"Cautious Springtime Blues," and I love Avril Lavigne

Here are the song lyrics from "Cautious Springtime Blues," a song I wrote back in the mid-90s that appears on the 2000-released album Sound Theology.


someday all my money will be guaranteed
someday all my money will be sure
someday all my money will come back to me
and there will be no more of these
cautious springtime blues

someday my sweet baby will be guaranteed
someday my sweet baby will be sure
someday my sweet baby will come back to me
and there will be no more of these
cautious springtime blues

i think i need some air
i think i need some air
i need to step outside

someday all my daydreams will be guaranteed
someday all my daydreams will be sure
someday all my daydreams
will come back to me
and there will be no more of these
cautious springtime blues

It seems like throughout my entire adult life I get a bad case of The Blues in March or April. I don't know if it's seasonal affective disorder or something, but it's like clockwork in my brain. This particular Winter/Spring has been extra weird and difficult...ever since my daughter Svea's birth last October, and especially since we got back from Christmas vacation, I've been struggling with some low-grade depression. I even booked a few sessions with a counselor, which I'd never done before (that was helpful, and very good for perspective, and the counselor told me he thought I didn't need to come in anymore if I didn't want to, so that's done).

Here's the tricky thing: I've got a few things that really re-charge my mental and spiritual batteries, and they are 1) quality time with Dawn, 2) private time alone, and 3) time to spend writing/recording music. Since the birth of lovely baby S., and since I spend my days caring for both Svea and Paavo, there's really no way for me to enjoy any of the three things that re-fuel me the most. It's no big surprise, and it happens in some way to everybody who has children, I guess, but all that combined with bad weather and freezing temps, it's really given me a rough few months.

Thankfully, I feel like Springtime is starting to fight through the gloom. Temps will be in the 60s this week (yayhoo!) so I can get the kiddos out in the stroller and walk around the lakes! FrugaLent is going well (especially for Dawn), and I'm excited to make these last few weeks of the Lenten journey even more meaningful. Plus, Dawn and I are gonna take on some physical spring-cleaning that should hopefully help me bust out of my slug-like winter hibernation. Hopefully a de-tox of my toxified flesh will help de-tox my mind and soul as well.

Little did I know when I wrote "Cautious Springtime Blues" as Dawn finished her PhD ("someday my sweet baby will be guaranteed") that it would still matter to me a decade later. I put it on the Sound Theology album during the season of Lent, mostly because it had "Springtime" in the song's title. I wasn't thinking of any spiritual impact when I wrote the song, but since it came out on that album, lots and lots of folks have had the song as part of their Lenten journey. Zion Lutheran in Des Moines, IA is spending the season going through the Lenten songs from the Sound Theology album, and they recently listened to "Cautious Springtime Blues" all together...you can read about it at their blog. It's a huge honor for me as the songwriter to think that these community of folks who I don't even know are using one of my songs as a spiritual springboard. And now I can totally see the faith-connection in the song...the longing for resolution, the hope for relief, the "someday" that we've heard from the Psalms to the African-American Spirituals ("some bright morning, when this life is over, I'll fly away").

Plus, in addition to the lyrics and theme, I totally love the recording of that song. Drums and bass on the album are played by Matt Thobe and Mike Bradburn (who I've blogged about before), an amazing rhythm section from the Chicago-based band Dolly Varden (who just so happen to have a brand new album out!). I'm also fond of the guitar parts...the electric guitar was recorded live with the drums, but later I overdubbed the second guitar part in a way I'd never done before: in my little 4th floor condo in Chicago, I ran Mike Bradburn's tiny old Gibson acoustic guitar through its pickup into my Fender Champ tube amp and cranked it up...I had to put a huge blanket over the amp and mic so I wouldn't infuriate my downstairs neighbors (more than they already were, probably). Something about that old acoustic guitar pumping through a tiny amp really sounded great and unusual...maybe like a hollowbody electric or something. Darn it, it's a good recording...and done a 4-track to boot!

One thing that's been helping me conquer the Cautious Springtime Blues is sharing music with my 3-year-old son, Paavo. Lately he's been into Crowded House and Semisonic, but far and away, his favorite artist is Avril Lavigne. I recently picked up Avril's 2004 album Under My Skin via www.lala.com, and it's become one of my own personal faves too. Oh, the rock, Oh the pop! I didn't know much about Avril, other than she was grouped into the teenybopper genre, so I wasn't interested. But, I learned about her a bit more, and found out that one of my heroes Butch Walker had co-written and produced some of her stuff, so I requested the CD from lala. Much to my delight, this is one of the most consistently rocking and hooky and energetic and smart and FUN albums I've heard in years! Some things I love about the Avril album:
+ fun, innovative, and youthful lyrics with cool snotty attitude
+ really distinctive and tasty vocal tricks, vowel sounds, cadences, etc...she's Canadian, right?
+ GREAT rock band production, featuring some of my faves (Butch, Kenny Aronoff, Patrick Warren, etc)
+ super-huge mult-multi quadruple-stacked harmony vocals with enough suspensions and neighbor-notes to make Crosby, Stills, and Nash get teary eyed
+ melodic acrobatics
+ head-spinning, head-banging drum fills
Then I got to thinking, "Well, it's a great album, but she's probably really lame in concert, probably can't really play or sing," etc. Thanks to YouTube, I have been proven wrong. Check out this awesome acoustic version of her big hit (which I totally love, and was co-written with Butch), and see how really lovely and powerful and rockstar her vocals are. You go, girl! (Hey, I tried to post the YouTube image itself using their "post to blog" feature, but it didn't work...how lame! Oh well, you can link there...)


Rimbo said…

Avril Lavigne? Really?

I mean, I know you're a slave to those crazy pop rhythms, but Avril Lavigne?

Hey, I won't judge you. After all, Paavo has some pretty good taste in music.

But I have a cure for your blues -- I'm going up to Nate's house this week to get started on drums and scratch tracks for my EP - I have an idea of a song I'd like you to play on, but once we get started I'll have a better idea, and I'll give you some demo/tracks to listen to and see if anything strikes you.
Bridget Delaney said…
I have to agree with Justin on the Avril Lavigne issue. I went into our Starbucks (yeah, I tried to get them to put up a poster for the Lake Charles Lost And Found Concert, but they didn't - too bad, because just as I expected, Michael and George went there) and that's all they were playing and I really did not like the music.

Stein Auf!
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