Sunday, February 28, 2010


One summer evening, when we were visiting Dave’s family in Pittsburgh, probably seven or eight years after we had moved out to Utah, I took four-year-old Annie with me to visit my old elementary school. The rest of the clan had trekked down Route 51 to Three Rivers Stadium and a Pirates baseball game. Annie was still too wiggly to sit through nine innings, so I told her I would take her to my old playground. We drove from Bethel Park to Pleasant Hills, up Old Clairton Road and past my house. Past the Methodist Church and the rock Library and up the hill and through the pine trees to the old two story building that once housed my day dreams. I was stunned to see that it had not changed; not hardly at all. The windows of the schoolhouse were still rippled, the ancient poured glass reflecting a softening light of evening. The backstop was rusty, and still bent where it had been when I played kickball there. The see saw, the monkey bars, the swings: all remained preserved, like they had sprung to life from that place in the corner of my mind where I store memories. We did it all, Annie and me. I bent my knees up to my chest and sat in the swing next to her. I held her waist as she hung her way across the bars. We tried to see saw, though the see was a little heavier than the saw. None of the Big Toy flashiness of the new playgrounds in our growing town of Farmington; this was the real McCoy playground equipment to last three generations of time.
Just as the air caught the chill of a waning sun, Annie turned towards the front of the school yard and squealed: “What was THAT?” She ran toward the dark shade of large hovering trees on the other side of the school. I ran after her, asking what it was she thought she saw.
I looked and couldn’t really see anything unusual.
“What did you see Annie?”
Oooo, look at the sparkles!”
Annie stopped pumping her little knobby legs and stood, arms out, under the big old tree. Her eyes glowed with interest and excitement as she stretched out her arms, grasping at the air.
“What are they Mama?”
Then it hit me. I had not noticed them, perhaps because they had become part of the regular scenery of my childhood all those years ago, and I had sadly lost the eyes to notice.
I caught one in my cupped hands, parting my fingers just barely enough for her to see the light glowing off and on; off and on. She giggled uncontrollably, amazed that there were creatures in the real world that did this kind of thing.
“Can we take some home to Utah?”
I felt a heart-tug at the question, realizing that my childhood was never to be her childhood, and so much of what I hold dear was not going to be part of her little world. That’s how it goes, and how it is supposed to go I guess, from one generation to the next. Nonetheless, I could not help but wish upon her and her brother and sisters a childhood with jars full of fireflies; of Barbies in the basement; of thick slabs of the Pittsburgh Press waiting on the front porch on Thanksgiving morning. What would be the Children’s Palace toy store of her childhood? Would she want, or ever have, an Easy Bake Oven? Would the tiny acorns of the scrub oak trees in Farmington satisfy like the ones from the giant oaks of Pennsylvania did?
I looked at Annie and longed for that innocence. That repeated presence of wide-eyed revelation, when so much was so new. She surely carries her own magical childhood memories now, but they are hers, not mine. I grieve the disappearance of what was so clearly, charmingly typical of my own youth.

“When I was a kid I couldn’t wait to get older
And now that I’m older I’d like to be small
Some things I know now I wish I’d forgotten
Some things I’ve forgotten I’d like to recall”

That evening with Annie, frolicking on the playground of Pleasant Hills Elementary School, followed by a trip to DiStefano’s Drug Store where we bought, no joke, a pack of candy cigarettes, a strip of wax pop bottle candies, and a roll of Necco wafers…that evening reminded me of what I had forgotten.

Children of my heart: Do not be too anxious to grow up. Like the line from the song Toyland: Once you dwell within it you may never return again.

Years later, the memories triggered by the place I called home made their way into a song…which made its way onto a Christmas Album called Sleepy Little Town:

Thanksgiving evening
My brothers and my sisters
laid our tummies on the living room floor
Pouring through the paper
With crayons and markers
Circling the toys we wanted that year

Little did I know then
Life would bring a Mousetrap
When all I really wanted was an Etch-a-Sketch
Little did I know then
So little did I know then
What I wouldn’t give now to know that much

Well the Easy Bake Oven
Was a red-circle item
Santa would be groovy if he brought me that
Of course he could always bring clothes for my Barbie
A Camelot outfit with a Guinevere hat

Little did I know then
I never would be Barbie
Heaven didn’t give me the stuff for such
Little did I know then
So little did I know then
What I wouldn’t give now to know that much

When I was a kid I couldn’t wait to get older
And now that I’m older I’d like to be small
Some things I know now, I wish I’d forgotten
Some things I’ve forgotten I’d like to recall

Like how to do cartwheels
And gather up acorns
A jar full of fireflies on a summer night
The very first snowfall
Christmas vacation
Anticipation on the holy night

Little did I know then
Little did I need then
Just what I could reach out my hand and touch
Little did I know then
So little did I know then
What I wouldn’t give now to know that much

You can hear this song, if you'd like, by scrolling down to the pale green music box with Songs from Sleepy Little Town.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Today I will forgo writing about one of my songs, though I will put a surprise treat at the end of this post. I feel it appropriate to write, instead, about one of my most divine creations. (Well, not really mine, but I was part of it.)

