Warbler





Warbler is my first and - to this point - only full-length recording. The 11 songs which comprise the album were written over a period spanning more than a decade. 

Warbler was selected for the record's name not just for the musical connotations (warbling=singing), but because - as a boy - I was very fond of birds.

I'm still fond of birds now, but that association with my youth has been important in my other art. And it's no less so here. 

Conceptually, Warbler is programmed with several esoteric themes in mind - the 'descent' of spirit into matter, the transmigration of soul, death, rebirth and love. 

The album is an attempt to share impressions from an inner journey that's taken two decades to complete, and to make real numinous music I first heard in my dreams.      

Excepting some minor engineering contributions from a couple associates, Warbler is entirely a 'Chris Morgan joint'. Songs were recorded using analog four-track machines (Fostex/Yamaha), Audacity, Sony Acid 9 and Soundforge.

Please note: I'm not a trained musician, engineer or producer, nor do I ever intend to be. Warbler was truly a labor of love, made possible only by the deep and abiding affection of the muses who inspire me.

Warbler was mastered on November 11, 2014 at The House of Miracles by Andy Magoffin. The album was posted as a playlist on Soundcloud several days later.

***

.The Songs



The Light
In winter time, a silence so sublime,
The earth asleep beneath the snow.
You define to me simplexity,
You don't know how you know but you know...

A cosine to the sine of your soul.
In one life, we all will play many roles.
All matter formed deep from within the sun.
That's where we'll return when we are done...

So to shine again as the light.

Could we name the day without the night?
Or black without white?
How could we know what's wrong from right?
Or pain from delight?

If we believe something, does that make it true?
Is truth what you do?
If what is real to me, is real to you?
And our sky still is blue...

A cosine to the sine of your soul.
In one life, we all will play many roles.
All matter formed deep from within the sun.
That's where we'll return when we are done...

Some things travel faster than the speed of light,
The thoughts of you, all humanity, too,
Now are taking flight.
Taking flight despite your journey through the night...

So to shine again as the light.

*********************************************************************************

The earliest mix of 'The Light' was completed in late 2010, and represented one of my first serious efforts using loops and samples in a song.

'The Light' takes its moniker - and most prominent samples - from American composer Philip Glass' symphonic work of the same name.

Like any song an artist might select to open an album, I wanted the first tune on Warbler to be a 'mission statement'.

Glass' composition - a personal favorite - proved important in this respect, since it lent itself well to re-contextualization, and wasn't a piece of music that would be immediately recognizable to most listeners.

A standard rock compliment of guitars, keyboards and percussion round out the arrangement for most of the tune. Only in the final section are the strings briefly retired, returning for a last reprise and a slow fade at the song's denouement.    

Lyrically, 'The Light' is the closest I've come to expressing a personal cosmology in a song.

They suggest a perspective arising from both intuition ("You don't know how you know, but you know") and observation (day/night, black/white dichotomies). 

Light makes shade and color possible, but more esoterically - and scientifically - everything in the universe is made of light, although it is light that is 'frozen in time'.

As a songwriter, I seek truth. The truth about myself and my experiences. The truth about others, and truth about the universe around me.

I am joined on this journey by the seemingly unknowable 'other' - "the cosine to the sine of my soul" - who embodies in the world those characteristics and qualities I both accept and fear in myself.

In the light of self-knowledge such as this, it is possible to embrace the duel nature - body and soul - of my human experience on Earth. This is the POV I present to the listener on Warbler's opening track.

***       



Just A Dream
The other day, a little boy say,
"Life is just a dream".
If that's true, then all we do,
We're doing in our sleep.

If it's all just a dream,
And it's as it seems, what does it mean?

Awake! It's the new day.

Getting older, with world on shoulder,
Will it ever end?
Money lent, and money spent,
But you only want a friend.

Awake! The day will not wait.

If it's all just a dream,
Who is it creates the scene?
If it's all just a dream,
Are we the dreamers, or the dream?

Awake! You're sleeping too late.

Metaphysics has its limits,
I can't prove a thing.
What we feel becomes what is real,
And that is why I sing.

Awake! It's the new day.

If it's all just a dream,
Will we wake up eventually?
If it's all just a dream,
Does our consciousness just float upstream?

Oh!

