Wayback to some early songs

The Wayback Machine has allowed me to recover these songs, which I wrote while in grad school. Not sure I could reconstruct the melody of the second one.

Theoretical Blues

Ain’t got a paradigm
only a nickel to my name
Ain’t got a paradigm
only a nickel to my name
Well, since my baby left me
Ooh, Lawd, it’s a crying shame.

My baby metanarrative
told him stories all Thursday night.
By Friday he’d gone and left me.
You know it just ain’t right.

Now I got no signifier
I got no signified
Got no significant other
Lawd, please give me a sign.


I tried dialectic
I tried dial right
Put all my money in the phone
but no dialog with my baby tonight.

He works in deconstruction
drives a semiotic truck
And if I could, I surely would
sing the next line but it rhymes with truck.


Well, I managed to beg a nickel
and I borrowed a dime.
I called him up and said, “oh baby,
epistemology one more time.”

I said to him, “Herman baby,
I need my hermeneutic man.
Come back and complete the circle
and do it as fast as you can.”

I’ve got a new paradigm
My honey has changed his ways.
Now he’s come back home to Mama,
we’re in our post-structuralist phase.

Throwing Matches in the Ocean

Throwing matches in the ocean
killing grapes in California
he adores ya he adores ya
don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

If you want to go see movies
it may ultimately bore ya
“The piano, the piano”
don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

When the paradigm has shifted,
O, modernity we’ll mourn ya
have some chocolate consolation
and don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

Bone quiet

phrases and ideas for the next song, maybe…

it’s all bone quiet

in the marrow of this haunted house

I’m walking through the ghost of you

I walk through the ghost of myself

a score of people walk these halls, just two

in the quiet of bones

I feel the floor vibrate

through the soles of my feet

layers of steps woven into matted dust


the energy of dark matter, the space

where the thing


mixed-mode performance – Helen & Fred

Well, I performed the new piece on Tuesday at the folk club (everyone was finger-popping 🙂 and also in Machynlleth at the Owain Glyndwr Centre for the singer-songwriter night. I had good feedback and audience response for both performances. The piece consists of a spoken frame at beginning and end with the song embedded in the middle with gestures and dance moves.

This version is different from the first draft, so even if you read the earlier post, it is worth reading this one. I’ve sharpened up the lyrics and written out something like the spoken bit as I actually deliver it.

Helen and Fred

By Mary Jacob, revised 14 November 2010

This piece is called ‘Helen and Fred’ and it goes like this: last week I was down with the flu. I slept all morning and I slept all afternoon. In between naps, I had nothing to do, so I thought I’d write a song. I was too tired to play guitar and my throat was too sore to sing, so I laid back on the sofa and closed my eyes, imagining.

I pictured myself performing at a gig, with a friendly audience, like this one. I asked the audience for three words: a person, a place, and a thing. I asked for a person – there was a pause – I thought I would listen rather than supplying the answer myself. The audience said ‘Helen’ – I have no idea who she is. Then I asked for a place – another pause – ‘the Spar’.  Oh, great! How can you write a song about the Spar? The third word came quickly, ‘bottle’.

Keep in mind I’m laying on my back, silent, with my eyes closed, all this time. I then pictured myself singing:

Helen went down to the corner Spar.
She slipped a bottle under her coat.
Then she sat beneath the railway bridge
for a good long drink and a smoke.

She looked up at the trestle overhead
as a train came trundling by.
It went clickety clack, clickety clack,
clickety clackety clickety clackety click clack clack.

She closed her eyes, drew a deep breath,
and slipped into a dream.
She saw herself dancing with Fred Astaire,
up on the silver screen.

She wore glittery tights and a spangly hat,
ruby-red stack-heel shoes.
They went tippety tap, tippety tap,
tippety tappety tippety tappety tap tap kick.

She opened her eyes, the shadows grew long.
It had been quite a while since the train had gone.
She picked herself up, hobbled down the street
with her moth-eaten coat and her swollen feet.

But I heard a boy say to his friend as she passed,
He said, ‘What’s that sound, is that a tippety tap?’
Tippety tap, tippety tap,
tippety tappety tippety tappety tap tap kick.
Her coat hem fluttered as she went past.
Her coat hem fluttered as she went past.

I opened my eyes and thought, ‘Once I get my voice back, I’d better sing this song. And I’d better write it down before I forget it’. So I did.

recording – Hallowed Skein of Stars

Okay, here is the recording.  I made it last night using my little Creative Zen MP3 player, then edited in Audacity (yes I’m a geek, at least to a degree).

If you are clever, from that link you can access three earlier recordings that document the composition process for the song. They are in varying degrees of off-the-cuffness. What I did was to turn on the recorder and make up the lyrics/melody as I went, sometimes going back to the beginning or middle to try it out in different ways.

The song is dedicated to all the stars out there.  You know who you are.

