survey

I'd completely forgotten that I had completed a songwriter's survey back in 2009.  It was called a "songwriting, health and well-being" survey, conducted by somebody with a "Dr." in front of his name in Hertfordshire, UK.

Interestingly, one of my very first "fake CD's: was this:

So, I apparently have a kinship with this doctor ~ doctor of psychology, I might add.

This week, I received a follow-up email, asking for my participation once again.

So, I said, okay, I'm bored.  Let's take a look at this.

The survey began by asking if I'd had any life-changing events in the past couple of years.


Then it went on to list a bunch of medical conditions, and asked how severely I suffered from any of them (in the past month).

I'm not entirely sure what that has to do with songwriting, but I did tell him about my allergies.

One of the questions was in regard to "irritability".  Well, who doesn't have that??  I have that at least once a day!  I don't necessarily think that's a medical condition.  I just think it's a byproduct of living in this world.

For example, I had a severe bout of irritability on Friday, when our system went down for three freakin' hours at work.

In fact, I was so irritable, I made a video cartoon of the whole situation:

The IS Guy
by: MichelleAnd

So, Dr. Mindbender, don't blame me for my irritability.  But take it for what it's worth.  I don't think I've written any irritable songs, ever, because that would just irritate me, and why would I want to irritate myself?  That would take all the fun out of writing (which isn't all that much fun to begin with).

But, it's all hocus-pocus, I'm sure.  I'm sure that the good doctor can somehow connect the dots of my song lyrics with some sort of malady that I am apparently suffering from.  Although, again, an allergic rash cannot really account for any of the songs I've written.  That I know of.

The survey also asked questions about "how I feel about myself".  Am I hyper-critical?  Well, yea!  Do I call myself names?  If "idiot" and "imbecile" are names, yes.  Doesn't everybody do that?  At least when they completely screw something up?  That seems normal to me.

Not that I want to "cut myself", as one of the questions asked.  I'm not insane.  I'm just your normal, average, insecure person.  And being the practical gal that I am, I wouldn't want to have to clean up the mess, frankly.

Do I "crave close relationships, but not trust that people will be there for me?"  Oh, blah blah blah.  I'm not nineteen.  I think I can pretty much handle whatever happens to come my way, at this point in my life.  If not, I think I need to go back and start over.

Do I "like myself"?  Well, sure.  I like myself okay.  I'm used to myself.  I don't really have any other frame of reference.  I've lived with myself for fifty-six-and-three-fourths years, so, yes, I'm comfortable.  I'm really kind of over that whole "examine one's life" sort of thing, for the most part.  I strive to be a better person, yes, but I've had a long time to get used to myself, and changes, if any miraculously occur, will be minimal.

The last part of the survey, however, was sort of fun.  It asked me to paste 10 song lyrics that I'd written since I'd completed the survey in 2009.

I honestly don't keep track anymore, so I had to exclude some of my better lyrics, because I had apparently written them before the cutoff, although they seem relatively new to me, so I'm either in a time warp or I'm suffering from some sort of song amnesia.

And, to make matters worse, the songs I wrote for FAWM in 2010, I never transferred to a word doc.  They're all handwritten in a spiral notebook.

The survey asked how many songs I'd written since 2009, and I guesstimated 40, which is pretty good, considering that I haven't written a song in over a year.

So, I kind of scanned my song lyrics, to narrow my choices down to 10, and I found that I had a bunch of good ones.  Too bad the actual songs aren't that good.  But the lyrics are grand-ish.

Being mindful of that fact that this was a psychologist asking the questions, I looked for some kind of hidden motivation or my lyrics.

Granted, the majority of my lyrics are either wistful or sad, but aren't most songs??  I mean, how many happy songs does one hear anyway?  Other than "Walkin' On Sunshine"?

But it was still kind of fun to look back, and, it's not an MMPI test, but I get what the guy (sorry, doctor) is looking for.  Some sort of window into the soul, or the psyche.

I ended up including about eight sad songs, and two happy ones.  That seems about right.

Here's a sad one:


There's an ice storm
Gettin' close, they say
You better get on in
This cold don't look
Like it will subside

Lock your windows
Latch the door behind
It creeps in silently
It gets into your bones
Into your mind

Ice storms, quiet storms
Crackin' hearts in two
Ice storms don't warn
Look out for me and you

You can see it
Through the window panes
When they leave their shades undrawn
They didn't see the chill
'Til it came on

As he sits there
Starin' silently
While she hides away upstairs
They wonder if they ever even cared

Ice storms, quiet storms
Crackin' hearts in two
Ice storms don't warn
Look out for me and you

Pull the covers over, babe
We're gonna keep us warm
Stay inside and we'll be fine
We can fight the storm
We can fight the storm

Ice storms, quiet storms
Crackin' hearts in two
Ice storms don't warn
Look out for me and you

Look out for me and you


Here's a happy one:


Tall lemonade
In the shade of the tree
No one around
‘Cept the birds and me
It’s a cool, cool day
Wastin’ my time away

Puffy white clouds
On a pallet of blue
Conspire with me
For a daydream or two
It’s a cool, cool day
Wastin’ my time away