If it's all just a dream,
Then what's the underlying theme?
If it's all just a dream,
Then maybe it's a prophecy...
If it's all just a dream,
All that we have seen or seem,
If it's all just a dream,
Can it connect us to the love supreme?

If it's just a dream?

*********************************************************************************

Dreams have always played an important part in my life. Some of the earliest conversations I remember having as a kid were about dreams. Even today - although I'm no longer young (if I ever was) - I'm still fascinated by the subject.

This song was born during a fertile creative period in 2010. I use the word 'fertile' because conditions existed that allowed for easy and abundant musical expression, 'Just A Dream' was one such expression, a kernel of a song that announced itself to me one afternoon while I was napping.

I woke with the opening triad of notes and straight-ahead drums ringing in my head. Kindly Queen Mab had given lyrics and melody for the song's chorus, too - "If it's all...just a dream".

Over the next several weeks, the tune percolated at the back of my consciousness. I varied each line of the chorus to suggest different aspects of dreams, whether dreamers are detached observers of their dreams, or if they embody all aspects of their dream; whether dreams can be prophetic and - of course - the idea of life itself being a dream.

The 'little boy' mentioned in the first verse of the song was the son of a friend who had spent much of his short life living with a very serious illness. Forced to confront his mortality at such a young age, the boy had adopted a surprisingly philosophical outlook on his circumstances.

During one harrowing occasion, the boy had said that life was, 'only a dream' to settle the nerves of his anxious mother. I was told this story around the time I recorded the tune, and the anecdote provided the inspiration for the song's first verse. 

'Just A Dream' was demoed in 2010 using Audacity; later, the song's tracks were transferred to Sony Acid 9, and improved with additional vocal and instrumental refinements.

 

*** 
  .          


Things Like That
Something short of sudden,
Arriving just in time,
Fortune, she is smiling,
Just loving how you shine.

Stories give it sense,
Though the plots don't seem to fit.
The drama might escape us,
The mask may never fit.

There are forces working,
To fill up what we lack,
I have heard that angels would do,
Things like that.

And if there is some great divide,
Forever through it, the angels guide.
And if there is still distance more,
They will carry you, as before.

There is no language to the holy,
The sacred lies in the ordinary.
There is no language to the holy,
The sacred lies in the ordinary.

The beautiful unfolding,
Of all there is to know,
Many lives behind us,
And many more to go.

The beautiful unfolding,
Beyond all faith and fact,
Could it be the angels are just,
Things like that?

And if there is some great divide,
Forever through it, the angels guide,
And if there is still distance more,
They will carry you as before.

There is no language to the holy,
The sacred lies in the ordinary.
There is no language to the holy,
The sacred lies in the ordinary.
There is no language to the holy,
The sacred lies in the ordinary.
There is no language to the holy,
The sacred lies in the ordinary.

*********************************************************************************

I have said that dreams inspire many aspects of my music, both musically and lyrically.

In the case of 'Things Like That', it was the song's original title - '(Angels Would Do) Things Like That' - that was dream-sent, a night vision in which I caught a glimpse of an imaginary band's set list.

For me, the original title was too suggestive. I'm uncomfortable expressing allegiance to any kind of organized religious belief. As an adult, I don't self-identify as a Christian, and the angels in this song don't belong to any particular faith tradition.

Instead, the angels are meant to represent all the hidden positive aspects of life that come to the fore when a person faces adversity. They represent the emotional growth and wisdom that comes with knowing when to cling, and when to let go.

The original version of this song was recorded in 1998 on a Yamaha four-track as a gift for my mom.

This early mix featured both my brothers (on drums and lead guitar, respectively) and my dad playing an organ patch on his Roland keyboard.

I attempted to preserve the spirit of the original recording by asking my brother to contribute lead guitar to the version that appears on Warbler. The guitar line he played - (at my behest) - echos the song's vocal melody.

'Things Like That' was written using DADGAD - or Celtic tuning - one of two songs on the album to have been written using non-standard tuning ('Young Love' is the other).

Combined with the esoteric, New Age-y lyrics, I hoped to evoke a mystical feeling of universal oneness, in which the artifice of religion falls away, revealing an essential truth - 'There is no language to the holy / The sacred lies in the ordinary'.

