Let’s take this from the top.  First, album art.  Then, songs (in playlist order), with production notes and credits for each song.  Feel free to skip down to the part you need.

Album Art

The kickass lady on the cover of Vanilla is a public domain image taken from a relief carved in a French church. The woman is thought to be Jeanne D’Arc.  I prefer to think of her as Maid Marian, with her awesome sword (clearly a Sword of Justice-slash-Social-Networking-Etiquette) and her blue cell phone (which I added).  That’s actually my old phone, which I’m holding in the photo on the inside.

Why is the word “Vanilla” upside down?  Because I’m embracing, subverting, and redefining the word.  Yes, I’m referring to all meanings of the word, for those who’ve asked.  But I won’t discuss that in detail.  Also, I liked how the upside-down word looks; the look and feel and taste and sound of a word is just as important as its many meanings for me.  Being a wordsmith comes way before being a singer in my book.  I’d be almost as happy to write songs for someone else to sing, though of course I’d miss the touring & revelry that comes with performance.

I did all the album art myself in InDesign and Illustrator.  My good friend Scott Pugh took the photo on the back cover, along with some other great photos involving a recliner named Alfred and a book of the collected works of W.H. Auden.  We shot those in the alleys and back streets of downtown Anchorage.

Then Scott moved to California (bum), and I started working with my friend Brian Adams.  We’d barely spoken when we did this first photo shoot, because he used to be a little shy.  One day he called me up and asked, “What are you doing? And do you have a black dress?” I said “Nothing, and I only have an orange dress.” I met him a block from my house and we shot the ‘green and orange portraits,’ one of which appears inside the album.  After that we started shooting constantly, which usually involved me freezing, or standing on slippery rocks over the ocean, or getting thorny, or mosquito-bitten. But for free photography, who wouldn’t?  Brian shot the Turnagain Arm scarf shot that I use for my Vanilla publicity (and my avatar) shortly after.

The small rows of photos I used as thank yous are partially literal, partially symbolic. Take from them what meaning you will. Starting at the top left & going clockwise, they are: a perfect latte at Kaladi Brothers Downtown; my favorite oatmeal stout by the Glacier Brewhouse (shot on the counter at Orso); a watchtower on the Ring of Kerry in Ireland; Zippy the Cat looking down over Seattle from the Space Needle; birch leaves in Autumn near Talkeetna, AK; colored rocks from a beach near Sneem, Ireland; Hoover Tower & the roof of Green Library from Stanford University campus; my favorite Valpolicella introduced to me by my favorite sommelier, Chad, at Orso; the mountains near Hope, AK viewed from across Turnagain Arm; Wells Cathedral in England.

So far there are three different prints of Vanilla: the first run special edition, which comes in a jewel case and has the original cut of “It was Good for You Too” as a bonus track; the “skinny” edition, which I printed to be environmentally friendly, but later realized was a mistake; and the “regular” edition which comes in a digipak with a spine.  The colors on my monitor weren’t calibrated properly, so I’m still a little miffed at how the photo colors came out on the first two runs (the special edition and the “skinny” edition).  Though that’s part of producing everything on one tiny laptop instead of through a big company.

I like how the artwork for “Vanilla” expresses what it is, to me.  The nature of the album itself and the packaging work together very well my mind.  I wasn’t even that intentional about it; it just flowed, very un-self-consciously.  That’s my favorite way to create.

Track List

Note: some of these lyrics may differ slightly from what you hear on the album. The text below is how I perform them and think of them now.  I’m constantly revising.

1. Fret

This is the song I wrote first, back in my freshman year of college when I was supposed to be working on a string quartet.  This was originally a piece for flute and guitar, though it always had lyrics in my head and sounded sort of stupid for flute and guitar.  I played it as a song for the first time nearly six years later, and liked it very much indeed — though most of my guitarists have to scramble to make the EbM7 chord in the middle.  That’s part of why it’s named “Fret;” I broke in more amateur volunteer guitarists on this song than any other.

This is about not being able to make up your mind, which is why it’s so flighty and jumpy (and impossible to sing).  I was trying to decide whether to marry my high school sweetheart when I wrote it.  Ultimately I decided yes.

