Thursday, April 30, 2009

Prose: Lion’s Head Part 1

Backgrounder: “I was one of three tired hikers that tackled a fair-sized piece of the Bruce Trail 15 years ago and got caught in an unexpected storm. I put a few lines about that experience and a canoe trip into a wee book called ‘backpack canoe.’ Another hike is planned this summer - my first solo. So, more brilliant prose [insert laugh track here] will follow.” gaharrison

Lion’s Head Part 1

three tired hikers
could barely huddle
‘neath the rocky point
facing the granite shores
the rounded boulder beaches
of Georgian Bay.

the grey green crag
an ancient prominence
like crumbling brick
gave bare hard shelter
from quick icy pellets
hurled from a sullen
Georgian sky.

[Bruce Trail, Lion's Head: photo gah]

only minutes before
hot sore sweating backs
were gratefully relieved
by full packs set aside
by carefree dives
into calm cold waters.
a black water snake
a slithering ‘s,’ head erect,
had chased us - we gingerly
stepping over smoothed stones -
to higher ground.

a lightning crack
and strong sudden gusts
pushed us inland.

[to be continued]



Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Now That They’re Gone

Backgrounder: “This is a short song, a reminder to treat my friends and family well, and to let them know they mean a lot to me - while I have the opportunity. Part of the song’s inspiration came from learning a fellow teacher (and good friend when we taught together) had died, in the same hospital my dad passed away in, and I didn’t even know he was ill. And after each of my parents died I quickly learned how much I missed them.” gaharrison

Now That They’re Gone

1. I miss my friend now that he’s gone,
I miss him so now that he’s gone.
The Reverend told me that he passed on.
And he went to heaven far too young.
Yes, he went to heaven far too young.

I miss my Mama now that she’s gone,
I miss her so now that she’s gone.
The Reverend told me that she passed on.
And she went to heaven far too young.
Yes, she went to heaven far too young.

2. I miss my Papa now that he’s gone,
I miss him so now that he’s gone.
I know things now I didn’t know then,
And I’d like to tell him he is my friend.
Yes, I’d like to tell him he is my friend.

I miss all these folks now that they’re gone,
I miss them so now that they’re gone.
I know things now I didn’t know then,
And I’d like to tell them they are good friends.
Yes, I’d like to tell them they are good friends.



Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Prose: You Thought it was Hallowe’en

Backgrounder: “While looking for an old wedding photo I found this piece of prose from my university days. It was published in The Gazette (University of Western Ontario) on Feb. 14, 1969, and bears some truth, though it isn’t a very fitting sentiment for Valentines Day. It contains my first reference to whisky, but not my last.” gaharrison

["My university days": March, 1969]

you thought it was Hallowe’en

you thought it was Hallowe’en
all last month.
ever since I first met you,
I thought you were all
dressed up for nothing.

the unmasking took place last
night, and you looked quite
pretty without your mask.

but you were not what
the game had called for.

[Artwork - Tom Rossiter: photo GAH]

(Hallowe’en was over and
the two went tripping home
with an empty bottle of scotch
under their arm,
and when all the ghosts
and night creatures began to play,
she melted into their midst.)

I have not heard from you,
or seen you, since.



Monday, April 20, 2009

Down To My Toes

Backgrounder: “This is the second or third song I sang in public, other than around a campfire. The melody came before the lyrics on this one. The nice easy tune took me back to the time I first met my wife, and 39 years later we still keep each other’s feet warm at night.” gaharrison

Down To My Toes

[August 8, 1970]

I don’t know how
the power of love grows,
I just know it went down
to my toes when I met you.
Oh, love went down to my toes.
I don’t know why
you caught my eye,
Was it something you said
when you walked on by?
I just know I turned
and you caught my eye.


I don’t pretend
to know it all, girl.
I think what I know
is really quite small.
I’m just glad you stopped to chat
I’m glad our love
started off like that,
And I know love went
down to my toes.

2. I don’t know what I said
when we laughed
I just know things happened
real fast when I met you.
Oh, things happened so fast.
I don’t know
what possessed me to say,
That we get together
the very next day. You said yes.
I’m glad you said yes.

3. I don’t know how you could
hit me like this
Or turn me around
with one little kiss
But you did, you hit me like this.
I don’t know where
we go from here,
I just know I want to be
near when I call you,
I want to be near.


Friday, April 17, 2009

I Don’t Have to Say Nothing Again

Backgrounder: “This was the first song I sang in front of a microphone. Even though it was recorded in a friend’s basement I was as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof. Thankfully, my friend is a monster guitar player and made the production sound pretty good. The song itself is from the imagination only.” gaharrison

I Don’t Have to Say Nothing Again

1. I don’t have to tell you you’re special,
I don’t have to tell you I care.
I don’t have to say
you look pretty tonight,
and I like what you’ve done with your hair.
I don’t have to call you my sweetheart,
or say I’ll be true to the end.
‘Cause you’re spending your time
with somebody else,
I don’t have to say nothing again.


