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40 Years of Life, Love, and Happiness and all of those things

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Mike B

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40 Years of Life, Love, and Happiness and all of those things

Released September, 2011

All instruments and vocals:  Mike Birch

All songs written by Mike Birch

Track listing:

1 WHEN THE BOMB FALLS 4:56
2 SMART ANGEL 5:15
3 SHE STOLE MY HEART 3:03
4 EYE TO EYE 5:03
5 SMALL SMALL WORLD 3:58
6 CRAZY MAN 6:26
7 MONTREAL SKY 3:55
8 HAVE I TOLD YOU TODAY 3:45
9 THE ROAD 4:53
10 THOUGHTS OF FALL AND YOU 3:11
11 DEMONS 4:34
12 RISE UP 3:36
13 EVERYTHING FADES 6:14

 

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My first album release, consisting of songs written over the 40 years since I started playing guitar, with the last few songs included written in early 2011.

All the songs were recorded on a small Boss BR600 digital multi-tracker, it was very much a learning experience as my previous recording experiences had been with a couple of stereo cassette decks.  I did all the instruments on this, with drums a combination of the Boss rhythm machine built into the recorder and ‘live drums’ played on my keyboard.

 

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An old college friend who was working for Neil Young at the time volunteered to ‘master’ the primitive recordings.  In doing so, he got two of the songs reversed in the song order – but still having the original title order, so the CD artwork had the songs listed incorrectly.  Listening to these track s now, I think the ‘mastering’ might have helped the low EQ and high EQ of the tracks at the expense of the midrange.  Maybe one day I’ll go back and re-record all these tracks – as if I’d ever have enough time!

The front cover artwork for the CD was done by the daughter of a friend, Meghan Mahoney.

 

Track 1 When the Bomb Falls

 

 

 

Written and first copyrighted in 1982 or 83, this was my first original song to be performed regularly in my ‘classic rock’ band, Jillian (named after the drummer’s baby daughter). We were playing gigs regularly in the Boston area.

At the time I was reading a lot of science fiction – a used book store in Harvard Square (Cambridge, MA) was a frequent stop for me on my daily 5 mile bicycle commute.  I’d buy several used books a week (at 50% cover price) and then would sell most of them back when I was done reading them.  So this song came out of my head based on many of the doom-and-gloom stories as well as what was going on in the world at that time.

 

When the Bomb Falls

 

You say you're getting tired of all the city strife

You'd like to get away, start a new life

Too many people pushing and shoving at you

What you gonna do?

 

You say you hate all the dirt in the street

You can't stand any of the people that you meet

Well don't you worry 'cause in just a short while

There won't be nothing left except a nuclear pile

 

When the bomb falls

There won't be nothing left at all

When the bomb falls

You can say goodbye to it all

 

There won't be any more kids crying in the night

No more bullies or gangs that you gotta fight

There won't be anyone left who can kiss and hug you

What you gonna do?

 

You know that pretty soon, someone's gonna drop that bomb

Before the storm, there's always a bit of calm

So you might as well say 'so long', kiss your ass goodbye

Cause when the bomb falls we're all gonna die

 

When the bomb falls

There won't be nothing left at all

When the bomb falls

You can say goodbye to it all

When the bomb falls

There won't be nothing left at all

When the bomb falls

You can say goodbye - goodbye to it all

 

Track 2 ‘Smart Angel’

 

 

This song was written in 2009, after the death of Farrah Fawcett.  A friend had always admired her, and told me that Farrah was really the ‘smart Charlie’s Angel’, parlaying her looks (and talent?) into a successful career.  The character in the song is a composite of many different women in my life and the title of the album comes from a line in the chorus of this song.

