Gwnewch y pethau bychain

Tag: songs: books and literature

Pale Horse

Pale Horse
Words and Music by Robert Wynne
Based on the short story Once Upon A Time by Jeff Williams
© 1999

On a pale horse in the desert is the rider
Asking questions but not listening to the answers
Met Coyote by an outcrop in the desert
Walks beside him off’ring answers obtuse riddles

I’ll give you my food and my water I’ll share
As we ride through this place where the answers hide from my eyes

Can a bridge made of mere words span the vast aeons
Gleeming steel beams yet so fragile crumbling dust cloud
You thought nothing could secure her for your own love
She flies home now she’s her own guide, her own compass

Coyote’s enraged at my fear of the void
Tears at my soul and won’t let me hide from myself

On the hard floor of the desert lies the rider
Badly beaten bloody wounded empty inside
The Coyote says he’ll be back to the desert
And the rider feels the great wheel once more turning

I’ll lie here alone till my emptiness heals
Then leave from this place as the cycle starts once again
Jeff Williams wrote a rather cryptic short story called “Once Upon A Time” that plays all sorts of fun with archtypes. I wrote this song as a reaction to it, and also a way of asking Jeff “Well, did I get it?” He said it was pretty close to his meaning.

Go read the story. I’ll wait. Enjoy.

Don’t Panic

Don’t Panic
by Robert Wynne and Jeffrey Williams
Music: “Pink Houses” by John Mellencamp
© 1999

Well there’s an ad man in his bathrobe
Living in his dreary world
They built a new bypass right up to his front door
And you know he’s not feeling so good
Then his old friend, down from Guilford
Says “Arthur, there’s no where to hide,
Let’s go have ourselves a couple of drinks at the pub and talk
and then we’ll catch a ride

Come roam the Galaxy along with me
Come roam the Galaxy, its something to see, Arthur
Come roam the Galaxy, be lonely and free
The Guide says Don’t Panic, Arthur, come roam with me!

Well there’s a Vogon, he’s a captain
Writing down his Vogon poetry
He’s got greasy skin, never smiles
And you know — he doesn’t like strangers
So he threw them in the airlock
Said they would never grow old
Kinda cold and lonely floating round in outerspace
But then came the Heart of Gold


There’s a strange man, on Magrathea, building a brand new planet, oh
He signed his name into a giant glacial mass
and he says he made the fjords in Oslo
And there’s robots, and there’s white mice
But they ain’t no big deal
Cause there’s crazy guards baby
And they will shoot, and shoot, and shoot to kill


The creative process is a funny thing. I was driving home from work late one night when John Mellancamp’s “Pink Houses” came on the radio. When I heard the line about the black man with “an interstate running through his front yard”, I thought of poor Arthur Dent in the Hitchhiker’s series, and this song came out. The scansion’s a bit odd in the chorus, but it works the way I do it.

Writer’s Lament

Writer’s Lament
by Robert Wynne
Music: “We’ve Only Just Begun” by the Carpenters
© 1998

I haven’t yet begun to write
Deadlines, they come and go
Still I sit with an empty page
I haven’t yet begun

I haven’t yet begun to write
Editors phoning me
They paid advances six months ago
And still i’ve not begun

Writing down stuff that is ridiculous
Ball it up and throw it all away
If I could only get a page or two
Then I’d be well and on my way

Another day gone by and I
Got not one damn thing done
I’ll get up tomorrow and start again
And I’ve yet to begin

There’s a wonderful scene in the musical 1776, between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. The latter is supposed to be writing the Declaration of Independance, and the former has come around to check on his work. When Jefferson fails to produce the document, Adams sputters “Do you mean to say you haven’t finished?”. Jefferson replies calmly, “No, sir. I mean to say I have not yet begun.”

Boy do I know that feeling!

Last Flight Of The Cradle of Commerce

Last Flight of the Cradle of Commerce
by Robert Wynne
Music: “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot
Based on the short story “Triumverate” by Jeff Williams
© 1998

There isn’t much fun
On the Gettysburg run
As you prepare to drop out of lightspeed
But captain and crew
know full well what to do
And they do as well as any could need

There’s jokers and pirates
and foreigners high rates
And drink that will make you feel hazy
But that cannot compare
To the terror that’s there
When you serve with a captain that’s crazy

Now theres many crews fine
On the Chromium Line
But some still speak in whispers of the curse
That befell the good ship
On her one final trip
And her name was the Cradle of Commerce

Her crew was well seasoned
And they each had good reason
to look forward to port’s relaxation
But their old Captain he
Was now but one of three
And was given to sudden vexation

Captain Lutius they say
Ran a tight ship the way
You hear of in many a legend
But a white whale bore down
with a deafening sound
And drove the poor man off the deep end

Their ship was held late
By the right hand of fate
And a comet the captain did neglect
And the captain’s sole crime
Was to not be on time
Thus, his record was no longer prefect

Well, there’s many brave souls
At a big ship’s consoles
That have survived a misfortune much worse
But the good captain fell
Into three seprate hells
And with him went the Cradle of Commerce

So was on that last run
Past the Gettysburg sun
That the captain discovered the trouble
A thief sure was loose
And was stealing produce
Not just one for himself, but a double

Faced with such treason
The Captain found reason
To send the ship to its destruction
And the engines he told
To build to overload
And thus bring an end to the production

From all this they say
Only one got away
Though his name is now lost to our story
and sure nobody found
A survivor around
The ruins of the captain’s last glory

Now there’s many crews fine
On the Chromium Line
And their own tales are many and diverse
But they all recall well
Of this tale I now tell
The last flight of the Cradle of Commerce

This song was written largely on the way home from work. Jeff’s short story, “Triumverate” had been published in Aphelion that month, and I’d read it a few times, since Jeff and I often act as first readers on each other’s work, even when we AREN’T collaborating. For some reason that first verse came to me (already set to the Lightfoot tune), and the rest just flowed from there.

Jeff has complained that I managed to sum up in a four minute song what he took 11,000 words to say. I don’t really agree, though — it does summarize the story from an outsider’s point of view, but the wonderful interplay between the characters isn’t there — this is a song that I imagined might be written about this story after the fact by people who weren’t actually there. Go read the original, it’s a fun romp.

Fratricide and Spirits

Fratricide and Spirits
by Robert Wynne and Jeffrey Williams
Music: “Rainy Days and Mondays” by the Carpenters
© 1998

Talking to myself and feeling cold
I don’t know what I’m to do
Really wish I had a clue
Walking around wearing a solemn frown
Fratricide and Spirits always get me down

What I saw would drive most ’round the bend
My dead father said to me
Son, you’ve gotta kill the king.
But I don’t know
Which way I ought to go
To be or not to be, I sure wish I could know

Funny but it seems i’d know exactly what to do
Don’t know why i cant decide it
If anyone suspects, they’ll probably lock me safe away
So I guess I’d better hide it

Even my best friend thinks me insane
But I knew the play’s the thing
I caught the concience of the king.
Now that I’m sure
Vengence is the only cure
There’s only one more act i’ll be forced to endure

Now I must go
To calculate the final blow
And lay Claudius to rest beneath the falling snow
This song was written because Jeff and I wanted to write a song based on Shakespeare (we were both English majors).

This song was published in the Gafilk 2000 songbook.

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