No, nothing again, nothing again,
I don’t have to say nothing again.
‘Cause you’re spending your time
with somebody else,
I don’t have to say nothing again.

["This floozie broke my heart": courtesy photo link to Fortune's Pawn]

2. I don’t have to tell you I’m lonely,
and pick up the phone now and then.
I don’t have to tell you
I’m hoping ‘gainst hope,
you’ll stop dancing with the boys in the band.
I don’t have to say that you broke my heart
by sleeping with some other man.
I don’t have to tell you,
you drove us apart,
I don’t have to say nothing again.

3. I don’t have to tell you I’m crazy,
and forgive all the things that you’ve done.
I don’t have to tell you
I’m trying real hard
To find ways that we can have fun.
I don’t have to tell you I need you,
and want you to come home tonight.
I don’t have to tell you
that I still love you.
I don’t have to say nothing again.



Thursday, April 16, 2009

My Life Without You

Backgrounder: “It sounds like I carry around a heavy load of regret. I don’t. I occasionally remember times (like most people, I'm sure) when I could have been a better person, and reflect on what the absolute worst consequences might have been. Also, I know several people who have gone through a divorce, and it ain't pretty.” gaharrison

1. I don’t know why
I’m all set to cry about you.
I don’t know how
I care ‘bout you now like I do.
I must confess
I never guessed that you’d walk out the door.
I failed to see
what my life would be without you.

I won’t get a chance
to have one last dance or hold you.
I won’t hear our song
and then sing along without you.
I didn’t believe
you’d ever leave and never return.
I failed to see
what my life would be without you.


Now I live all alone
in a old country home without you.
The phone doesn’t ring,
I can’t hear birds sing without you.
When I go for a walk
I miss how we talked like so many times before.
I failed to see
what my life would be without you.

2. Now that you’ve gone
not much gets done without you.
Life doesn’t seem fair
and I don’t really care what I do.
Night seems to come fast
and I dream it’s the last that I’ll sleep all alone.
I failed to see
what my life would be without you.



Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Life is Better with You

Life is Better with You - Backgrounder: “So, what do you give a girl at Christmas... especially a girl who already has everything? I mean, my wife already gets the house, car, life insurance, my pension, RRSPs and hockey card collection when I die. Oh yeah, and my workshop and all my tools. So, what else can I give her?” gaharrison

1. You are the best of my friends.
Life can be a long, lonely road,
easier when you share the load
and I’m walking with you.

You are the first of those near,
the closest of those I hold dear.
Time often gets slipping away,
you help me live for today
when I’m walking with you.


Like diamonds in the night sky
I see love shine in your eye.
You treat me better than best,
I’m home when you lean on my chest.
Oh, I know I’ve got a good life
and it’s better with you.

2. You are the best of my friends.
Life can be a dark, dreary place,
brighter when I see your face
and I’m talking with you.

You guard the life that we’ve made,
make sure our memories don’t fade.
Time often gets marching along,
you help me feel that I’m strong
when I’m talking with you.

3. You are the best of my friends.
Life can be a challenging trial,
lighter when I see you smile
and I’m laughing with you.

You’ve been much more than a friend,
our good times don’t seem to end.
Time often seems short in a way,
you make life fuller each day
when I’m laughing with you.



Sunday, April 12, 2009

Don’t Call Me Late for Supper, Mabelene

Backgrounder: “This song was inspired a few years ago by a simple Lyle Lovett tune, though I forget which one. My wife is partial to his tunes so I tried to put a song together she would like. I succeeded on two counts - we both like it.” gaharrison

1. We met at an old country store.
I packed her bags and held open the door.
Well, we started to chat,
I learned her name after that.
Oh, Mabelene was a dish and much more.

One day I walked her back to her house.
Her folks were gone, we held hands on the porch.
I got lost in her eyes,
and two slices of pie,
And the smell of perfume in her hair.

["Elderberry pie - the way to my heart.": photo link]

Don’t call me late for supper, Mabelene.
You are the sweetest girl I’ve ever seen.
You sure are good-looking
and I love what you’re cooking.
Don’t call me late for supper, Mabelene.

2. We got married when we were nineteen.
Her Mama said, “Boy, don’t you treat her mean.”
I said, “You count on me.”
That was 1963.
I can’t live without my Mabelene.

At home she’s in charge of the food.
If I cook it don’t taste half as good.
When Mabelene fills my plate,
a big smile fills my face.
She’s the best cook in our neighbourhood.

3. Mabelene bought a book from Par-ee.
Each day she tries a French recipe.
I eat all I’m able
then lean across the table.
For dessert I always kiss Mabelene.

