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Fact and Fiction

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Mike B

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Fact and Fiction

Released December, 2016

All instruments and vocals:  Mike Birch

All songs written by Mike Birch

 

1) Gypsy Wind
2) Look Down The Road
3) Open All Night
4) Ashes and Trees
5) Mr Limo Driver
6) Thirty Miles to Richmond
7) Miss Mexico
8 ) Desert Snow
9) The Good From the Bad
10) Sandcastles
11) The Traveler
12) Kiss or Kill
13) Chasing the Sunlight
14) Scarlet and Sable
15) The Winds of Change

 

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My 4th album of original songs, these were all ‘story’ songs, some completely factual, some based on facts, some completely fictional and some a little bit of both fact and fiction.  Many of these songs had already been recorded when I released my 3rd album, hence the relatively quick release (1 year) after the previous one.

 

Track 1 ‘Gypsy Wind’

 

 

 

Fiction!  Story of a gypsy dancer/singer who arrives and steals the songwriter’s heart.  As I didn't have a nylon string guitar (yet) when I recorded this, I used a baritone ukulele for that part.

 

Gypsy Wind

 

She glides around the campfire

Guitar plays soft and slow

Flames reach ever higher

Gypsy dancer’s face is aglow

 

Her voice calls out a shimmering note

Begging stars and moon to listen

It’s as if time has slowed

She is one with the gypsy wind

 

She moves with the gypsy wind

She sings with the gypsy wind

 

Helplessly falling

Victim drawn to her calling

Hypnotized by her form

Blown away by the gypsy storm

 

Dark hair flows, streams of night

Siren song takes control

Her eyes flash to his inner fire

Summoning to her gypsy soul

 

She moves with the gypsy wind

She sings with the gypsy wind

She moves with the gypsy wind

She is one with the gypsy wind

 

Helplessly falling

Victim drawn to her calling

Hypnotized by her form

Blown away by the gypsy storm

 

She is one with the gypsy wind

 

 

Track 2 ‘Look Down the Road’

 

 

 

Based on fact!  I wrote this while reading the Neil Young biography “Shakey”, based on the time when he left Ontario for the west coast.  I tried to capture some of the early-Neil guitar sound for this one.

 

Look Down the Road

 

The grass here sure is brown

Bound to be greener over there

Maybe there won’t be anyone

Ragging on my long hair

I’m getting kind of tired

Of all the crap in this old town

Sorry I have to tell you

I won’t be sticking around

 

I’m not one to waste time looking back

Doesn’t matter what happened before,  what I never had

I must be moving before I’m too damn old

Wonder where I’m heading?  Just look down the road

 

Wasn’t too long, plans were made

Soon the deed of leaving was done

On the road with a couple of friends

In an old car that barely runs

Along the way we argue

But we have plenty of fun

Searching for that greener grass

Speeding down old route 101

 

I’m not one to waste time looking back

Doesn’t matter what happened before,  what I never had

I must be moving before I’m too damn old

Wonder where I’m heading?  Just look down the road

 

Never wanted to hurt your feelings

It was nothing you did or said

I knew I’d be leaving

Staying long’s not in my head

 

West coast ain’t much different

‘Cept that the grass’s always brown

Parted ways with my old friends

Got a job when the car broke down

Heard you called, looking for me

But your memory hurts down to my soul

Thinking about heading out one more time

Wondering where my wandering will lead … as I look down the road

 

I’m not one to waste time looking back

Doesn’t matter what happened before,  what I never had

I must be moving before I’m too damn old

Wonder where I am tonight?  Look down the road

 

 

Track 3 ‘Open All Night’

 

 

Based on fact!  Some friends ran an open mic at a restaurant (formerly pancake house) that stayed open late for food and also had a bar room (beer and wine only).  Some of the characters there one night inspired the verses. 

 

Open All Night

 

Mr and Mrs Brown, wearing frowns, fried eggs for dinner

Reverend Jones, always alone, knows he’s really a sinner

The waitress talks to them and smiles, and for a little while

They feel like winners

 

Open All Night bar and grill pancake emporium

Saturday night all the lonely people come

Open All Night bar and grill pancake emporium

Where do all the people come from?

 

Carol Ann with a fake tan drinking with her mom at the bar

She’s just 31, having no fun, asks why meeting men is so hard

The bartender pours another round and smiles, and for a little while

She forgets the invisible scars

 

Open All Night bar and grill pancake emporium

Saturday night all the lonely people come

Open All Night bar and grill pancake emporium

Where do all the people come from?