Thirty years ago I received a most fabulous birthday gift. We were living in New York while Dave clerked for Judge Van Graafielland in the U.S. Second District Court of Appeals. Johnny was 15 months old and kept me on my proverbial toes while Dave worked his 12 hour days. I had just come home from a Young Women’s meeting and laid on the couch to rest my weary swollen feet while I watched a re-run of Heart to Heart. Dave went to play basketball at the church. During the first set of commercials I felt contractions, which was not all that unusual at that point in my pregnancies. But as the show progressed I noticed that I was having pretty serious contractions at every commercial break. Every 15 minutes. By the time Dave got home I was on the couch sobbing.
“What’s wrong?” he whispered, all sweaty from his workout.
I finally got the words out:
Weeeeee’re haaaaaaving a baaaaaaaaaby.”
I know it probably sounds unbelievable to anyone reading this, but I had been in a sort of denial about this fact for the previous 8 months. We had not really planned on this quick turn-around time frame. Johnny had been barely six months old and I had been nursing and exercising my buns off (literally) and I wasn’t losing any weight and I was SO tired. Turns out I was SO pregnant.
I went along enjoying my one little boy, aware on a conscious level that another was on the way, but it took those serious contractions for it to hit me that it was true, there were going to be 2 diapers to change, 2 cries to comfort, 4 little hands to wash and mostly still 1 of us at home to do all of it. Besides I was only 21 years old and wasn’t I too young for all of this?
Too bad. No going back. Those contractions continued through the night. I blew on a little nebula on the astronomical poster hanging on the wall of the bedroom in our rental house (the people left it furnished for us.) All night long. Pursed my lips and practiced my Lamaze until finally at 8 am the next morning I said “We’d better get going!”
We barely made it to the hospital, and Dave almost missed it because he had to admit me. Sarah was born 3 weeks early, on my 22nd birthday. What a gift! She has always been, from the earliest years, very conscious of the fact that her birthday is also mine. Even at 4 years old she made the kids at her birthday party sing Happy Birthday to me.
In one week she will be 30 years old. How can that be? Amazing.
Amazing…does not begin to describe it. Not that she will be 30, though that is worth celebrating. But what is amazing is that at 30 years old she had completed 24 straight years of education and now…this very day…she is DONE!
Today, as she was finishing up her final shift in her final residency rotation in the Pediatric ICU unit at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, she heard the doors to the unit open. She turned and saw her husband, Dave, with their two little munchkins Timothy and Anna Bella shuffling down the hall toward her. A magnificently large bouquet of colored balloons hovered over them like a joy-cloud. Dave carried two dozen roses (one for every year of school, from 1st grade to this day) and a large sheet cake with these words:
Congratulations Dr. Petersen!
Timo and Anna tried to stay grounded in spite of 36 helium mylar balloons pulling them upward…one for each patient in Mommy’s unit. What a picture.
Sarah has finally done it. She has accomplished this goal she set when she was a little girl.
“I’m gonna be a doctor”, she’d say, and people would smile and exclaim “Good for you, honey!” But few people really and truly expected she would do it.
The few… the proud… the Connors’…knew better. This was the girl who, knowing she had promised to stop sucking her thumb when she turned five, plucked the withered thumb out from her mouth on March 5th, 1985, tucked it between her knees in her bed, and never sucked it again.
Seventeen years later, after 4 years of undergraduate studies with Bachelor of Arts (painting) and Bachelor of Science (pre-med) degrees, she was admitted to the U of U Medical school. I still remember the exact dressing room at Target where I screamed out loud when she called to tell me she had been admitted.
She started med school pregnant (our Timo) and finished med school pregnant (our Bella) and I have to tell you it was not smooth sailing for them. Her hormones were not happy campers, and Sarah suffered more than anyone knows, from serious post-partum struggles. It makes my heart hurt when I recall all she has been through. But she stuck it out! And Dave hung in there with her, allowing himself to delay his own career so that the kids had a parent home raising them. What a picture I have imprinted in my mind: a good dependable man whose little ones feel safe with him, walking toward a beautiful woman in a white coat, holding out an armload of roses and leaning over to kiss the woman he loves. Two little gigglers wrapping one of each of their arms around her legs while their other hands hold their happy balloons.
Timo and Anna walked the circle of the PICU unit, stopping at each doorway, where they handed the nurse a balloon for the child-patient on the other side of the glass doors. Many of those children were unconscious, but their parents smiled, or cried, or both, when they saw those little 3 and 6 year-old kids stretch out their hands to offer the gift from Doctor Mommy.
Sarah called this evening as she and her little family were walking out of the hospital. The kids wanted to stop and play on the playground one last time. “Thanks Mom.” Her voice caught with emotion. “Thanks for all of it.” I knew what she meant. We both wept there on the phone.
I am thinking, at this moment, that there is an angel in heaven who is clapping her wings right now. Probably more than one. For sure more than one. I feel the air move around me and I know it must be them. They gave her their name, and their blood, and their rich history. She gives them honor.
Congratulations, my Sarah Bella Boo.

