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75 + 155 points

Drunk Squirrel in the Morning Blues. by YellowBear

January 6th, 2008 8:51 PM

INSTRUCTIONS: Write 10 songs in one day.

The subject matter can be whatever you'd like, but remember: recordings are required.

This task is a gift (or a dare) for YellowBear.

How can I turn down a dare/gift as good as this?

I began writing for this task at exactly high noon on Jan 5th

y original fear in trying to do this task was that it seemed likely that I would end up with a bunch of "I ate an eggo waffle and stubbed my toe" type of songs, and it also seemed like I would want to be out doing things to give me inspiration to write about, but taking the time to go out might not leave me time enough to write the songs. I felt like I wanted to do my best to write as many of the songs as I could to be songs that I could/would actually play

A couple days before I did the writing I decided to list 15 - 20 types/styles of songs so that I would have some places to start. My list included:" Finger Pick in C, Rollin Blues, G.D. Style, Country Waltz, Piano Gospel, Open D, Piano Blues, ii V I / Doo Wop, Minor Folk, Finger Pick blues, Frank BLack, Steve Malk., Ryan Adams/Neil Young, John Hurt Fingerpick, Drop D Folk, Dylan pen D"

It proved helpful to think of different types of songs so that I could draw on a certain type of feeling as the words started coming out. I got a portable digital audio recorder for myself for Christmas so I was able to record them as soon as they were written. Its not exactly up to performance quality, but I think I ended up with a very interesting collection of songs.

I am often to comment on songs that I have written, but in the spirit of good practice I am going to try to pick it apart a little bit, hopefully not so much as to inhibit your interpreting for yourselves what these songs might be saying

Song #1: Some Things Gonna Have to Change (3:55)

12pm - 1:15
This song came out slow and took a somber twist to start the day. I was sort of surprised and I think it sort of set an early flavor. I tried to humanize the characters, it seems relating to how things change in/out of our control, for better/worse and why. I think of it as being in the midwest in the mid 40's

A: C / / / | F / / / | C / G / | C / / / |

Livin out cross the iron range
There was a black sun out in the sky that day
I knew some things were gonna have to change

That's where I met a girl whose name was Daisy
She whispered she loved me and ya know that made me
Know some things were gonna have to change

Never could hold a job
I just rambled and gambled, stole and robbed
I knew some things were gonna have to change

We made a house on the hill and a family
Got a washer & dryer and a color tv
Didn't know that things would have to change

B: Am C/g F C | Am C/g F G|

Three men had jumped a prision line
They wanted to be free
Standin out on the side of the road
Not so different than i used to be


They'd been pushin' chains for so long
That there backs would ache and their spirits 'r gone
They knew some things were gonna have to change

'Twas so inhuman they couldn't feel like men
They had to get out and be free again
Knew some things were gonna have to change

Theygot caught up with lawmen outside of Crookston
Took off like white lightnin' so they wouldn't get 'em
Knew some things were gonna have to change

Daisy was out walkin' 'n just saw a blur
They ripped round the corner and didn't see yer
Knew some things were gonna have to change

They didn't stop to hear her screamin'
Gave it no second thought or feeln'
Know some things are gonna have to change


I got nothin' to hold on
I'm drinkin' again
Sorry to say I abandoned my kids

Went out in the night with a pistol in hand
I let out my anger
I'll sleep in the land

I can't find no reason to keep on this dirt road
I know some things are gonna have to change

Song #2: Lightnin' Jack (3:43)

1:15 - 2:35pm

I came up with the chord progression and it felt sort of lilting and rambling. It also sort of reminded me of the Grateful Dead. I decided it ought to be a rowdy cowboy-ish story. This is another that ends up sort of saying that things just happen. The first song was work to struggle through this one seemed like a breeze after

A: Am G C D :||

Lightnin' Jack was a rounder's son
He was quick on the draw and sharp with his tongue
Just 23 when he met his end
Outside the cantina with a gun in his hand

B: Em D Am :|| Am G D |

All his life was trouble
All his life was sin
Running, runnin' against the wind


He laid a game, out in Juarez
Threw his money down
Caught an inside straight when they called him
And tried to run him out of town

