Firefly Grove

the very occasional folk songs of David Potsiadlo

March 2, 2008

Hotel Hell

Back in early 2008, one of my favorite blogs would occasionally publish lyrics for song ideas -- some the author recorded as songs, some not. One day while over caffeinated at a coffee shop and having trouble with Photoshop, I saw new lyrics had been posted on this blog for a song named "Hotel Hell".

Too caffeinated to focus on that day's web design project, I decided to go home and record a spin-off version of the song (which is the kind of thing the author would have loved, I knew). The first verse and chorus were taken from the original lyrics, with the 2nd and 3rd verses being original from me. Within an hour I wrote + recorded the song on my pocket digital recorder.

It had begun.

Verse #1 When I sold the Devil my soul He got it for half price I screwed up the paperwork Had to give him my life twice But it really was not so bad It didn't hurt overmuch Try not to look so sad And we'll stay right in touch Greetings from Hotel Hell Where the weather is hot but all is well Greetings from Hotel Hell I'm doing just fine oh can't you tell Verse #2 Couldn't find a menu at the coffee shop So I gave the waitress her choice "Any old tea you can bring to me" Were the words that came from my voice The waitress turned with a devious smile I learned this after the fact For her wicked brew stole a piece of my soul She ain't ever gonna give it back Greetings from Hotel Hell Where the weather is hot but all is well Greetings from Hotel Hell I'm doing just fine oh can't you tell Verse #3 Walked on home and feeling pretty low Wicked tea flowing through my veins Gotta find a way to reverse her curse And get free of these rusty chains At that moment I did recall A piece of chocolate in my sack Given to me by her fair-skinned twin It will get me my whole soul back Eat that cocoa and play a song Aa big elk's footprints did say But you'll have to wander on for 40 odd days It's the price that I have to pay Greetings from Hotel Hell Where the weather is hot but all is well Greetings from Hotel Hell I'm doing just fine oh can't you tell

March 4th, 2008

A Place Called Firefly Grove

Coming off the spontaneous creative joy of writing + recording "Hotel Hell" in under an hour, I decided to keep the same restraints and record another song. This next song I wrote, "A Place Called Firefly Grove", was based on the mythology of a creative writing project I had worked on a few years prior and leading up to early 2008. This song was written and recorded probably within a few hours of starting.

Verse #1 It's outside of the village, but it ain't too far Just above the growing earth, just below the fallin' stars I'm talking about a place called Firefly Grove I'll take you there to see it, if with me you will roam Until we're outside of the village, stay on your tippie-toes 'Cause the Elders wouldn't like it they knew where we were goin' Not until we've made it 'neath the cover of the trees Can we shout n' hoot n' hollar just as loud as we please Verse #2 Hmmm, da da, oh-da-lolly, hum-dee hey We've made it to the forest, look at us, we're on our way The pathway to the Grove, it twists and winds Only way to find it is to follow the signs Catch a fallin' leaf or hear a whisper in the wind Spot the red shelled turtle and our journey will begin Keep your eyes peeled but don't lose your shirt Or, the Tanglewood Root will tie a knot up in your skirt Verse #3 We've found the path, we've on our way, we're gettin' real close A little further and we'll be there, wipe that dirt off of your nose There's a shortcut to mushrooms and the Burrow just ahead In Beggar's Canyon never-never land your speeder's painted red Across the final threshold, what do we have here A giant meadow, ain't she pretty, better than a phoenix tear Welcome now, we've made it to Firefly Grove For a little welcome gift how 'bout a four leaf clove Verse #4 Forest all around us, tall grass in between With the Great Tree in the middle, she's the best you'll ever see The other children of the village have also found their way They're playing on the tot-lot of root and vine and hay Quick now, let's play "don't touch the ground" Jump and hop and hang while making seven silly sounds Black bird singing with a star for an eye Supernatural things sounding sweet from the sky Verse #5 The Deep Forest looks upon us with an ancient gaze Maybe one day we'll be swallowed by her mystic haze Listen to the tales of them coming of age The older ones among us taking lessons from the sage By themselves into the forest where the path is most dark To bring back the secret fire and the Arden oak's bark In a few years, we'll take that journey ourselves Until that day comes, let's keep our stones up on the shelf

March 5th, 2008

Sinai High

A comment on the internet made me mad. I decided to write this song to feel better about it.