Here's the song of the day for ya! 3 year old Anna Bella Petersen (with a little help from her Daddy.)

Friday, February 26, 2010


I can hear the sudden crash of metal on metal; feel the seatbelt cinch tight at my hips as my flesh wrapped around the strap across my chest. Even after all these years such vivid memories play out in slow motion. I had been driving down Main Street, Farmington, when a car crossed into my lane, plowing into me head-on at the intersection at Shepard Lane. I had been listening to a newly written song, demoed in my basement studio, as I made my way to my monthly Utah Songwriters meeting. I remember undoing my seatbelt and leaning forward to turn off the stereo, when a knife-like stab went through my chest. Fearing a heart attack, I sat back in my seat, praying for direction. I pressed my fist to the horn, hoping someone would hear and come help, since I had seen, briefly, the occupants of the other car and I knew they were elderly. Within seconds an EMT was at my side, talking me out of panic, checking me for shock. They placed me on a board and took me by ambulance to the hospital, where a few hours later I was released with a broken collar bone, cracked rib, bruised sternum and knee, as well as torn ligaments in my hand and arm among other injuries. Nothing life threatening. Just painful. I was unable to lie down, the injuries to my chest intensifying under the weight of gravity, so for the next six weeks I sat in a chair while the miracle of healing spun through my flesh and bones. My mom was visiting my sisters in California, so Dave drove over to her place and lugged her big blue leather easy chair down her stairs, into the back of the van, then over to our house and up the stairs to our bedroom. I lived in that chair for all those weeks. I remember being frustrated that I HAD to sit for long periods of time, at a stage in my life when I had 4 young kids and lots to do, and yet I could not even play my guitar. The arm, hand and chest injuries kept me from that pleasure. So while I sat there I got to thinking. I got to thinking about driving again. The more I thought about it the more I worried. I’d close my eyes to rest and I could hear the thunderous crash repeat itself like the cymbal in a discordant symphony. As time passed and I became able to walk comfortably, then considered driving, the fear turned to panic. As I sat there I analyzed the emotion. The writer in me recognized it as a universal theme, so I started a lyric. I turned the car into a horse (you can do such things as a songwriter) and it started like this:
Seven years old on a grey palomino
I sat up tall with my face to the wind….
I remembered my Uncle Archie and Uncle Jim’s horses, and our once-a-year leg straining, butt bruising romps on Blaze and the other ponies in the corral. I clamped my legs so tight around the horse’s middle it probably gave the beast a hernia. None of us wanted to get bucked off. But inevitably one of us did, and the uncles always did the same thing. First they laughed. They paused for a second till they were sure we saw them, then they made their way over to us lying there in the muck; picked us up and patted off our rumps, then put their big leather covered hands around our waists and hoisted us back on the beast.
That became Verse I.
Fortunately, I knew enough about what I didn’t know and I looked up Palomino. I needed a four syllable horse, and that was the only one I could think of. So when I looked it up in the dictionary it said:
Palomino: a yellow horse.
I changed the lyric, turning the pony from gray to gold. Good thing I looked, huh? If you’re going to fake that you know about horses, you should at least fake intelligently.

The chorus led to the hook (main theme of the song, power line and usually title) which was…you guessed it… “Get back on that pony and ride.”

Verse II brought new light to the chorus. Love. Love…the universal theme of 98% of the songs you hear every day. Love lets us down. Sometimes hard. Sometimes so hard we don’t want to try it again. That was Verse II.

Then back to the chorus.

I had gotten this far on the yellow legal pad on which I was writing the lyric, when I finally felt able to hold my guitar and start writing the music. I had the melody in my head, but the chords gave it life. I was sitting on my bed, my leg tucked under me and my arm propped on a pillow as I played, and I was feeling pretty good about the way it was all unfolding, when the phone rang. I answered it, recognizing immediately that the voice on the other end was that of my publisher, Dude McLean. We chatted a minute, reconnecting after months, and I asked if we had heard anything more from Linda Ronstadt’s record label. Linda’s sound engineer had told Dude months earlier that Linda had completed the recording of my song The Builder, and we were waiting for a release date.

“Bad news,” he said.