Guitar: Scott MacGougan / Drums, auxiliary percussion: Colter Lemons / Bass: Kelly Smith

Oh, when you kiss m-me goodnight, I wonder
If you could ever mean as much to me as I do to you
I fret ‘n’ fumble with my thoughts; I want you
But only on my terms and on my time, I want it perfect and easy

How to want you, how to give you what you deserve to get
How to tell you what my heart doesn’t feel just yet
How to be a good girl, how I try, oh my
But still, you love me, you love me, love me…
And something in me must love you too
Or else why would I write this song about you?

Oh, lately I’ve been thinking about your sweet, sweet smile
And whether I am right to let you fight for my so-twisted heart
‘f’I had the time I’d make you mine; you’re beautiful
And I am oh so wrong to let this song say how I’ll never deserve you, no no

I think instead of feel, but if that’s okay with you
I will be your dearest friend — I’ll be your lover too
And I will never ever leave if you will have me now
But dear, the trouble is with love — trouble is with love –
I’m not sure if my heart will ever know how
And something in me must love you too
Or I’d be able to breathe when I think when I think about you, ooh

I’ve half a mind to take some time with you…
I fret ‘n’ fumble with my thoughts, but I don’t feel anything…
I wish I knew if I could love you too…

2. Dark Dark Eyes

I get more comments on this song than on any other.  It’s a room-silencer when I’m playing a noisy social gig.  I wrote it in about 10 minutes after watching Joss Whedon’s commentary on the last episode of his show Firefly (the episode is called “Objects in Space”).  It’s about his character River Tam and my response to her.

This is also about a very real teenaged girl that I love very much.  I’ve worked with troubled teenagers since I left college, and one in particular had my heart at the time I penned “Dark Dark Eyes.” This was what I wished she would understand — along with so many other men and women who underrate themselves.

I always imagined this song with clarinet and with the weird little accordion outro. Don’t ask me where my brain comes up with that kind of strangeness. In retrospect, I wish I’d added upright bass and just a hint of banjo, too.

Guitar: Eugene Black / Clarinet: David Salge / Piano: Paul Pew / Accordion: David Pew

You don’t know how lovely you are
Sweet sweet soul
With dark dark eyes
Head to heel beautifully marred
Sweet sweet soul
Forgive my surprise

I know you see right through me
But please don’t look away
I’ll comfort you if you’ll cling to me
We’ll cry and we’ll wait for the day
Oh, I wish you could see what I see
Sweet sweet soul
Dark dark eyes

You don’t know how dangerous you are
Sweet sweet soul
With small small hands
I’d tell you the truth, but it’s hard
Sweet sweet soul
You don’t comprehend

But I’ll sing you every known love song
Until you can sleep through the night
I’ll stay by your side if you’ll have me, love
I’ll hold you until you don’t fight
Oh, I wish you could see what I see
Sweet sweet soul
Dark dark eyes

3. The Volvo Song

This is a song about Original Sin and donuts.  It’s a Dear John letter to myself.  I did all these things.  Usually when I write in the second person I’m talking to myself, so it amuses me when people see certain songs as being about relationships or ne’er-do-well men.  I find it funny that someone as hardworking as I am can be so undisciplined, and that’s where “The Volvo Song” comes from.  I am the Volvo and the driver in this scenario, and I busted myself.  And trust me to have only the minimum coverage.

Yes, this is based on an actual car accident that I witnessed on Lake Otis Blvd. and 15th Ave. in Anchorage.  Saddest. Accident. Ever.  Brake for the short bus, people.  The songs takes a bit of a tragic turn at the very end, much like funny accidents and inescapable human conditions (which are, underneath, not all that funny).  Points for getting the Shakespeare references in all of my music; they’re everywhere, and I like this one especially.

Guitar: Eugene Black

Oh, my darling, there is something we must discuss
How with cell phone in hand you ran my Volvo through the special bus
(And I am more a Volvo than any other kind of car
Reliable and safe and Scandinavian and square)
You bent in all the corners and you put out all the lights
So I wanna know, baby, how you propose to make things right

Oooh my darling, when you bounced that check
Why didn’t you think the gorram fees would set you so far back
Oh my darling sugar pie, why did you stay up all that night
And put off your packing and eat too much and miss your flight
You knew you’d be miserable after that white lie
So why did you why did you why did you why did you why?