To me, such truth is self-evident. In this condition of understanding, we can celebrate the connections that bring people together, instead of the differences that so often threaten to tear us apart.



***
  

You're the One!
You are the one!
You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one.
You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one.

You're the one who never tried to,
Turn me into someone else.
Accepting me for what you could perceive,
Inside the heart, my sweet,
Undoubtedly, you are the one.

You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one.

Sought love high, throughout expanding skies,
And then I sought love low, in places no one goes,
Fortunately, you would always be,
Right there, upside of me,
Undoubtedly, you are the one.

You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one.
You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one.

You're the one set above others.
So much more than a lover.
There could not be another,
In this world for me...

You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one.
You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one.

That's the way we both live everyday,
Work becomes just like play - no game delay!
Like the sun that warms me,
Lights the way before me
Meant to be - eternally - you are the one!

You're the one, you're the one, you're the one!

You're the one set above others.
So much more than a lover.
There could not be another,
In this world for me...ya!

You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one.
You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one,
You're the one, you're the one.

*********************************************************************************

One night in February or March 2007, I had a dream. In it, a co-worker approached me and wanted to play me a song.

The air was suddenly filled with the most incredible swirling, celestial music, violins primarily, moving up and down a major scale, with the steady throb of a four-on-the-floor kick drum underneath.

As the music played, a single phrase became audible - "You're the one! You're the one! You're the one! You're the one!"

I remembered the music from the dream after I woke. "That's a happy piece," I thought. I knew I would do something with it, because the phrase was so melodic and persistent. But I wasn't sure where to go next.

It was a 40-minute drive between work and home in those days, so I had plenty of time to ruminate on things. One of the things I thought about was a melody that could accompany the music I had heard in the dream.

Over the next few days, I carved out a verse for the song while driving and singing to myself. I had a few dummy lyrics and improvised a bridge the next time I played through the changes on guitar.

Combined with the chorus bit from the dream, I had - quite effortlessly - written a catchy little song.

When my Dad - a 1960s and '70s pop music aficionado - heard it, he asked if I had ever heard of Ron Sexsmith, an acclaimed Canadian singer-songwriter.

I made several folk flavored recordings of 'You're the One' before settling on the 'found art' mix that I began in earnest in 2010.

That summer, with Katy Perry's song 'Teenage Dream' as a musical template, I began production work, using loops, samples and my own instrumentation to build a unique, 'pop-like' sound from the ground up.

(Of course, my piece doesn't sound anything like Ms. Perry's. But I was fascinated by the bass sounds in 'Teenage Dream' and tried - in my own DIY fashion - to recreate the same vibe in my tune.)

The song's opening approximates - only poorly - the exultant, exuberant atmosphere as I heard it in my dream.

In 2014, I did a house mix that teases out some of the more subtle instrumental and vocal bits I loaded into the final version of the song.

Lyrically, 'You're the One!' is about the numinous aspects of human love, and the joy of kindred spirits, united in friendship.



***


Young Love
Only time will tell if we are right or we are wrong,
Young love in the summertime, lasting all year long.

Stealing glances, taking chances, are we finally alone?
Then you said, "Let's go to bed; let's act like we're at home"...

Keep your voice down, or the kids will hear.
Keep your voice down, my parents are downstairs.

So you want to run away,
Give up all the games you play,
Laid low by a dismal day,
Young love always finds a way.

When you die, I'll be by your side, you won't leave this life alone.
Young love never ages like the bodies we have on loan.

Most things fade with time, but not the light inside the heart,
Young love brings together the ones who were apart.

So you want to run away,
Give up all the games you play,
Laid low by a dismal day,
Young love always finds a way.

Reconsider, you can stay,
In my heart most every day,
You don't have to go away,
Young love always finds a way.

Keep your voice down, or the kids will hear.
Keep your voice down, my parents are downstairs.

Our love always finds a way.

*********************************************************************************

The dust is still settling from 'You're the One!' when the chords of the next song begin. 'Young Love' was the last piece to be written for Warbler.

The music for the song was composed in 2012 using CAFDGF tuning, but it wasn't until a couple years later - in the summer of 2014 - that I wrote the lyrics, which I consider to be some of my finest.

I'd just turned 40, and found myself in a curious state-of-mind.   

