The One Song

Song #4:  The Zebras

falling zebras

 

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The Zebras
Words and Music by Carrie Ferguson

Written August 2017
First demo, recorded with Garage Band, August 2017 at Deer Paths, Wendell, MA
Baritone Uke, Tambourine, Melodica played by Carrie
Album: Carrick Thistle and the Certainties

It has rained for days
The valley is covered with long shallow lakes
The highway glitters with overjoyed rivers
And the sun laughs down

You and I sit up on the mountain
Squinting our eyes at the water below
We thought we knew every inch of this valley
But now we’re not certain what it is that we know

It has rained for days
All the shapes that we treasured have melted away
Fields and fences and baseball games
All awash in the flood

A great herd of zebras leaps off of the mountain
Flying wingless, galloping through sky
It doesn’t surprise us, we are jealous as always
They make it look easy as they fall by

If we can lose it all tomorrow, tomorrow
Why not love today?
If we can lose it all tomorrow, tomorrow
Why not give it all away?

It has rained for days
All that precious water was too much to save
We will have to wait
The sun has returned but she promises nothing

Up on the mountain we’re watching the zebras
Splash through the water in the valley below
You want to swim with them and I am willing
When nothing’s familiar to let it all go

If we can lose it all tomorrow, tomorrow
Why not love today?
If we can lose it all tomorrow, tomorrow
Why not give it all away?

*

In August 2017 I decided to try to write a song every day.  I’ve seen other people do this before and it is always very impressive.  I’ve tried it several times and I never get that far before I fall in love with one song, get totally obsessed for several days, and the whole project gets completely derailed.

Often, a song is a problem to solve.  How to show THIS, how to get to HERE without the listener knowing what’s happening until they’ve arrived.  How to tell a story without blatantly stating what it’s about.  How to give the listener a feeling without telling them what to feel.  How to come up with imagery, rhymes, melodies, that are so exciting they explode in your mouth like pop rocks.

Every once and awhile the One, the One Song, comes along and I fall in love, head over heels, completely smitten, haunted by the melody day and night, obsessively reworking the lyrics over and over, walking around mumbling to myself.  All I can think about is the song, all I hear over and over is the song.  It keeps me up at night.  I become weird and pale from lack of sleep.  I am constantly restless and anxious, jonesing to be alone with my song.

But you know, it’s always a fleeting affair, a one night stand that lasts maybe 3 days to a week, and then it’s over.  I solve the problem, I complete the song, I sing it into garage band, and move on.  Later, when I’m performing the song, I might remember that feeling, but it’s never quite the same as the first time.

Or maybe I don’t complete it, because the timing isn’t right.  Maybe I archive it and find it years later, like reconnecting with a lost lover.  Maybe I finish it then, or never.  Maybe it’s just a snippet that I revisit now and then, mulling over, trying to conjure up the previous spark of passion, urgency, and mystery.

In August 2017, the 2nd day brought the love affair song to me.  I woke up from a dream of mass flooding and flying zebras and heard my house mate weeping from her recent breakup.  I was sleeping on the front porch futon and the sun was streaming in through the dusty windows. I picked up my baritone ukulele and played the only 3 chords I know on it in a slightly different way than usual and began to write this song.

I worked on it feverishly for four days.  On the fourth day,  at my girlfriend’s house in the woods, I turned off the refrigerator (which clucks wetly like a chicken), and made this living room demo.    Maybe I’ll make a more polished studio version of it some day, maybe I won’t.  I’m pretty attached to this one with its twangy uke, slightly out of tune melodica, and random ambient noises.  Every time I listen to it it reminds me of being in love.

 

P.S:
My friend Danielle Anderson, a.k.a  Danielle Ate the Sandwich is about to stage an event where she writes/produces/records an entire album in 24 hours…with the help of friends/fans calling in with writing prompts and take-out suggestions.  I think she intends to live stream most of the 24 hour process.  She is fantastic.  Check her out.

6 thoughts on “The One Song

    1. Oh, thank you Amelia! Maybe what you remember is that you’re one of the first people I played this little demo for last summer in Seal’s living room? I haven’t played it live yet because I’m playing all the things! Hmm…I guess I could get other folks to do the parts.

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  1. Omg, you had me on the first note and word, just fantastic and wonderful, and I’m not just saying that. Your story behind the scene was wonderful. I too felt some of that specialness listing, taking it all in. Thanks Carrick Thistle!

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