Verse #1 Down in the valley, where the grass has stopped growing In the empty open plain where you'll find no wind blowing There lives an old man, just as sharp as a tack He lives all alone in an old wooden shack He's got all the answers, there isn't any doubt There is no solution that he could live without There's no need for wonder with brains like he's got He's not even bothered by the things he's forgot Verse #2 With all his explanations to fend off the fright You can sure bet your britches he sleeps well at night The darkness doesn't bother him, nor does old age He always knows what to expect on the next page The birds all have left him the clouds have gone by The color has faded from the berries in his pie He clings on so tightly to his answers so dear Laying waste to the mysteries he can't stand to hear Verse #3 He's been there forever, and forever he'll stay If you're looking for an answer its your lucky day Go see him if you want to, he loves his own kind And please would tell him that I'm doing fine La la, la la la la...

March 9th, 2008

Roxy Epoxy and the Open Stones

The goal with this one was to write a long, sprawling ballad similar to Bob Dylan's "Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts". For a topic, I delve deep back into the stores of the "Firefly Grove" creative writing I'd done. Topically, this explores members of the Spirit Brigade who find themselves on respite in one of the villages of the Deep Forest. One of these Brigadiers, Roxy Epoxy, finds herself inspired by the writing of a special song -- but the villainous Boss Kane wants to usurp her creative act.

As for inspiration, much of this song was drawn from the story of Yoani Sánchez, a Cuban blogger who achieved international fame for her critical portrayal of life in Cuba under its current government. The topic of information flowing freely (to help the people + disempower the bad guys) can be found in the way Roxy shares her song with the people, an act which eventually helps them escape the threat of Boss Kane.

Verse #1 In the forest deep and wide, in Spirewood, so I hear There's a little old village named Bindleton, where the air's still fresh and clear Four roaming Spirit Brigadiers did one day come to town Wanting nothing more than to relax and lay their troubles down Roxy Epoxy, Snowden River Jim Old Hector Handlebar, and Merriweather Slim Roxy in particular, had one single thing in mind A song of praise swellin up within, from a well she'd thought long dried Verse #2 Roxy knew she must take action lest the tune leave her behind She'd set the song into a magic stone, where its echo she'd always find But it wouldn't be so easy, or so she'd soon find out Boss Kane had recently setup shop, his sprawling reach unbound Roxy Epoxy, I hear you've found a tune "Won't you lay it down in stone, a great treasure I'll give to you" "Every market here belongs to me, you really have no choice" "Otherwise, back to the woods where no one will hear your voice" Verse #3 Roxy thought this over, quite unsure what to think She'd visions of a fountain, from which all could freely drink She knew she must release the song, unbind it, set it free How was she to do this and keep it out of Boss Kane's reach She crept into the forest, to lay that sucker down Set firm inside a polished stone, inside it would resound She snuck back into town that night, the stone tight in her glove Boss Kane would surely unleash hell, but Roxy would rise above Verse #4 She found Rascal Ricardo, he could work a flashy spell He tapped the stone right to its source, and opened up its shell She met Yuri Yolipedes, who writes on a secret wall In less than an hour Roxy's plan was known by all From pocket to pocket, the song it did pass Being copied from stone to stone, the melody traveling fast Boss Kane his stock did plummet, hope flowed through the town, Roxy had no gold, a different type of treasure she had found Verse #5 Boss Kane he gathered with his goons outside of the town hall Villagers approached slowly to see what was to befall A final showdown coming quick, there wasn't any doubt Roxy took stage center and Boss Kane said with a shout: "Roxy Epoxy, all your praise belongs to me! You'll pay the price for your mistake, and foolish treachery!" His goons advanced with demon sticks, to beat and steal her soul Outnumbered and surrounded, she was truly in a hole Verse #6 Her song alone would be no match, her end seemed to be near When from all sides sweet music began sounding through the air Villagers throughout the town, her tune they all did play Each wieldin' their own song stone, each playin' it their own way The melody it flanked the goons, taking them aback The bark stripped from their demon sticks, Roxy knew that she must act She whirled around her guitar and let ring the secret chord Quite surprised, as her fingers acted on their own accord A blaze of brilliance blasted forth, cuttin' through the charging ranks Their demon sticks snapped clean in two, cleavin' their faces blank Verse #7 The goons, well they all scattered quick, the town was free once more The villagers rejoiced at last, thanking Roxy for her chore Boss Kane did also flee the scene, some say he was never there He's no doubt back in Sugartown where he rules from his secret lair And Roxy Epoxy, the hero of our tale Though she's back in the Deep Forest, that tune it still prevails She makes no claim to own the song, she merely set it free Knowing that forever folks can play it as they please

March 18, 2008

The Hat Man

This song continues the songwriting project I'd started weeks earlier (giving myself a very tight deadline to write + record). "The Hat Man" pulled freely from the archetype of the Trickster in comparative mythology: a force of disruption, mischief, irreverence, and often chaos that in turn often leads to creation and revitalization. Great fodder for songwriting imagery.

