Robyn Stewart


WOODSHEDDING

 

Hi All, 

 

Have been playing music for a few years now. In and out of the constant. Best part of playing music, other than playing music, is woodshedding.

 

Writing lyrics, figuring out parts and arrangements... nothing better.

 

Have some music and need lyrics? Woodshedding. Have some lyrics and need music? Woodshedding. Put it alltogether and you've got something to play.

 

Ever seen Steve with a sheet of lyrics work out a song? Me Neither. Thats because he's a hermit to some things. Have you ever thought of dropping something off and then receiving back something special? Has that something special ever been magic? Thats an ambiguous way of saying the same thing.

 

Corduroy Road is a good example of that too. Ben had some great music needing words. Asked him what it was about. Wrote down some simple words. Worked it into the melody. woodshed. worked out good. Sunday Night Ghosts went the same way except I ended up having to sing some of it. I'm OK with that. Hope you are too.

 

I'm not much for writing music, but give me some music to think about and I'm in heaven. There are literally hundreds of songs in binders stashed at the farmhouse. 20 + years worth and counting. We've found songs that we didn't even know we wrote. That's a good feeling. Who the hell wrote that?

 

With this page I will try to go back into the archives and dig out some of the old stuff. Maybe try to get some rough arrangements up for listening pleasure. When you've got over 25 years of lyrics and music sitting around it would be a shame not to. Maybe you can read them over and give some feedback.

 

If there are songs you would like to know about it then ask. It would be fun to talk about them. Just send me a message in the comment box below!

 

As well, if you have some lyrics looking for some music feel free to send them over. That would be some good stuff. I can post them (or not, no need to be shy) and maybe we can work some music into it. Send 'em over and we will see if we can woodshed them. Do it and I'll lend you my quadrapocket shirt. 

 

RS

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments: 5
  • #5

    Side Hill D (Tuesday, 12 April 2016 22:32)

    Everybody Chunkin'
    So Said Norma
    Sap Straights

  • #4

    batboy (Sunday, 07 September 2014 23:53)

    maiden name
    ol skull dug with ring

  • #3

    skunk proof (Friday, 29 November 2013 05:30)

    downtown meets uptown for.......

  • #2

    chick bucket (Sunday, 17 November 2013 07:31)

    put er up.

  • #1

    flowbat (Tuesday, 08 October 2013 04:19)


Near or far

Reach over the bar

Looking for something

a little less unsure

 

Genes and scars

twisting sparks

Rough assemblies 

Not easily torn apart

 

Cold

A feeling Creeping in

Inside, Inside

Ghosts

A spirit seeping out

Outside, Outside

oooh

The sunday night ghosts

Caught up in

The air and the smoke

Close

The sunday night ghosts

wrapped up in

the skin of the host

 

Born to lose

Whatever you stole

Looking to save

Your immortal soul

 

Bred in the bone

Nowhere to run

To never escape

What your Ancestors done

 

Radio

A signal tuning in

static, static

Gone

Wires shorting out

Lines on fire

 

 

  • ·         amanda (Tuesday, 18 September 2012 22:48)

hi there!

as you may know, i'm a great fan of pockets. however, i may be an even greater fan of your words. i'm prepared to take a wild stab at your dare to decipher your code... SNG may not be about one thing in particular (in fact i would be surprised to find out that it is), but it makes me think about how one feels on the day after saturday night. maybe a cold autumn evening with breath in the air and memories floating around of what's been done and a bag of chips and the remnants of the night before clutching cigarettes and shorting out but tough to tear apart even as night comes on. maybe it's about what sundays used to be for. maybe it's just about static on the radio, that elusive station that just won't tune in. maybe it's about thinking too much. i know it's definitely making me do that right now...
i urge you to give up the ghost. what does it mean? where did it come from?
i look forward to your future installments and sheds. thank you for sharing!

Amanda,

 

This was a very pleasing song to write. It’s based on a piece of music Ben presented and was looking for some words for. Basically, I asked ben what the song was called. He said Sunday Night Ghosts. I then asked him what it was about; I believe he paused for a second, looked me in the eye and said "…Sunday Night Ghosts”. I think he then shrugged slightly.