At night I kiss both of her hands.
‘Cause they taste like her strawberry jam.
And she comes to no harm
when I nibble on her arm.
Mabelene’s the sweetest girl in the land.



Any other Lyle Lovett fans out there?


Friday, April 10, 2009

The Easy Life Ain’t Mine

Backgrounder: “More hard times. Really, I don’t go to bars or sit up late staring into the bottom of a glass. But I know a bit about workin’ for the man and yearning for a simpler life.” gaharrison

1. I don’t like that you left me
because of the friends I choose.
I don’t like staying up passed midnight
with more heartache I can’t lose.
Oh, when I step out on my front porch
with a bottle in my hand.
I see I’m flying pretty high
but I can’t see where I’ll land.


Girl, the simple life ain’t easy,
I don’t even own my car.
I spend my nights reflecting
in a glass inside the bar.
Oh, oh, oh, snoozers, losers, are friends of mine,
and we cannot tell the time.
The simple life ain’t easy
and the easy life ain’t mine.

2. I don’t like all them hours
spent working for the man.
I don’t like paying rent each month
on someone else’s land.
Oh, I’d like a small bit for you and me,
really nothing more than that.
But after years of working hard
I’ll tell you where I’m at.

3. I don’t like that I’m growing old
and living on my own.
I don’t like drinkin’ whisky
just staring at the phone.
Oh, if you ever give me one more shot
at turning my life around.
I’ll try to be like when we met,
keep both feet on the ground.



Thursday, April 9, 2009

I’ll Get Ready When the Party is Done

Backgrounder: “True story: A few years ago my wife and I went to a party that seemed to last forever because of stories, songs, guitars and Scotch whisky. I admit, I stayed too long.” gaharrison

1. After talking with friends
I think I’ll get up and go home.
After talking with friends
I think I’ll get up and go home.
I’ll get ready when
the talking is done.

I see that you’re waiting,
your coat is hung over your arm.
I see that you’re waiting,
your coat is hung over your arm.
I’ll get ready when
the talking is done.


It’s this time of night
that you’ve learned to hate,
You want to go home now
but I don’t think that it’s late.
I think I’ll get ready when
the talking (2. singing, 3. drinking) is done.

2. After singing some songs
I think I’ll get up, get my coat. [repeat]
I’ll get ready when
the singing is done.

I see that you’re fretting,
you’re already half out the door. [repeat]
I’ll get ready when
the singing is done.

3. After drinking this whisky
I think I’ll get up find my shoes. [repeat]
I’ll get ready when
the drinking is done.

I see that you’ve left me,
you’ve gone and headed for home. [repeat]
I’ll get ready when
the drinking is done.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Squirrel Stew from a Mason Jar

Backgrounder: “Last week, while building a birdhouse in my workshop, I heard a toe-tapping tune on CBC radio. The words “I eat squirrel stew from a Mason jar” popped into my head. Yesterday I teased out the following recession anthem. I think it’s brilliant.” gaharrison

1. I eat squirrel stew from a Mason jar,
Though that’s not the way things usually are.

I drive to the store in an old used car,
Can’t afford another, hope it takes me far.
Since I lost my job
the world is upside down.
Been doing more with less
like other folks in town.


I eat squirrel stew, I’m living small.
I buy used clothes and that’s not all.
I use a clothesline to dry my old blue jeans,
And now I know what sticking to a budget means.
I gave up BBQ-ing
because steak’s not cheap,
And what I’ve been sowing
I now must reap.

2. I made a solar oven to save on natural gas,
I cook up pots of oatmeal and make it last.
Now just like my old Papa I’ll eat anything,
I’m using Mama’s recipe for Tuna a la King.

But since I lost my job
tuna has been pretty rare.
Been doing more with less
like my closest neighbours are.

3. I bought more things on credit than I can count,
My debt was growing faster than my bank account.
Easy money flowed out of every corner bank,
For all my credit cards I have lots of folks to thank.
But since I lost my job
I’m cutting to the bone.
Been doing more with less
and I’m not alone.



Squirrel stew, Mason jars, living small, recession... they do go together, don't they?


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Patti’s in the Kitchen, Gordie’s at the Till

Backgrounder: “In my search for the perfect job I tried baking muffins and pouring coffee at The Little Red Roaster for six months. What did I learn? Though the morning started way too early I managed the crowds pretty well until my shift ended at 10 a.m. After I’d earned enough for a bigger motorcycle I hit the road. And that part was perfect.” gaharrison

1. I found me a diner, the food is always great,
The price is good and low, here’s how it operates.
The place runs but one way, you better know the rules,
Patti always does the cooking and Gordie doesn’t suffer fools.
If you ask for an order in a fussy tone of voice,
Gordie points toward the front door while the regulars rejoice.
If you want to use the debit for $1.29,
Start looking for a toonie and step on outta line.