Everybody says
You gotta do somethin’
I know that’s not true
If somethin’ means nothin’
I’m on board
Cuz that’s what I’m gonna do

The bees go about
Their work silently
I don’t bother them
They don’t bother with me
We’re sharin’ the flowers
While I’m wasting my time away

Everybody says
You must do somethin’
I know that’s not true
If somethin’ means nothin’
Then I’m on board
And that’s what I’m gonna do

The sun’s wavin’’ goodbye
On an orange halo
I think I’ll linger awhile
I’m not ready to go
It’s been a perfect day
Wastin’ my time away


I think the motivation, oftentimes, for a songwriter, is to write in the present.   And if I am sad, wistful, or if I am irritable, what better way to vent than in a song?  It's not that I don't write some happy songs, but, frankly, those are written out of either boredom or desperation, or out of the effects of a couple of drinks.

For the record, I was feeling sort of lazy, so I didn't do an in-depth analysis of the best all-time lyrics that I ever wrote.  I tend to go by "feel", because you know those artistic folks.  They don't actually "think".  They just "feel".  But these felt right.

NOTE:  Feel free to stop reading here.  I'm mainly including these other eight songs, because I never actually transcribed the lyrics anywhere, and I kinda would like to have access to them.

Here are the other eight.  The recordings are horrible.  One must possess the patience of a saint to actually listen to them. 


I feel like I’m lost
In a thousand towns
Where nobody wants to know my name
Hard as I knock
The doors hold their locks
And it keeps getting’ colder every day

I said your sign says friendly town
They said, that means to each other
The shades are drawn, I don’t belong
I guess I’ll move along

It’s time to right what’s turned out to be wrong

I feel like I’m lost
In a thousand towns
Where nobody wants to know my name
Hard as I knock
The doors hold their locks
It’s time to start all over again

My bag never was unpacked
That simplifies the goin’
I’d say my goodbyes
But no one’s here to tell
I won’t forget this little slice of hell

I feel like I’m lost
In a thousand towns
Where nobody wants to know my name
Don’t change your locks
I’m not gonna knock
You won’t have to see me again

©  Michelle Anderson  2010


It’s two o’clock
And I’m still awake
And I don’t know why
I’m up so late
I got the wanderin’ around
Head spinnin’ ‘round blues

I’m gonna hate myself
When it’s five a.m.
And I’m blurrin’ the lines
Between live and dead
Sure hate those wanderin’ around
Head spinnin’ around blues

I blame you
It’s almost three
You don’t what
What you’re doin’ to me

It’s time for me
To go to bed
I gotta get you
Outta my head
I got the wanderin’ around
Head spinnin’ ‘round blues

I blame you
Cuz now it’s four
I just can take
This anymore

Nighty night
It’ll be a short night’s sleep
It’s not even worth
Botherin’ the sheep
I got the wanderin’ around
Head spinnin’ ‘round blues

Wanderin’ around
Head spinnin’ ‘round blues



Broken hearts
Missing parts
Feels undone

Muddy skies
Empty eyes
See no one

Never sung
Never begun
When you’re only one

Turn away from hope
It’s fadin’
Can’t go on like this
Much more

Tell yourself lies
Say it’s all right
To be on your own

Cold dark hurts
Dreams desert
And you’re all alone


RUNDOWN TOWN (Yes, I like "towns")

Things never change
In this rundown town
Except it gets more
Run down

People disappear
And they never come back
And the store windows
Are black

They say why you don’t you go
I say hell if I know
Is it any better someplace else

The devil that you know
Might not give a real good show
But I’ve determined life
Is just like that

I walk down the streets
Of this rundown town
I can close my eyes
And know the way

From time to time somebody goes
Leaves little curios behind
I pick them up  
And haul them away

They say why don’t you go
I say hell if I know
It don’t feel like this is my day  

The cracks are getting deeper
And my bones startin’ to moan
But I’ve determined life
Is just that way

©  Michelle Anderson  08-19-11


Words can hurt
Silence costs
You’re lost in anger
I'm just lost

Another day
Another ride
Too lonely, too hurt
To even cry

Can’t say
I’ve stopped trying
I still need to understand
Doesn’t matter
To an unclasped hand

You just might
Say that you love me
But tonight

Chalk up the day
I’ll be a stone
You don’t want me
I’ll leave you alone

Can’t say
I’ve stopped trying
I still need to understand
Doesn’t matter
To an unclasped hand

I’ve done something
I don’t know
Does it matter
I’ll fall asleep alone

Words hurt
Silence costs
I’m feeling
Feeling so lost

© Michelle Anderson 02-18-11


There’s a place I want to take you
Tonight, somewhere so quiet
Away from the house, past the windbreak trees
Nobody knows this place but me

Hold my hand, I’ll guide you
Through the low-hanging branches
That long ago stepped back, a path
They made for nights like this

Stars tumble from an envelope of sky
A blackbird tilts across the moon
I can be anything at all here
Somehow I always knew
What I’d choose to be is
Alone with you