 

Sign of our times, sad people everywhere

Wrapped up in their own misery, no one cares

 

In a corner I sit, spotlight lit, playing my guitar

I’m just like them, looking for friends, waiting for tips in a jar

The people listen clap and smile, and for a little while

Our home is this bar

 

Open All Night bar and grill pancake emporium

Saturday night all the lonely people come

Open All Night bar and grill pancake emporium

Where do all the people come from?

 

 

 

Track 4 ‘Ashes and Trees’

 

 

 

Fiction!  This lyric came about as an exercise, equating metaphorically love and fire – starting out strong, eventually burning out and fading to embers and ashes.

 

Ashes and Trees

 

Promise of endless summer, fireworks and bonfires

Like children filled with wonder, passionate hearts of desire

 

The fire burns bright, smoke drifts away on the breeze

Last hope smolders amid the ashes and the trees

 

Sparks kindle flames, heat almost too much to bear

Two souls melt together, hot life to share

 

The fire burns bright, smoke drifts away on the breeze

Last hope smolders amid the ashes and the trees

 

All flames finally fade

Embers change to gray

Summer heat becomes winter cold

And love can lose its hold

 

The fire burns out, smoke drifts away on the breeze

Last hope smolders, amid the ashes and the trees

 

 

Track 5 ‘Mr Limo Driver’

 

 

 

Fiction based on fact!  On The Muse songwriter forum, there was one member who happened to be the limousine driver for another forum member.  I contemplated what it would be like driving a ‘star’ around every day as one’s job.

 

Mr Limo Driver

 

Watching in the mirror

Adjusting your makeup and your hair

Sipping champagne

Talking on the phone to people who only care

That you’re the reason

They live as high as they do

And when the day is over

Do any of them really care for you?

 

Then I hear “Mr. Limo Driver, won’t you take me away?”

But it’s only your order to drive you home, it’s the end of another day

 

Mr. Limo Driver, never rides in the back

Mr. Limo Driver, white shire, jacket of black

Stoically silent, a master of tact

Mr. Limo Driver – I never ride in the back

 

Star of screen and stage

So why do you look so sad?

Fortune and fame

Must be more good than bad

Hard for me to fathom

What’s going on inside your mind

The obviously forced smile

Can’t hide all the pain behind

 

Then I hear “Mr. Limo Driver, won’t you take me away?”

But it’s only your order to drive you home, it’s the end of another day

 

Mr. Limo Driver, never rides in the back

Mr. Limo Driver, white shire, jacket of black

Stoically silent, a master of tact

Mr. Limo Driver – never rides in the back

 

At a red light my imagination drifts

To things that will never be

Then I catch your face in the mirror

Your eyes looking back at me

 

Then I hear “Mr. Limo Driver, won’t you take me away?”

But it’s only my imagination, it’s the end of another day

 

Mr. Limo Driver, never rides in the back

Mr. Limo Driver, white shire, jacket of black

Stoically silent, a master of tact

Mr. Limo Driver – never rides in the back

Mr. Limo Driver – I never ride in the back

 

Track 6 ‘Thirty Miles to Richmond’

 

 

Fiction!  I had read a science fiction short story titled something like ’20 days to Earth’ where the main character was returning to the planet where he was born, and then the idea of a soldier returning home came to me.  Fiction, of course, because the singer turns out to be dead by the last verse.

 

Thirty Miles To Richmond

 

Papa shook my hand as we waited for the bus

Mama was crying, making her usual fuss

My sisters were smiling, their eyes glistening with tears

I climbed aboard the bus, then watched Richmond disappear

 

Camp was tough as everyone had warned

You have to work hard to earn a uniform

Sarge built a team from a bunch of innocent kids

Taught us to stay alive no matter what we did

 

Thirty miles to Richmond

This journey will finally end

Thirty miles to Richmond

I’ll soon be home again

 

Soon we were sent off to an unknown land

To fight in a war we didn’t understand

Surrounded by my friends, it was the usual tale

We were from the land of freedom, we could never fail

 

Tommy was my buddy

He was like a brother to me

Could do the work of ten

Thought we’d make history

But a bullet cut him down

No mercy from the enemy

As I wept over him

They did the same to me

 

Thirty miles to Richmond

This journey will finally end

Thirty miles to Richmond

I’ll soon be home again

 

 

Track 7 ‘Miss Mexico’

 

 

Based on fact!  Back in my Montreal university days, there was a very pretty girl in the dorms who had come from Mexico, but she was American – her father was an embassy worker, I think. One of the guys in the dorm nicknamed her ‘Miss Mexico’.  We exchanged a few pen pal letters during the summer between 1st and 2nd years at school.  During the 2nd year, she started dating the guy who had nicknamed her, and he was a real womanizer.  One night as I was returning from the library (really!) to my student ghetto apartment, she was coming down the sidewalk crying her eyes out, after finding out the guy had been using her and cheating on her.  We spent the night together, she kicked me out of her place around dawn.  I never saw or heard from her again.

