Song #18: Soapy Water

red shirt

Here is another lullaby, this time from my Walking Songs collection.  I wrote this one somewhere around 1991, when I was 21.  I remember it was a gray rainy day, early Spring,  and I was in downtown Amherst, MA, waiting for the bus to take me to the University of MA.  As always in those days, I was a little bit anxious and heart-broken.  I had a new pair of used shoes.  They were black and pink L.A. Gear hightops and I’d bought them for 50 cents at Salvation Army.  They were magical, sturdy shoes, almost like boots, and they kept my feet very cozy.  I was also wearing my favorite red flannel shirt and thinking longingly of warmer weather or at least my cozy bed.

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Soapy Water
Written and performed by Carrie Ferguson
Recorded, mixed, mastered by Tommy Byrnes at Sovereignty, Bernardston, MA
Album: Walking Songs

This soapy water, gonna wash you with it
Gonna send your bad blues spinning down the drain
Can I scrub your back, maybe it will soothe you
Soak you in loving, strong as any pain

I’d like to live my life like a red flannel shirt
Jumping into the wind clean free of the clothes line
And I’d be dancing in my colors between the sun and the Earth
And the same wind that takes me away can carry me home
The same wind that takes me away can carry me home

Song #17: Lullabye for Me

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This week’s song, in honor of my own ongoing, ever-evolving relationship with sleep, is a little ditty about insomnia.

“Lullabye for Me”  is from Piti Theatre’s show “Innocenzo”, and is “the story of a clown who moves to a Swiss city only to find he’s becoming sick from electromagnetic pollution. Innocenzo sings this song to comfort himself in his insomnia and his neighbors join in – it turns out they’re also having trouble sleeping.”   www.ptco.org/innocenzo

I’ve had sleep issues myself off and on for years but just recently have been experiencing full on insomnia, you know, where you literally DON’T SLEEP ALL NIGHT.  I’ve  tried a bunch of different “natural” and pharmaceutical “sleep remedies”, with little success.

sleep aids 2

If you’re currently experiencing insomnia, you might want to check out this extremely thorough list:    50 ways to improve sleep.  They even walk you through how to construct a Faraday cage for blocking electromagnetic pollution.  And, there’s a helpful video of a breathing exercise by Andrew Weil.

Something that has been really helping me is a nifty little practice called EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), or “Tapping”.  If you haven’t heard of it, it’s sort of a cross between self-hypnosis and acupressure.  Besides helping with insomnia, EFT has proved to be effective in addressing many other different psychological, physical, and spiritual issues.  I highly recommend it.  I found my tapping script for insomnia on the EFT Universe site.

I’d love to hear about what other folks have tried for insomnia.  Let me know!

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Lullabye to Me
Lyrics by Jonathan Mirin, Music by Carrie Ferguson
Album: Piti Theatre’s Greatest Bits, Vol. I
Recorded and Mixed by Tommy Byrnes at Sovereignty Music, Bernardston, MA
Mastered by Angelo Quaglia at Northfire Recording Studio, Amherst, MA

Sing a lullabye for me
Cause I can’t sleep
I’m so tired
Of counting sheep

A lullabye for me
I want sleep
The sheep are tired
Of jumping over me

It would
Be so sweet
If i could
Fall asleep

I’d have
A beautiful dream
So sing a
Lullabye to me
Goodnight Innocenzo
Sleep tight Innocenzo
Goodnight Innocenzo
Goodnight

Song #16: The Blossom and the Bee

Great news!  The EU just passed a total ban on bee-killing pesticides in all 28 EU countries!  The new law “bans some of the world’s most common insecticides, pressing industry to develop a whole new model of non-toxic agriculture.”  For more information, check out this New York Times article.