They didn't know he was lucky
They didn't know he wern't scared
It wasn't nothin
he hadn't done before

Three bad men drew on him
An' Jack gunned 'em down
But he didn't see the woman swinging
the bar stool around


Caught a sliver in the eye
Pushed into his brain
and he died


Song #3: I Saw A Robin Fly O'er the Field (2:29)


This is a song that has a nice gospel-ish feeling. It's from the perspective of someone living in the mid-west during the dust bowl and realizing that it's coming to an end. This one got out really fast

Capo 2: C / | FG C | C / | G / ||
I woke one morning to look o'er the field
Saw a red robin flyin bye
She called me to come out and bid her farewell
As she flew out across the sky

She was flyin west in front of a storm
I knew that my field would no longer lay dry
Knew that the dust storms were finally through
And I could get on with my life

I had prayed for redemption the clouds filled with gold
And the skies poured water to the ground
And it washed away my hunger, and it washed away my need
The day that the robin flew bye

Oh lord you have saved me and given new life
And quenched my thirst before i died
Now I do your bidding as i toil in the fields
And I'll see ya one day in your mansion on high

Song #4: When You Take My Hand (2:34)

? - 4: 53pm
I took a lunch break and then got back to work

This is played on a National steel guitar in open d tuning with a little slide. It's a love song. I think it's weird that I had started out with three historic-ish narrative, one quasi religious songs. But with having to write so many, I wasn't about to slow down and worry about it. I was glad to have 3 down, and was feeling like it may actually be possible to get this done. I like this one more now than i did when i was writing it

Open D Tuning (DADF#AD)
A: I IV I :|| V I |

Seen times of trouble
Seen times of joy
And found friend who'd never let me down

But I could not
Hold myself up
I didn't have the strength to try

B: iv iii | ii I :||

You never know what you're missin'
Til it walks right through the door

With open arms wants to do nothing
But sit and talk on the floor

C: ii iii | ii I | I I/7 IV V I |

Makes it easier to get by, but harder to understand
How i lived my life before I took your hand


I'm not gonna lie
I'm not gonna hide
An i'm gonna do my best to give

I hope that my heart
Can heal all it's pain
And we can find a way we both can live


Took my breath away
Swept me off my feet

Never thought i'd find your kindness
or live through the heat

It makes life beautiful
Makes me want to understand
Why I feel the way I feel when you take my hand


Song #5: What Love Means to Me (3:12)

5:00 - 6:00pm

A second love song, this one with a lullaby quality. Getting a lot more introspective and feeling centered rather than the first 3 story types. This one is about learning to live with something powerful and new in your life and not yet understanding it

Capo 5
A: G Bm C G | G Em C D ||

Each day gets harder since you went home
There's never enough time on the telephone

To say all the things about you I now know i miss
And be able to sneak just one more kiss

B: G D C G :|| Em D C G | G D C G ||

Won't be long now til i come back
Pack up my things and head on down the track
To come give you kisses and tell you your sweet
And try to understand what this love means to me


It means I'm lookin' up at the sky instead of at my feet
And sayin' how I miss you to everyone that I meet

It's not the kind of missin' I'd expect they'd understand
Unless they'd left a part of themselves in someone else's hands

C: F C | G C :|| Em D/f# | G D C G||

Be myself no matter what the price
To love like you'd be paradise

No judgment no anger no pity no blame
life is to fragile to be be a game

I'll tell you I like you
and that you make me free

One day i'll know what love means to me

Song #6: Can't Get Her From My Mind (1:34)

6:54 - 8:00pm

I took a break to catch my breath after the last two. I wanted to write one that would be easy, so I picked a simple country feeling Johnny Cash/Woody Guthrie sort of thing. This one was written mostly with just pen and paper while hanging out with Rainbow Bright and watching her beloved Steelers. It's about feeling funny inside because of someone

A: E / / / | E / B7 / | E / A / | E B7 E / ||

She talked to me so sweetly the other night
An' when she looks into my eyes it just feels so right
When we get together we have such a time
I just can't get her from my mind

We went out to dance and to see the town
My heart fell apart when she spun around
The things she does to me make me feel so blind
I just can't keep her from my mind

