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I Just Want To Be With You All The Time

When a whole writhing bundle of what you have always deeply felt and hoped finds a connection and expression with another human being – that’s what we like to label ‘love’.

The thing about labels, is that they change the experience. When we slap them on, there’s a “whew, now that’s explained!” sensation that comes with them. But the labels themselves arrive with a set of somewhat unacknowledged expectations – some of those are about experiences, and some are about commitments, and a whole narrative gets touched off by the simple application of a word.

I wanted to write a song about the early beginnings of making an authentic, deep connection with another person, without resorting to using the word ‘love’.

And I wanted to take it further from there – without leaving it at some gratuitous bit of lust, but also without assumptions of picket fences and Parent Council meetings lingering in the air. I wanted it to be a song about a living, purposeful, adaptive, engaged relationship with a transformative beginning.

Because while such relationships may include emotional and physical intensities, and maybe even picket fences and Parent Council meetings at some point, the point is that such a connection can be open and adaptable and not just locked into a set of tracks that sets off interminably into the horizon. A relationship can be transformative on an ongoing (although not linear and constant) basis.

The difference between being in love with a person – and not just one fixed idea of who a person is and what a relationship means – is that people change, and relationships can also change, and that can be good. A loving relationship can develop and evolve and still be love.

I wanted this song to put “seize the day” together with “live in the moment”. I wanted it to be mindfulness with enthusiasm, in the context of a relationship. I didn’t want it to be limited to a “we’ve got tonight” kind of song, but I also wanted didn’t want it to be limited to a “we were built to last” kind of song – because buildings tend to be sort of static and fixed and unchanging.

The idea of ‘living in the moment’ doesn’t just mean ‘taking the opportunity’ – it means to be fully engaged emotionally and intellectually engaged, as far as possible, with whatever kind of experience you are having in the now. Existentialism is about really acknowledging what’s going on with how you and others exist in context in each moment, and making your moments meaningful – because within us, we don’t measure life in minutes or hours or days or years, but in those meaningful moments. The more moments that we really live, the fuller our lives are. We can cram quite a bit of living into our days if we approach them in that way, and especially if we do so together.

Anyway, to whatever extent all those hopes for the song were successful, here are the lyrics;

I Just Want To Be With You All The Time

I just want to be with you all the time
I only want to be with you all the time
I want to be beside you, and with you in mind
I want to be all with you, all the time

Forever is a long time
and I must admit
I don’t have the kind of mind
that can conceive of it

But this moment has transformed
both the present and the past
The future would be better too
if we could make this last

I just want to be with you
all the time
I only want to be with you
all the time
I want to be beside you
and with you in mind
I want to be all with you
all the time

I want to be all with you
I want to be all with you
I want to be all with you
All the time
All the time
All the time

I just want to be with you
all the time
I only want to be with you
all the time
I want to be beside you
and with you in mind
I want to be all with you
all the time

I want to be all with you
all the time

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I Do What I Do (And I Don’t Pay No Mind)

It was an understandable mistake. The first time the recording studio producer typed in the name of the song, it came out “I do what I want”. That one word difference, though, was too much – I had to change it back to the original “I do what I do…”.

The song is not so much about doing what I want, as about continuing to press forward – without being distracted by unproductive criticism, or past mistakes, or regret. It’s about finding meaning in work – although getting paid for what you do is lovely and provides resources to meet goals, meaning is what helps a person to endure and persist. It’s about being prepared for opportunity by putting in the necessary groundwork so as to be ready to go when the right time comes. It’s about being authentically oneself.

It’s not a complicated song, and the words in it aren’t particularly difficult or unusual. The grammar is definitely not proper. But all that stuff in the paragraph I just wrote, was stuff I wanted to express in a straightforward way and with a tone of dogged persistence and a sense that there is a wealth of experience beneath the words.

Here are the lyrics;

I do what I do, and I don’t pay no mind
to what naysayers say, or what muckrakers find.
I do what I do, and I don’t pay no mind.

Like everyone else, I’ve left stories behind.
Some I think of fondly, some I’d like to rewind.
I’d like to retouch some of my history,
but I’m not looking back, ‘cuz that’s no place to be.