Turns out Linda had had a falling-out with her producer of many years, Peter Asher. They had parted ways. She also left Elektra Records, and with it the project she had recently completed. Elektra owned the rights to the recording, so when she left, the album was placed on some random shelf at Elektra records, unreleased and unheard. I faked that it was ok, that’s just how life goes. But after we hung up, I paused there on the side of my bed, trying to process what had just happened and how much hope I had placed on that one little event in my songwriting career. It would have been my first major cut, with a major artist on a major label. Everybody knew Linda Ronstadt. It would give me instant credibility. That little demon that hovers over my left shoulder whispered, “Ha Ha, told you so. You are just a simple housewife in small-town Utah and you will never make it as a songwriter. I told you to quit trying. See…you would not feel so bad about this if you hadn’t put so much hope on it to begin with. Quit now, and save yourself the shame and hurt in the future.” I heard this in my head, and I am sorry to say I believed it for a second. I sat there, my eyes blurred with emotion, and looked at that yellow legal pad on the bed in front of me. Then I saw the lyric:

“Stand up again, shake it off if you can, then get back on that pony and ride.”

That’s when I wrote the bridge:
“I’m not sayin’ forget what you lost
I suppose there’s a purpose in pain
But what we make of ourselves has a cost
And it’s paid every time we take hold of the reigns”

Then VERSE III, a message to myself.

Merlyn and I recorded this song for the album, Out of the Blue. The whole album was a compilation of demos, songs to be pitched one day.

Months later I was frantically dressing for an afternoon PTA meeting. My sister Ann Marie was visiting. The phone rang, and I asked her to get it, please. She called up the stairs:
“Can you take this call?”
“Who is it?”
“It’s Chris.”
“Chris who?”
“Chris LeDoux”
“Chris WHO?!”
“I’ll take it!” I took the phone and sure enough, it was Chris LeDoux, the cowboy rodeo champion singer and songwriter who was making quite a splash at Capitol Records in Nashville. He had just come off a long tour with Garth Brooks and was preparing to record a new album.
“I was wondering,” he said softly, “ …I was wondering if you’d mind if I sang your song on my new album?” He went on to tell me how much he loved what it said, and how it was said, and that he had a yellow pony when he was small and his dad used to pick him up and put him back on when it bucked him off in the hills of Wyoming. (Good thing I made that pony gold!)
He sang the song with much tenderness. He released it on his album Under This Old Hat and again in his retrospective Box Set.
One evening we drove to Salt Lake City, my family and me, and we walked into the Delta center for a Chris LeDoux concert. It was a rockin’ show! Chris was a wild bareback cowboy sort of entertainer. But the lights went low at a certain point, and the pace slowed, and the melodic strains written on the side of my bed started up, echoing against the large cement walls of that auditorium.
“This is my favorite song”, he said, “written by a woman from right here in Utah named Cori Connors.” My family and Merlyn cheered, and so did the rest of the audience, though I am not so naïve as to think they were cheering for something other than their home state.
He began to sing. I watched a young couple sitting in front of us sink down into their seats, her head leaned over onto his shoulder. Then slowly, around the perimeter of the stage and up into the rafters of the Delta Center, I saw Bic lighters waving in the darkness to the beat of the song.
That’s how you know you have really made it; when people wave their Bic lighters to your ballad! Though now days it would be the lights of their cell phones, or the Bic lighter app on our iPhones.
What a great memory.
Chris was always so gracious. A true gentleman and true to his word. Because of him I started my publishing company, Seven Roses Music. I’ll tell you the story about that name sometime. Right now it is nearly 3 am and this little song-story is WAY too long.
But remembering it has been awfully sweet.

Seven years old on a gold palomino
I sat up tall with my face to the wind
I’d seen them prance at the circus in Reno
So I dug in my boot heels and pulled on the reigns

CHORUS: And Blaze, he took off a runnin’
He tossed me down on the side
Then my uncle Jim picked me up once again
Said, get back on that pony and ride
Get back on that pony and ride

So lift up your head boy I know how you’re feeling
You say you won’t ride with a chance you might lose
You’ve fallen from love and your head is still reeling
Your heart and your pride have been shaken and bruised

CHORUS II: Like Blaze, she took off a runnin’
Love tossed you down on the side
But stand up again, shake it off if your can
Then get back on that pony and ride
Get back on that pony and ride

Bridge: I’m not saying forget what you lost
I suppose there’s a purpose in pain
But what we make of ourselves has a cost
And it’s paid every time we take hold of the reigns

So dust off your blue jeans, get back in the saddle
Freedom’s a chance to begin with an end
Getting back up there is half of the battle
And love, like a pony, should race with the wind

CHORUS III: Like Blaze, it takes off a runnin’
And it may toss you down on the side
But stand up again, shake it off if you can
Then get back on that pony and ride;
Get back on that pony and ride;
Get back on that pony and ride.

You can hear my version of Get back on that Pony by scrolling down to the blue music player with songs from Out of the Blue. Here's a YouTube version of Chris singing it (with someone's home made video pictures).
Sadly, Chris LeDoux died a few years ago, from liver cancer. A loss to all of us.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


It was a rare, rainy Utah day, with a socked-in kind of permanent drizzle, like the springtime of my childhood in Pennsylvania. I was in the nursery at the old-old house on Kensington Street, tidying up a bit while the baby played in her crib. We never did have a “real” nursery, even with 4 babies. I was young and unable to justify spending money on beautifying the baby’s sleeping space. I regret this.