This week’s song, in honor of Spring, and in honor of this historical decision, is ‘The Blossom and the Bee’, another one from my new CD with Piti Theatre, ‘Piti Theatre’s Greatest Bits, Vol. I’.   This song is from Piti’s musical, “Olde Coleraine” and was originally written to be a duet between Reverend Lorenzo Langstroth and his friend/business partner William W. Carey who owned apple orchards and kept bees in Colrain in the second half of the 1800’s.  Langstroth, who was also the minister at Second Congregational Church in Greenfield, is known as the “Father of American Beekeeping” because he invented the stackable frame beehive, a type of hive still used by more than 90% of beekeepers around the world. He went into business with Carey building these hives. More at  ptco.org/milltown

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The Bee and the Blossom
By Mirin and Ferguson
Album: Piti Theatre’s Greatest Hits, Vol. I
Performed by Carrie Ferguson
Recorded and Mixed by Tommy Byrnes at Sovereignty Music, Bernardston, MA
Mastered by Angelo Quaglia at Northfire Recording Studio
The bee and the blossom, the blossom and the bee,
Apples and honey go together you see.
The bee and the blossom, the blossom and the bee,
That’s why I have an orchard and an apiary.

Song #15: Magnetic North

magnetic north edit

Well, I finally missed a week!  I ended up taking a little break last week while I was out in Arcata, California visiting my folks and friends and the ocean.  Northern California is so beautiful!  And I love my little home town in April.  Everything was so green and blue and yellow.

marsh

In the spirit of Northerly things, this week’s song is ‘Magnetic North’ from Piti Theatre’s mini-musical “This is Your Rock”, a school residency inspired by the 50’s TV show “This is Your Life” and rocks, developed for third graders from R.K. Finn Ryan Road Elementary School, Florence MA with the support of the Xeric Foundation and the Ryan Road PTO. More about Piti Theatre residencies at ptco.org/residencies

Magnetic North
By Jonathan Mirin and Carrie Ferguson
Performed by Carrie Ferguson
Recorded and Mixed by Garrett Sawyer at Northfire Recording Studio, Amherst, MA
Mastered by Angelo Quaglia at Northfire Recording Studio, Amherst, MA

Magnetic, magnetic North
Use me to find your way
Magnetic, magnetic North
If you’re lost, I’ll save the day

Now you’ve got your computers and your GPS
But don’t forget what’s still the best
You don’t need electricity or radiation
Just a compass pointing to your destination

Magnetic, magnetic North
Use me to find your way
Magnetic, magnetic North
If you’re lost, I’ll save the day

The compass points ‘cuz of the earth’s iron core
That’s a magnet too if you’re keepin’ score
But magnetic north is not the north pole
So don’t come to me if Santa left you coal!

Magnetic, magnetic North
Use me to find your way
Magnetic, magnetic North
If you’re lost, I’ll save the day

Let me lead you to places that you’ll want to go
What you’ll find, you never know
I might take you to Greenland or the Ukraine
But wherever you are your compass says the same

Magnetic, magnetic North
Use me to find your way
Magnetic, magnetic North
If you’re lost, I’ll save the day

Magnetic, magnetic North
Use me to find your way
Magnetic, magnetic North
If you’re lost, I’ll save the day

Song #14: Are You Dizzy?

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This week’s song is another from Piti Theatre’s Greatest Bits, Vol. I.  I like this tune because we took a grim topic, microwave sickness and the lack of medical understanding around it, and gave it what I call “the creepy circus treatment”….the end result is weird, bleakly funny, and appropriately sinister.   Here’s what Jonathan has to say about writing this song:

“After Piti co-director Godeliève Richard developed microwave sickness in 2010, we spent a few years going from doctor to healer to doctor trying to find out what was wrong. One stop was at an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist in Northampton, MA. She had been continuously dizzy for about two years and this was a person who specialized in dizzyness. As he moved her head with surprising force from side to side, he asked her questions like “are you dizzy like you’re on a boat?” “Are you dizzy like the room is spinning?”, etc. This was the inspiration for this song and became fodder for a scene in our microwave sickness musical “Innocenzo“.

These days, Jonathan and Godeliève have launched a new project with others from the region called Hilltown Health. One of the goals is to help towns adapt their by-laws to be more protective against the 5G cellular network being rolled out which will put a mini cell tower every hundred yards or so on our roads and strip towns of their zoning rights.