 

There is certainly a bit of a hodge-podge here but the underlying theme is a connection or disconnection with something that we are none too sure is really there; ghosts for instance. The descriptive vehicle for most themes to develop usually involves exploring its basic duality. What it is and what it isn’t. The duality here is in the known and the unknowable (near and far). The actual musical arrangement has Myself & Steve, then Ben alternating singing which I thought really pulled this song out.

 

You are on to something when you point out the day of the week falls on a Sunday, which just happens to be the day that most often falls after beverage day. The climate here is supposed to be that “unnerving” feeling. Slightly uncomfortable, maybe a little giddy… when you feel a little too hyper-sensitive to what’s around you. That all too overwhelming sensation that there is a shit load of stuff going on around you and not just what’s going on around inside your head. It’s all quiet. That weird feeling you get when you look at your own hand and ask yourself” when did I get hair on my fingers and are those really my hands?” It can go two ways: a peaceful feeling of place within the universe or “oh god, I need a cigarette right now” feeling.

 

“Maybe it’s about what Sundays used to be for.” I very much love that sentence.

 

Ok, let’s break this song down:

 

The first verse

Near or far

Reach over the bar

Looking for something

A little less unsure

 

I’m not ashamed to say this intro to the theme is about drinking. A couple of drinks certainly gets you thinking about things like ghosts and such and this is very much the case here. “Reach over the bar” has a literal meaning of basically serving yourself which speaks to excessiveness. It also has a slight intimation to something transcendent, to go beyond.

 

2nd verse

Genes and scars

twisting sparks

Rough assemblies

Not easily torn apart

 

This introduces a biological barrier to the theme. In other-words, you can think about ghosts and all manner of things that you are unsure of but ultimately, we are limited by our very biology in experiencing them.

 

Prechorus

Cold

A feeling Creeping in

Inside, Inside

 

Cold or a chill in the air or your hairs standing on end are certainly sensory description of feeling something unearthly. It’s an external sensation…and that feeling is creeping inside, inside.

 

Ghosts

A spirit seeping out

Outside, outside

 

Ghosts seeping out? Are you trying to tell me that I’m trying to use my senses to find this creepy prescence I feel around me, but this prescence is coming from inside me and that I may be creating it?

 

Chorus

oooh

The sunday night ghosts

Caught up in

The air and the smoke

 

“oooh… the Sunday Night Ghosts…” I wanted a simple chorus to make sure the song didn’t get to word heavy. “caught up in the air and the smoke” is simply some cliché imagery to go along with this theme.

 

Close

The sunday night ghosts

wrapped up in

the skin of the host

 

“Wrapped up in the skin of the host” reintroduces the question of whether ghosts are found outside or are they inside you. I also found this line to feel a little macabre, like a horror story which I felt added a little punch to the creepiness.

 

3rd verse

Born to lose

Whatever you stole

Looking to save

Your immortal soul

 

Building on the chorus I kind of jumped into “screenplay” kind of mind and tried to infuse a sense of desperation into a character. As in, if you are a character that suddenly realises the twist ending and now have to find a way to save yourself. I kept the words basic and broad, only wanting to create a quicker pace and drama.

 

4th verse

Bred in the bone

Nowhere to run

To never escape

What your Ancestors done

 

This is the second part of the screenplay. The main character realises that time has run out and all is doomed. Built into that vehicle are key word “bred, bone and ancestors”. This repeats the ideas fleshed out in the first part of the song. The entire idea of ghosts trapped inside us (rather than an external haunting entity. It’s a twist ending. This notion is based on a longstanding concept I have that a large portion of our own consciousness is built on the ghosts of our ancestors trapped inside ourselves. That these ancestors give voice and help form our own identities. I like the concept as it melds our apparent disconnection with “the other” within our own genetics. It answers an existential dilemma in a way. Listen, it’s just a concept, I don’t believe that I’m simply the result of competing ancestoral ghosts locked within me. Well, maybe I do when you see me and my eyes look a little distant.