(Shame on you babe, shame on you babe
Always do know what you’ll do, babe
You know what you should and shouldn’t’a….)

Maybe when you’re older, baby, maybe when you’re sober
Then you’ll stop picking zits and picking nits and picking fights!

I know I’m far from perfect and I know I’m hardly good
But we’d get so much further if you would do what you what you should do –
If seeing were caring what a different line we’d take
If knowing were doing what a different world we’d make
What we want and what we need we very very seldom do
I want a smaller waist.  I want donuts too.

And we visit on each other, oh, the slings of self-defeat
And we cannot dodge the arrows of undisciplined retreat
I’d be better if my love were not so timid and controlled
I’d sleep closer if I were not both so bony and so cold…

4. Flying Feels Like

This song is about four different kinds of flying, all associated with risk: airplanes, falling in love, falling asleep, and achievement.  Ironically, the scariest kind for me — the in-a-silver-tube kind — is probably the safest and simplest.  I could probably write an essay for this song, but in brief, it describes the challenge of my life, which has been getting comfortable with risk and learning to negotiate my own capabilities.  It also describes the exact feeling of launching a music career having no idea what I was doing: exhiliration + terror in equal measure = lots of adrenaline.  While making Vanilla I slept maybe four hours a night, even though I allowed myself eight. My brain was high from the experience, working overtime, and it would not come down and sleep.

A note on the chorus: “flying feels like falling” is a physical fact for me. I know more than most about the safety of airplane flight, but it is still harrowing because of a car accident I had in 2001 that messed up my inner ear & sense of balance. Since that accident, flying — especially very smooth flying, without turbulence — feels exactly like free fall to me unlesss I keep my eyes open.  I cannot sleep on planes because I immediately feel as if I’m falling straight down.  The hellish itinerary at the beginning of the “Flying Feels Like” lists the series of flights I took to get home to SeaTac after the car accident, and on those flights I discovered and had to grapple with my new superpower.  I count it one of my only great achievements in life that I have not yet let that falling feeling keep me from getting on a plane.  (If you have ever been my seat partner, by the way, I apologize.  You have my sympathy.)

The Latin in the background (sung by the beautiful Deborah MacGougan) is “Immense Caeli Conditor,” which is an interesting name for God I found in a certain prayer for matins.  It doesn’t translate well, but if you know your roots you get the gist: immense + heavens/sky + builder/founder/overseer.  I love this phrase and think of it as an undirected appeal for help of the kind the heart makes when it’s terrified.

Guitar & Mandolin: Eugene Black / Piano & Hammond Organ: Paul Pew / Bass: Scott MacGougan / Drums: Colter Lemons / Cello: Ellen Pew / Violin: Alyssa Fridenmaker and Rose McIntosh / Vocals: Deborah MacGougan

Rapid City into Denver, Denver to Chicago
Chicago into Houston into Phoenix into home
Blue into white and down to gray, now I see green
And every time we land, I swear I feel so childish and alone
Cream into butter
Water into wine
Takes a little magic
And a little time…
(I hate to fly.)

That very first prom night, how I floated to your car
With flowers and delusions tied so tight upon my wrists
I remember how your hair smelled, how my heart beat, how you scared me
Into clinging to the lawn with perfect prom nails & white-knuckled fists
I thought I’d float away
And I didn’t want to go
Tumbling off the earth, into the deep, into the dark
Out of control

Because flying feels like falling, flying feels like falling
When I close my eyes…

So I’ll clutch the plastic armrests and I’ll sway side to side
With my seatbelt tight, eyes open wide
To get to you, I’ll take this ride

I’m lazy, but I like hard work, shoulder to the plough
A heavy head feels good in bed, but I don’t sleep nohow
And minutes into hours into staring at the wall
My mind will not surrender into darkness into deeply dream at all
Water into wine
Takes a little pressure
And a lot of time…

Flying feels like falling, flying feels like falling
When I close my eyes…
Down I go.