I was unusually creative, more productive than I had been in some time. But most significantly, I felt I was seeing things more clearly than I had in years. In short, I was experiencing growth

It wasn't unexpected. For a long time - several years, in fact - I had felt like I was 'pregnant' with something, an idea, maybe, or a novel way of seeing the world. My notebook at the time has many references to this idea of 'birth and rebirth'.

Part of that idea involved revisiting the profound and heady days of young love, formative relationships which will never be forgotten, no matter how sweet and/or melancholy they may have been.

I've always had a thing for unrequited love. It's innocent, but it's intense, and it sends my mind and heart on imaginative flights of fancy that no novelist could match.

I'm also a sucker for all the things that make romantics swoon - soul mates, torch songs, and singing to God in one another - so I wanted the lyric to encompass both the anticipation and the consummation of that idealistic, all-encompassing kind of love.

When I was a teenager, my girlfriend(s) and I would fool around in our parents homes, but we always had to be mindful of the noise, because we didn't want Mom or Dad busting in on us.

I had a feeling of deja vu when my own kids were young, and I wanted to make time with my partner. We had to keep the noise down, so they weren't knocking at our bedroom door.

The symmetry of those two experiences were the origin of the lines: "Keep your voice down / Or the kids will hear / Keep your voice down / Both my parents are downstairs."  

I did, in fact, fall in love while writing this song.

I fell in love with all the possibilities that exist when two people have loved each other for as long as they can remember.

I fell in love with the notion that the past is as malleable as the future, and that changing direction at any point re-contextualizes an individual's life in unimaginable ways.

In short, I found God - for a while, anyways - and as it turns out, God is Love.

        

***



How Did It Come To This?
How did it come to this sorry state?
And what is to come?
Should I resign and embrace my fate,
Like ev'ryone?

How can I deal with the wars of late?
And all the smoking guns?
How did it come to this sorry state?
Thy will be done.

And the only way outta here,
Is through the shadow of greatest fear.
So light a candle and keep it near,
The day is done and the night's unclear.

And the only way outta here,
Is through the shadow of greatest fear.
So light a candle and keep it near,
The day is done and the night's unclear.

Is there something new to create,
Under the sun?
Or just more copies to replicate,
But no original one?

How did it come to this sorry state?
Look how far I've come...
It gives me pause now, just to contemplate,
The things I left undone.

And the only way outta here,
Is through the shadow of greatest fear.
So light a candle and keep it near,
The day is done and the night's unclear.

And the only way outta here,
Is through the shadow of greatest fear.
So light a candle and keep it near,
The day is done and the night's unclear.

*********************************************************************************

This song represents the nadir of the musical journey on Warbler; a dark night of the soul, but it is the whole world enshrouded. The certainty expressed in 'Young Love' is replaced with doubt and apprehension of a person coming to terms with their deepest fears.

'How Did It Come To This' was written in the fall of 2002. Small changes were made, and a demo emerged from a recording session in early 2003.

The simple changes and conspicuous melody belie the fact that the lyrics are quite despairing.

They reflect a grim period in my life, struggling to provide for my young family and working all the time, only to have nothing at day's end.

I was bedeviled by memories, and frustrated by the situation in which I had found myself.

I remember well the summer of 2002, how the drums of war sounded as the media bluster around a US invasion of Iraq started to pick up steam. I was dismayed by this development, as I had been about all but the most necessary military intervention post 9/11.

But also, I saw that the Internet and a 'culture of spectacle' were starting to shape the world around me to an unprecedented degree. 

Media companies had only caught a glimmer of the magnitude of what file sharing and streaming technology would mean in the coming years, and most of them - rightly or wrongly - were resistant to the inevitable truth that would change their industry forever. 

Digital technology offers the replication of information, perfectly. But I sensed  a human element had gotten lost in the chasm between the binary extremes of 0 and 1.

I felt I was able to acknowledge that loss with this particular piece.      

'How Did It Come to This ' was written on a Hammond organ. The final mix featured a standard keyboard, bass and Roland TR-808 drum samples.



***



Workers of the World, Unite!
I got laid-off with two weeks notice,
From a downsizing company, so they floated us.
Standing on our shoulders, promoting prosperity,
Though their capital has no loyalty.

Rich men give money, it means nothing to me,
To relinquish their possessions would be real charity,
In devotion to bottom-line figures,
Between the have and have-nots, the gap gets bigger.