For more information:

More about microwave sickness (also known as electrical sensitivity)

Dizzy

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Are You Dizzy?
By Jonathan Mirin and Carrie Ferguson
Performed by Carrie Ferguson; Bass, Percussion, Mandolin: Garrett Sawyer
Recorded by Garrett Sawyer at Northfire Recording Studio
Mastered by Angelo Quaglia at Northfire recording Studio

Are you dizzy like you’re on a boat?
Are you dizzy like you’re swimming ‘round a moat?
Are you dizzy like you’re floating off the ground?
Are you dizzy like you’re gonna drown?

Are you dizzy and your head just spins?
Are you dizzy like you just had twins?
Are you dizzy and the room is spinning?
Are you dizzy like the lights are dimming?

Oh whoa, oh oh oh oh
Oh whoa, no no no no
So busy feelin’ dizzy that you don’t know where to go

Are you dizzy and it doesn’t make sense?
Are you dizzy and its makin’ you tense?
Are you dizzy and your ears are ringing?
Are you dizzy and your brain is zinging?

Are you dizzy like a merry go round?
Are you dizzy like you’re upside down?
Dizzy like an ant in a dixie cup?
Are you dizzy like you’re gonna throw up?

Oh whoa, oh oh oh oh
Oh whoa, no no no no
So busy feelin’ dizzy that you don’t know where to go

Oh whoa, oh oh oh oh
Oh whoa, no no no no
So busy feelin’ dizzy that you don’t know where to go

Song #13: North River Song

North River

Well, I am sick of winter and ready for summer, or at least Spring.  How about you?

This week’s song is an ode to all things river-related and is another one from Piti Theatre’s mini-musical, “Olde Coleraine” about the town of Colrain in Western Massachusetts.  The little black and white drawing next to the song above is a sketch Godelieve Richard did of me performing in the show.

Here’s a blurb from  Piti Theatre’s Bandcamp page:

“The North River runs through Colrain, MA and is a tributary of the Deerfield River, joining the Deerfield just above Shelburne Falls at a spot known now as “Sunburn Beach.” In the 1800’s the North River was home to a variety of mills and around these mills were small villages where mill workers lived. Children were part of the labor force but these small communities within Olde Coleraine also had their own one room schoolhouses. ‘North River’ is part of the musical “Olde Coleraine” that was originally developed for Suzanne Taylor’s 3rd grade class at Colrain Central School. This residency led to a full production for the public at Piti Theatre’s 7th Annual SYRUP: One Sweet Performing Art Festival in 2016 featuring local actors and young people. These efforts were made possible by the Mass Cultural Council STARS program and Mass Humanities.”

I can’t wait to go swimming!

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North River Song
Words by Jonathan Mirin, Music by Carrie Ferguson
Performed by Carrie Ferguson; Bass: Tommy Byrnes
Recorded by Tommy Byrnes at Sovereignty Music, Bernardston, MA
Mastered by Angelo Quaglia at Northfire Recording Studio, Amherst, MA

It’s been a long winter
up on Catamont hill
and it’s been a long winter
down in Griswoldville

but now we’re planting seeds
and the air is still
down by the river
surrounded by hills

So . . .
Let’s go swimmin’
yeah
down in the North River
five nice spots to choose from
that’s just countin’ the close ones
still mighty cold when you’re not in the sun

It’s been a long winter
down in Adamsville
and it’s been a long winter
out in Lyonsville

but now we’re planting seeds
and the air is still
down by the river
surrounded by hills

Let’s go fishin’
yeah
down in the North River
four nice spots to choose from
we can go when work is all done
when we’ve caught enough we let’em run

It’s been a long winter
up in Gimletville
and it’s been a long winter
down in Shattuckville

but now we’re planting seeds
and the air is still
down by the river
surrounded by hills

So . . .
Let’s go picnicin’ yeah
down by the North River
three nice spots to choose from
pack bread and apple pie thick as your thumb
watch the birds come and eat our crumbs

It’s been a long winter
down at Elm Grove
and it’s been a long winter
huddled round the stove

but now we’re planting seeds
and the air is still
down by the river
surrounded by hills

So . . .
Let’s go crossin’
yeah
let’s cross the rivers
two rivers to choose from
the North and West Branch are the ones
build enough bridges to get things done

