simple lives

I give my songs such simple lives, they give me such beautiful tragedies. They seem to have a way of letting me know what’s going on.

Each helps me tell the truth as I see and hear it at that moment.

Two Winters is the oldest song on my little record. It’s about a heart encountering, accepting, and learning to live from its brokenness.

Please listen, share, buy.

words and music by Tony Starling Kidd

© Buffalo Spoon Records

alibi

I have wanted to write about the people who owned our old farmhouse before, but I couldn’t realize the song, which more and more seemed to want to talk about some essence of their moving on, not their past.

Reaching into the past, I am able to salvage:

The dim farmhouse, morning radio on …

Black-blue meadow stalking every step the living make  …

A whispered rush.

And that farmhouse, like an old brown photograph, suddenly fills the senses.

winterhorseredbarn

As a writer of two or three-minute songs, I’m not interested in holding on to something for very long, or walking back into the past too deep. I’m in it for the permission to be transient.

It’s like this with singing, too. The whole idea of holding a note is strange to me. Singing isn’t about that. It’s about passage, about carrying the note out of you and forward.

When I chronicle the past I’m really just connecting dots, picking the beautiful things out of it and presenting a coherent arc in a neat, little song. Of course, life in the farmhouse was much noisier than that. The past is merely an alibi for the present.

The future, well … it’s messy, but it’s better to move on to it, better to leave what’s left behind any way except a slow way, leave the fastest way you can.

As with the breakups I sing about, the staying moved on … this is the hardest thing of all.

 

love and strange horses *

I am convinced my soul was constructed to belong entirely to a life of making up songs, just as the cowboy’s was to rope calves and the sun was made to lay its palm over the window in my studio this late afternoon.

I spent time this week with two lawyers and someone from A&R. All of them pushing papers with big words and lots of numbers to keep the conversation going.

I have to confess there’s something about being with the fine people who work at these jobs that leaves me feeling alone. I’m the only one of my kind when I’m with them: an outlier, not easy to lasso into their carefully scripted conversations. I stand at the crescent of my hoofs at these meetings, head jerking away from the halter, ears searching for the stablegirl’s caress.

It’s different when I’m among my own kind, musicians and other artists, or when I’m home doing all my comfortable alone things: making up songs, tuning an instrument, reading, or just looking the day away in a pasture empty of everything but wildflowers and witchgrass.

At these times, I feel peaceful and occupied with all the things I know I’m meant to do.

strange horses

* The title of a book by the amazing Nathalie Handal

audible

Sometimes words are just music themselves.

Like “Strawberry” is a very musical sounding word to me. “Dandelion” is another.

I like “Honeysuckle” and “Hurricane,” too. And “Hallelujah.”

Standing on the edge of the vowel forest, I also encounter:

A blossoming almond tree.

The thicket grown loud with nightingales.

Skin and heart. Bed. House. Heartbreak (and with it, the tentative hope for happiness).

And a cloud of starlings.

Sometimes I think that my main instrument is idiom, my voice is just a dialect, and my actual purpose as a songwriter is simply to report on the human heart in the most musical of observational terms.

To make the notes audible in the key of English.

opening sounds

What something sounds like can’t change what it is:

The sound of a drawer opening …

The north wind on the telephone lines …

A motorbike along the lane …

Lilacs crashing through old barn walls …

The key turning in the door to an empty house …

Footsteps retreating.

Yet sound opens sound. It taps the spot that’s inside me with a lyric or melody, and the door to music opens:

The sound of clothes being emptied from the drawer by a departing lover …

The sound of the dangling farewell …

A biker who falls and in his fall hears his bones cry out …

The young sound in an old heart …

The hollow echo of the voice inside the door …

And me, walking beside you … humming like the air.