Sunday, 26 January 2014


This is the first of 3 songs written in full  on El Norte. Songs which were 
inspired by El Norte but, written after my return home, to follow.

I met Carmen in Castro Urdiales. After an hour or so talking in a cafe, we
went for a late night walk along the beach then headed back to the Albergue.
Two days later we walked from Guemes to Santander and then she headed
back home to Bilbao, her short holiday (Semana Santa) being over. She
asked if I would like to spend a few days with her after I finished El Norte.
When asked where she lived , she said: "By the sea." In the next three weeks 
I decided not only to accept her offer but also to write a song for her. Well, 
once I realized that I knew nothing of her except her name and where she 
lived, I had my song title. Here's the song:


Come gather round people and a story I will tell
About a girl I remember and used to love so well
A black haired beauty, a darling Spanish queen
Her cheeks were like roses and eyes were emerald green
She was perfect as an angel, gentle like a dove
But no one  knew what she was thinking of
And every man in town they shared each other’s dream
To be living free with Carmen by the sea

One day a stranger came to town and as far as we could see
He had only come around to win Carmen by the sea
With a bouquet of flowers and a ring of solid gold,
Jewels and fragrances, the finest I’ve been told
It might have been those gifts or maybe just his charm
Maybe just the way he held her in his arms
But he broke the hearts of many men, not just two or three
He was living free with Carmen by the sea

Days turned into months and months turned into years
Loving turned to longing - happiness to tears
No one had seen Carmen or the man that she had wed
Until one day the news came down - the stranger was dead
Shattered on the rocks on the shores of the raging sea
The fall had killed him instantly--everyone agreed
But no one understood just how it came to be
No one except for Carmen by the sea

Carmen soon came into town and words cannot express
The power of her beauty and her bloody happiness
The men still gathered around entranced by every step
They didn't seem to care about the fate the stranger met
She was perfect as an angel, gentle like a dove
But no one knew what she was thinking of
And every man in town they shared each other’s dream
To be living free with Carmen by the sea

The strangest thing happened when I did visit. Long story short,
I ended up going for a afternoon hike with Carmen's mom (I can still see Carmen
giggling about the whole idea ). After a long climb in the hot sun, we reached
the top of a very high cliff, a very, very high cliff!
"Look, you can see Castro Urdiales across the water" she said.
She was right,of course, but I was just looking down at "the rocks on the
shores of the raging sea" and they looked just as deadly I had imagined in
my song. An instant of sheer terror struck me.. had I predicted my own
death? I was right on the edge so I quickly wheeled about and with great
relief found "mom" smiling and not advancing towards me with arms
I shouldn't have been surprised. She was a wonderful woman who had
graciously welcomed me into her life and home.

And so too was Carmen, perhaps even more so. She did so many little things
for me that I can not begin to list them, usually thoughtfully, calmly and without
fanfare. I didn't realize that when I wrote "She was perfect as an angel, gentle
like a dove", that it was the absolute truth. Indeed, she was my camino angel.
It would be nice see her one more time and tell her.

Saturday, 18 January 2014


Just pulled out my camino guitar, first time since El Norte in the spring.  As I stuck my nose in the sound hole I was assaulted by a riot of perfumes...vino, tortilla..ocean..sweat... sun...each trace gloriously accented by the sweet fragrances of a lovely lady....all of which leaves me only to wonder : is she, or is she not, forever lost?

Sunday, 12 January 2014


    Dec 31st, 2013,  the morning of new year's eve, about 10:30 am, I slipped on a small, unseen patch of ice and fell head first on the ground. Whooosh... pain,dizziness, nausea. Two hospitals, one CTscan and 10 long hours later I was pronounced concussed but ok, then released. Thanks to Supergirl and Plastic Man for finding my car and driving it home, then coming back to the hospital and doing the same for yours truly.
     This didn't radically change my new year's plans as I was just planning to stay home by myself anyway--the only difference was I now felt god awful. Think I hit the sack around 11ish but frankly, I don't remember too much.
     Though I hadn't touched a drop, I awoke early with a blistering headache. I also awoke with a song idea and damnit I dont know why, I just did. Now, when I get these ideas, my frequent modus operandi is to think  "hey, that's not a bad idea..think I'll try that,  umm...but maybe later". Most of the time "later" never comes and, if it does, I usually have lost the "moment" and reject everything I attempt to associate with it. Yes, I know there are ways to avoid that trap and I might try them but, ummm...maybe later.
      In this case though, I just sat down and started writing, 3-4 hours maybe. I ended up with something I thought was pretty good but I did recognize it wasn't quite done. I called it "Southbound Train" but only because I felt compelled to do so because of the lyrics--I really didn't want to call it that. And like I said, it needed  a key tweak or two but my head was starting to hurt so bad that I had to stagger to another room and lie down. It had  been about 14 hours since the CTscan. The song could wait.
      Yesterday, about ten days later, I recorded "Fall So Far" for my next album. The recording went well in every aspect, and the performance, together with a few additions, will likely be the one that is released. When we were done, I offered up "Southbound Train" to my producer extraordinaire JK Gulley, explaining of course, that it wasn't quite complete. Now, there is no chance JK will ever say something is any good if it isn't (a wonderful attribute), so I was quite happy that he embraced it wholeheartedly while acknowledging that it wasn't quite "there" yet.
        Well, I just did the rewrite..added one new lyric line with a few different chords and modified the preceding 4  lyric lines accordingly, then trashed the entire ending which, thankfully, no longer worked. And damn, in my opinion,'s "there"! As an added bonus, I can now most assuredly rename the song : "To Love Again" . And that is so sweetly appropriate, 'cause if there's one thing I need to  do in my godforsaken, love-starved life, it's just that--to love again. See, all this stuff is just autobiography y'know, sometimes it just takes a while for me to recognize it. Anyway, pumped I am-- feel like dancing. That, unfortunately, is doubly problematical - firstly, because I can't dance and secondly my head is now throbbing to the nth degree again.
Peace, love
    PS.If you have read this, you have agreed not to tell my mother. Cheers.