adapted from "To His Coy Mistress" by Andrew Marvell (1621-1678)
If we had all the time in the world, says Andy Marvell to his girlfriend, I could sit around and admire you for a couple of centuries...but we're not gonna live that long. I removed his references to obscure English rivers and distilled his wonderful poem's essence in a new title.
Lookin' for Trouble Steve Goodman
Steve always had a smile in his voice; my version is darker.
Gathered Safely In
My first postpartum composition follows a traditional pattern of repeating lines to encourage singing along, and includes a reference to J. S. Bach (baaaa, baaaa).
Black is the Color trad. Appalachian
A song of extreme passion from the land that invented the mountain dulcimer.
Close on Air
This reflection on impermanence dates from my unsettled youth.
Full Moon Tonight
Autobiographical only in an emotional sense.
In the early '80's, I often saw a homeless man pacing the same block of Mass Ave in Cambridge, conversing with mailboxes. I wish this song would become less relevant, but our streets remain full of lost souls with broken minds.
Il Est Né, Le Divin Enfant trad. French
"The holy child is born -- play, oboes! Resound, bagpipes!" All new parents should be saluted with oboe and bagpipe, though it wouldn't do much to soothe the baby.
The Rantin' Dog Robert Burns
Hishie Ba' trad. Scots
"The rantin' dog, the daddy o't" is the father of the singer's unwanted unborn child ("o't" means "of it"). Burns supposedly sent this song to a young woman he had gotten into trouble, to cheer her up. She wonders who will supply the "groanin' malt" (ale brewed to pay the midwife and fortify everyone for the ordeal), who will sit beside her on the "creepie chair" (the stool of repentance in church), and who will make her "fidgin' fain," or feeling frisky.
The second song, learned from the singing of Jean Redpath, can be considered a sequel to the first, when the bold front meets hard reality. The chorus says hush, baby, I'm your ma, but heaven knows who your father is.
One autumn morning I came upon a bee clutching a flower, seized up with the cold. The season had turned.
Heard It Through the Grapevine Norman Whitfield & Barrett Strong
Couldn't resist. Maybe someday I'll get me some Pips.
Corinthians adapted from Paul's letter to the Corinthians
A song for weddings; I've sung it at quite a few.
Twelve to One
Back when people made their own clothing from scratch, it took 12 times as long to spin the thread as it did to weave the thread into cloth. I gave the spinners names nobody bestows on little girls nowadays.
Normandy music trad.
I wrote new words for this timeless melody on my way to the Unitarian Universalist church I had just started attending, much to my amazement, after viewing the Joseph Campbell/Bill Moyers interviews, "The Power of Myth." Singing without a sound, dancing without a step, and talking without a word express the divine mystery that lies beyond human language.
All Through the Night music trad. Welsh, words adapted by Alicia Carpenter,
These lyrics appear in the new Unitarian Universalist hymnbook, Singing the Living Tradition.