The nursery was a small room, attached to the master bedroom, with French doors dividing the two spaces. It had a used crib, and the old antique rocker I bought at auction when we first moved out here, the one I had re-upholstered in 5 Hour Store leather a few years back. It currently sits in our family room. The upholstery was in pretty bad shape then. The big old metal springs had sprung out of the seat, so I plopped a pillow on top of the springs and that is where I nursed my babies each night. It had nice wide, flat arms that held my elbow as I held the baby, and it had a high leather roll at the top, where I rested my head as I patted my little one’s back and hummed music into her ear. There was also a little four drawer dresser and a diaper pail, and the little square rolling cart from our law school days which held Dave’s old stereo. I’m pretty sure there were also piles of stuff in the corner. I am sad to say that piles of stuff have been haunting me all my life.

So, on one of those days when my conscience yelled loud enough that my feet responded, I made an attempt to address the “piles of stuff” in the nursery. One of my big problems is that I think too much. I think about this thing or that thing, as I pass my fingers over it, and I decide I should put it back in the pile because I might need it someday. So it’s best for me to divert my mind so I won’t over analyze. I pushed the power button on the stereo and found a radio station with palatable pop-rock music. This was the 80’s, and I could not bear the techno-mania that had overtaken the airwaves, but the station I finally found was filled with the more delicious music of the 60’s and 70’s.

I was steadily moving through my pile of stuff when the strains of an old Jim Croce tune shot through the air.

“Well, I know it’s kind of late, I hope I didn’t wake ya
But what I have to say can’t wait, I know you’ll understand….”

I instantly felt that familiar little tingle of young love as it rose up from the inside out. I shivered with warmth and the burn of unbeckoned tears washed over my eyes.

“…every time I tried to tell you the words just came out wrong
So I’ll have to say I love you in a song.”

I sat myself in the seat of that old sprung rocker and allowed myself to weep. The weeping with a slow exhale, where memories flicker through like a movie and you don’t want it to end. I saw myself at the dance on evening #2 of a young adults conference at Slippery Rock college, 6 weeks after my high school graduation. Dave Connors was there, fresh off his mission to Italy. He was so handsome, with his dark hair and olive skin and square shoulders, and he was always in the center of a swarm of girls that weekend. They flirted with him, unabashedly. It was a real turn off to me, though I thought he was painfully beautiful. I kept my distance just to be out of the swarm. But somehow he saw me, and he asked if I’d like to dance. I was shocked, seriously, that he would even look at me. We danced the dance of untrained youth, a slow one, and I can feel almost exactly that thrill of his hand on my waist, his other hand lifted palm-up expecting mine to join it.
You have to know that I was not an “experienced” girl in the love department. I had hardly dated in high school, and I didn’t have any experience with how to effectively interact with a guy when those kind of feelings shot like bottle rockets through the invisible space around us. Dave, on the other hand, knew that stuff pretty well.
As the final strains of the music ended, Dave lifted my hand and kissed my fingers.
I swooned. Almost fell over there on the gym floor. But my pride made me fake it. He asked me to dance again, but it was the last dance and I had promised it to another. I really, really, really wanted to break that promise! That was my first true lesson in being sure before you make promises. I thought I’d lost my chance, that the swarm would consume him and he would never notice me again. But back at the dorms he waited in the lobby and asked if I had brought my guitar. Of course I had. And so had he. We sat in the lobby of the dorm into the wee hours, playing guitars together. I was smitten. Painfully smitten. Sure that someone of his caliber would never consider someone from my world in any serious sort of way.
I was wrong. Blessedly, thankfully, fabulously wrong.
Two weeks later Dave drove out to Utah with my brother so he could begin his education at BYU law school. A week after that I drove out to Utah with Ann Marie’s fience-of-the-month so I could begin my undergraduate education. Dave and I were engaged three months later. He never did play his guitar much after that first night in the dorms at Slippery Rock. But for Valentines Day, when we were engaged, he gave me this fine gift. He had bought the sheet music to Jim Croce’s tune, “I’ll Have to Say I Love You in a Song” and had taught himself how to play it. It was the sweetest, most touching gift, his fingers sweeping over the strings, his head slightly cocked to the side as he sang the words. His beautiful brown eyes looking straight into mine, those sweet luminous orbs resting in small pools of water by the time the song ended.

So when Jim Croce’s guitar started repeating the tune on the stereo that day, I was swept off my feet again. HOW BEAUTIFUL THE DANCE is an old song, written when I was probably 25 years old. I would not write it that way now. I tell my lyric writing students to rewrite songs like this. It’s not truly conversational. You would never say, in conversation, “for cold am I….” And melancholy is a cliché term. But the song filled a space in our lives, and it fits like a snapshot of us when we dressed in the fashion of the 80’s. Wouldn’t be caught dead in that now, but it was fine for then, and it is part of who we were…so it is part of who we are.