They know the price of everything,
But the value of nothing,
No, they aren't like you and me,
They have more money.

When the workers of the world unite,
To re-claim what is theirs, by right,
Many millions will join the fight,
When the workers of the world unite!

You see, the harder that I work,the less I get paid.
Been living hand-to-mouth, while the Man has it made.
It's not just me; it's the same the world over.
So I'll take what's mine - in overtime - before I get older.

Now I support the left, but I'm leaning to the right.
And while I have no degree, I have some insight.
'Cause I'm not talking about the revolution,
Without co-operation, there'll be no solution.

They know the price of everything,
But the value of nothing,
No, they aren't like you and me,
They have more money.

When the workers of the world unite,
To re-claim what is theirs, by right,
Many millions will join the fight, (Workers unite!)
When the workers of the world unite!(Workers of the world, unite!)

When the workers of the world unite, (Workers unite!)
To re-claim what is theirs, by right, (Workers of the world, unite!)
Many millions will join the fight, (Unite!)
When the workers of the world unite!(Unite!)

When the workers of the world...unite.

*********************************************************************************

Named after Karl Marx's rallying cry from The Communist Manifesto (1848), 'Workers of the World, Unite!' was born out of my frustration and anxiety of being 'a cog in the wheel' in the modern workplace.

More specifically, the first and second verses were written sometime in 2003 as an expression of anger after having been told to perform a menial task by a boss who seemed detached and uninterested in his own business.

The vocal melodies for the chorus and verses were sketched using a Tascam four-track.

I had ambitious goals for the song from the beginning, seeing it as an opportunity to create my own sort of manifesto; 'communism by way of California' - since I was listening to a lot of 1965/66/67 Beach Boys at the time.

I lifted a couple lines in the song from Oscar Wilde's comedy play Lady Windermere's Fan (1893) without having actually read or seen the work ("They know the price of everything / But the value of nothing").

A co-worker evoked the phrase on a regular basis when criticizing the shortcomings of neoconservative politicians.

The other line, "I support the Left, but I'm leaning to the Right" is my favorite lyric from the song  'Politician' (1968) by Cream.

For me, it was a good way to say that I'm indifferent to the political values associated with labor movements, but I support anything that diminishes the level of state, corporate or church control in people's lives.  

The a Capella bridge in the song is a direct result of my encounters with traditional and modern choral music. It's also partly inspired by Sam Cooke's song 'Chain Gang' (1960).

Aside from the original demo (or 'songlet'), there were several versions of 'Workers' recorded prior to the Warbler version, which was begun in Audacity in spring 2010. After being shelved for a time, it was transferred to Sony Acid 9 in 2013, and refined over subsequent mixes.

The voice at the beginning of the track is that of the infamous 'Cigarette Smoking Man' from the television show, The X-Files (1993-2002). He is used as a proxy to make the argument against humanity's right to be free from demeaning treatment. 

'Workers of the World, Unite!' is my rejoinder to that argument.


***  



Wontchugimmeyoluv?
So work has been rough, and you've had enough.
So work has been rough...

Your hands covered in blood, wanting to get a hold of,
With hands covered in blood...

But like a light from above, after losing sight of,
The light from above...

A feeling, in spite of not going out to the clubs,
I'm feeling, in spite of...

That you'll give me your love,
That you'll give me your love,
That you'll give me your love,
That you'll give me your love...

Between a hawk and a dove, on no side to speak of,
Between a hawk and a dove...

Maybe we should just - , or get within an inch of,
Oh, baby, we should just - ...

While we're making love, it's like we're on drugs,
While we're making love...

And I'm feeling, in spite of not going out to the clubs,
I'm feeling, in spite of...

That you'll give me your love,
That you'll give me your love,
That you'll give me your love,
That you'll give me your love, your love, your love...

That you'll give me your love,
Oh, that you'll give me your love,
Won't you give me your love?
Won't you give me your love..?

Won't you give me your love..?
Won't you give me your love..?
Won't you give me your...
Oh, give me...
Won't you give me your...love?

Oh yeah!
Won't you give me your love?
Won't you give me your love?
Won't you give me your love?
Won't you give me your love..?

Won't you'll give me your love..?
Won't you'll give me your love..?
Won't you give me your - ...?