 

Miss Mexico

 

Sweetness and innocence

Even more behind a pretty face

Hidden intelligence

Kept quietly in its place

 

Admiral ambitions

Become so much more

Forget inhibitions

And walk through that open door

 

Do you miss your family?

Do you miss a life care –free?

 

Miss Mexico

Do you feel alone?

Miss Mexico

Do you miss your home?

Do you, do you, Miss Mexico?

 

I tried to warn you

That you were a little naïve

You would not listen

'Til the night he made you leave

 

Do you miss your family?

Do you miss a life care –free?

 

Miss Mexico

Do you feel alone?

Miss Mexico

Do you miss your home?

Do you, do you, Miss Mexico?

 

Hard to hide behind a mask

When your life has crashed

I’ve been trying to help you

But you won’t let me through

 

Do you miss your family?

Do you miss a life care –free?

 

Miss Mexico

Do you feel alone?

Miss Mexico

Do you miss your home?

Do you, do you, Miss Mexico?

 

 

Track 8 ‘Desert Snow’

 

 

Fact!  I wrote this song after reading the following post on the forum at acousticguitarforum.com.

 

This post is about miracles. 


One year ago tonight we were taking our girls to the hospital to say a final goodbye to my dad. There were plenty of tears in the car. My dad was taken down suddenly by an asthma attack. He never woke up. As we were thinking about how terribly unfair this was, and negotiating rush hour traffic, the skies opened up and sent down a flurry of snow. In the Phoenix area. That almost never happens. By the time we parked our world had transformed. The girls' tears had turned to smiles and they spun around the parking lot and caught snowflakes on their tongues. I was witnessing a miracle. And I know it was Dad telling us it would be okay. We hurried into the lobby and shook the snow out of our hair. The snow had fallen so suddenly that people in the lobby at first did not register that it was snowing and when they did, a new energy filled the room. I ran upstairs and told Dad's wife, who had remained at his bedside for two days non-stop, to look out the window. She did, and her soul was lifted momentarily from her problems. 


Little did we know that in a hospital just a few miles north of us, also being covered in snow, a gentleman from Flagstaff was surrounded by his family and they were preparing to say goodbye, too. The man needed a liver and they were not sure one would come in time. The next day my dad was released from his earthly body. As we were saying goodbye, they were grasping onto hope. They told us later that when they found out the news the first thing they did was pray for our family. We felt those prayers, and they helped us to heal. And when we found out in those same moments that my dad had been able to provide someone a liver, we prayed for the recovery and healing of that unknown person. A few months ago we were blessed to meet these new extended members of our family. They are the most warm-hearted down to earth people. We felt an immediate bond with them. Today we got a message from the gentleman that he is going for his annual checkup and the liver is still working out fine for him. He keeps Dad's photo in his kitchen. We are now one family.


It's interesting how things work out. I still feel dad's spirit around from time to time. His wife has witnessed concrete signs that he is still watching over her, too. Dad is not gone; he is just harder to get ahold of these days. I can't believe it's been a year since the miracle snowstorm. And yet in some ways I can't believe it's been 35 years since dad sung me to sleep at night with the same guitar I'm now learning to play. I can't believe it's been twenty years since I went away to college and discovered who I was inside and what I wanted to do with my life. I can't believe that my little baby girl is now thirteen. Sometimes I can still feel the weight of her little baby self in my arms and instead I see before me the young woman she's becoming. We all transition a little bit every day. Life is a process of saying goodbye to the old and welcoming the new. Tonight in the darkness I will be reflecting on the people and things I have said goodbye to. Tomorrow when the sun rises, I want to reflect on the blessings that surround me, and look forward to the new experiences yet to come.

 

 

Desert Snow

 

Feelings of sadness under empty skies

Traveling miles just to say goodbye

No one says it, but everyone knows it's true

Everything changes and memories fade, too.

 

Then a sign, a message from above

Sent to remind us of all the love

No matter what, there's always hope

From something unexpected, like desert snow.

 

All of a sudden dark day turns bright

Crystalline beauty, blanket of white

Grief is muffled, like footsteps in snow

A gift to a stranger, to let them grow.

 

Remember when things get too tough

We've got within us the power of love

No matter how bad, there's always hope

Some kind of miracle, like desert snow.