 

Prechorus

Radio

A signal tuning in

static, static

 

with the heavy listening done, it was time to start getting out of this song. I simply like the idea of static and radio. It’s an eerie cliché that fit with the rest of the song. I like that the” signal is tuning in…” as it creates some anticipation. But…

 

Gone

Wires shorting out

Lines on fire

 

…Too bad, no answer. Please come again. “Lines on fire” is fun to shout out as a band.

 

Chorus

With nothing left more to say let’s just repeat the chorus as, for the most part, that’s what choruses are for. Might as well have a band rave up while we are at it.

 

THE END

 

So that’s Sunday Night Ghosts in a nutshell. Like all stuff its meant to be vague enough to have a wide variety of interpretations depending on who listening to it.

Next up is Fateful Wren. That song has got to be 20 years old and I think I remember what it’s about and we’ll see if I’m right when I find it. Steve is looking for it in “the archives”, a picture of which we will put up in the very near future. I actually pulled my 380 IBM Thinkpad out from under the bed in which, in its antiquated hard-drive, is almost every song I have ever written. I tried to turn it on and got a couple of error messages which I interpreted as “I have not been turned on for almost 10 years.” I’m looking for a battery for it. Ghost in the machine.

RS

OODLES AND POODLES

 

 

 

Hey Robyn, I got out some of the binders, papers, ideas, fragments, poetry, partial and full songs etc.

 

There is some sortin' to be done.  In case your old laptop never works again, I am quite sure that there are old print outs from a good portion of what you had on there.  We just gotta go searching in this pile.

 

Steve

Charlie Huddy (Saturday, 15 September 2012 08:35)

Great stuff. Can you please document the genesis of the great 'Faithful Wren'? I believe those are your words.

Charlie

 

First, let me commend you on your Stanley Cup rings with the Oilers. You were a stalwart on the back line. For an average Joe, you have enjoyed much success. Continued good luck.

Fateful Wren was written in the early to mid 90's. It made it into the Freephonic set for a time as well. I have notified Steve and a full archive search is in effect. Once I get the words I will post and give you the break down. That song goes back some! Steve thinks there's a recording somewhere as well which I would be interested in hearing.

Thanks for the excellent question and answer soon to follow...

 

RS

All right, Steve has found a typed version of Fateful Wren in the Archives. in the spirit of that age, he has electronically transmitted it to me via a series of three digital photos which I have posted as below:

Comments: 4
  • #4

    Thunder And Sinus (Thursday, 13 July 2017 00:42)

    I have read the avbove and agree. While seeds from the past yet may linger, for your ancestors germanition to occur one would have to forget free will and rational , desperate choice. Love is the first gimmick and avoiding contraptions is unsound.

  • #3

    steve gaw (Thursday, 06 December 2012 13:22)

    yeah looks like the chorus is missing in those photos. I recorded a quick version of it with the chorus in it. it's on this page somewhere-

  • #2

    amanda (Wednesday, 24 October 2012 00:02)

    I've definitely heard Fateful Wren recorded by Steve Gaw. Sometime around the 1993-95 recordings. The question is... where is it now?! Pretty awesome to see all the words written out. Really cool.
    AG.

  • #1

    Joe Kelly (Wednesday, 03 October 2012 17:31)

    Faithful Wren. Although the pics posted is a great example of your wordsmith woodshedding abilities, where is the goddamn seamstress pin?

Joe,

 

This was a very nice song to look at again. The song brings back a lot of personal memories of growing up and, more specifically, growing up on Muldoon road. There was a bunch of fields and woodlots across the road from our house and we spent a lot of time exploring the bush. We found a couple of old stone wells (hidden by big lilac bushes); a steel wind mill that turned a pump in a stone well to fill a water trough, old truck, green bottles, tin pots, stuff like that. Cedar rail fences bisected bush so you could always get yourself aligned by them. It had obviously been part of a homestead farm though long abandoned.