Verse #1 Well, I was traveling alone in the forest one night Slowly making my way by the dim lantern light I was just between two thoughts, you know the sound of one hand clapping Well, it hit me, and then... A stranger then appeared with some sparkle in his motion His many-color coat it flowed like the ocean With his cane, he rapped on the ground three times ...And do you know what happened? A magical flask appeared in my grip I'm not one to argue so I took quite the sip and swallowed the potion down, it worked its magic And at that moment I did recall The reason I was in that forest at all A memory I'd otherwise forgotten, left behind years ago I looked up at the stranger and said, You're the Hat Man, I've heard about you Being who you are, and doing what they say you do I offered my kindest thanks, and he just smiled And kept on walkin' along He's the Hat Man, travelin far and wide Spannin' seven leagues with every single stride Footloose and fancy free Ramblin' on however he please Verse #2 The Hat Man travels from town to town He doesn't seem effected by the ups and downs He doesn't care for beginnings, and has got no concerns for endings He's got bowlers, berets, bucket hats too, Fedoras, Panamas, he's got a Stetson for you He's got caps & gowns & scarves & bandanas to boot That's just scratchin' the surface Money is not what the Hat Man seeks He prefers to barter with smiles and winks He once sold a green fedora for three deep breaths It ain't really about the trades that he makes, but rather the good luck he leaves in his wake For if you see him coming your way, you best crack a smile Unless you like fightin' the wind, 'cause... He's the Hat Man, what's he up to now? Walkin' on water or lougin up in a cloud Ain't no way to tell just where he's at Would you look at that, here he comes, He's the Hat Man, up up and away Planting them seeds all throughout the day He's your best friend when you need 'em, and even when you don't Everybody get yourselves together Nevermind the stormy weather Oh, up on your feet, Here comes the Hat Man Verse #3 Now, the Hat Man travels as the Hat Man please with a crook to his step and a shake in his knee And no, that was no stumble, he's just dancing Who do you think we're talking about, here? He strolls along with his corn-cob pipe If there was sweat on his brow, he'd give it a wipe But he doesn't have to. It's not there. He's not sweating The Hat Man goes where he doesn't want to be seen And he's seen where he doesn't want to go But he'll go there just the same There and back again, and two times more There's no place he ain't ever been before When will he be in town next? Just look behind ya. It's the Hat Man, coming to town Come on and put your money down! Let the chips fall where they may, That's where he wants 'em... yeah you'll see, He's the Hat Man, arriving today From over them hills and so far away Trampled underfoot, nearly forgotten Yeah, he'll bring that fire back to life, oh! Everybody get yourselves together Nevermind the stormy weather Oh, up on your feet, Here comes the Hat Man Rolling thunder, Spirit Train The rhythm rolls with his refrain His tune carries on high into the heavens Verse #4 Whether loom of the fruit or the fruit of the loom From the Tomb of the womb to womb of the tomb The Hat Man, he's traveled on, but not forgotten not by me, at least We're hoping real hard he'll be back soon But no use lookin' at the finger that points at the moon So we'll carry on his work ourselves And if he does come back, we'll be ready

August 25, 2008

Song for the Fallen Tree

This song was born from an effort to combine a heavier dose of psuedo spoken-word storytelling into a recording. Lyrically, this one goes back to the well of the "Firefly Grove" creating writing I'd done in years prior.

Verse #1 Walking through the forest He was care free and without worry He found a stone And tossed it up and down through the air When suddenly his eyes They're drawn up and there before him The mighty stump of a tree Fresh cut and sad, laying bare Verse #2 He slowly drew near The toss taken out of his pebble A sorrow within swells forth Upon his eyes the rings Of the tree that once was So in its center he lays down the stone And whips round his guitar Takes a deep breath, and starts to sing A song for the fallen tree A song for the live ones A song for our faded dreams So new ones may rise again Verse #3 When his song had all finished He sat there for a moment, breathing deeply And there upon the stump The stone he had left it did glow The spirit of the tree, roused and livened It had been released, now Set inside the stone, which he gathered up And away he did go Verse #4 All of the children of the village They're all taught the same now Each with an instrument Set forth into the wild to play Each goes their own way Toward a tree thats in need of their song, now And let their newly hatched music Take flight into the light of day Verse #5 And from all sides Sweet songs flood back into the village Melodies joining as one In the center of town And in the circle garden Behold a new sprout has taken root now Its secret to be heard By all those with their ears to the ground Sing for the fallen tree Sing for the live ones Sing for our faded dreams So new ones may rise again

January 18, 2009

Chester Wheaton

A light-hearted tune I wrote super quickly. Inspired by the idea of an old hobo who was as happy as could be. Was fun to throw on a capo and put something quite simple together. I also used GarageBand to mix this one (added a second guitar in the chorus), which I believe was the first song for which I'd done so.

