Song #21: I Feel the Need to Know You

Sometimes at first it is tempting, or seems easier or safer, to just dislike or hate a person/thing that I don’t understand, or that I feel threatened by,  instead of examining the feelings that come up. That stance has never worked out too well for me in the long run, though.  The more dug in I get with my dislike and mistrust, the more disoriented I feel, until eventually I am obliged to go poking around in there, trying to understand.

This is another song from my Walking Songs collection.  In college I found myself in a weird love triangle and I wasn’t sure what to make of it all.  So I wrote this song.

new brown rectangles

 

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I Feel the Need to Know You
Written and performed by Carrie Ferguson
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Tommy Byrnes at Sovereignty Music

I feel the need to know you since you’ve come into my life
‘Cause everywhere I go you’re in the corner of my eye
If you’re gonna be my enemy, you might as well be my friend
‘Cause once this love and hate gets going it’ll be the same thing in the end

And I know that I’m a dreamer
I know that that’s what makes me strong
You say that you watch life, while standing behind your window
We’ve got more in common than you think
We’ve got more in common than I know

Well, I feel the need to name you since you’ve come into my mind
I know you won’t stop moving and I won’t be left behind
I dreamed I had an apple, and when I gave you half
We found I’d cut the worm in two, we both just had to laugh

And I know that I’m a dreamer
I know that that’s what makes me strong
You say that you watch life, while standing behind your window
We’ve got more in common than you think
We’ve got more in common than I know

 

Song #20: Jupiter

This is my 20th post, folks!  Pretty exciting!  I’ve been doing this Song Blog for 20 weeks now, not counting the week I took off for vacation.  It has been a blast and I’m looking forward to the next 20 weeks!

Because this month’s night sky is bejeweled with gleaming planets, song #20 is “Jupiter” from my collection “Walking Songs”

From 1993-1996, I worked as a cook at the Northampton Center for Children and Families, a little non-profit residential school for kids with emotional/behavioral issues.  Four days a week it was my job to cook lunch and dinner for about 50 people.  I worked alone in a well-lit, medium-sized kitchen at the back of the building.  There were windows along the back looking out into the school yard and I could watch the kids and staff smoking together (it was the 90’s!) on their breaks.  I cooked giant sheet pans of pizza, sloppy joes, tacos, sheperd’s pie, baked chicken, roasted potatoes, chicken nuggets, oven-grilled-cheese, tater-tots, lasagna, pot pie, apple crisp, spaghetti and meatballs….

It was a solitary job, except for at meal times, and I mostly liked it.  I love cooking for groups (I still do), the kitchen was comfortable (except in the summer) and I mostly enjoyed having all the time to myself.  I used to listen to the radio, top 40 during the day and NPR in the evening.  Top 40 back then was Alanis Morisette, Joan Osborne, Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, Creed, Alice in Chains, Gwen Stefanie, Marilyn Manson, Beck….

One day in July of 1994 I was listening to the news on NPR and they were talking about an impending asteroid collision with Jupiter.  All the scientists were super excited, pointing their telescopes up there, wondering what was going to happen, what they would see, etc.  I remember the phrase “string of pearls” was used to hypothetically describe what the asteroid would look like breaking up into little pieces in Jupiter’s atmosphere.  Carl Sagan came on and talked about how Earth was in danger of just such an event and how we should prepare ourselves.  His idea was that we could design some sort of anti-asteroid weapon that would launch calculated nuclear explosions near the rocks, basically steering them away from Earth’s atmosphere.  The whole thing made me super uneasy and got me thinking about the impact of humans on the universe, and the difference between “natural” and “man-made” events.   (Click here for more information about the Shoemaker-Levy comet of 1994)

Back to 2018:  here’s what the website Space.com has to say about June’s night sky:

 Saturn is visible virtually all night long this month, coming to opposition on June 27th and being accompanied across the sky that night from horizon to horizon by a full moon. Venus reaches its highest point above west-northwest horizon at sundown for 2018 this month. Speedy Mercury can be spied late in the month far to the lower right of Venus. Jupiter dominates the sky after Venus has set, remaining in view for most of the night. And finally, there is Mars which more than doubles in brightness during June as its distance from Earth decreases by half a million miles per day on its way to its closest approach to our planet in 15 years. It pops up above the east-southeast horizon around midnight at the start of June and about 90 minutes earlier by month’s end.