If you put in the work, your heart will be satisfied –
it’s not seeking reward, it’s not stroking your pride.
If the world needs what you bring,
you know you won’t be denied –
but the far greater thing is the warm glow inside.

I’ll sit back and wait –
I’ll know the time when I see it.
I won’t rush to be great –
don’t wanna fake it, but be it.
I’ll sit back and wait –
I’ll know the time when I see it.

Well, I do what I do, and I don’t pay no mind
to what naysayers say, or what muckrakers find.
I do what I do, and I don’t pay no mind.

**The other unusual thing about this song, for me, is that it’s in 6/8 time. Generally my songs are in 4/4 time, but this is the first of two of my most recent recordings that is in 6/8.

You can find my music on any streaming service, and it can be downloaded as well from Apple Music and from Amazon, to name two.

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When I See You Fly; Celebrating Youth and Their Accomplishments

Ultimately, what my children or my students do is their accomplishment, not mine. I can encourage, model, and suggest ideas, but I can’t and shouldn’t claim their success as mine. What I can do is celebrate that success and be happy for them.

Our children, our students, our mentees, need to know and feel that what they have done is a result of their efforts. To claim or point out a parental or educator role in that success is in some way to try to take it from them, to diminish their efforts – and that detracts from and discourages young people and other students from making those efforts. We are all better off when our young people and the lifelong learners among us are celebrated and acknowledged, because that pushes our whole society forward with their innovations and energy.

I originally wrote ‘When I See You Fly’ to celebrate my own kids, but I wanted it to be applicable to celebrate anyone’s accomplishments and growth. The first time I used it was for a video for our middle son’s grade 6 graduation party, along with slides featuring his classmates. That video was never made public, as a result of general privacy concerns. I made another video for my YouTube channel featuring our 3 boys, where the photos in the slides went with the lyrics of the song. This latest recording is music only. I wanted it to be available for others to use in the same way that I used it to celebrate our boys – for their personal celebration videos and occasions.

Here are the lyrics;

You’re so much more than just potential
Long ago, you burst out of your eggshell
And in the intervening hours
You were like that superhero
Learning to control the powers
Of the suit that you were building

Everyone has their moments
Of flapping, of falling, of faltering
The strongest winds may be blowing
Against you so hard, you’re not sure you can keep going

But the moments do pass
I see you take off, see you lift off
You are darting and gliding way up high

And when I see you fly, I fly
You’re soaring through the skies
My spirits also rise
As you’re free among the clouds
I want you to know
That even though I’m here below
When I see you fly, I fly

It’s not about keeping you on the ground
And not just to know that you are safe and sound
I’d love to see the treasure that you found
You stop, and then away you bound

And when I see you fly, I fly
You’re soaring through the skies
My spirits also rise
As you’re free among the clouds
I want you to know
That even though I’m here below
When I see you fly, I fly

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(I Want to be) Like Democracy

Sir Winston Churchill is supposed to have said “Democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others”.

What he meant by that, of course, is that while no political system is perfect – each has its advantages and disadvantages – he on balance actually preferred democracy. Chances are that he was responding to criticism of the British Parliamentary system of democracy, and his reply was somewhat sarcastic or sardonic.

I wanted to write a song that would discuss the relative benefits of democracy, but would not be limited to a kind of memorization tool for school. I did write the song so that it could possibly be used in class, maybe introducing some political systems ideas to the class in a different way than through note-taking or the more traditional forms of educational introductions to ideas. The song would ideally also be able to stand on its own. So I thought maybe I could use democracy itself as a kind of metaphor.

Like political systems, people also are not perfect. Sir Winston Churchill wasn’t, and I’m not either. But as it happens, the ideals behind modern liberal democracy are also ideals that I hold dear – openness, accountability, human rights, sharing power, freedom…. And, of course, ideals require some sacrifices. Sharing power means giving up one’s own notions of power; it means not always being able to have your own way. These sacrifices are worthwhile, though, because of the greater importance and priority of the ideals.