The breeze brushes across your face
Enough to blow the stars in
In the fields lying fallow
Our bare feet kiss the ground

Nestled by this cottonwood
Is a clutch of red wildflowers
Would you mind if I picked
This one for you

As the stars tumble from an envelope of sky
A blackbird tilts across the moon
I can be anything at all here
Somehow I always knew
What I’d choose to be is
Alone with you

No one has ever seen it
Quite like this
All I'm needin’ now
Is your soft kiss

Stars tumble from an envelope of sky
A blackbird tilts across the moon
I can be anything at all here
Somehow I always knew
What I’d choose to be is
Alone with you

© Michelle Anderson 02-19-11


 My best friend has gone away
I wonder where she is
I wonder if she’s singin’ out
Like she always did

Road tales, imposed travails
Intersecting lines
But now she left with no farewell
And I’m cryin’ why

Yesterday I saw
Somethin’ that made me laugh
Then I looked around and realized
Nobody else would understand

My best friend’s still dancin’ ‘round
It’s just with someone else
She’s prob’ly laughin’ at me now
Knowin’ she’ll see me again

But I miss her



I rolled with you down that road
A hundred miles ago
As we grazed that prairie sky

Songs would fade to static there
The sky it was so dark
And we traced the midnight line

All those years I was your biggest fan
But maybe now it’s time to say goodnight
It hurts to hold on endlessly
Even after all these years I still can’t smile

You left your guitar just lying there
No one dared pick it up
So I thought maybe I would

No stones, no thrones, just flesh and bone
And livin’ for a song
Capturing time when it was good

All those years I was your biggest fan
But the pain, it never goes away
I can’t go on like this endlessly
Maybe we should decide to say goodbye

They can say they knew you well, all right
But you and I both know
How the stars glowed on those dark prairie nights

©  Michelle Anderson  2010

It was fun, I admit, to look back.  It almost makes me want to write again.  Almost.

And if I was to psychoanalyze myself, I would say, well, she's a syrupy sentimentalist, with underlying feelings of rejection,  She tends to dwell on the dark side of relationships; yet, she has an optimist's eye for the healing power of nature.

And she's lazy.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Yes, I Do Write Songs, Too

Unbelievably, I don't just write about music; I actually write music.

Granted, those days are few and far between.  Nevertheless, I do have my moments.  And what better way to disseminate those moments than by video?

I will preface this by saying that this was a scratch vocal.  It was meant to be a guide track, and the actual "real" vocals were going to be recorded later.  For whatever reason, "later" never happened.

This was a FAWM song.  I'm thinking it was 2010.  So, you see how far behind the times I am.  But I always had an affinity for this song, so there you go.  And here you go.

Wastin' My Time Away:

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Goodbye To The Old

As we say goodbye to 2011 (where did the time go?), it has become an annual tradition for Red River to do a bit of reflection, with a video titled, Ring In The Old.

Here is the 2011 edition:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Here it is, the morn of Thanksgiving, and I feel like I should write something about thankfulness.

I'll admit, I've not been in a very thankful mood lately, so it's a bit difficult to wrap my mind around the concept, but I'll give it a whirl.

I think, when the big things go wrong, one has to remember the little things.

Here are some little things, in no particular order:

A hot cup of coffee in the morning.

Slapping on a CD of old, familiar tunes (today, I like this one):

Watching a Modern Family episode, and always welling up at the end.

Waking up to see my dog stretched out on her back in the middle of the night, paws up in the air, serene. (I don't actually have a photo of this!)

Expressing creativity with $0.00.

My cat curled up next to me on the bed.

Talking to God.

Finding a book that's so good, you think about it even when you're not reading it. I recommend this one:

A good friend. (That comes before all that other stuff; just so you know!)

Last, but MOST, my husband.

(He doesn't like the publicity.)

I don't really know what to write about my husband that wouldn't sound cliche and superficial.

I guess what I would say is, he's my best friend (really), and he takes care of me. And I take care of him. And he's really smart and really creative. And life hasn't exactly been fair to him, but I was just going to go with the "thankful" stuff today, so disregard that last part. (Besides, who said life was fair?)

So, thankfulness isn't really that difficult after all.

There is a definite dearth of good Thanksgiving songs. I'm not really interested in hearing about a turkey, if you know what I mean. So, every year, I come back to this one.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

It's Rather Hard to Describe

As my husband does more and more original stuff, it challenges me, as the designated videographer, to broaden my horizons.

I find that I'm bored with the mundane. Aren't you?

Maybe that's why I hate new country music so much. It's so boring, so predictable. Everybody is afraid to do anything against the grain. "Ooh, if it doesn't sound like what Kenny Chesney/Keith Urban/whoever the heck is popular now, is putting out there, then I'm doomed. DOOMED!"

But enough about what they call "country music". This is a rock song, and a concept, if you will.

I find it interesting, and challenging, to get inside someone else's head and come up with something suitable.

As someone who relies upon pre-presented photos and little animated GIFs that I find here and there, my resources are limited. I work with what I have, and that's sort of the fun of it.

So, herewith, is "A Black Horse":