Happy planet gazing!

jupiter 3

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Jupiter
Written and Performed by Carrie Ferguson
Recorded, Mixed, Mastered by Tommy Byrnes, Sovereignty Music

Jupiter is calling from her cloud of gaseous atmosphere
She’s worried ‘bout the string of pearls the universe is sending her
And up here on the Earth we’re waiting, telescopes trained, anticipating
Hoping the explosion is big enough to see
Secretly we’re hoping it will never happen here
Don’t forget that’s how we got here in the first place

Jupiter is calling, Jupiter is calling

Carl Sagan in his Mr Rogers sweater writes a letter to the
President: it’s evident that we have the technology
To change the course of any comet threatening our existence here on Earth
Its worth investigation, just a simple detonation
Of a string of nuclear bombs designed to herd those rocks like cattle

Jupiter is calling, Jupiter is calling

Playing God with match books and test tubes of nuclear winter
We’ll know that we had heaven once we’ve turned it in to hell
And if Mother Nature, Great Creator, God, the Tao is watching now
Is it surprised or angry or is this part of the plan?
The beaver gnaws down trees to build its damn while we just mine for Uranium
Artistic license, identity crisis, nature or nurture, we’re not sure
But who needs asteroids when you’ve got bombs of your own?

Jupiter is calling, Jupiter is calling

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

Thinking Out Loud

Song #7:  Found Myself Walking in Rain

scratch tree

 

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Found Myself Walking In Rain
Written and performed by Carrie Ferguson
Recorded Fall 2018, by Tommy Byrnes at Sovereignty Music, Bernardston, MA
Album: Walking Songs

Found myself walking in rain and everything seemed so clear
I almost forgot who I was and I almost forgot where I’d been
I know I’ve been living a lie and it scares me how long it’s been true
But the obstacle that blocks my path has become the only door to go through

Well, I came to the edge of a river and I saw the water spinning
There were fishes and trees inside of me and the cold gray sky above
Well I stood in that place and I remembered your face and I heard the words you told me
You said “It’s easier to take care of you then to let you take care of me”

It just ain’t easy changing, you can only do your best
How much can we chop off and examine and still have something left
Oh we give birth to ourselves through the belly, baby, its just like you’ve been told
You can lie on your back and push it out or you can spit it up on the road

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This is another Walking Song, circa 1991-1992.  I think I was in Amherst waiting for a PVTA bus (which never seemed to run on time) to Mass.  It was raining and I was puzzling over stuff, trying to figure it all out, a little bit bored, entertaining myself.  I guess this song is kind of about growing up.  A process which apparently, never ends.

 

If I Get Lost I’ll Sing a Walking Song

Song #3: One Way Ticket From Springfield

broomstickers

 

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Recorded by Tommy Byrnes at Sovereignty Studios, Bernardston, MA

One Way Ticket From Springfield
Words and music by Carrie Ferguson

I’ve got a one way ticket from Springfield
Blind eyes in the back of my head
I’ve got a heart that won’t stop loving
And a mind full of crazy ideas
Well I know we gotta keep on changing
But not like the weather or like I change my clothes
The thing about life, the thing about life
You can act once or you can think twice
Sometimes I don’t know where I’m going til there I am

Well I woke up in the middle of loving you
Like I’d been doing it all of my life
You told me from the beginning you we’re gonna leave soon
You’d been planning since before I’d arrived
Well I know we gotta keep on moving
Songs in the sun are for those rainy days
The thing about life, the thing about life
You can act once or you can think twice
Sometimes I don’t know where I’m going til there I am