I have released my song ‘Like Democracy’ in several versions, and in various ways. There is the latest, commercially available version, which can be heard on Spotify or Napster or Tidal or Deezer or YouTube or various other streaming services, and which is also available for purchase via Amazon or iTunes and other digital music distribution services. There is another version of Like Democracy available for upload right on this site (under the ‘Educational’ tab, choose ‘Curriculum Songs’ from the drop-down menu), and another one on my YouTube channel. The lyrics are available on this website too, just below the website recording of the song.

On this website, also on the ‘Educational Tab’, there’s a Question Sheets Related segment in the dropdown menu that also uses the song Like Democracy for exploring ideas related to human rights, specifically the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

For me, the main significant lines in Like Democracy are

“I wanna be like democracy,
Give my friends a chance to reach the top.
Sometimes things might go wrong,
Sometimes people let you down,
So then I also wanna have a way to stop.”
This brings out the political idea of power being in the hands of the people, rather than in the hands of a leader. Also, on a personal level, it is about both trust and a willingness to change.

2. “I wanna bring out the best in people,
I wanna know about the worst.
I wanna blend love, mercy, and justice,
And the right kinds of hunger and thirst.”
This is about how the idea of sharing power politically, along with providing freedom, gives people the opportunity to come up with new ideas and contribute to society and each other.
On the other hand, it is about how an open society with a free press and political opposition parties provides accountability. True democracy is only viable when people know what their choices are.
On a personal level, it’s about honest relationship and caring. “The right kinds of hunger and thirst” is a spiritual reference to a “hunger and thirst after righteousness” – in other words, for right and equitable living in authentic community.

And finally,
3. “And I would take love over fear,
Even at the risk I might get hurt.
No true affection in the voice
Of one who hasn’t got a choice,
So I’ll give up control or even lose my shirt.”

One of the ways in which dictators maintain control of their societies is through the use of fear and force. The idea of choice is frightening to dictators, because they perceive any action which represents ideas different from their own as a threat to their power. Real democracy encourages choice. It allows for different ideas to emerge, in the hope that a full discussion of possibilities can result in ultimately better decisions being made, even if there are some difficult moments in the meantime.
On a personal level, I too want to be willing to take risks in relationship. Coercion and love are different things, and it’s the real thing that I’m interested in. So since there’s “no true affection in the voice of one who hasn’t got a choice,” I have to be willing to take loss if what I really want is love. It can’t be coerced.

I first wrote ‘Like Democracy’ around 10 years ago. It’s still one of my favourite songs of all those that I have written.

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Express-sing the Inbetweens

Sure, celebrating big moments & mourning big losses really is important. But every moment is worth our awareness, and all of life should be lived fully.

Songs often are about our high points and our low points. Part of what I hope to do is express those emotions that are in between the extremes.

There’s a risk of confusing action or drama for meaning. Sometimes I think I get bored and try to find a way to make a fresh storyline for my life. I don’t think I’m alone in that… in our fast-paced world, we develop a taste for drama like wild predators develop a taste for blood. Action and the high and low emotions help us to avoid or forget our true anxieties and existential concerns.

So what I want to do is bring out the middle colours of emotion – like doubt, hope, concern, caring, anxiety, dissatisfaction, contentment. Maybe if we can more fully express the range of our emotions, we can avoid leaping from one extreme to another too. Maybe we can more fully live our lives in the day-to-day, and feel alive doing it – or at least have a greater acceptance of ourselves and our emotions because we are more able to name our experience.

My songs ‘I Don’t Know What I Want’ and ‘When I’m Dissatisfied’ are two of those in which I try to express some of those midpoints; indecision, regret, and discontent that seems to arise for no reason.

The lyrics for those 2 songs follow. First, “I Don’t Know What I Want”.

I don’t know what I want
Many good thing pass me by
I don’t know what I want
Many good thing pass me by
Hope something’s still out there
When I make up my mind

Well, it might have been love
Maybe just infatuation
…but it might have been love
Hope someone will have me
In the fullness of time

Maybe should have said yes
Maybe it just as well
Maybe should have said yes
Maybe it just as well
I don’t know what I want
I don’t know what I want
I don’t know what I want
…many good thing pass me by

The ‘No Regrets’ slogan irritates me at times. Maybe I’m the only one. I realize that it’s supposed to be about living to the fullest and not being afraid to make mistakes.