B: B A E F#m | E G#m A B ||

She was born outside of Tucson
Drifted out to Californ'
I learned all about her on one
misty summer morn


She lights up the sidewalks on the street at night
The type of gal whose known to make a boys soul ignite
Her specter keeps creepin' on me up from behind
I just can't get her from my mind


So far things are goin' well
She's always by my side
And se tells me i'm they type of man
She'd always hoped to find

I just can't get her from my mind


Song #7: Goodnight, We'll Be Together Soon (2:56)

9:15 - 10:55 pm

This one got finished as #7 but started out as #8, I spent from late in the 7 o'clock hour to mid in the 8 hour working out a guitar progression for what turned out to be song #8. I wanted to do one on the piano and knew that it i didn't get started soon it would be too late to play loud. So i put the guitar on hold and hopped on the piano to do this one. It is a jazzy sort of song, i think of it as ii V I (roman numerals for 2 -5 - 1) in music school speak. It is like heart and soul or beyond the sea. This is why so many doowop and jazz standards all have the same sort of feeling. This one is a surreal sleepy time stroll. I was starting to get really tired and I had to drink a pot of coffee to keep going, it was a surprisingly draining day, but the reality of having 6 songs in the bag made me feel really good and know that I could make it. I was already having trouble remembering the songs that I had written and was really happy I decided to record as I went rather than trying to record them all at the end.

A: F Dm Bb C :|| D7 Gm (7) C7| F A7/e Dm C7/e ||

I'll fix my home down by the lake of fire
Got me a seat in the devil's choir
It's not that I've been living wrongs
They just have so much fun
But now i got to get back to where I started from

Take it easy in the morning, take it easy at night
Ain't no use rushin' through the pale moonlight
Got all eternity to linger
All the time to do
All those things we talked about but never got around to

I'll fix up our place, we'll be spending some time
Having tea parties in our nightmares and fighting off the winter time
The frost on the windows
Makes me hold on so tight
To you and all the times we've had before we say goodnight

B: F A7 Bb | C Bb Am7 Gm7 |

Goodnight, Goodnight, goodnight again
I'll whisper it sweetly to you
Before we do this all again


I'll see you later meet me in my dreams
It can make the distance between us not as far as it seems
It's not one too many mornings
It's we'll be together soon
I'll make my way o'er to the place I hear you like to stay

Song #8: Hold Out One More Day (2:51)

11:47pm - 1:28am

I had spent a lot of time getting a picking pattern that I liked before I wrote the piano song, but this one quickly got out of my control once I started writing it. It wanted to be a civil war story, about a soldier fighting on the southern side after the confederate surrender but before the complete cessation of fighting. That whole situation and what it must have been to live like is a lot more complicated than they teach in high school history class, this is another song that is a little harsh/abrupt and doesn't draw happy well defined lines. I'm not pro southern, I don't think it will rise again. I don't know why this song came out. It turned out a lot better than I was expecting. By this point I thought it would all be total mush, but this ended up another strong one.

A: Dm C Am Em | Dm C Am G Am | F (walk down) | C (walk down) | Am G Am |

Union army won the line I's still there to fight
Desperate to spill my blood for a cause I thought was right
Routed us on the hillside
and drove us to the sea
Bendin' up our railroad tracks
And settin' bound men free

Proud as any Dixie boy I fought like thunders roar
We could still win the battle though we'd already lost the war
Charleston will not fall tonight
I'll hold out one more day
For a brother, wife and sister that the Yankees laid away

They laid a trap in Douglas 'n set fire to the corn
Long before we'd packed an' left, but nine families we mourned
Now i'm killin' just so i can
even up the score
I can't cry tears anymore

B: Dm C F Am | Am G / Am |

Tears for the families
Tears for the land
For the dreams and the hope
That slid through our hand


But they didn't have to kill our kids, it was a step they chose to take
So I'll make sure there's one more pine box' goin' back to New York state
To save the Union at any cost
I can't count all the friends I've lost
Pools of their blood leeched in the ground

Out: F (walk) | C (walk) ||: Am G Am :||

But there'll still be fertile soil
Once the memory's gone away
I'll make them all find a way to pay
I'll be showin' them the end of my blade

