Joshua Tree Lucky Penny

Lucky Penny

What happens when you stop speculating and plotting and talking is this: your mind wanders. Literally. It rambles over hill and down dale, directionless. It drifts into a bar and leans against the wall with a drink and a smoke. It peels out in reverse. Recent emails and long-lost boyfriends and the kitchen stove and bad habits do-si-do along its porous borders. It thumbs through file cabinets plucking out random bits that you will later guess are not so random. It groks the backyard.

Your mind wanders as you sit in the blue chair strumming an E chord with the capo on the first fret. The capo makes the strings feel tighter and sound brighter and you might be dreaming but it also makes them more forgiving when your fingers aren’t in precisely the right position, which they’re often not. In your nascent awareness you note that you’re playing in the key of F. In your infinite wisdom you know that you need another chord, so you scroll through all the ones you know. E to A. E to G. E to D. E to B minor. And so on. Deciding which chord comes next seems like an extraordinary manifestation of personal freedom. There are no good words to describe this feeling of volition. It’s confusing and intoxicating. You’re in a vehicle you’ve never operated on a road that isn’t paved moving toward a destination which doesn’t exist. You are the automotive assembler and the road worker and the town builder.

D7 sounds good. (Can this possibly be how it’s done?) There’s something wry about E to D7. A little off. Slightly warped. Like some of your favorite people. Maybe the song should be about a person. You’ve been keeping a running list of possible song titles and one of them is Lucky Penny. The song will be about her, whoever she is. You start singing the words, lucky penny, over the E chord. You don’t so much choose the notes as let loose a few. The seems uncraftsmanlike and will have to change but for now you let yourself off every hook because number one you are STARTING and number two you have it on good authority that it’s best to spew now and edit later. You’ve got two chords and as many words and you need more of both so you let your mind wander again and it lights on a message you received the previous evening from your sister Nancy.

hi jo – glad that you have safely landed in the desert.
last night I had some weird vertigo attack and freaked out.
kim drove me home in my car and then took a cab to patti lupone.
blah blah.  wish I had a husband or dog at these times.

You have a husband and a dog, but at times like these it’s good to be alone. Also, at other times. Less auspicious times. Sometimes you actually disappear while surrounded by your family or your friends. All your life you’ve felt weird about it. Now you’re thinking it’s just how you roll.

Lucky Penny

It’s good to be alone

Slip into the cone of silence

No one ever knows the difference

Go on

I am she as you are she as you are me and we are all together. And we have a verse, to boot.


Filed under: I am trying to write some songs Tagged: , ,

One Comment

  1. Posted June 4, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    I so love the way you write…

One Trackback

  1. By Map Quest on August 4, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    [...] lost interest in “Lucky Penny” and “Angelina.” People in the know say that songwriters should leave half of their [...]

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