*********************************************************************************'

Wontchugimmeyoluv?' grew out of an experimental piece of music I recorded in 2008 called 'Billie Takes A Holiday'. Jazz-flavored stylings of performers like Michael Buble and Nora Jones were all the rage in those days, and I thought I'd take a shot at composing something in a similar style. 

It wasn't until some months later, in early 2009, that I wrote the lyrics for the piece. For a long time, I'd wanted to write a full-on 'sex jam', but I never had the right music. But with this song, I knew I could 'loose my inner Lothario'.

Often when I write - whether songs, poems, stories, essays even - I take on a persona. Think of it like writing with an accent, or an actor playing a role. It doesn't matter if the reader/listener is aware or not; it's just a way of composing that allows me to inhabit the thing I'm are writing about.

In 'Wontchugimmeyoluv?', I pictured the lyrics being sung by a middle-aged DJ, exiled to the humdrum world of the suburbs. He's a character who used to party with beautiful people, get smashed on the best drugs, and play clubs with only the most cutting-edge music.

But time's changed, and this aging hipster started looking for something else; something that led him away from the bright lights of the city. He longed to be free from the excesses of his old life, but his appetites were still intact; voracious, in fact. And what does he desire more than anything else? Love.

Now what does love (or 'luv') mean to this character? It's not the wholesome, agape love of 'You're the One!', nor is it the self-sacrificing soul love of 'Young Love'. 

No, this character is a hedonist, and he's also fallen victim to his own unrequited affection for a nameless paramour. The repeated call of "won't you give me your love" is lusty, but also pleading, as he attempts to seduce the woman (or man) who is the focus of his obsession.

'Wontchugimmeyoluv' contains samples from a couple different sources. The fiddle in the opening verse, and the background throb behind the distorted vox that follows the first chorus comes from Fazil Say's recording '1001 Nights in the Harem' (2008). 

The choir audible at the bridge was sampled from a  recording of the 'Winter' movement of Vivaldi's Four Seasons that appeared on a 2006 recording by French chamber choir Accentus.

From a production standpoint, I was inspired by Kanye West's music while working on 'Wontchugimmeyoluv'. 

I won't vouch for the man's celebrity; he plays the fool too often for my taste. 

But as an artist, I feel he knows his songcraft, and his work is vital and uncompromising.



***



Good To Be
Good to be one with you.
Good to be one with you.
Good to be one with you.
Good to be one with you.

After this time, there's always time,
To dwell on the past, get bound up there fast,
Don't leave it behind.

You shine a light, magnificent light.
The shadows may grow, but somehow we know,
We'll win the fight.

Yeah, and it's good to be one with you.
Yeah, and it's good to be one with you.

We've been through things, we've both been through things.
Seems we were just kids when we first did,
Put on those rings.

The more of our love, magnificent love,
To bridge the divide and reconcile sides,
Our love is enough.

Yeah, and it's good to be one with you.
Yeah, and it's good to be one with you.

Our love, it is enough.
Our love, it is enough.

It is enough.

Yeah, and it's good to be one with you.
Yeah, and it's good to be one with you.
Yeah, and it's good to be one with you.
Yeah, and it's good to be one with you.
Yeah, and it's good to be one with you.
Yeah, and it's good to be one with you.
(One with you!)
Yeah, and it's good to be one with you.
Yeah, and it's good to be one with you.
Yeah, and it's good to be one with you.

Yeah, and it's good to be one with you.

*********************************************************************************

As the obsessive sexuality of 'Wontchugimmeyoluv?' yields, the bawdy playfulness of 'Good To Be' takes center stage. Originally titled 'Yoga', this song is about the archetypal marriage of man and woman, both literally, and as a metaphor for describing inner unity.

The song's hook, hypnotically intoning "yeah, and it's good to be one with you" had been with me since 2000, when it suggested itself one morning, uninvited and fresh.

I had no idea what to do with this bit of lyric and melody at the time, but it was interesting and catchy. I could hear how a song could be built around it; still, I needed the motivation to do the work. 

So I wrote the song as an anniversary gift for my long-time partner, who I've lived with for nearly 20 years. The lyrics speak directly to that relationship, and to my fervent belief that love - real love - is enough to save anything. It's a force of nature - as strong, real and pervasive as any other - that affects everyone at some point in life, one way or another.