Every child knows how and why they’re hated
I hid my papers from the class, and I tore up my tests
‘Til unfulfilled potential was my very own pet monster
And it beat me when I failed and when I didn’t care
And when I did my best
To turn this rubbish into rhyme
Every time you travel
It takes so much courage, oh, and so much time

Flying feels like falling, flying feels like falling
When I close my eyes…

Flying feels like falling and the altitude’s appalling
And my starboard engine’s stalling
And I dunno if I glide

Flying feels like falling
Oh the ground is calling
Come down or I will break you
What would make you think I’d let you in the sky?

Ooh, to get to you I’ll take this ride…

5. Sunday Afternoon

Lyrics by the inimitable Jeannie Rose Fields, my college friend who blogs and twitters about food as the Faux Gourmet, fights for human rights as a brilliant lawyer (or soon will after the bar exam), and writes & sings with a very cool new band called The J Directorate based in NYC.

I wrote this song in college and sang it at my junior and senior recitals.  I almost never perform it live, because it’s a piano-based song and I mostly tour with guitarists.  Plus it represents a time when, vocally and compositionally, I was closer to a classical/choral musician than I am now.  Points to whoever realized before this moment that there are several Db and Eb chords in this undoubtedly C major song.

I created Vanilla just a couple years after the very painful divorce of my parents, and a lot of the album is about that, which remains the most emotionally important event of my short life.  It’s “all better” now, but when I was in the recording booth for this album, I was bringing in members of my nuclear family who had not worked or played together since — well, since before.  It’s a reconciliation CD.  On “Sunday Afternoon,” my mother and father play together again, like they did all through my childhood & adolescence (though they didn’t record at the same time).  That makes this arrangement very poignant for me.  **Just so you know, I will happily answer questions about other parts of my recording or writing, but I will not field questions about my family or my parents’ divorce for the sake of their privacy, so don’t ask me more than this.**

Piano: Paul Pew / Alto Flute: Karen Luke Fildes

Sun-soaked skin shines hot and golden
Inside the glare the sky is white
A boundless yawn engulfs the lawn
Where dreams are drunk on blazing light

Sprawled carelessly upon the grass
The edges of my dress creep high
How light the streams of balmy beams
Stroking soft across my thigh

Virginia Woolf naps there beside me
Pen falls from hand to find its rest
Eyelids drift, no lashes lift
And gently rises, falls my breast

Sleep and wake and time mean nothing
Til five o’clock comes far too soon
But daisy-haired and shoulders bared
How sweet was Sunday afternoon

7. Vanilla

Sorry about the wonky track numbering, guys.  I didn’t want the little Prologue & Postmortem to crop up every time the song “Vanilla” played in your iTunes, because I find those little extras kind of irritating if I just want to hear the song.  So giving them their own tracks was my way of making them optional.

Plenty of you have “politely disagreed” with me on the premise of the first half of this song, and some of you have crudely disagreed with me.  But you may be missing the point that I’m grappling with a very narrow definition of sexy here, the shallowest imaginable MTV bad girl diva dancer definition.  Have no fears for my self-image; it’s just fine.

In some ways this song is a relational disclaimer: “Yes, I am well-behaved and Vanilla at my core, in every sense.  I don’t want to deceive anyone about that even in my occasional funky or sexy moments.  But as long as that is understood, I would like to make it clear that I have other virtues which you may or may not be interested to know about…”

(My cred when it comes to being responsible is vaporizing, of course, as you guys deluge me with e-mail and opportunities and work.  I can barely keep up, and I’ve been dropping more balls in the last year than I ever have before.  Hopefully I can get back to my responsible, reliable self with the help of a manager or paid admin assistant sometime soon.  Thank you all for your help and understanding on that point.)

David Salge, the clarinetist on Vanilla, is an old family friend and band member who has also played with the Houston symphony and The Best Little Klezmer Band in Texas.  I wish I could have cut him loose on some klezmer, because he’d blow your little minds.  It’s his voice you hear making the “orgasmic” comment in the Post-Mortem track.