 

Smart Angel

 

Get home from work after a long hard day

She always know just the right thing to say

A soothing touch, a hug to relieve the stress

She makes a bad day into a total success

 

When light turns to dark and night moves on in

You'll find that smart angel getting under your skin

She'll fill you with brightness, banish the night

Make you feel everything is so alright

 

She's a smart angel but you can't see her wings

Keeps things to herself, except when she sings

Of life, love and happiness and all of those things

She's a smart angel, sends a heart flying on wings

 

Pay your taxes, pay your dues, do your chores

Smart angel will always encourage you to do more

Than just settle for everyday mediocrity

She'll push you further than you thought you could be

 

When night goes black, stars hidden from view

Smart angle will help you tell the false from true

She'll push back darkness, bring back choice

Sing out to you in a clear voice

 

She's a smart angel but you can't see her wings

Keeps things to herself, except when she sings

Of life, love and happiness and all of those things

She's a smart angel, sends a heart flying on wings

 

When day turns to night and the lights go out

An angel can cry too, without a doubt

Like everyone else an angel can feel alone

No one to share with, all on her own

 

She's a smart angel but you can't see her wings

Keeps things to herself, except when she sings

Of life, love and happiness and all of those things

She's a smart angel, sends a heart flying on wings

 

She's a smart angel but you can't see her wings

Keeps things to herself, except when she sings

Of life, love and happiness and all of those things

She's a smart angel, sends a heart flying on wings

 

 

Track 3 ‘She Stole My Heart’

 

 

 

This was the 3rd of my original songs played by my band, Jillian.   Whereas the previous songs (When The Bomb Falls and Talk On The Radio, a song never recorded) were both major chord/no set key songs typical of the rock music of the day, this one was simple ‘key of G’ rocker, which I wrote in the style of perennial Boston rockers The Stompers.  The bass player in Jillian, who preferred the easy C-Am-F-G-type songs of the early 60s was so thankful that he could finally do some ‘regular harmonies’ on this song.

 

She Stole My Heart

 

Here she comes down the street, looking so tough

Walking real proud, strutting her stuff

She don’t even see how much she means to me

She stole my heart right away from me

 

She’s looking so good, like a royal queen

Moving so smooth, like a well-oiled machine

She don’t even know how much I love her so

She stole my heart but she don’t know

 

She stole my heart (she stole my heart)

She stole it right away from me

She stole my heart (she stole my heart)

Right away from me

 

She’s looking so cool, even in the heat

Swaying to her own invisible beat

She’s so fine, I’ve got to make her mine

She stole my heart, but I don’t mind

 

She stole my heart (she stole my heart)

She stole it right away from me

She stole my heart (she stole my heart)

Right away from me

 

She stole my heart she stole my heart

She stole my heart right away from me

She stole my heart (she stole my heart)

She stole it right away from me

She stole my heart (she stole my heart)

Right away from me

 

 

 

Track 4 ‘Eye To Eye’

 

 

 

The first song I wrote on keyboards in the 80s, having just bought a cheap Casio keyboard.  The band was going through tough times – first the rhythm guitarist had quit, and the keyboardist/guitarist we’d found to replace him was stretching everything.  The bass player wanted to change us into a wedding band.  Add to that some problems in the relationship I was in at the time …

 

Eye To Eye

 

You don’t say good morning anymore

When you wake up to a sunny day

At night, when I walk through the door

You don’t even look my way

We don’t talk together, like we used to do

You’re not listening to me and I’m not listening to you

 

We can’t help but shout and fight

When we’re together for a minute or more

When I want to turn out the lights

You want to stay up ‘til four

We don’t do anything like we used to do

I’m always off by myself and it’s the same with you

 

You and I, we don’t see eye to eye anymore  (X2)

 

Just when I think everything could be the same as before

Your eyes flash at me and I’m heading for the door

Things will never be the same as they were before

You and I, we don’t see eye to eye anymore, no

 

We don’t laugh together, like we used to do

You’re always laughing at me and I’m laughing at you

 

You and I, we don’t see eye to eye anymore  (X2)

 

 

Track 5 ‘Small Small World’

 

 

By 2010, the world was connected so much more than had ever been possible a few years before.  Suddenly one could have friends around the world, some of whom one had never met in person, some who might have been met only once or twice, and others who one had known for years.  I wrote this song after hearing of the death of a woman I had met only one time, but had exchanged ‘bootleg’ CDs with a few times.