Patti’s in the kitchen, Gordie’s at the till,
She’s cooking up your breakfast, he’s ringing up the bill.
They been running this old diner since 1963,
Eggs are always over easy, and the second cup is free.

2. If you act kinda frantic, say you’re in a rush,
Gotta drive across town, maybe catch a bus.
Patti hollers from the kitchen, loud enough for all,
“If you’re looking just for fast food you can get it at the mall.”
If you say your eggs are runny or the coffee is too hot,
If you think the ham is too sweet and the sticky buns are not.
Gordie points to the big sign hanging on the wall.
“Patti only does home cooking or she doesn’t cook at all.”

3. When you come for the first time it’d really be a shame,
If you ask for skinny lattes or things with funny names.
Gordie will assure you he’ll give it a good try,
Then steer you toward Patti’s elderberry pie.
There aren’t many diners than run along like this,
Where you’ll see the cook and cashier sometimes share a kiss.
But it’s open still on Main St. in my old hometown,
You’ll find me pouring coffee and hear me sing this song.



Though I love old diners I don't think I could handle a busy pace. You?


Friday, April 3, 2009

Prose: You will laugh and know

The wise words of Wendell Berry, American poet and farmer, were brought to my attention recently while reading Entries, a book of prose published in 1994. One phrase, “we belong to one story”, from the piece below struck a cord in me.

The Blue Robe 

How joyful to be together, alone
as when we first were joined
in our little house by the river
long ago, except that now we have

each other, as we did not then;

and now instead of two stories fumbling
to meet, we belong to one story

that the two, joining, made. And now

we touch each other with the tenderness

of mortals, who know themselves:

how joyful to feel the heart quake

at the sight of a grandmother,
old friend in the morning light,

beautiful in her blue robe!

by Wendell Berry

Backgrounder: “Mr. Berry’s poem reminded me that a grandmother walks quietly past my side of the bed every morning, in her own blue robe, trying not to wake me. She seldom succeeds. After 38 years together we now run by the same internal clock.” gaharrison

You will laugh and know

when I was a young man
I wrote long poems for you.
now that I am older
I write a song or two,
and hope the lines
though short on heat
won’t miss a beat
but catch you by surprise.
and you will laugh and know
our youth is in our eyes.



Thursday, April 2, 2009

You’re A Perfect Picture

Backgrounder: “When I sing this song I’m sure my wife, formerly a brunette, wonders if I’m stalking one of the neighbours. No, I’m not. But it’s funny where a simple tune and vivid imagination can lead.” gaharrison

1. You’re a perfect picture.
Long blond hair, old gray sweater.
Faded jeans, a size too small,
My eyes can’t leave your face at all.

* I could watch you, watch you all day long.
You’re a perfect picture,
And girl, you never treat me wrong. (* repeat)

["Black high heels show off your legs"]

2. You’re my guilty pleasure.
I thirst for you like hidden treasure.
When our eyes meet I hold my breath,
I’m lost all day I must confess.

* I get thinking, thinking ‘bout you all day long.
You’re my guilty pleasure.
And girl, you never treat me wrong. (* repeat)

3. You’re my secret passion.
You pass my house in the latest fashion.
Black high heels show off your legs,
Words won’t come quick but I can beg.

* I get dreaming, dreaming, ‘bout you all day long.
You’re my secret passion.
And girl, you never treat me wrong. (* repeat)



Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lordie Lordie

Backgrounder: “I love singing this song. It comes from my desire to be a good egg and keep the peace at home for another 38 years.” gaharrison

1. You ended my life,
then twisted the knife,
Left me nothing but pain.
I was down on my luck,
you stole off in my truck
And shacked up with my brother again.
When I laid down my head,
on our half empty bed,
It smelled like the scene of the crime.
Hanky-panky, I swear it’s the end of the line.

[My younger brother and I. Sure, he looks harmless enough: circa 1953]


Lordie Lordie, I sure drank a snoot-full tonight.
Lordie Lordie, I sure look a horrible sight.
I fell down some stairs,
ripped my new underwears,
And I smell like cheap whisky and beer.
Lordie Lordie, it’s been the worst night of the year.

2. I fell in with friends,
who’d met similar ends,
And had pockets as deep as a well.
They said, “Our love-life stinks
so we’re buying the drinks.”
I said, “Guys, your plan suits me well.”
We emptied the kegs
into our hollow legs,
The police had to settle us down,
Heebee-geebees, I woke up ten miles outta town.

3. Stumbled ‘round until three,
barely able to see,
Still troubled you slept with my kin.
But I’ve made my mistakes
and there’s more that I’ll make,
So can we start over again?
Please come back tonight,
you know I won’t bite,
I’ll make you feel right at home.
Holy-moley, I don’t want to end up alone.