Showing posts with label poems. Show all posts
Showing posts with label poems. Show all posts

Monday, 11 March 2019

The Making of Snow Plow Blues

Rude songs have been with us for centuries. They are nothing new. But how did the Snow Plow Blues come about? And why is it so blue?

Well, it all happened like this.

I was messing around on my guitar trying to come up with a way to make a 12 bar blues in E sound more interesting, and I found that if I twiddled my left pinkie around it sounded quite good. Changing the chords of E, A and B to flatter or sharper or minor or major or whatever the technical music term is, by just pressing my pinkie on different strings, it meant I could almost get a melody out of it while still playing the other strings in the main chords.

Then I had to come up with some lyrics. As it happened, a few flakes of snow were drifting down while I left the house, got in the car and drove up the hill to my English lesson which takes about 20 minutes, and apart from keeping my eyes on the road there's not much to stop me coming up with the lyrics of a song, which had to sound a bit like the first few notes of the guitar riff. Hence the rather lame flat lines:

Snow drifts down
To the ground

I then thought, well, it's a blues song, so it should be about a woman leaving a man, right? But what kind of man, and what's it got to do with snow? And the rest as they say is history, or at least, in the past. The original title of the song was “Lament of the Snow Plow Driver” but in my mind it was always the “Snow Plow Blues”.

It was interesting to me how a broken heart might affect a person's productivity, and if that person's productivity affected a whole town then that might – ahem – 'snowball', leaving the protagonist to get even more frustrated by the problems that he himself has created.

The drive up to my English Lesson (teaching not learning) was through a forest, which probably lead to the lines:

Every winter, forests die
Cold dead fingers scratch the sky

which in later verses I was hoping to change to:

scratch this guy

but in the end I just didn't have time to repeat the verse.

The next verse I wrote was:

Goodbye Christmas, See you New Year
All I want is another beer

which is supposed to symbolise the lack of enjoyment in winter festivals due to a broken heart.

The chorus, if you can call it that, I wanted to have words that ended in  '-tion' because I had a feeling that would give me plenty of rhymes to choose from (it does – there's hundreds) and a kind of 'one thing leads to another' feel.

No adoration equals no motivation,
no motivation means no remuneration.

And in the intervening lines I felt like telling a slightly different story, as if something else was going on at the same time. In the first chorus

In this town there is no place to go,
Because of all the f%^&n snow.

It seemed right/different/interesting to shuffle these two couplets together, although I'm unsure if this is clear for the listener.

As the song is supposed to be from a jilted American snowplow driver's point of view, I wanted to use appropriate (or rather - inappropriate) language. I also thought this would make it more amusing, because snow is usually idyllic and romantic, but as we found out from the Beast from the East last year, after a while it just becomes a pain in the ass. And I kind of wanted this bad language to escalate throughout the song, culminating in the lines:

All my extremities are turning to ice
And that's including my f%^^$n d*£k

Which is refreshingly politically incorrect, yet it cuts to the core of a jilted male lover's frustration. It's not just about a broken heart, it's also about a now defunct and unnecessary body part.

But I thought it would be funnier to do a near miss on the 'f*&^n  d^£k' line and slowly morph into an overly sentimental and romantic coda (or whatever it's called) with no drums and minimal guitar, to contrast the rest of the negativity in the song and again make the 12 bar sequence a bit different. The first one was originally:

Did I ever tell you, did I ever tell you, that I love you?
Did I never mention that I would never place another above you?

Just for fun, because I liked this one so much, I did it again off of 'salt':

All I ever wanted, all I ever wanted, was you to love me.

The only words I could think of to rhyme with wanted, were daunted and haunted. 

No need to look so daunted, this ol' house isn't haunted.
Apart from me.

Now I needed another verse with some slightly supernatural comedy undertones, because I had three choruses with escalating bad language, so the last one I put in was

The pipes are frozen, the heating is off
There's funny noises coming down from the loft

which could be because of ghosts or because of dodgy central heating. And it was all going a bit 'Sixth Sense' and I had to make a decision : did I want it to culminate like he's a ghost with a frozen penis, or a living snowplow driver with escalating bad language.

In the end I chose the escalating bad language, which meant the ghostly verse, chorus and coda had to go in the middle. I decided this change after already recording the song, and I felt like kicking myself, but then I realised I could just cut and paste the vocals in Garageband with minimal disruption! Ha ha!

The final problem I still had to wrestle with was that the song as it stands was too crude to play to my mother or my son (or most people, I thought). I hoped West Lothian Writers would help me tone it down a bit last night, but actually they seemed to like the song as it was!

The therapeutic rewards of writing, practicing, playing, recording and publishing a dirty blues song - even one that has been pretty much ignored by everyone - have been enormous and I would recommend it to anyone.

And without further ado, here it is :

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

The Snow Plow Blues

Snow drifts down, to the ground
All my stuff is just lyin around.
I'm so untidy in my dressin' gown.
Since you left me, all I do is frown.

Every winter, forests die.
Cold dead fingers scratch the sky.
No more honey means no more money now, cos
since you been gone, I can't drive my plow

No adoration equals, no motivation
This town there is no place to go.
No motivation means no remuneration
Because of all the fuckin snow.

The pipes are frozen, the heating is off.
There's funny noises coming down from the loft.
I can see my breath now, I'll catch my death, I know.
Ask my reflection, “Why did you have to go?”

No adoration equals, no motivation
this town has ground to a halt
No motivation means no remuneration
because there is no fuckin sal -

-all I ever wanted, all I ever wanted, was you to love me.
No need to look so daunted, this ol' house isn't haunted.
Apart from me.

Goodbye Christmas, see you New Year.
All I want is another beer.
I'll drink my sorrows, no more tomorrows, now.
Since you been gone, I can't start my plow.