“So kiss my hand, then kiss my lips, then say a soft “I do”
Though there are days I question it, the words have still been true.”

It was how I felt then. And how I feel now.


It’s cold outside and drizzling,
But warmer
than it seems
For cold am I, imagining
In melancholy dreams
Comes a
song in stereo,
One that warms me through
Comes a flood of memory
When I first danced with you
When I first danced with you

I can
feel you take my hand again
And I can see you smile
As you lead me
‘cross the wooden floor
I loved you all the while

So kiss my hand,
then kiss my lips
Then say a soft “I do”
Though there are days I
question it,
The words have still been true
Kids are growing rapidly
And we’re settled it
But play a song you sang for me
And the
feelings come again
The feelings come again

Though the songs we hear
are different now
The words are still romance
Though the steps we take
have changed somehow
How beautiful the dance


If all the world could sing a song in one great choir
Every common man and king
And every child would sing along to lift us higher
And even Heaven came to sing

Build: Would we find a common language
That’s understood by everyone
Well I suppose there is a song already written
And every day that song is sung

It’s sung by a woman who stands in an apron
Stirring a supper in ¾ time
It’s sung by a daddy cuddling his baby
A rock-a-bye rhythm in lullaby rhyme
One in the name of sweet Savior, Jesus
Sung by a prisoner who needs a new start
Though each one is different
They’re strangely familiar
They’re singing the song of the heart

If we could look beyond the wars that come between us
And we could play a simple part
And take away our common fears, what would that leave us
The music of the heart

Build: Then we’d find a common language
That’s understood by everyone
And I know there is a song, already written
And every day that song is sung

(sung by a soldier, who’s doing his part)

They’re singing the song of the heart

It struck me, when my kids were little and I was trying to fit my education as a songwriter in between diaper changes, that the best music I might ever create would be silently set to the rhythms of daily life. Some little spirit whispered to mine that I was not alone; that most people just lived their lives in survival mode, and whatever struggles I might be enduring were not exclusive nor particularly unique. Here in America we had entered a war, the Gulf War, and at the same time I was reading the beautiful words of Victor Hugo in the 5 volumes of Les Miserables. The “prisoner” part of this song is a tribute to Jean ValJean…who needed a new start. And the soldier was every American who tented in the blistering desert of an unpopular middle-eastern conflict.
I do like thinking of the whole world singing in one great choir…kings and commoners. As I dove into that thought I realized that while our spoken languages might be different, the language of the heart is universal.

I have thickened Thanksgiving gravy in ¾ time ever since. I stand before the fire as my sisters do across mountains and oceans - regardless of the day, or what is boiling in our pots - keeping time with our heartbeats. I close my eyes and hear the lovely silent chorus.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


There are six strong, fairly-independent women in my family; the family I was sent to by the maker of my soul. The strength came from a mixture of genes and environment. The independence came from necessity. I wonder what kind of shift in personality-balance would appear in my mom if her mother had not died when Mom was an adolescent; had her father not remarried a woman who was herself a teenager and didn’t want to take care of another woman’s kids; if she had not lost her steady place and had not been forced to move from house to house through her teenage years. What if she had married men of integrity? What if there had not been a big ugly war that took her new husband away so that when he returned they did not know each other any more? We are all just recipes: a list of ingredients combined with a process, and sometimes we are delicious and sometimes not so yummy. Like a batch of buttermilk biscuits, the ones we learned to make in Jr High Home Ec, sometimes things get a little overworked in the “process” and the final result is maybe a little tough in texture. Only, unlike buttermilk biscuits, there is a tender spot in the very center that will never turn hard. That’s mom.

Her five daughters learned how to deal with tough. At least in the “men” category. We passed through the birth canal of rejection at young ages, mostly thanks to our fathers. Mom had two husbands. Both betrayed their promises. I am not saying everything is one sided, I know its not. After all, she was already an independent woman when they met her. But in the end, at the very end of the story of our family, there is still a mother with her children gathered around her and the father is gone.

So we women-of-the-woman have “men” issues.

Even with the most perfect of possible husbands sharing my table and my bed and my messy garage, I fight the tendency to think women are superior by nature. I’m not even sure if that is the correct way to put it into words. It’s more that we fight the slight expectation of disappointment in male behavior. That’s it, I think. Sadly, we are still a little surprised when a man actually does what he says he’s going to do. I do not think this is accessing our divine feminine nature. I am hoping to rise above this as I get closer to heaven.
But we are still earth bound. Sometimes our heavy feet are stuck in the earthy mire, so to speak. Poor David serves as a missionary for maleness in our family. He’s hanging in there, hoping to convert us eventually. Our brothers, by the way, are excluded from any of this insane analysis since they got the same rejection we girls did, if not more.