There is a version of “Vanilla” with commentary available only to the Donors’ Circle.  If you want access to it, join!

Guitar and Bass: Scott MacGougan / Clarinet: David Salge / Drums and Handbells: Colter Lemons / Banjo: David Pew

I’m not sexy, but I really want to be
I hear that’s normal for my demographic
I don’t look good in skirts, and even wedges hurt my feet
And I can’t keep a straight face and say ‘orgasmic’

Oh, I’m not hip, but I really want to be
All the bands I like you’ve heard of, and I watch too much TV
And I’m not cute, and I think too hard to be sweet
But not enough to get a real job or converse insightfully –
This is the part where you politely disagree.

My virtues are too dull to entertain,
but you can always count on me.

A nicely balanced budget’s not so thrilling,
and courtesy’s outdated, and sobriety is lame
Reliability is not appealing
But I don’t know any other way to be
I love people and I want them to love me

My virtues are vanilla at best, but you can always call on…

I’ll sing for you, I’ll sing for you
I’ll be the first one by your side
And the last one to leave
I’ll give you everything I’ve got,
I’ll get you anything you need
I’m not much to entertain,
But you can always call on me

I’m sorry I’m not meaner
I’m sorry I don’t bite
I’m sorry I don’t break as many hearts as you might like
I’m not hip or cute or spontaneous,
And I know I’m such a fool,
But I’ll love you real good if you’ll let me make
a dumb mistake or two.  Oh,

I’m not sexy, but I’ll love you if you let me…

My baby took me out one Saturday night,
and I could tell he could tell I’m a square
I asked him, ‘baby, where are we goin’?’
and he said, ‘apparently nowhere.’
He said-a ‘you don’t bark and you don’t bite,
so what use have I got for you?’
I said, ‘my crimes may not be half so entertaining as yours,
but let me tell you baby what I can do…

I’ll sing for you, I’ll sing for you
I’ll be the first one by your side
And the last one to leave
I’ll give you everything I’ve got,
I’ll get you anything you need
I’m not much to entertain,
But you can always call on me

Not sexy, no, not sweet, but I’ll sing for you if you want me to…
Not hip, not cute, not sweet, not even solvent baby
But I love you, oh
I love you, I love you, I love you baby

9. I’m Yours

I wrote this song for the wedding of my best friend Kristin Noblin, a writer & teacher currently living in Seattle.  It’s a sweet love song, but in some ways it’s a dark love song — I was feeling cynical about love at the time because of my parents’ split, so I tried to distill marriage down to exactly why we do it.  And as I did, I started to believe in marriage all over again.  Why do we do it? Because we must.  Because we choose, we fall, because we decide to let ourselves trust, because that’s who we are.  We defy loneliness.  We can hardly help it. What does marriage mean? It means we decide to see ourselves “on the same side” for life. Not much more, not much less. And that’s a beautiful decision.

Family friend/surrogate family member Scott MacGougan played this song perfectly and beautifully on the first take.  I love good musicians.

Guitar: Scott MacGougan

So this is faith — so this is hope
So this is stepping way beyond what I can know
So here’s my life — I’ve chosen you
Because I’m trusting who you are and what you’ll do
I’m lost, I’m through

And I’m yours
I have to believe in your love
Because now I’m yours

So this is love — so this is grace
That certain happy glow familiar on your face
You look like home — so warm and real and true
I feel the afterglow of God all over you
Like a new day your light breaks through

And I’m yours — I don’t promise you perfection
But I’m yours — take this poor heart and protect it
I’m yours
I’m leaning on your love
Because now I’m yours

We will fight the good fight, we will wrestle with life
On the same side
And we’ll dream and we’ll doubt, face reality now
On the same side

So this is faith — so this is joy
So this is harmony and dissonance
And love defying loneliness

Now I’m yours — you’ve caught me and you’ll keep me
I’m yours — I lay down my life completely
I’m yours
And you are mine now, love
I have fallen, I have chosen
I’m yours

10. Rx: Stop What You’re Doing

I have only done this song live once.  Someday when I get to have an orchestra, or a touring family band, I’ll do it all the time, as it may be one of my favorite things I’ve ever written.  My nuclear family, parents, brother, and sister, sings the “muppet chorus” of little backup voices, and my best friend Tora Klassen (then Tora Larsen) sings lead on the chorus.  It was a community effort and it feels full of love.

