15 days to go…

May 15th

Countdown: In two weeks we’ll be driving through Nevada, heading towards the Arizona state line…

Today I worked a lot on my garden, which lovely as it is, is not the best thing to do when you’re trying to build up callouses. No matter what kind of gloves you wear, moistness will work its way through your fingertips. My lovely gardener Sarah Keller was here much of the day, and I worked with her until about 3:00 when I took a shower and sat down with instruments.  (She left about 4:00 to teach her African Dance class, which she does every Tuesday at 5:00.  Which is how I got to know her, when I first moved to Grass Valley. In fact, African Dance class on Thursdays and Monday night mediation were the ways I began to build what’s become a precious community.)

One of today’s efforts was to figure out how to morph a bit of Travis fingerpicking, learned when I was 15, to the waltz rhythm that belongs to “Night Rider’s Lament.” Maggie, who’s always played guitar on this song when we’ve launched into it at the occasional party, instead strapped on her accordion, and suggested that not only do I not do a boom-chuck-chuck strum on the song, but that I figure out some fills. I appreciate these challenges even as I feel inept. A struggle but I think I came up with something; we’ll work on that tomorrow.

We’re folding “Will Love Come Round Again,” a song written after Tom Lane and I parted company, into our set list. It starts:

     The wind is sighing through the leaves, which are starting to turn

      I’ve seen them change so many times, is there something there to learn?

      You and I have said goodbye,

      Now I rake our love in heaps to burn

      Does love run through the seasons?

      Will spring come round again?

At the time, I managed to write two more verses and a chorus and got the first part of the last verse—

      The wind is lashing through the trees but the branches are stripped bare

      And me I tend my burning leaves, watch the sparks fly though the air

      You and I have said goodbye…

—and stalled. The song languished unfinished for three years. Finally I had a breakthrough:

     … And honey, here’s my prayer

     That love will run through the seasons

     And that spring will come again.

The key is an easy C Major, but the tune skips and jumps, leaping an octave at one point. I love that it does, but it requires strength in my upper register, and it’s satisfying to feel that strength return. Sometimes the song’s title is, “Will Love Come Round Again?” And sometimes it’s called, “Love Comes Round Again.” It depends on my mood. So sometimes I ask, and sometimes I state, the end of the song:

     Love

     All those seasons

      Love

      Will come again

or

      Love

      All those seasons

      Will love

      Come round again?

Listening to jazz and even pop and folk vocalists/musicians whose marriages are happy I realize how seldom they sing the sad moody songs, or how often, even if a song is melancholy, they find a way to resolve to major, or at least a musical lift at the end of the song. I’ve come to think of it as not only a philosophical thing, but a pragmatic one. Working towards ending in major helps keep things from getting minor! Yet all my life, I’ve been attracted to the art, the music, that is a bit melancholy—somewhere I learned to think of sorrow, melancholy,  as more “artistic.” Silly, but there it is.

Which is to say:  I used to finish this song on a minor swirl of notes, singing, sadly,

      Love….. all those seasons come again…

that is, that you might find spring again, but fall/loss will find its way towards you just as surely as those turning leaves…

But I’ve decided to make the title a sentence, not a question. The song IS a prayer—I want love to come round again. It’s been some time. And I’m changing the way it ends, too, even though it sounds odd to end on what is basically a simple C chord.

I’ll talk to Maggie about it tomorrow.

About Sands

Writer, musician, teacher, theater artist. Books include the novel CATCHING HEAVEN, a book of essays and exercises, TOOLS OF THE WRITERS CRAFT, and, forthcoming, FLUNK.START: Reclaiming my Decade Lost in Scientology. A CD of my songs is called RUSTLER'S MOON.
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3 Responses to 15 days to go…

  1. traction says:

    pocketa pocketa bowstrum-ring-yodel….cle-ANTH!

  2. hipster1950 says:

    Love reading these, Sands. Keep ’em coming! Amy & I will be on the train from LA to Seattle soon, then back to Truckee in June for the rest of the summer and, I hope, a musical and culinary intersection somewhere between a Pacific-bound river and your shady & magniificent deck.

    • Sands says:

      Thanks, dear David! Love to you both — have a great time! And indeed on one shady deck or another we will gather this summer. xo

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