My oldest sister, Sherry, is the tender soul who learned independence of necessity. In the way-back-memory of my heart I can see her lifting me from my crib and patting my back. She was the oldest of the seven of us kids. I was child #6. She was the only child of the father-gone-to-war for a few years, and she was doted over and adored by her very-young independent mother. Then these other kids came. Sherry's her nature is to nurture, and she cared for and loved us all like a mother hen. She made me feel secure. Our mom worked full time, so Sherry was truly our nurturer. When I was five years old we moved from our little house in a little Idaho town to the big city of Pittsburgh PA. I remember walking up the steps to the airplane and looking back. I remember the heart ache and the tears as I pressed my nose against the window of the plane and watched my oldest sister become smaller and smaller, her arm waving fiercely, until she disappeared in a cloud. She was old enough for college then, so she remained in Idaho and paid her own way through college…alone. It makes me weep to think of it, her young heart separated from those who adored her and needed her.
Through the years I thought of Sherry as the woman who had it all. She was beautiful. She was smart. She had a good job and she did it well. She ended up as a Speech Language Pathologist in the San Francisco area. She lived in glamorous apartments and condos. We loved going to visit in the summers, after our trips to Idaho. Swimming in the apartment pool on MacArthur Drive, visiting the Nut Tree, buying fresh crab and hot sour dough bread on the Wharf, the barking of the seals laying a deep resonant bass line to the chorus of people speaking varying languages near the docks. I loved visiting Cost Plus. It was perhaps my first love, in the category of bargain shopping, and I can still see the colors and smell the smells of those large warehouse buildings in my memory. We boiled ramen noodles years before they were available on grocery store shelves. We hung beads from our bedroom doors and wrapped presents in groovy oriental Cost Plus paper. Oh I loved visiting my sister! When I was 18 and a freshman at BYU I took my boyfriend to her condo in Alameda for Thanksgiving. It overlooked the beach. It was there that the boy asked me to marry him. We walked along the beach that night, the waves lapping over our feet as they made their way back out to the sea, lost in the magic of young love and a large empty canvas of future. I did not think of him as a man, not in the painful-man-memories way. He was innocent and pure hearted and, while he was very masculine, he was my “boy”. Like I said…we have “man” issues.
Sheesh…talk about true confessions in blogging!
Anyway, my sister Sherry finally came upon a man to whom she thought she could give her heart. We all celebrated this. David baptized him in the waters of an Idaho river one summer day and we all thought this was heaven-sent and magical. But, it turns out, he could only keep up appearances for so long. Our strong, independent sister had exposed that tiny soft spot deep in the center of her heart.
He crushed it.
JUST LIKE A MAN was written for this sister I love. An attempt to feel what she might have felt.
It’s not a typical song for me. When I released it on my second album people were not super receptive. “Who is this person?” they must have thought, “and what is this bitterness?”
I’m not so sure it is bitterness.
It’s hurt.

She wrapped her love like a ribbon ‘round
her heart
And gave it to him
And he took the love she had given, tore it
Ain’t itjust lik e a man

And she took the fall like a woman
Down in her
heart and soul
And he took in all of her loving
Then he let her go
He’ll find another
Ain’t it just like a man

He made a game
of her feelin
She put her ace in his hand
Then he walked away without dealin
Oh, ain’t it just like a man

She spends the evening alone now
Finding herself a friend
And he
has another to hold now
Fooling himself again
Look at who’s lonely
Ain’t it just like a man

He looks at love like a ribbon won for a prize
Ain’t it just like a man

Life is long. And life is short. Depends on which end you are standing in. From the backside, a life lived in peace with oneself makes for a gentler place to exist. It’s nice to have someone to count on. Sometimes that someone you can count on is yourself.

You can hear JUST LIKE A MAN by scrolling down to the Music Player with the album title OUT OF THE BLUE. Click on the song.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


He stood in the doorway, leaning his head against the door jamb. I watched him in the reflection of the mirror as I swept mascara over my eyelashes. He stood there silent, for just a minute, then whispered,
"You are so beautiful."
I stopped stroking my eyelashes, turned to him and shook my head,
"And you are so blind!"
I joke about it, thinking it pretty funny, and it seems obvious to me that it should be funny to everyone else as well. I think its extra humorous that David is a judge who "lacks vision."
But the truth is, David sees more clearly than any other man I know. Not that he is living in denial or anything. He just seems to really believe some things matter more than others, and those things have less to do with outward appearance. Am I not lucky to have this kind of creature in my life?
I am lucky to have lived this long, for many reasons. It is so interesting to be able to look back and see a long line of memory. And I am have spent more than three decades of that life with those beautiful brown eyes looking squarely into mine.


David's eyes are root beer brown
And if you look at them you'll see
They're just a mirror of all the things he loves
And every time they turn to me
I can only see my reflection
And I wonder to myself
Why he'd give me all his affection
When he could have anyone else

They say love is blind, well that may be
'Cause he sees in me something I can't see
You know a heart will embrace what the world denies
If it sees through David's eyes

So when I'm tired, or when I'm sad
And a shadow hides the day
His eyes will sparkle bright, catch the dimmest light
And send it splashing back my way
Like a crystal cut in a prizm
Like the diamond on my hand
It multiplies somewhere within him
And comes back in a rainbow again

Every woman wants to be seen through those kind of eyes. The true happiness lies, however, in being able to see through those kind of eyes. I think its what makes him have that peaceful confidence. He has taught me much, without words.