 

I guess by WE I mean me and my old dog Shannon, or my brother, or any friends that came over. It was such proper place for exploration. It was big enough to get lost but small enough not to get lost too much. You always came out somewhere.

 

I wrote this somewhere in the early to mid 1990’s. It was a pretty early one. I think Steve had written two songs called "Sleepy Simon" and "Petrified Sam" and this may have been a crack at writing a character song. We used to play it right up into Freephonic. It had a kind of a frenetic country song feel. The bridge was really effective.

 

Steve found a typed copy of the song in the oodles and poodles Archives. The typed version has no chorus in it but I’m pretty sure I wrote some of the words in the chorus. It’s possible Steve took apart a verse and formed it into a chorus. He would be pretty crafty about that when he would arrange these older songs. Here's how it went with what I remember the chorus being.

 

 

Fateful Wren

 

A field hand followed a deadened path

To a farmhouse lost from the fields

A following tower, a dry well tap

A fallow field of any number of things

 

The picture crafted a rusty scene

Burned umber from any number of things

The grass’s tall but through it all

The ground was still healing from the broken plow

The fern and fiddlehead covered the dead

 

Fateful Wren was a seamstress pin

Weaving in and out of a pocket seam

In the end it came undone again

It was always on the mend

 

Silence fell but he did not pretend

To find the place or unknowingly wake it’s dead

And to it all he called let it be said

I can see you all but I can see no end

 

Far off voices called him home

The tractors started and the whistles blow

But a deaf ear fell upon the echo

And now the rust came off with steel wool

The tower turned the wind began to blow

The tap once dry now came alive

And the water began to flow

 

With water flowing into him

His eyes widened and his roots set in

With a well that’s deep and the water good

Calcium rich as the fateful (faithful?) stood

 

His eyes were wide and deep inside

As in his only place to confide

Of the hidden things he deemed right to see

Behind every rock behind every tree

Under the fern they will bury me

 

Fateful Wren was a seamstress pin

Gliding in and out of a pocket seam

In the end it came undone again

It was always on the mend

Oh, god-damn that Fateful Wren

 

This song is a fairly coherent representation of that place I grew up in. It’s a simple little story that acts as a lens between looking at something as it really is in the present and what it might have once been in the past. Look at it one way and it’s an old steel wind mill now stuck in a cedar tree; turn the lens and it blurs to there being no tree, the wind mill is turning and pumping water up into a trough with a bunch of thirsty cows about. Pioneer farmer milling about as well, with one of those axes with the broad head on them.

 

I like the song because it plays with the perspective of the main character, Fateful Wren, and the narrator. The verses can really be read either way (so long as you’re ready to consider yourself a field hand). The first person to third person narrative slips in places and overlap.

 

It’s blurry because it is.

 

I’d like to say it’s a bit of a time machine but it’s not really a period piece. Is it not a piece about an itinerant labourer coming across a farm were work was required and the story there from. Or is it? I’m not sure. It’s not right in regards to what the character is doing and saying in the story. Is the farm abandoned and Fateful Wren is going to revive it? In reality, I think it’s about a person looking at something and trying to bring it alive again in their mind. Whether that person is the narrator or the main character? The best thing about doing this is that things like “time” no longer have to be considered. I think of Jorge Luis Borges short stories in “Labyrinths” though I hadn’t read those stories yet. You can be (or are) in both places at once.

 

I’m going to break this out by verse, chorus and bridge as its starting to confuse me. Can I recall what I was thinking when I wrote this when I can’t even remember when I wrote it? Will see.

 

 

VERSE 1

A field hand followed a deadened path

To a farmhouse lost from the fields

A following tower, a dry well tap

A fallow field of any number of things

 

This introduces the songs main character, Fateful Wren, and the setting. I’m not sure what a “deadened” path is but I like what it insinuates: a path walked by the dead or a path where sound is dampened or muted. It also sounds a lot like “dead end”.

Farmhouse lost from the fields creates a feeling of isolation. I’m not sure how a farmhouse gets lost but, basically, I’m describing something that is not really there.

The following tower and dry well tap were still there (though now lost in a big old cedar tree) and this song was basically written in the fallow fields and bush. I guess it could be any number of things.