It’s been a long winter
at Taylor Brook
when the wind blew
those sawmills shook

but now we’re planting seeds
and the air is still
down by the river
surrounded by hills

Let’s get on the trolley
yeah
down by the North River
we’ve only one track to choose from
keep the windows open and sit with your chum
listen to your heart beat like a drum

So let’s go let’s go let’s go . . .
Down by the river
(another day at the mill)
Down by the river
(we can drink our fill)
Down by the river

So let’s go let’s go let’s go . . .
Down by the river
(we’ll swim every day)
Down by the river
(we’ll fish our way)
Down by the river

So let’s go let’s go let’s go . . .
Down by the river
(Down from the ridge)
Down by the river
(across the covered bridge)
Down by the river

So let’s go let’s go let’s go . . .
Down by the river
(no need for a boat)
Down by the river
(let yourself float )
Down by the river

It’s been a long winter
up on Catamont Hill
and it’s been a long winter
down in Griswoldville

but now we’re planting seeds
and the air is still
down by the river
surrounded by hills

but now we’re planting seeds
and the air is still
down by the river
surrounded by hills

Song #12: The Electric Road

trolley sized

Song # 12:  Electric Road

Hey, did you know there used to be an electric trolley running between the towns of Colrain and Shelburne Falls in Western Massachusetts?

The Shelburne Falls and Colrain Street Railway operated from late 1896 to late 1927 and carried freight and passengers through what was known as “Colrain City” down to Foundry Village, Griswoldville, Lyonsville, Adamsville, Shattuckville, Elm Groove and other hamlets before reaching Shelburne Falls.  At the South end of the 7 mile line, at the Buckland station across the Deerfield River from Shelburne Falls, you could connect with the Boston and Maine Railroad and the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad.

“In 1927, faced with mounting debt, the SF&C ceased operation and was sold at foreclosure. The line was scrapped in 1928. The only surviving equipment of the SF&C is the 32’9” eight-wheel Combination Baggage-Passenger car #10, manufactured by the Wason company of Springfield, MA in 1896. The car has been fully restored to operating condition and today resides at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum at the site of the old Buckland depot where it is used for recreational rides in the same freight yard where passengers, apples, mail, milk and other freight were loaded and unloaded one hundred years ago.”  (Wikipedia)

I didn’t know about any of this until Piti Theatre was hired a few years ago to do a residency with the 3rd graders at Colrain Central School.  Working with a local Colrain historian, Piti Director Jonathan Mirin wrote a beautiful mini-musical about Colrain history featuring songs about the trolley, the local rivers, and children working in the mills.

For more information about Colrain’s “Electric Road” and the rural landscape/society it ran through, check out this interesting article in the Greenfield Recorder.

That must have been one gorgeous train ride!

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Electric Road by Jon Mirin and Carrie Ferguson
Recorded and Mixed by Tommy Byrnes at Sovereignty Music Services
Mastered by Angelo Quaglia at Northfire Music Studio

Hey hey look at them go
They’re gonna make an electric road
Hey hey what do you know
Trolley’s gonna carry all of our loads

Put on the milk and the mail
Put on the apples and head down the trail
It’s a beautiful day
We don’t have to walk we can ride the whole way!

Hey hey when we grow old
Will we still ride the electric road
Hey hey what do you know
Don’t need a car to go faster than slow

Get your family and friends
We’ve got people to see and letters to send
Get on the trolley go to town
Hear the trolley makin’ it’s sound

Ding ding, the conductor rings
Click clack, roll down the track
Ding ding, the conductor rings
Click clack, roll down the track

Get your family and friends
We’ve got people to see and letters to send
Get on the trolley go to town
Hear the trolley makin’ it’s sound

Ding ding, the conductor rings
Click clack, roll down the track
Ding ding, the conductor rings
Click clack, roll down the track

Put on the milk and the mail
Put on the apples and head down the trail
It’s a beautiful day
We don’t have to walk we can ride the whole way!

Hey hey when we grow old
Will we still ride the electric road
Hey hey what do you know
Don’t need a car to go faster than slow

Hey hey when we grow old
Will we still ride the electric road
Hey hey when we grow old
Will we still ride the electric road