Saturday, April 11, 2009
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
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Continuing the series of YouTube videos recorded in concert back in 1999 at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Oak Park, IL, I'm pleased to present this solo acoustic performance of my song "Johnny Horton."
This song is a favorite of mine, but has become sort of a rarity in my catalog. It was written in Spring of 1999, right around the taping of this concert. A few months later I would begin the recording of the Sound Theology album, and in Spring of 2000 I made the only studio recording of "Johnny Horton"...the only song recorded in that period that did not appear on the Sound Theology album.
Instead "Johnny Horton" it was released on the now-super-rare Trunkstock Sampler CD, featuring me and other songwriters from Chicago (including Beki Hemingway!). Later on in 2000 and 2001 the song became a regular part of the set list when I would perform with Chicago musicians Benji Derrick (bass), Andy Deitrich (drums), and Matt Marohl (pedal steel).
In 2003 I remixed the studio recording of "Johnny Horton" and the updated version appeared on the Salt Lady Records Extra Credit CD sampler, which is still available for only $5!
The song is inspired by 1950's-era country/rockabilly singer Johnny Horton, who was born on April 30, 1925. In honor of Johnny's birthday this month, I send this one out to him! The lyrics are below:
words and music by Jonathan Rundman
cp 2000 Salt Lady Music (ASCAP)
the car pulled up and I got in
we shut the doors and went
Johnny Horton on the radio
talkin' 'bout the Old Testament
Johnny never let his guard down
and he died out in his car
and I can hear him even to this day
I wonder if he knew he'd go so far
Why do you think we were up so late?
What was that spirit blowing through us?
Why did we lie there talking 'til the sun came up?
Maybe Johnny Horton spoke right to us
I think about our situation
I think about our life
you are strong and beautiful
just like Johnny's wife
you know if I had a fortune
I would give it all to you
but until then we'll stay up talking
and you know my love is true
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
On March 29 I'll be the guest on "Grace Matters," a nationally syndicated radio show. Visit the "Grace Matters" webpage to learn more, and find the radio stations in your area that broadcast the program.
After the show airs, they'll post a podcast for download.
I taped the interview with host Peter Marty back in January. He's a brilliant guy, and we had a really cool discussion. The show also features a few of my songs, including "Librarian," "Narthex," and "Forgiveness Waltz." Previous guests have included author Jim Wallis, CBS News' Charles Osgood, and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls!
I'm thrilled with how it turned out, and I hope you all tune in or download the show!
Okay, it's Tuesday now, and the show has aired. You can download it at the Grace Matters website. Check it out!