Musically, it was a blast to explore something new -- between the capo and the almost nasal vocal tone, I was in new territory. Inspiration-wise, this is definitely in the spirit of God Don't Own a Car by Jimmy Buffett.

Verse #1 Old Chester Wheaton, walking down the avenue Got a bounce in his step, though there's holes in both his shoes Not sure where he's going, can't remember where he's been Yes, with ninety years behind him, he deserves some wine and gin Oh, let's bounce around like Chester Down the streets of Sugartown Drop a coin into his cup And watch him drink it right on down Oh, let's take a nap like Chester In the gutter flowing free And then swagger down an alley Graceful stumble, skid your knee Verse #2 Some say he's addicted... others they call him a bum But he's just a guy like your or me... whose glass is filled with rum Oh, he never asks for nothing... yet he seems to do just fine See, his glass is always full, and yes his smile's always wide Oh, let's bump the walls with Chester Walkin' straight and tall's a bore Yes, when gravity's gone silly You're allowed to ask for more Oh, let's live it up with Chester 'Til the closing bells to ring Then lets keep the party going Into the forest if need be

February 11, 2009

Cafe on the Hill

This song was written for the beloved College Perk Coffeehouse in College Park, MD. After a fire in late 2008, College Perk sadly closed its doors and was never to reopen. It is dearly missed. I wrote this song in its honor.

I used to spend a lot of time at College Perk. For a year or two, I enjoyed a Saturday morning routine where I'd spend a few hours each week while my wife was at work. I used to telecommute from this place, and frequented its halls when I was first learning web design & development. The open mic nights, the smores, the full moon bonfires, the unique cast of characters who frequented the place -- it had it all.

Verse #1 Birdsong, early morning rise One by one, they heed the calling Round the bend and up the hill they climb Shadowed trees, graveled footsteps Through the doors, they each make their own way No two of them the same, their seats a'taken A coffeeshop by name, but so much more For the treasures kept in store, leave pillars shaken Oh, just to see your face, so inviting Under warmth of your quilt In the end, there'll be peace the same For tomorrow... a return to that cafe on the hill Verse #2 Firedance, full moon in the sky Round and round, all drums a'blazing While under roof, not an empty seat it sight Smores a'flame, red wine a'flowing Each conversation, a treasure to behold While adventures do unfold, from green to red room Dim corridor with hands traced on the wall For each who walks these halls, they leaves their mark now Into the night, the music leads the way The mic is open, but soon closed be it will For the end, always comes too soon 'Twould be no different, so it goes for that cafe on the hill Verse #3 Winter chill, stillness in the air Seasons pass, hanging over Grey sky, dashed hopes from here to there Scattered wide, let down and dazing Each one of them, they search amidst the blue For the comfort they once knew, but find no shelter When tomorrow comes, I'll seek on just the same Did I really know your name? I sit and wonder So, it must be sometimes, treasured echoes Rendered hollow, and so shrill Even still, does the hope remain, for the promise Open doors at that cafe on the hill

September 1, 2009

Ancestor Radio

Inspired by a lot of reading I was doing at the time about Haiti, ancestor worship, vodou, and African tribal religions. On this topic I recommend this NPR interview with National Geographic ethnobotanist Wade Davis, and likewise his book The Serpent and the Rainbow.

I was also happy to record a short keyboard solo at the end of this song -- this being the first non-guitar instrument to find its way into any of these songs.

Verse #1 Her hard work behind her, she needs no reminder Kicks back on the porch, with her ears open wide Spirits in chorus, who've passed on before us To their voices she listens, full moon hanging high Ancestor radio, play that sweet music, oh Melodies heavenly, rhythms sublime She tunes her receiver, she is a believer For the broadcasted signal has dropped her a line Ancestor radio, sing me a song Through wastelands of static, your signal is strong Ancestor radio, don't pass me by Your current it flows, may it never run dry Verse #2 Antennas all over, smoked leaf of a clover The whisper of wind, or the bark of a tree Stones on the mantle, for instance example There pictured in frame, old eyes looking at me Ancestor radio, help me to find The frequency needed, to make your song shine Ancestor radio, come back my way I'll suffer the white noise until that fine day Verse #3 Cool breeze on a hill top, night sky as a backdrop Firefly glow, in the darkness between Spirit guitar strumming, can't help but start humming Tune in for yourself, and you'll hear what I mean