No fornication equals poor circulation.
This town is making me sick.
All my extremities are turnin to ice
And that's includin my fuckin di -

-id I ever tell you, did I ever tell you, that I love you?
Did I never mention that I would never place another, above you?

Snow drifts down, to the ground
All my stuff is just lyin around.

Words & Music © Chris R Young 2019. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Passing By

explore boundaries
divulge secrets
promulgate untruths
bounce like seeds on

the doorbell rings
i put down my pen and look up
who could that be
the house is silent

afternoon sun streams by on its way
somewhere else
the clock ticks
my heart beats

i gaze at the window
a shadow moves
i lean back
steam rises from my coffee
mixing with dust motes
caffeinating them
they zip off

the doorbell rings again
i jump as my worst fears are confirmed
i knew it would ring again
and it did

the postie with a parcel
a neighbour in a nightie
a boy with a beagle
a politician from a party

possible visitors run through my mind 
en route to
another destination

my mouth is dry
i look down at my pen strewn
across my recent attempt to
murder a poem
the blood is on my hands
my finger prints on the weapon
i wrote my name at the top
for god's sake
what was i thinking

maybe if i just 

knock knock
who's there 
i gasp
don't know yet
could be anyone

i note their change of tactic from
door bell to wood knock 
with some trepidation
maybe if i just remain
they'll go on their way

to another place

© chris young 2019

image credit :

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Ode to Eleanor

Twas a bleak and dreich October
When I sat munchin' on ma Tobler
-one. I stared alone twixt curtains
torn an' faded like Tim Burtons'
Corpse Bride and others o' that ilk.
I took a sip of me warmed milk
as doon in the groonds below
in patchy shadows neath the glow
of intermittent neon street lamps
hiding throngs o' zombies, vamps
didst frolic, gamble, twixt rose and bud,
Texas holdems, 5 card stud
at least they did in ma mind's een,
which had recorded every scary scene
fae horror movies maest eclectic
(lucky I'm no epileptic)
as on and off the lights didst flicker
reminds me how we once didst bicker
Me and my most recent ex but one –

Suddenly I heard a tapping,
a quiet, gentle, faded rapping,
Turned did I and looked – no more-
towards my hard oak chamber door
“Who's there?!” ah croaked, goosebumps rising.
Twas just the wind, I tried surmising.
Swiss chocolate from my fingers fell
'pon the floor (some milk as well)
As lo, didst handle start to turn!
And in ma throat my heart did burn!
Through veins as chilled as ice
Ran curdled blood - no once but twice!
As tapping at the door compounded
rapping at the pane! Dumbfounded,
Shocked and stunned, I turned in vain
to see nought beyond the window pane
save skeletal tree-like bones a-tapping
'pon the glass like fingers rapping.
Beckoning to bid me join them
and secretly my life purloin, then
into darkness fae top floor I'd leap
And wake up dead fae tortured sleep.
“Just the Birch!” I knew
“Caused by one strong gust or two.
“But what of oakwood door?”
As I spun I saw no more
Than shadowy landing through the crack
and with distinct shrivelling of sack
I gasped on chocolate milky breath
and damn near almost choked to death
as I heard a voice shriek from the black
“It's just yer maw, dye want a snack?”
A voice that sounded nothing like
fair voice of Eleanor.

“No thanks, Mamaw, I'm mid ode:
An Edgar Allan episode.”
Fae the shadows, a tut, a sigh.
“Not again, wee lad, I can't see why
you can't just let this Eleanor bird
fly the coop. Wasn't she the third
to leave you lying in the dust?
It's not all about nice bum and bust.”
“It wasn't just her bum and bust,
if to refer to those you must,
her eyes, her nose, her smile, her hair
were also well beyond compare
Whether in the Louvre or Tate
such a perfect prime portrait
I haven't seen before or since
Next to her a pound of mince,
those other girls ...
we had some whirls
upon the carousel of love
but mother now, dear god above
Quit my door, opine no more,
Get thee hence, I must implore,
you leave me to my selfish wallow
in my Eleanor-shaped hollow.
Bother me no more along this lonely path
lest you taste my bitter, thorny wrath!”
and with a creak, a squeak, no more,
she then withdrew and closed the door.
And slowly upwards roamed my stare
from handle up the oakwood door and there
my gaze could not help but linger
as I pointed shaky finger
at the blown up photograph cropped shear
between the door and ceiling near
the final precious keepsake of my dearest Eleanor.
Just space enough for bum and bust 
above my oakwood chamber door.
Bum and bust and nothing more.

At least the blu tac still is sticking -
still is sticking, still is sticking -
Eleanor's dear bum and bust above my oakwood chamber door.

© Chris Young 2018

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Sycophant - Word of the Day

While trying to think of words that rhyme with 'elephant' for a kids' book idea (aged 2-4)  I fell upon the word 'sycophant', which means 'servile flatterer, self serving parasite' and comes from the Greek for 'informer'. This is good to know but not very useful for a kid's book.
In the next cage stands an elephant
who is something of a sycophant.
To the zookeeper he will pine and pant
and fawn at dawn if at dusk he can't
get his favourite edible plant
(the plain sort or extravagant)
from the lowly guy who cleans his cage out.

You can probably see at what point I got bored with this poem.

© Chris Young 2018

image credit :

Monday, 23 April 2018

today a funeral

a gleaming light of hope and mirth
for free, of fun, frivolity
of drink and dance
of smiles and warmth
has left this world
to take her place among the suns

© Chris Young 2018

Monday, 16 April 2018

cherry blossom haiku

late in life we drift
sadly briefly on a breeze
cherry blossom falls

photo & words © Chris Young 2018

Friday, 13 April 2018

moth haiku

a new friend is found
with whom to reflect on life

image & text © chris young 2018