Names, places (Fall Creek, Ithaca, New York in particular), and the flow of this whole story.
I wrote this when my daughter was in kindergarten, and recorded it just after she left for college.
As I walked to work one morning, I was thinking about writing a song extolling our elementary school, to oppose shutting it down. But I ended up meandering off into musings on place, names, time, and the dream I’d had the previous night.
I kept walking past my office, and stood at one of the three creeks that pass through my town, running through lyrics until the whole song was in my head. Then I walked back to the office, carefully, like I was carrying a completely full cup of the last coffee on Earth. I made a quick recording on my phone with my office guitar so I wouldn’t forget, and then started work.
Oh: the elementary school was kept open even without the protest song.
I live in a city named after a city, In a neighborhood named for a creek, Which is named for a falls - which is named… for the city… And when I see that waterfall I can’t speak Because the names wash away with the falling, And my thoughts wash away with the names, And my heart fills with love for that water Till it’s so full that I hope it won’t leak. I’ve been given a daughter, whom I’ve given my name (Though another one day she may take). I watched her flow into this bright and deep world, And I’ll watch her flow out to the lake. She ripples and babbles and chuckles, And runs long where she’s pulled by the earth, And my heart fills with love for that daughter Till it’s so full that I pray it won’t break. I live in a city that’s floating on water And I’m rowing my boat in a dream. Before me, my father; behind me, my daughter; I wonder who’s coxing this team? And the names flow away with the motion, And the story flows out of the scene, And my heart fills with love for this story Till it’s so full it cascades downstream… Forever cascading downstream.
tjw: guitar, vocals