But I think the idea of denying any regret also kind of denies that what I do has impacts on other people, and that sometimes those impacts could be more positive. That’s where I carry regret – when I know that things I have said or done were self-serving or ignorant. Of course I don’t want that regret to paralyze me and lead to inaction, because that could only compound harm or fail to serve the good.

So yeah, ‘I Don’t Know What I Want’ is about having that regret and uncertainty, and being in the moment of it, and recognizing that sometimes the loss we experience comes from not taking the opportunities that we had when they were offered, and those missed opportunities affect ourselves and others too.

When I’m Dissatisfied

When I’m dissatisfied
I can’t find a reason
No matter what I try
There’s no pleasin’ me

I get anxious and impatient
Though I have no place to be
And my family starts wondering
What’s going on with me

When I’m dissatisfied
When I’m dissatisfied

When I’m dissatisfied
I can’t find peace
Every song on the radio
Sounds like noise to me

When I’m dissatisfied
I’m dying by degrees
I get soul-weary, tired
And I’m filled with apathy

When I’m dissatisfied
When I’m dissatisfied

Seldom do things seem to matter

Often time feels blah at best

Nothing ever really seems to
Change the east or move the west

Then I try to mix it up
Try to get out of my rut
Do different things, change my routine
Try to move myself, but

When I’m dissatisfied
I am dissatisfied
When I’m dissatisfied
I am dissatisfied

… I think ‘When I’m Dissatisfied’ is worth my time to sing because simply expressing discontent is sometimes enough for me to feel a bit better. Also, it’s a song that doesn’t blame anyone or anything for the fact that I’m feeling a bit grumpy or a bit off. Sometimes a person just feels off, and that’s okay, and it’s probably better to recognize that and accept it than to look for a scapegoat for that sense of discontent.

So to sum up, I believe that if we come to better understand and express the daily emotions that we feel in all of their complexity, we may ultimately feel more at peace and content. Forging such a connection to our emotions – a kind of spiritual connection, I believe – may help us to avoid the pitfalls of seeking more drama or action in a misguided quest to fill the void we feel when we don’t understand the root of the emotions that we have.

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Decades Later, One Cry Still Echoes

As the (not especially good) director of a caravan day camp in Northern Manitoba one summer, I made the decision to switch over our program entirely from a wilderness skills based camp to an arts camp, since there were a lot of forest fires and we weren’t able to continue with the hiking and campfire-building program that had been the basis of our success for a number of decades. To be fair (to myself), the forest fires were actually significant enough to strand us for a portion of a week, and the air and sky were a greyish-orange because of them.

I had written the first version of the song ‘One Cry Echoes’ while in Northern Manitoba, partly expressing a longing for relational connection, and partly reflecting my sense of the landscape around me.

A First Nations band near The Pas, Manitoba, had a talent night the weekend we were there, open to all. I decided that participating in the talent night was right up the alley of a group that wanted to engage with local communities and had a fresh focus as an arts program, so some of us went there. We got a friendly reception, and I sang my song. I didn’t win any prizes – which was only right, because there was a lot of talent there, and winning prizes wasn’t the point for us. But I was encouraged that one young man sought me out to tell me that he really appreciated my song. So if any of you folks wish that I would really just stop… well, blame him – because his encouragement was part of what kept me going.

Anyway, there was something about the way I paced my lyrics in the original that didn’t seem quite right. I tried changing the words, tried changing how I played the guitar, but nothing was ever quite satisfying. Years went by. Then finally, last year, I decided to try changing the melody and the whole musical structure of the song. Now, finally, it feels right to me. So I recorded it and put it out there.

That’s the story of “One Cry Echoes”, and why it lay dormant for decades.

Here are the lyrics;

One cry echo
across the waters of my soul

One cry echo
in the hollow that only I know

It’s a cry that often lingers
though it sometime disappear
It’s a cry that greets all strangers
and then hide when they come near

Sound like a loon I hear some evening
Come around like a tune a poor man sing
Sound like a loon I hear some evening
Come around like a tune a poor man sing

One cry echo
across the waters of my soul
One cry echo
I see the lake is getting low

One cry echo
across the waters of my soul
One cry echo
in the hollow that only I know

One cry echo
in the hollow that only I know

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