 

Small Small World

 

When we were just little kids our whole world was just our neighborhood

Collection of backyards, a field, and streams, some shady wood

Every day we saw all our friends

We never thought that one day it would end

 

It used to be such a small small world

But now it’s a much bigger space

And no one will ever fill the void

No one will take your place

 

As we grew up we grew apart, our world got bigger every day, every year

The old small town became a memory, memories of old friends simply disappeared

Every year we said it was such a shame

We never had anyone else to blame

 

It used to be such a small small world

But now it’s a much smaller space

And no one will ever fill the void

No one will take your place

 

In this brave new world, in so many ways

We reach out and touch so many friends every day

Special people who share our smiles, frowns and words

Leave their marks on our leaves, we all want to be heard

 

You might get us to admit that we’re all starting to get old

Watching days and years flying by, keep ahold of your friends you don’t need to be told

Every friend that has touched your heart

Hold ‘em close don’t grow apart

 

It used to be such a small small world

But now it’s a much bigger space

And no one will ever fill the void

No one will take your place

 

It used to be such a great big world

But now it’s a much smaller space

And no one will ever fill the void

No one will take your place

 

 

Track 6 ‘Crazy Man’

 

 

Another song I wrote for my band Jillian, never got as far as playing this one live (see comment above in ‘Eye to Eye’ about the band).  I was writing at least a song a week, recording demos on cassette, and some songs fell to the wayside.

Based on my experiences talking to Viet Nam war vets during the summer I worked on Otis Air Force Base and was frequenting the ‘Officers Club’ (bar) frequently at night, it easily can apply to vets from any age.

 

Crazy Man

 

You should have seen when he was 22

Fresh home from Europe a hero of World War 2

With his stripes, stars and purple heart

He was made to break all the girls’ hearts

He didn’t want to settle down

He just wanted to hit the town

Every night…

 

He’s a crazy man, a crazy old man

He’s a crazy man, a crazy old man

 

The years went by and he got old

The young girls got tired of the stories he told

Of good times and good old friends

He didn’t realize they’d come to an end

So he keeps on drinking his booze

So he doesn’t have to choose

To see reality…

 

He’s a crazy man, a crazy old man

He’s a crazy man, a crazy old man

 

Days go by so slow

When you’re lonely and old

Life is such a bore

You don’t care any more

 

You see him now sitting at the bus stand

All by himself, he’s a lonely old man

No friends, no family to call his own

No one to help him he’s all alone

He shouts and swears at people going by

But they won’t look at him in the eye

And see his tears…

 

He’s a crazy man, a crazy old man

He’s a crazy man, a crazy old man

 

Days go by so slow

When you’re lonely and old

Life is such a bore

You don’t care any more

 

One day soon he’ll be lying in a cold damp grave

No one will remember all the lives he saved

Back in those days of blood and death

When the air was so thick you couldn’t catch your breath

But no one wants to remember those days gone by

When he was the apple of everyone’s eye

Not anymore…

 

He’s a crazy man, a crazy old man

He’s a crazy man, a crazy old man

 

A crazy old man…

 

 

Track 7 ‘Montreal Sky’

 

 

I lived in Montreal for 3 years in the mid-70s while attending university there.  It was a time of very little musical creativity for me, but a lot of partying.  In the park in the middle of the city is a small mountain, Mont-Royal, that gives the city its name.  I would often climb the long staircase leading to the top cliffs to find a solitary place to soak up the sun and watch the clouds blow eastward.

The final verse in this song includes some lyrics by my wife, as the song originally had an extra instrumental section instead of lyrics.

