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Bob Elliott
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Bob Elliott

5/26/2009 3:51:39 AM

So Here Is Something I Am Writing Lyrics First
Started this morning, wrote out all the words and then fooled with them, and just now started making music to it. Really wanted to try doing something words first after talking it over on the other thread. So far it has seemed like I was saying. Music steps up easy to the words.

Usually, words don't step right up to the music for me. Anyway, I'll just post up progress on this thread. I'm sort of making a pass with the music ideas, and maybe I'll have a recording pretty soon.



Three boats of cedar
Nothing delivered
For the life of a brother
When you stole the flower
Naked at the river
Giving no price for her
As though you could own her
Worth forty moons of labor
and all your land
you sent him to soldier
but he died at your hand
singing songs he had told her
you still don’t understand
the waves in her flesh
were nothing she’d planned
just what the gods did give her

You and I don’t speak
And our business won’t end
Lest I hide by the river
Waiting each dawn
A thousand cold sleeps
Balance to keep
Each life has its price
Thus wide and so deep

But I hear a blind woman
Walks on the river
Say day is night
And night will not leave her
All howl tonight, even the wind
When your soul flies away
The hawks catch it again
Nameless and passive I can’t be seen
Darkness leaves the mountains
And the fog falls between


Just fooling with the one line "Waiting each dawn"

You and I don’t speak
And our business won’t end
Lest I hide by the river
Waiting each dawn

Could be

waiting for a friend

But I don't think so...

wait for you old friend

doesn't seem real. "waiting each dawn" does seem somehow...that's how it is sometimes


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Hop On Pop

5/26/2009 12:39:52 PM ---- Updated 5/26/2009 1:27:46 PM


Very nice, Bob! I will be waiting to hear the new tune; the fruits of your new pursuit.

As to your lyrical conundrum:
You could just go with the very simple:
"Waiting"
and make it just that simple.

Leave it open-ended as to what or who you are waiting for, and when you are waiting for it/him/her.

Of course, I can't hear what it in your head (yet), and don't know whether or not that will work with the flow you have in there. But, it's just a thought. Because I can't keep my damn mouth shut.


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Tom O'Brien

5/26/2009 5:34:25 PM


Have you thought about this in 3/4 time? Some great opportunities for polyrhythmic sections here, too.

I really love this lyric, but if you'll allow me to nitpick - How about, toward the end, saying The OWLS catch it again? Theyre the predators of the night and you had "howl" just two lines before.

And I've always had a problem with the word "thus." It just always sounds pretentious, like "ergo." Why not "So wide and so deep?"

Also, at the end of the first stanza, you have "Just what the gods did give her." I know this relates to "river, delivered, flower, brother" and so on, but "did give her" sounds like you're just filling a missing syllable with "did." Why not just "What the gods gave her?"

And I'm not clear - do you meaning "awaiting each dawn?" (anticipating it) or waiting AT each dawn?

Just some random thoughts.


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Bob Elliott

5/26/2009 6:05:54 PM


Well, you pretty much latched onto the things I have been trying to work out...

Owl, howl...like that.

Ergo I have thusly had problems with thus, too, I think you are right.

But I did at first have "so wide and so deep", and it didn't give the feeling of measurement, but only like saying it's sooooo wide and soooo deep. But I wanted measurement, as though it could be quantified. Thus wide and so deep.

The biggest problem is "what the gods did give her"

The original poem had no line here at all, the thought was just over:

you still don’t understand
the waves in her flesh
were nothing she’d planned

Which is to the heart and finished

But now that I have some music it clearly needs a line here, and the rhyming (or near rhyming) choices can relate to 'river', or 'flesh.' best, rest, test, less, give her, gave her- but the idea is useless. It doesn't need saying. Something that does need saying should be said.

I did actually have 'gave her' as you are suggesting, in fact, that's where I left it last night, but I'm not too cool with "the gods gave her" because somehow it's a sideline thought, you know, the gods...