 

No matter how it seems, you're never alone

You can find new dreams, your destiny unknown

Feel it, feel it in your soul

Like desert snow

 

A new sunrise, a brand new start

Feel it inside, feel it in your heart

They're always with us, sweet memories

Bringing a smile, like a cool desert breeze.

 

Remember when things get too tough

We've got within us the power of love

No matter how bad, there's always hope

Some kind of miracle, like desert snow.

Like desert snow,     like desert snow

 

Track 9 ‘The Good From the Bad’

 

 

Fiction based on fact!  So many stories on media about women abused by their husbands/boyfriends, and I also witnessed some mental abusing of women/friends I knew.  So the lyric’s facts are fiction, but not the problem.

 

The Good From The Bad

 

She always told her best friends

Her nose was her best feature

Wrinkled it up so cute

When she was kissing up to a teacher

 

It seems so long ago

She doesn’t know where time went

Doesn’t want to think

How that nose got all bent

 

He promised her diamonds

Instead she got fists of rock

But she thinks that she deserved

Everything she got

 

Can’t tell the good from the bad

It’s the only love she’s ever had

Put up with the abuse

Always an excuse

Can’t tell the good from the bad

 

Another night in the ER

This time a broken arm

Questions get no answers

But she’s sure he didn’t mean any harm

Get away her friends all say

But it’s not something she will do

All the tears, shame and pain

She still thinks love will see them through

 

He promised her the world

Instead all she got was dirt

She still believes

That it’s all she is worth

 

Can’t tell the good from the bad

It’s the only love she’s ever had

Put up with the abuse

Always an excuse

Can’t tell the good from the bad

 

Opposites why do they attract? It’s a hard fact

Good is drawn to bad

Pleasure and pain, quite insane

Good and bad together again

 

Can’t tell the good from the bad

It’s the only love she’s ever had

Put up with the abuse

Always an excuse

Can’t tell the good from the bad

 

 

Track 10 ‘Sandcastles’

 

 

Fiction!  An idea of someone unhappy or unsatisfied with their life who escapes into dreamland whenever she can.  I heard the phrase 'building sandcastles in dreams' one morning on the radio on my way to work, so this one wrote itself quickly.

 

Sandcastles

 

Up with the sun
Never real fun
Show the kids love every day
Wipe a nose
Watch the bus go
Help her husband on his way

Shower and dress
Kitchen’s a mess
It’ll have to wait until later
Workday calls
Mothers shift at the mall
Another day of meaningless labor

Late at night, when things go quiet
She closes her eyes, and smiles

She’s building sandcastles in her dreams
Waves won’t wash them away
A place where she can be a queen
Until the break of day … takes it away

Make dinner and clean
Husband watches TV
Help the kids do homework
When did life change
Sun turned to rain
Is this all she really deserves?

But late at night, when things go quiet
She closes her eyes, and smiles

She’s building sandcastles in her dreams
Waves won’t wash them away
A place where she can be a queen
Until the break of day … takes it away 

 

 

Track 11 ‘The Traveler’

 

 

Fiction!  Loosely based on the character of Dr Who, from the BBC television series.

 

The Traveler

 

There at the beginning, there at the end

Looks so familiar like a long lost friend

So elusive, a shadow amongst men

Seeming to help, then gone again

 

No time paradox, no reason for prayer

Appearing where needed, everywhere here and there

 

He’s the Traveler through space and time

His wisdom and patience are touching all lives

Ending war and famine, committing no crime

He’s the Traveler, making sure we survive

 

Looks too young, feels too old

Burning with fever, but touch is ice cold

Shining so bright dark as a black hole

That looks right through into your soul

 

No time paradox, no reason for prayer

Appearing where needed, everywhere here and there

 

He’s the Traveler through space and time

His wisdom and patience are touching all lives

Ending war and famine, committing no crime

He’s the Traveler, making sure we survive

 

Round and round

No way to get down

Round and round

A whisper of sound

Round and round

And round and round again

 

 

Track 12 ‘Kiss or Kill’

 

 

Fact!  This is the story of Alix Tichelman, the media-named ‘Call Girl Killer’.  The song was written while she was still awaiting trial for the death of a millionaire Google executive.  She eventually entered a plea bargain of involuntary manslaughter to avoid life imprisonment for murder.  'Kiss or Kill' is one of her tattoos, and some of the lyrics are directly from her writings.