 

Montreal Sky

 

In this concrete maze of a city

I know there’s a place outdoors for me

I just climb your side into heaven

And chase all my bad dreams away

 

Looking out over the city

Watching white cotton wisps overhead

I can see the earth for miles

And I dream of being out there

 

Sun sparkling on the US dome

Snow capped mountains in the east

I want to follow your swift currents of air

But I know that will never be

 

I want to fly above your beautiful sky

I want to take the wind in my hand

I want to fly high

 

A languid moon flooding the city

Dancing on the water with a shine

A want to catch the moon with my eyes

And keep it close for a while

 

Wavy water running down the river

I wonder where you lead to

I’d like to follow you through the land

And see all I’d like to see

 

I want to fly above your beautiful sky

I want to take the wind in my hand

I want to fly high

 

 It’s a sunny day  a beautiful morning

It’s a sunny day   a new spring day

It’s a sunny day   a beautiful morning

It’s a sunny day  my life is born again

It’s a sunny day   a beautiful morning

It’s a sunny day

 

 

Track 8 ‘Have I Told You Today’

 

 

By the early 90s I had given up songwriting, and playing music in general.  When I started dating my wife, in 1999, she lived 400 miles away from me, and this song was born.  It was the only complete song I wrote in the ‘90s.

 

Have I Told You Today

 

Have I told you today how much I think of you

Have I told you how much you’re on my mind

When I think of all the good times we’ve had

I can’t help feeling a little bit sad… that we’re not together right now

 

Have I told you today how much you mean to me

Have I told you how great you make me feel

When life gets tough and I’m feeling down

I know you’ll always be around … and make me feel good again

 

Have I told you today that I love you

Have I told you how much I really love you

Have I told you today that I love you

 

Have I told you today how good you make my life

Have I told you today how sweet you are to me

When you b ring sunshine to a grey day

I love you in so many ways… you are my heart and my soul

 

Have I told you today that I love you

Have I told you how much I really love you

Have I told you today that I love you

 

Have I told you today that I love you

Have I told you today that I love you

Have I told you today that I love you

Have I told you today that I love you

 

 

 

Track 9 ‘The Road’

 

 

I had to include this song in the collection as it was the first full song I ever wrote (1971)!  Yes, just 2 chords, as I struggled to learn the guitar.  I was doing a lot of hitchhiking at the time, so this song’s lyrics came out more easily than playing the guitar.

I remember a time in 1972 when I was hitchhiking from Cape Cod to Connecticut (with backpack and acoustic guitar) and got a ride in a Volkswagen Beetle from a guy who had already picked up two other hitchhikers.  They squeezed into the back seat, I got in the front passenger seat, and the driver asked me to play something.  Somehow I got the guitar out of its case, and at a weird angle, started playing this song, singing it very very quietly.  Luckily, I only needed about a 20 minute ride at that point, so don’t think I played anything else!

 

The Road

 

Lonely man by the side of the road

Wishing to God he was home

Lonely man by the side of the road

Oh don’t you feel alone

 

No one stops to give him a ride

No one stops to say hello

No one stops to make a friend

All alone on the road

 

Oh don’t ever go on the road

You’ll never make it off

The road is a killing place

Oh, don’t go on the road

 

Oh don’t ever go on the road

You’ll never make it off

The road is a killing place

Oh, don’t go on the road

 

 

Track 10 ‘Thoughts of Fall and You’

 

 

Written for a girlfriend (who I dated for about 6 months) from Cape Cod while I was going to school in Montreal.  I’m pretty sure she never heard this song, or either of the others I wrote for her.

 

Thoughts of Fall and You

 

Fall is coming ‘round again

Leaves are floating in the air

If you ask me I’ll tell you

I don’t really care

My mind is all on you

You better believe I know you know it’s true

 

Ooh baby, I miss you so much

Ooh baby, wanna feel your touch

Ooh baby, want you here beside me

Yeah, you and me

 

Cold rain is falling down

Soaks me to the skin

But I’m warm and dry

Where my mind has been

You’re always with me, love

You always bring the golden sunshine above

 

Ooh baby, I miss you so much

Ooh baby, wanna feel your touch

Ooh baby, want you here beside me

Yeah, you and me

 