 

 

VERSE 2

The picture crafted a rusty scene

Burned umber from any number of things

The grass’s tall but through it all

The ground was still healing from the broken plow

The fern and fiddlehead covered the dead

 

Still laying out the setting here. How tricky to use “rusty” instead of “rustic” 20 year old Robyn. It’s not a nostalgic journey per say but a deteriorated one. I re-quote “any number of things” again as if it might become important but I don’t think this song ever gets back to trying to explain what these things might be.

 

When you walked around the bush you would all of a sudden find these old fields in what seemed the middle of nowhere. Sometimes there were still plough marks on them.

It’s spooky to think that dead people might be buried around you. They didn’t use to always use the cemetery back then. I figure this place would be ferny.

 

CHORUS

Fateful Wren was a seamstress pin

Gliding in and out of a pocket seam

In the end it came undone again

It was always on the mend

 

I’m pretty sure the chorus came in here and it’s probably a good idea that Steve thought to edit it in here as it names and describes the main character. I am guessing from memory that this is the actual words of the chorus, I’ll get Steve to confirm. It doesn’t provide too much to work with though as the character is supposed to remain somewhat anonymous; basically, the feeling of an itinerant drifter though not of the grifter variety.

 

VERSE 3

Silence fell but he did not pretend

To find the place or unknowingly wake it’s dead

And to it all he called let it be said

I can see you all but I can see no end

 

This is a rather cryptic verse. Why would he pretend to find this place? Or unknowingly wake its dead? Fateful Wren is talking to the ghosts of the place. Fateful Wren stumbles upon an abandoned farm or has it been arranged? Anyway, the place he finds has a presence to which it looks like he speaks to. Is he reassuring this presence?

 

BRIDGE

Far off voices called him home

The tractors started and the whistles blow

But a deaf ear fell upon the echo

And now the rust came off with steel wool

The tower turned the wind began to blow

The tap once dry now came alive

And the water began to flow

 

Steve did a really great job with this bridge. It sounds great. It looks like Fateful character becomes consumed and forgets the past (the present?). The mysterious farm is revived. Water seems to be a big part of this type of resuscitation.

 

VERSE 4

With water flowing into him

His eyes widened and his roots set in

With a well that’s deep and the water good

Calcium rich as the fateful (faithful?) stood

 

This would broadly be about setting down roots and becoming part of something (rather than an itinerant drifter). The patina is removed.

 

VERSE 5

His eyes were wide and deep inside

As in his only place to confide

Of the hidden things he deemed right to see

Behind every rock behind every tree

Under the fern they will bury me

 

I rehash “eyes and wide” here. I’m not sure why or what “eyes widened” means. I guess its describing a reactionary response. Eyes have been opened to something. Anyway, wide eyes is a bit of a strange description. This verse is the closer and it does the basic things a closing verse should do right down to getting put in the ferny burial ground. “Under the fern the will bury ME”.

 

FINAL CHORUS

Fateful Wren was a seamstress pin

Weaving in and out of a pocket seam

In the end it came undone again

It was always on the mend

Oh, God-damn that Fateful Wren!

 

Repeated like all good chorus except I think Steve takes the lords name in vain and the song ends! I’m not sure why Fateful Wren is god-damned as I thought he came across as rather humane. He’s cursed nonetheless for what he has done and that’s the end of it.

 

Thanks Joe for asking about this song. It was a bit of a trip down memory lane I have to admit. Steve thinks that this song has gotten recorded somewhere along the line so if we can dig it up I will post it. I wouldn’t be adverse to seeing if he would do a stripped down vocals and acoustic version. I also like switching up between “Fateful” and “Faithful” Wren so if I can get him to do it I think I’ll update the lyrics with it (if you don’t mind). I might go with eyes wide open as well.

New Fateful Wren Recording

Well I could not find a digital form version of this song so I decided to record a new one...took a while to remember how it all went together...this is a concise version of how I remember it...  Robyn, pretty sure this song is one of the first bunch that we put together

 

Steve

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