What really seemed true was "what her mother gave her"

but then it seemed like I was inserting a bit of comedy: "shake what your mama gave ya"

I was okay with that because it was true anyway, but then I started zeroing in on these four lines:

you still don’t understand
the waves in her flesh
were nothing she’d planned
just what her mother gave her

And somehow they are clumsy compared to say the four right before that will sing to the same melody:


and all of your land
you sent him to soldier
but he died at your hand
singing songs he told her (I took out 'had')

See that falls off the toungue, but the next verse doesn't yet.

But I don't want to lose something about "the waves in her flesh were nothing she'd planned"

and also I like the link of "you don't understand" relating to he doesn't understand the songs, but also relating to he doesn't understand "the waves in her flesh were nothing she had planned"

So I stared at it as I went to bed, and thought it as I fell asleep.

I know there is something more elegant.

Thanks for your help.

As for waiting each dawn... truly he did wait each dawn. Not waiting for dawn. Waiting each dawn.

I've come to feel that even though 'dawn' doesn't even kind of rhyme with 'end,' it still kind of works...





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Tom O'Brien

5/26/2009 8:30:07 PM


Sometimes words like "dawn" and "end" work just because they're opposites - dawn is a beginning. They're like a definition rhyme instead of a phonic one. Words relate to others in many ways, emotions and definitions are prime, rhymes are just a nice afterthought.


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Bob Elliott

6/1/2009 7:28:52 AM


Okay, here it is. I didn't do any dubs on it. Just played it into one mic with the guitar and voice.

I'm gonna send it out to Tom and Sean and Matt to see if they wanna lay anything on it. I think it's cool...

My voice is way out ahead of the guitar, but it's an honest recording. Couldn't get a take 'til my wife came in the studio to read...

Here's the link, it's second on my page called "Three Boats of Cedar," if anyone is interested.

http://iacmusic.com/songs.aspx?SongID=74506&ArtistID=8956


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The Last Unicorn

6/1/2009 8:04:52 AM


That is pure excellence Bob!.. amazing lyrics and melody that just flows beautifully! Though you can't see me just know I am smiling. .~)


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Bob Elliott

6/2/2009 12:13:51 AM


Hey, thanks for the comment, Unicorn.

I was hoping more people would check it out, but I also kind of think that maybe one guitar one voice recordings might be a hard sell these days? I don't know. But it sounds right that way for now.

I mean, I'm more open to my friends putting their personalities on it if they want than I am to me piling more of me on it. I don't know why, and maybe that will change, but when I started to add a cool harmony on the high part I felt like, "that's enough of me, let's keep it clear."


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The Last Unicorn

6/2/2009 1:10:22 AM


yep, I hear you and personally like the simplicity of the song, it's as if the lyrics and your approach were given as a brother would or a friend. Likewise I try to get out of the way of hearing me in work as well.. when I hear too much, it's back to the idea of reduction that sounds best to me.


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Tom O'Brien

6/2/2009 4:20:19 AM


So, like I've already expressed, I like this lyric a lot, and to me, that means I want to savor it more. That is, it feels like you're in a hurry to say your piece. I think you could put two musical breaks in that first stanza alone. I don't know if it has to be different chords or anything, your picking is pretty, just some space. Make us wait for those nice words instead of rolling them by and then saying, "What happened back there?"

If I was going to do anything on this song it would be to un-folkify it somewhere in the middle by bringing in a full on band. You've got enough of a first part that it pretty much cements in your mind, then if the arrangement took on a more electric feel, you'd still feel the simplicty of the melody and structure.

I've only listened to it once through, so I may not know what I'm talking about, (I'll listen more and post later) but I think the chords and melody aren't enough to carry the whole song. It deserves some nice treatment.


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Otis and the Professors

6/2/2009 7:16:59 PM


Hey Bob, great stuff as usual. Just wanted to let you know that some of our songs including one of our newest, "Do You Have A Word For Your Fans", was written entirely lyrics first. Isn't it fun to write that way?

Keep up the good work!


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