 

Kiss or Kill

 

Daddy’s little princess

Mommy’s little girl

Childhood of innocence

Protected from the world

One day things are different

Daddy’s never home

Mommy's past caring where he went

And the princess is alone

 

No blaming destiny, or the lack of will
It's all or nothing, kiss or kill

 

Teen years are tough

Sometimes so unfair

Saying ‘no’ is not enough

No one seems to care

Mind and feelings go numb

It’s easier to pretend

Than trying to pick up and run

From a world you can’t comprehend

 

No blaming destiny, or the lack of will
It's all or nothing, kiss or kill

 

Caught in a freezing whirlpool

Ice grips the soul

Emotions are torn to dust

In a suffocating black hole

Nothing really matters anymore

Each day takes its toll

Feeling ripped from thought

The heart grows cold

 

Escape from reality

It’s so easy to do

Don’t care about eternity

So there’s nothing left to lose

Love is hell, hell is love

Nothing is for sure

When facts aren’t enough

No reasoning any more

 

No blaming destiny, courage from a pill
It's all or nothing, kiss or kill

It's all or nothing, kiss or kill

It's all or nothing, kiss or kill

 

 

Track 13 ‘Chasing the Sunlight’

 

 

Fiction!  In the songwriter circle I help run, at our monthly meeting we’ll come up with a prompt or theme to write a song to for the next meeting.  One month, it was suggested we all write to a particular title, and chose quite a trite one!  Not sure how I decided the lyric would be a story of birds.  Or is it allegory?

 

Chasing The Sunlight

 

Season’s changing, feel it in my bones

Time for rearranging, flying on home

Another year’s passed, it doesn’t seem fair

I thought it would last but I’m alone in the air

 

I’m still chasing the sunlight

Trying to get things to feel alright

Adding some color to all the grey

It would be a much brighter day … if you were still here

 

Remember the sun, our very first spring

Nestling the young under spread wings

Fierce winds came, I couldn’t protect you too

Watched you swept away, nothing I could do

 

I’m still chasing the sunlight

Trying to get things to feel alright

Adding some color to all the grey

It would be a much brighter day … if you were still here

 

Shadows can be hard to escape

Descending darkness from a simple mistake

Brightness can seem within easy grasp

But then can slip away too fast

 

I’m still chasing the sunlight

Trying to get things to feel alright

Adding some color to all the grey

It would be a much brighter day … if you were still here

 

 

Track 14 ‘Scarlet and Sable’

 

 

Fiction!  Fantasy story with a medieval flare.  I was trying to go for a sound similar to Ritchie Blackmore’s current music in his band Blackmore’s Night.

 

Scarlet and Sable

 

Miss Scarlet wore sable boots to stomp on men's hearts

But the blame wasn't all on her, the men did their part

She had turquoise on her fingers, silver on her toes

The men would follow her wherever she goes

 

Scarlet and sable

Myth and fable

Turquoise and silver

All the joys delivered

Blood is black under moonlight

Silvery runes glowing in the night

 

Miss Scarlet had golden keys to open all the doors

That hid the secrets never known before

Immortality, wisdom, infinite wealth

Cures for all illness, of unending health

 

Scarlet and sable

Myth and fable

Turquoise and silver

All the joys delivered

Blood is black under moonlight

Silvery runes glowing in the night

 

Scarlet and sable, myth and fable….

 

Miss Scarlet had the power to make the heavens open up

In a deluge of rain, then quickly turn to sun

A magic unknown in man's modern times

Where reality and fantasy are intertwined

 

Scarlet and sable

Myth and fable

Turquoise and silver

All the joys delivered

Blood is black under moonlight

Silvery runes glowing in the night

 

Scarlet and sable, myth and fable ...

 

 

Track 15 ‘The Winds of Change’

 

 

Fiction!  Based on a science fiction short story I read where a group of people are tasked with journeying into the past to correct things done by another time-traveling group.  When the past changes catch up to the present, its like a whirlwind as things transform.

 

The Winds of Change

 

Feeling hovers, dark

Wants to stop my heart

Silent whispers lead to the grave

Rising panic builds

Unexplained guilt

There’s nothing left to save

 

Squeeze eyes shut

Can’t keep it out

A vision of what shouldn’t be

Makes little sense

I must confess

I’m frightened by what I see

 

The air grows cold

Time twists then takes hold

Something sure feels strange

Wait for it … the winds of change

 

Fireball expands

All part of the plan

Can’t halt it once it begins

Nuclear strike

God-awful night

Destroy a multitude of sins

 

The air grows cold

Time twists then takes hold

Something sure feels strange

Wait for it … the winds of change

 

Must go back

Into the past

Change a fact

Make it fast

Fix neglect

Now is changed

Butterfly effect

Time rearranged

 

The air grows cold

Time twists then takes hold

Something sure feels strange

Wait for it … the winds of change

 

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