But this is really a terribly cynical and depressing song.  I mean, listen to it the lyrics.  But there’s something truthy about it that almost makes me cry in a happy way as much a sad way.  I fins that truth feels good even when it’s a little hopeless: “None of us is fine. None of us is good.”

Mandolin: Eugene Black / Violin: Alyssa Fridenmaker and Rose McIntosh / Cello and Vocals: Ellen Pew / Accordion, Trumpet, and Vocals: David Pew / Piano and Vocals: Paul Pew / Vocals: Karen Luke Fildes / Vocals: Tora Larsen (now Tora Klassen) / Drums:  Colter Lemons / Shaker: Zippy

None of us is fine
None of us is good
Most of us are nice
When we feel we really should be
Nice won’t get us far
‘Cause none of us is fine
None of us is fine

Stop what you’re doing and cry for a while
For all of the people that need you
Lay down your head and lay down your denial
You should, but you can’t bring yourself to
Be real, be there, get up, try to care
Let your lack overwhelm you, let your selfishness bleed away
For at least an hour every day

None of us is fine
None of us is good
Most of us are nice
When we feel we really should be
Nice won’t get us far
‘Cause none of us is fine
None of us is fine

Stop what you’re doing and laugh for a while
At all of your foolish ambition
Deluded and fragile and brave, like a child
Who still thinks life comes with a mission
Drop your sword and your flag, get your sponge and your rag
Let the mirror remind you, let your fairy-tale dreams melt away
For at least one hour every day

None of us is fine
None of us is good
Most of us are nice
When we feel we really should be
Nice won’t get us far
‘Cause none of us is fine
None of us is fine

11. Your Fault

I found out recently that both of my parents thought this song was about them, while most of my friends thought it was about me, and most of my fans thought it was about some boy.  Mission accomplished.

Without going into detail, the first verse is for my mother, the second is for my father.  And this is an example of how you can say things in song that you could never say in life. I could never, ever, ever have an emotion this pure at anyone, especially not at my parents, with whom I sympathize to the nth degree; but I can write a song that distills emotions down to a purity that my heart can’t cope with.  I seldom do this song live because no matter who you are, it just hurts.

The production on this song was some of the most fun I’ve had so far with editing.  I stripped away more and more elements (often by accident) until the texture was very clear and open, and then I decided I liked it.  Zippy the cat is featured throughout, shaking his bones for an ex-relationship.  There’s a lot of sandpaper, too, for the abrasion of irreconcilable ideas.  The “ping” you hear was Colter’s brilliant idea; we needed a ping and couldn’t find the right one until he struck the head of a hammer with his drum key.  I love good noises.

Guitar: Eugene Black / Drums, Sandpaper, Hammer: Colter Lemons / Piano and Hammond Organ: Paul Pew / Bass: Kelly Smith / Shaker: Zippy

You make a really lovely victim, darling
Especially so made up and so attractively lighted
And you could not have picked a nicer setting
To flatter the delusions you’ve invited

And I know just what you’re saying
And I know just what you’re not
And I wonder how you’ll get along
When your composure’s shot

And where will you go when you finally know how it’s all your fault
Messy house, messy life, messed up kids, your first wife, they’re all your fault

Your platitudes were perfect, except for when they weren’t
Your logic always flawless and your lessons so well learned
Thankful as I am for all the tools you gave to me
I will wield them all like weapons if you get close enough to see

And you know just what I’m saying
And you don’t know what I’m not
And you know that I’m not playing
And you know that I have thought this through
Over and over again, oh, over and over again

And where will you go when you finally know how it’s all your fault
Messy house, messy life, messed up kids, your first wife, they’re all your fault
And what will you say when you finally see how it’s all your fault
Nothing you can do about anyone but you it’s true it’s all your fault

(And don’t you tell me, don’t you tell me, don’t you say you didn’t know)