I do quite frequently use the player to record things as I write them sometimes, and make recordings to listen to myself. This is the first time I’ve made a recording of my music publicly available, though.

I’m hoping to get some of the other songs recorded in reasonable enough shape to put them into a virtual ‘album’ as envisioned over a year ago. The title is Just Add Water – Songs of Love, Loss, and Reconstitution.

Just a string of non-linear thoughts about this song. Hope you like it.

new song – A Hallowed Skein of Stars

This is a song I’ve been working on for about a month or so, my how time flies! It is inspired by all the stars I know. Readers will get the Thomas Pynchon reference (my thanks to S). Once I started working on the song, I saw and heard stars references everywhere.

Being me, I’m doing this as a record of the process, so I’m putting it into the blog while it is still subject to change but I think only small edits, nothing major. I’m working on some rough recordings of the songs, including this one, which I may link to this page. (okay, ready to make the leap and click publish).

Here are the words and chords:

A Hallowed Skein of Stars

By Mary Jacob

F7    E7 F7 E7
All the world is in pain. Everyone has the same
F7 E7 Am
Glazed look in your eyes, in your eyes.

C Dm Fmaj7 C

I’d give you a stream of stars, To put back in your eyes, back where they belong, where they belong.
I said I’d give you a stream of stars, To put back in your eyes where they belong.

I want you to wrap them around your head, Wrap them around your shoulders like a shawl.
I said, let them fall back into their places Let stars stream down your face.

I’d give you a breath of stars To warm you in the glassy night.
I’d give you a beam and a gleam and a dream and a team, A scream in a seething sea of stars.

Like a spark, like a sparkler light, You’re spitting out stars to light the night.
You light sparks from your fingertips, you light sparks from your eyes.

You’re made of stars, you’re made of stars, You’re gleaming in the night.
Look in the mirror, look in the sky, Look at the stars and look at your eyes.

You got stars in your eyes, stars in your toes, You got stars in your blood, stars in your bones,
Stars spinning out from your fingertips, You’ve got stars in your voice, you’ve got stars on your lips.

You’ve got stars in the path beneath your feet, stars in the eyes of the people you meet
You walk on stars, you sleep on stars, you’re swimming in stars, you’re dancing in a sea of stars.

You got stars in the sky; you got comets and the moon, To guide your boat as you sail on home.
You’ve got stars overhead, moon at your back, Sun about to rise as you sail on back.

Dm C Dm C Dm C
Now it’s time to dance in the sun. I said, Dance. Please dance.
Dm C Dm C Dm C
Take the stars and dance in the sun. Dance. Please dance.
Gm A Gm A
Em F#m Em F#m

All the world is in pain, all the world is like you,
Take that pain and turn it into lightning in the rain.
Take that pain and burn it into stars, lightning in the rain.

Take hold of this hallowed skein of stars
And glide yourself, glide yourself on home.

[guitar picking fade out]

New Song – Conditional Love

This one is sung a cappella to a basic blues melody. It has some familiar types of lyrics but with a twist.  A love song to a country.

Conditional Love

I’m gonna love you till the cows come home,
love you till the cows come home.
Well, all they wanna do is ramble and roam
but I’ll love you till the cows come home.

I’ll love you till the river runs dry,
love you till the river runs dry.
Now the water’s rising, it’s getting mighty high
but I’ll love you till the river runs dry.

I’ll love you till the stars fall down,
love you till the stars fall down.
Well, they’re stuck in the sky, they can’t tumble to the ground
but I’ll love you till the stars fall down.

I’ll love you till the skies go grey,
love you till the skies go grey.
But when the clouds come out and the sun goes away,
and it’s been like this day after day,
well, sorry, darlin’, I just can’t stay,
I’ve got that seasonal affective disorder,
I’m gonna pack my things and move on south to Firenze,
or I might go back to the USA
and find a nice little cottage
in Ocean Beach, San Di-e-i-e-i-e-go.
And I do mean ‘go’.

New Song – Dreamtime

I’m fairly happy with the current version of this one now.


Mary Jacob, May 2010


Whoa, oh, oh where is the darkness?
Whoa, oh, oh where is the darkness?
Whoa, oh, oh where is the darkness?
Whoa, oh, oh where is the darkness?

Well you’re searching for the cavern at the edge of the sea,
and you’re searching for the heart of the mystery.
You’re climbing on the rocks and you’re slipping and sliding.
All you ever really wanted was a good place to hide in.

What draws you here is dreamtime,
and what you fear is dreamtime.
You’re running away from the very thing that you’re looking for.
You’ve locked the hidden door.

The moon is rising over your shoulder.
It makes the sea foam look like snow around the boulders.
It casts your shadow on the glistening shingle.
It makes you shiver, and it makes you tingle.


You’re on the grey rocks by the grey sea under grey skies.
You walk the grey streets by the grey hills with a grey veil over your eyes.
Everywhere you look, everything you see is just a mirror.
The light hurts your eyes, you want to get out of here.