When he died in 1967, folk singer Woodie Guthrie left behind thousands of completed song lyrics but not the music to go with them. It wasn’t until the 1990s that the lyrics were set to music on the fabulous “Mermaid Avenue” records.
If Wilco and Billy Bragg are looking for another project, I have one that’s even more challenging: to write music and lyrics for my collection of song titles.
Yes, song titles.
I am passionate about music, particularly alternative music. (The name of this blog, Perfect Circle, is in part a tribute to a song of the same by R.E.M.) Other people’s music. I can’t play an instrument or read music. My musical inspiration has been limited to song titles.
I’m not prolific; my song titles number in the low 100s, or a list that doesn’t even fill two pages of a Word document. I’m into quality, not quantity. The inspiration hits only so often.
When I was in high school, I wrote a letter to R.E.M. I received a typewritten response that included this line: “There is no lyric sheet. Please make up your own words.”
So in that spirit, I share an EP’s worth of song titles and the inspiration behind them.
“Some Fool’s Errand”: From a quote attributed to former Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis. Perhaps he was talking about his failed quest?
“Hobson’s Choice”: A Hobson’s choice is the absence of a real alternative; take it or leave it. And Butch Hobson played third base for my beloved Boston Red Sox (he now manages the Lancaster Barnstormers).
“Bedroom Town”: An homage to my hometown, Lisbon, Maine, most of whose residents work someplace else. Lisbon garnered a mention in John Irving’s “The Cider House Rules.”
“Silent Sundays”: I recall a fair number of Sundays in my early 20s when I had no appreciable human contact. Thank goodness for spouses and children. “Silent Sundays” sounds like the title of a John Cheever short story.
“Two Drunks on the Bridge”: My late friend Frank Dingley’s mother often listened to the police scanner. One night she heard mention of “two drunks on the bridge.” Frank and I, guilty as charged.