Where will you go when you finally know how it’s all your fault
Messed-up kids, messy house, messed-up life, that one spouse, it’s all your fault

You make a really lovely victim, darling
Especially so made up and so attractively lighted
And you could not have picked a nicer setting
To flatter the delusions you’ve invited

12. Chelsea Morning

Written by the inimitable Joni Mitchell.  I grew up defined by the albums “Blue,” “Clouds,” and “Court and Spark,” so much so that I don’t even think of them as defining — more like a part of the syntax of my brain, like language. I hope no one thinks I’m being presumptuous by covering Joni, because it comes from my deepest happiest place to do so.  Apologies if I offend any purists.

This piece is a lot more fun live than on the recording, so you should come hear it sometime (and if I don’t do it, feel free to make a request).

Guitar: Eugene Black

Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning and the first thing that I heard
Was a song outside my window, and the traffic wrote the word
And it came a-ringin’ up like Christmas bells
And a-rappin’ up like pipes and drums
Oh, won’t you stay? We’ll put on the day
And we’ll wear it ’til the night comes

Woke up it was a Chelsea morning and the first thing that I saw
Was the sun through yellow curtains and a rainbow on my wall
Blue, red, green and gold to welcome you, crimson crystal beads to beckon
Oh, won’t you stay? We’ll put on the day
There’s a sun show every second

Now the curtain opens on a portrait of today
And the streets are paved with passers-by
And pigeons fly and papers lie
A-waiting to blow away

Woke up it was a Chelsea morning and the first thing that I knew
There was milk and toast and honey and a bowl of oranges too
And the sun poured in like butterscotch and stuck to all my senses
Oh, won’t you stay? we’ll put on the day
And we’ll talk in present tenses

When the curtain closes and the rainbow runs away
I will bring you incense owls by night
By candlelight, by jewel light
If only you will stay –
Pretty baby, won’t you wake up, it’s a Chelsea morning

13. It was Good for You Too

This track is only on the first run special edition of Vanilla (only 300 were printed and hand-assembled in my living room). If you care about why, you can read back to around August or September 2007 in my blog at The track is available at iTunes or Nimbit as a single if you want it.

The lyrics will be posted on the Got to Fly album notes & lyrics (when it’s finished), so head on over there if you need them.  Here’s the story behind the song:

Chris Bridges of the BashinginMinds blog (formerly SerenityStuff) held a contest to write a song about Firefly’s beloved bad girl Saffron — or Yolanda or Bridget, no one really knows.  I have never participated in fanfic or filk before, and before Firefly I don’t think I’d open been a fan of anything before.  So it’s a testament to my love of the show that before I was even finished reading the contest rules, I knew what song I would write.

I spent an hour or two chopping up and rearranging a guitar track that I’d recorded, almost as an afterthought, for a friend who wanted a recording of a song she’d written for church.  I created a slightly different chord progression, added some holes, changed the ending, and then sang a completely different melody over the top using an SM-58 mic.  I submitted it to the contest within a few hours of starting, and then berated myself for an hour for being so fannish and dorky.  I almost hoped I wouldn’t win, just so no one would ever know I’d done something for a cult sci-fi western TV show.

(Later I submitted another song, “Never Did Catch Her Name (But She’s My Wife),” also from the remnants of a chopped-up church song, though that one’s more silly than anything else.  Points for you if you’ve heard it.)

Long story short, I won the contest.  Because I won the contest, parts of my forthcoming album Vanilla were leaked to Browncoats who had the persistence to look me up on Myspace.  They became some of my coolest supporters.  I realized I’d let worms out of some can somewhere, and had to change a lot of my expectations about the album release.  I also had to change a lot of my feelings about myself as a geek, and more or less “come out of the closet” and acknowledge that fandom is both a part of my whole life and really frakkin’ fun.

This song led to the production of the album Got to Fly, got me introduced to tons of cool people, and got me a rainstick.  It remains one of my more popular songs, among people who know its specific significance and people who don’t.

***No comments on this page, sorry.  To discuss lyrics, pester me at my fan page on Facebook, where there’s an ongoing lyrics discussion — or hit me up on Twitter.***