Yes I know we’re far apart

But that’s in miles, not in our hearts

We’re as close as our minds want us to be

Yeah, you and me

 

When I see ou again

I know my heart’ll beat fast

I’m going to kiss you and touch you

Make up for last days past

I’m going to tell you I love you

Hope you love me too

 

Ooh baby, I miss you so much

Ooh baby, wanna feel your touch

Ooh baby, want you here beside me

Yeah, you and me

 

 

Track 11 & 12 ‘Demons/Rise Up’

 

 

The last of the songs penned for this album, in 2011, some dark personal things were happening at the time, but there was still hope, hence the duality of this song combination.  Demons is the only song I’ve ever recorded with a ‘drop D’ tuning (on guitar and bass), which gives it that hard darker edge.

 

Demons

 

We keep our troubles down deep inside

Even from the world we smile and lie

Place troubles in the dark, we cannot cope

When things seem out of control, out of hope

 

We lie to the world, we lie to ourselves

Can’t escape from our personal hell

We give into the pull of the demons and the devil

Down a dangerous slope, we can’t get level

 

You can’t be happy with the world until you’re happy with yourself

You can’t be happy with me, until you’re happy with yourself

 

We’re living in a world of rampant hypocrisy

Decipher the truth, the truth will set us all free

Don’t turn aside when things get strange

Conquer your demons, change what you can change

 

Don’t give up or give in when times are bleak

Reach for inner strength from where we speak

The things that you know, the things that you control

Beat your demons down, go for the gold

 

You can’t be happy with the world until you’re happy with yourself

You can’t be happy with me, until you’re happy with yourself

 

If you have personal demons, well good for you, for you

Most of us fight our own demons, it’s all we can do, all we can do

We must fight our own demons, we can try, we can try

If we don’t; fight our own demons, we will die, we will die

 

You can’t be happy with the world until you’re happy with yourself

You can’t be happy with me, until you’re happy with yourself

 

Rise Up

 

Henry David told me it’s okay to move to my own beat

I should not care if I’m not cool or perceived as incomplete

Or if I change my stance, I don’t have concrete feet

I’ll keep on doing what’s right out here on the street

 

Rise up, rise up, off the floor

Rise up, rise up, and do more

Rise up, rise up, greet the new day

Rise up, rise up, do it your own way

Rise up, rise up, to the (?) song

Rise up, rise up, you are the one

Rise up, rise up…

 

Track 13 ‘Everything Fades’

 

 

Written and recorded prior to tracks 11 & 12, sometime in 2010, one can interpret the path things were going on in my life at the time.  The reverb lead guitar part imparts a very melancholy touch to close out the album.

 

Everything Fades

 

Can you still remember how much fun it was

Running out in December through the snow and the mud

All the holiday magic, how you could not sleep

Nothing could be tragic, nothing could be deep

Childhood so carefree, no thoughts of the past

Living for the now, the now will last

 

Everything fades, it fades away

Everything fades, it fades away

 

Can you still remember your first teenage love

A new school in September, a face like a light from above

A feeling that grabbed you down deep in your heart

Love that felt so true you knew you’d never be apart

But time moved on, people do change

And then came a dawn when everything seemed strange

 

Everything fades, it fades away

Everything fades, it fades away

 

White and black shade to gray

Old friends go missing every day

Present and past, an emotional display

But the spiritual bouquet is all swept away

 

Can you still remember as you got older

Once a fire, now an ember, in your heart you’re much colder

Thinking of all those you once called friends

You know how it goes but where will it end?

Will you end up lonely at the end of the day

Or is it only that it all fades away?

 

Everything fades, it fades away

Everything fades, it fades away

 

These songs can be purchased for download at my Bandcamp page:   https://mikebirchmusic.bandcamp.com

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That's some rocking guitar on "When the Bomb Falls"!

 

EDIT:  6/26, I'm listening to this song by song over time...I've listened to the first three and their very good.  

Edited by Short Order Kook

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