Song #9: Lonesome Chime/Wrongful Dyin' (4:05)

2:00 - 2:56am

Almost there, eight songs done!! The coffee kicked into full gear, I couldn't believe it. I had originally told myself that if i got 7 done before sleeping I could work out three during the next day. But as I got close I thought just two more, i don't need sleep. Number nine would be a blues, they practically write themselves. But what kind? I know a nice slow piano blues, a country finger picking blues, a rolling country rock blues all could have been nice, but I really love the lap slide. Having an easy form to fill in was a big relief after the sprawling style of the last one. Sometimes (especially under these conditions) you want to be done with a song but have lots more to say, and just have to keep going and going slowly just to make it get to a logical end. This song was written from the perspective of a person hung for a crime they didn't commit. After writing a f*&%ing civil war song I didn't even bother to try and fight against archaic subject matters

Dobro Blues Open D Tuning

I'll give you flowers when you weep and kisses when you moan
Let you know you're not walkin through this world all alone
I'll be right her with you if you'll be right here with me
Got all the world to ramble, livin' fast 'n free

Got a woman out in Jackson, An' I got a little girl out in Tenessee
Got a woman out in Jackson, An' I got a little girl out in Tenessee
Got six voodoo priestesses sayin' they put a curse on me

I got seven curses on me, I got my John the Conquer root
I got seven curses on me, I got my John the Conquer root
Got picked up by some law men, said they's gonna prosecute

My good luck has done run out, say I face the hangman's noose
My good luck has done run out, they say I face the hangman's noose
Didn't have nothin to do with it, but they won't let me loose

Those hell hounds are barkin', tryin' to drag me down
There's hell hounds a barkin', an' tryin' to drag me down
Away from the light, oh there's jus' darkness all around

They put me to death, but i didn't do no crime
They'd put me to death an' i didn't do no crime
Markin my pasting by ringin' that lonesome graveyard chime

Song #10: Black Pond's Waters (1:26)

3:15 - 3:4pm

Oh my god, last song, thank goodness. I could barely see straight. I wanted it to be over. My joints ached and my eyes hurt from the coffee, cigarettes, whiskey and heavy thinking. I couldn't bear to work out another chord progression, so the only thing I could do is just sing an old sounding a capella melody. I tried to make it generic minor work comp/field holler style sound, the kind on which a variety of different sets of lyrics are based/ It is similar to Ralph Stanley or Son House versions of Oh Death, and John the Revelator. It is about a man who is captured by an ancient spirit and has his soul shackled to the bottom of a pond

A Capella

Oh, I got a worried mind
Got shivers goin' down my spine
Cold hand of death grabin hold of me
To the lord I'll retreat

Through the valley I walked the road
To a black pond where the river's flowed
An ancient spirit chained me down
Took away the peace i found

I'm doomed to wander the world 'round
Until my body be found
My soul in shackles, my spirit broke
The black water laughed at me and spoke

"You never will get out again
Not until the world ends"
The only chance you can be saved
Is to wait until the end of days

So i don't stir, don't make a sound
I'm resigned to be cold iron bound

I Went to Sleep With 10 Songs Under My Pillow!!

I was able to do 10 songs in 15 hours and 40 minutes, and didn't need to worry about waking up and writing a thing. I slept with a great sense of accomplishment, and after seven wondrous hours of sleep I naturally awoke at 11 am and realized I had time to write one more. It was 6 minutes of writing beginning immediately after I woke up. I used the final 50 minutes getting a cup of coffee and listening to what I had come up with

Song #11: One More Song (1:07)

11:00 - 11:06 am

A frivolous bonus song, but its sort of quaint and touching

C F | C G

I'd like to write just one more song
To take me through this morning long
A little ditty just to fill the time

I wish that I could kiss your cheeks
I ain't seen you in weeks
Startin' to forget the way you look

I can't forget the way you sound
Cause I know just what I found
You mean the world to me

Drag me round when I can't walk
Speak for me when I can't talk
I'm so happy I got you


I hope you have enjoyed my day of songs, thanks for listening!