This tune is as close to traditional soul music as I got on Warbler, and a lot of the production choices - the quirky bass, the robot voices and the wah-wah guitar are nods to contemporary R&B aesthetic.

The earliest version of 'Good To Be' was recorded in 2011 using Audacity freeware. In early 2014, the bed tracks were transferred to Sony Acid 9, and the song underwent further refinements.

***  



London Nights
You took me there,
Past the Thames, cross Covent Square.
And then through Western Fair,
We went everywhere.

And we had our share,
Feeling lighter than air,
When you took me there,
What else could compare?

And London, we'll call, from Euston Hill to Dundas Street.
And London, we'll call, the Forks are where the waters meet.
And London, we'll call, in Masonville, throughout Old East.
And London, we'll call...

Yeah!

And everything was a-light.
And everything was right
On a London night!
On a London night...yeah!

And London, we'll call, from White Oaks Mall to Black Friars Bridge.
And London, we'll call, down Richmond Row and Reservoir's ridge.
And London, we'll call, in Labbatt Park, watching baseballs pitched.
And London, we'll call, as you can see, there really is no hitch.

On a London night!
On a London night...yeah!

And London, we'll call, and spend the night in your embrace.
And London, we'll call, lifted by this city's grace.
And London, we'll call, if conservative becomes commonplace.

And London, we'll call, so everybody knows that London is the place.

*********************************************************************************

'London Nights' is a love song dedicated to my hometown of London, Ontario, Canada. 

It's also my folk fantasia of a perfect occasion in the city: The ideal date with the ideal mate that never was, but should have been. 

All the locations cited in the lyrics are real places, and I can map my life to this point by the landmarks.

The song began its life as a band collaboration in 1999, and it would have been relegated to the dustbin of history when the band broke up, had I not rescued it from certain fate. 

There are three extant demos of 'London Nights' that have been made since that time - one on four-track, one in a 24-track analog home studio setting, and one on computer.

The fourth and final mix - a composite of previous versions - was started in Audacity in 2013, with the intention of entering the finished song in a contest being held by a local radio station. 

The song didn't win, but I later imported the tracks to Acid 9, where I attempted to improve on the work I had already done. 

Acoustic guitar tracks for 'London Nights' were recorded in 2008, during a remote recording session engineered by a long-time associate and his partner. 

The riff for the song, with its unique, ringing timbre, was created by sampling the guitars of previous versions of the tune and blending them, in a defiant act of DIY sound design.

***    



Gifted
Celebrate the past,
The future's here at last.
Life should be this way,
Every day, a birthday.

Life, it is a gift.
Wrapped in love - here it is!
Like finer things we age,
We're better off that way.

The year that is to come.
Everything you have done.
And what you have become.
You're like a rising sun...

Life, it is a gift.
Wrapped in love - here it is!
Like finer things we age,
We're better off that way.

From where do you come?
And where are you going?
Will you guide me to love,
Without even knowing?

Fresh as morning dew,
Everything like new,

A birthday wish for you.

*********************************************************************************

'Gifted' began as a piece of music called 'Moon', which I recorded on four-track in late 1996.

The original lyric for the verse, 'Where are you tonight? / Do you dream of twilight?' was abandoned some 15 or 16 years later when I co-opted the chord changes for a birthday song written for a loved one.

The brush percussion and guitars, as well as other basic rhythmic elements were recorded using Audacity in June 2012. The lyrics, aside from the bridge section ('From where do you come / And where are you going') are unique because they were composed in my cranium the night before I recorded the piece.

After producing a demo of the piece, I set it aside until the summer of 2014, when it was programmed as the final song on the LP. The tune was revised more extensively than the others I worked on at the time, especially with regards to the percussion. 

Final drum tracks were inspired - in part - by the rhythms on 'Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology)' by Marvin Gaye. The layered guitar sounds of Billy Corgan were also a touchstone for this piece.

Lyrically, and also as the final song on Warbler, 'Gifted' represents rebirth, daybreak and the dawning of hope. It's a song about recognizing all the good things you have in your life, not the things you think are missing.

As the song fades, a field recording of the Canada Warbler bird becomes audible. For me, it was the only way to give the listener a proper send-off, given the album's title.


(2014)