For my entire musical life I've been very secretive about any new songs. I've kept them all safely under wraps until I can record them and release them on an official album. Only then have I been comfortable with the public hearing my fresh material.
These days, for some reason, I feel different about it. Maybe because I don't have any plans for a new album in the near future. Whatever the reason, last month I was excited to leak an MP3 of a new song called "Robert Traver Blues," and this month I've posted another song for download called "Flying On A Plane." This newest tune was written and recorded only a few days ago on April 1st when I was on Spring Break.
The song took fourteen years to compose. Back in 1995 Dawn and I flew to Poland from Seattle. While we were crossing the Atlantic I got bored, and I felt like writing, but I had no writing utensil. So I asked the passenger ahead of me if he had a pen I could borrow. He gave me a pen, and I started writing off the top of my head, with my internal editor turned off. The result was a few strange rhyming verses on a yellow legal pad. I tore out that page, stuck it in my songwriting book, and forgot about it for 14 years.
Then, a week ago when I was on Spring Break in my hometown of Ishpeming, I wanted to use my free time to come up with some new music. These days I have no lyric ideas, so I dug through my lyric book to see if there was anything interesting within to salvage. I discovered the wrinkled old sheet of yellow legal paper from that airplane flight back in 1995, and BOOM, I had my idea. The only thing I needed was a chorus, and it didn't take long to come up with a good angle.
Within a couple hours I had set up my brother's pawn-shop keyboard, programmed in a cool, stompy bass and drum track, and overdubbed some vocals, mandolin, and guitar.
The song reflects on how some of the technology we use is ancient (writing with a tool on a surface, "like the Mesolithic Age"), and some is incredibly sophisticated and amazing (flying across the sky inside a metal tube). And we interchange these technologies without even thinking about it.
You can download the song at my AUDIO PAGE.
Lyrics are below:
FLYING ON A PLANE
Words and music by Jonathan Rundman
cp 2009 Salt Lady Music (ASCAP)
I borrowed this pen from the passenger
In front of me on this plane
He’ll never see his pen again
He does not know my name
We’re cutting through the clouds and beginning our descent
Down to dirt and trees and streets, water and cement
Flying on a plane
Writing on a page
Scratching out a message
Like the Mesolithic Age
I struggle to explain:
Ink upon paper
Flying on a plane
Tons of glass and steel and fire
Paper, flesh, and sound
Push against the gravity
Cursing at the ground
Letters ain’t no better than a pictograph
Turn and angle down with the power cut in half
The woman with the silver bracelet
Reaches upward for her reading light
There are older men in suits and ties
On her left and on her right