The whole collection has a tinge toward the macabre, sorrowful and oddly historic but on relistening I am pleased to also see some complicated happiness and a couple straight up love songs.

I feel like this really freed up my song writing bone and I am glad to got a few songs I wouldn't otherwise have. I'm happy to get a couple of story style songs, rather than all "I" songs. it seems like I songs want to come out more easily, but can easily be come cliche riddled. If anyone wants to talk song writing mechanics I am a fiend for it. If anyone understands what any of these songs mean please let me know. Also hope you have enjoyed the pretty guitar pictures, they are like my children.

Your old friend YellowBear

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31 vote(s)

Favorite of:


(none yet)

18 comment(s)

(no subject)
posted by Bex. on January 6th, 2008 9:04 PM


(no subject)
posted by Ben Yamiin on January 6th, 2008 10:40 PM

YB - send me a message w/ your last name on it so you won't have to be "Yellowbear" on my iPod. Unless you want to be "Yellowbear", that is.

(no subject)
posted by Malaysian Eddy on January 6th, 2008 11:04 PM

yer back !!!!! HIP HIP Horrrrraaayyy!!

(no subject)
posted by Lincøln on January 6th, 2008 11:19 PM

These are so awesome.
And I don't want your last name, I like that it says Yellowbear on my iTunes.


(no subject)
posted by Loki on January 7th, 2008 1:08 AM

Even taking into account the overwhelming talent handicap that I apply to all YellowBear task completions, a single vote seems so inadequate.

Thank you, YellowBear.

(And thank you, Bex, for causing it to occur.)

(no subject)
posted by Burn Unit on January 7th, 2008 8:47 AM

I think I voted in my heart when I heard the first strains of harmonica.

(no subject)
posted by The Vixen on January 7th, 2008 5:09 PM

These make me melancholic. But in a wistful way.

You have a beautiful talent which I'm glad you've cultivated. You also have a beautiful and most wonderful muse and I can see how you treasure that in your music.

Please keep doing what you do, it's an inspiration to us all.

posted by Herbie Hatman on January 7th, 2008 7:37 PM

I just realized that you can play them all at the same time.

My brain feels so strange.

(no subject)
posted by Ladybug on January 7th, 2008 7:51 PM

Thank you for "bearing" your soul to us in your music. Wonderful. Part Dylan, part Louis Armstrong, all Yellowbear!

What else can one say?
posted by Jellybean of Thark on January 7th, 2008 11:03 PM

<a href=Photobucket" />

(no subject)
posted by The Revolutionary on January 8th, 2008 9:30 AM


(no subject)
posted by Ben Yamiin on January 8th, 2008 12:18 PM

YB - my new goal is to convince you to get to the party on the 12th and stage a concert. I'd love to hear these live!

(no subject)
posted by YellowBear on January 8th, 2008 7:46 PM

Thanks for all the positive feedback! I think that having these under YellowBear in your iTunes suits me just fine. Sorry to say that you won't be able to get me to perform them on the 12th because i'm going out of town and will be missing the party : ( I also think that I would need to actually learn them first. I just recorded them right after I wrote them, and probably would need to listen to them a few times, with it all going so fast I don't actually remember any of them (god bless recording even though it is evil)

Oh Em Gee
posted by K! on January 11th, 2008 10:37 PM

This completion puts mine to shame, I think. Your songs are of decent length, and they're all serious. You could make a CD of these songs, and it would be a coherent album, I think. My absolute favorite is #5. It just makes me happy. Second favorite is #9. Yay for formulas like the blues! It makes our jobs easier. Also, I just want to say I enjoyed the page turns. :D

(no subject)
posted by GYØ Ben on January 12th, 2008 4:02 PM

We have a lot to learn from you, YellowBear.

And I also want there to be FAR more music tasks.

You with me?

(no subject)
posted by YellowBear on January 13th, 2008 11:10 PM

Yes, many more music tasks please! If you liked this one, check out my take apart art. Mmmm, more music tasks please

(no subject)
posted by Blue on January 22nd, 2008 1:24 AM

Vote vote vote: unretire super vote and Super Vote!

(no subject)
posted by Minch on March 30th, 2008 8:18 AM

This is just wonderful.