Well you can buy yourself a van but don’t throw away your broom
You can drive across the country and I’ll meet you at the moon
Cause I know I gotta keep on dreaming and if I get lost I’ll sing a walking song
The thing about life, the thing about life
You can think and act once, or you can think and act twice
Sometimes I don’t know where I’m going til there I am

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In late August 1990, when I was 20,  I arrived in Amherst, MA, via a Peter Pan bus from Bradley Airport, by way of Arcata, CA.  I knew only one person in MA, and that was my Aunt Charlotte, who was in the process of moving down to Pennsylvania to teach English at a community college.   In a week I would be starting as a junior at the University of MA, Amherst.

This was a giant move for me, the first time I had really left my hometown of Arcata.  I had one clear intention, and that was to come out, as in out of the closet (although at that point I was so green that any form of sexuality would have been coming out).   I had chosen UMass Amherst to do this for several reasons, the first of which was super practical.  Through an inter-state student exchange program that existed at the time, I was able to attend UMass for a year, while still paying the tuition rate of my current school, Humboldt State University.  This option was not available at many of the other schools in the program and it was a great deal because at the time HSU cost only $750 a semester for in-state students.  So, I could afford to come out in Amherst!  This is probably one of the few fiscally responsible decisions I’ve made in my life.

Second, using the big exchange program’s school catalog I had meticulously researched the “student life”  section of several schools in order to determine who had the biggest and most active GLB  (back then the other letters hadn’t been added yet) community.  Lucky for me the biggest and best GLB club was at the cheapest school!  And, to make it even more right, I had actually been to Amherst once before while in high school to visit Aunt Charlotte.  And although nobody overtly told me, I knew she had been in a same-sex relationship for many years…which meant that there was definitely some gayness going on there.

Other than this one intention, which was somehow both vague and extremely clear, I had no clue as to what I was doing.  Once I moved into the dorms and Charlotte had packed up her UHaul and taken off for Pennsylvania, I was completely on my own.  I decided to start off on the right foot by announcing on the first night to my new roommate, while we were each in our little bunk beds on opposite sides of the room with the lights out, that I was bisexual.  (At the time, calling myself bisexual seemed somehow less intimidating than calling myself gay, or lesbian…like I could always “go back” if I needed to.  Besides, I was just barely anything-sexual at that point!)  Once again, the fates were with me because she immediately replied “Oh good!  Me too.”

And then that was that.  I was out to everybody I met from that moment forward, and it felt completely fine.    Within 3 weeks I had already experienced my first hot sex/hook-up/break up with a woman and moved on to a highly dramatic and desperately unsatisfying relationship (we both did our best!) with the first real love of my life.  I was right on track for my singer-songwriter career!

I had also found myself a new group of friends that were the most passionate, interesting, and exciting women I’d ever met.  They were all queer and activists and Women’s Studies or Social Thought And Political Economy students and we all worked together at (or were affiliated with) the student-run cooperative vegetarian restaurant on campus.  Most of them were  just a bit older than me and I felt that I had somehow had the fortune to stumble into a magical sisterhood or coven.  There was a sense of strength and power, of belonging to something amazingly cool, that I’d never experienced before.  It was exhilarating.  I used to imagine that we had this other life, that late at night we would meet on the roof of the Tower Library to fly out across the valley on our broomsticks.

During this period, I did not have regular access to a piano, and I didn’t play guitar yet, so all of my songwriting was done acapella.  I didn’t call it SONGWRITING,  it was just something I did all the time, especially when I was walking across the enormous UMass campus.  I was never someone who walked around with a Walkman, instead I made up songs to entertain myself.  But the songs had another function, too.  I was figuring things out, trying to understand and shape my swiftly expanding world into something that made sense to me.  Subconsciously I was trying to document and remember myself throughout all the changes that were happening, so that I could always find my way back to myself.  I ended up calling these songs Walking Songs.