I love that I can stand before the man I love, face to face, and look deep enough into his light brown eyes to see the reflection. How incredibly dear,... that the reflection is my own.

If you'd like to hear a recording of this song scroll down to the Music Player under the BUILDER entry. Click on "DANIEL'S EYES". The CD replicator entered the wrong song title when they encrypted song info in the CD, so that's what it's called in iTunes. They must have loved someone named Daniel I guess ;).

Saturday, February 20, 2010


There was a time when I thought I wanted a career writing country songs. This was before I joined the Saltwerks writer’s circle, my group of loved and respected friends who are also songwriters. I’ll write about them later. Merlyn and I made regular trips to Nashville, to record and perform and pitch. Sometimes we went for songwriters seminars. We recorded some of the album Out of the Blue there, with Robby Matson at the soundboard and my brother John producing. Such sweet memories of Nashville: of ordering milkshakes in a drive through and singing our order opera style into the speaker; of making demo’s in Tom Pallardy’s studio and hearing first rate Nashville musicians sweetening my songs; of walking up and down Music row from one publisher’s door to another; of rubbing my brother’s feet for a full hour while we mixed recordings. Singing at the Bluebird Café and other writers nights all around town. Driving the back roads to Franklin, under the canopy of trees and beside the snakelike boundaries of rock walls lining farmland. I was a better mother when I returned from Nashville. I was a better writer, too.

Merlyn was the perfect performing partner for me. The perfect friend, and such a fabulous sounding board. I knew we were true, deep friends the first time we were working on songs in my family room and we both fell asleep. You know someone is a true friend when they see you doze off and they decide to doze off, too.

At least once a year we tried to get away to work on songs. Sometimes it was to Nashville. Sometimes it was to Park City, where we borrowed a friend’s condo for a weekend. We’d take our sound system and set the whole shebang up, just for us, so we could hear ourselves as we might sound performing. She would give me space if I wanted to write. She understood me. I ma not a public writer, and I don’t generally share what I am creating until it is pretty much where I want it to be. I think I am pretty possessive that way. That’s probably why I generally don’t co-write. This is not always a good thing.

Stone on Stone was written on one of those weekends. At least it was started. It takes me a long time to write songs. If I spent as much time organizing my house as I do organizing words and notes, we would not live in this mess! Oye, that is the truth! I was focused on the motto, Show-Don’t tell. I was remembering the lines of rock walls all around Nashville. They were all around Williamsburg, too, and my home state of Pennsylvania. I remembered that from my childhood. I imagined farmers gathering stones every spring, after they had rumbled out of the earth and interrupted their planting, and piling them at the sides of their fields. The walls grew every year, until the farmland was sold to developers, then they began to fall over or sink back into the ground. I was also remembering the images of my childhood in Pittsburgh, of working in the steel mill the summer I got married. Pittsburgh is a beautiful city, where three rivers meet. The steel mills sprawl along the rivers.

I love songwriting. And I hate it. It has such limitations with meter and rhyme and timing and prosody. But it also facilitates pondering, and imagining, and being aware of things non-poets forget to notice. Everyone, if they would let themselves be, is a poet. But you must be still for a while.

So Merlyn let me be still for hours on end. What a gift she was, and is, to me! It was probably 10 pm before I was willing to show her the song. She listened, and then listened again, then lifted her mic to her lips and gave the song its harmony.


For thirty-seven years my grandpa labored in the mills
That sprawl along the rivers in the Pennsylvania hills
And anything he needed he would build with his own hands
And it all fit on one small plot of land

When I was only thirteen it seemed all the world had changed
And most of what I'd trusted had been somehow rearranged
My dad, he left our family, and mom she fell apart
And I was left with pieces of a heart

That's when grandpa hired me to clear a piece of ground
He armed me with a spade and with a hoe
And the more I tried to clear the soil, the bigger rocks I found
And I swore that not a thing would ever grow
Then Grandpa laid those stones down in a row

And one on one, he showed me what to do
Stone on stone we built a sturdy wall
He said, step by step if what you do is true
It's gonna stand against the weather and it's never gonna fall

Eighty years of struggle finally took the old man down
And we sang Rock of Ages as they laid him in the ground
And the only stone that ever left the wall we had made
Is the one that bears his name upon his grave

Now I know a house can crumble, and the hills could tumble down
And all that I can hold will soon decay
But if the measure of a man is in his soul and not his hands
Then the ones we love will never pass away
And I can feel him standing here today

One on one he shows me what to do
Stone on stone we build a sturdy wall
He says step by step if what you do is true
It's gonna stand against the weather and it's never gonna fall
It's gonna stand against the weather and it's never gonna fall.

I never knew my grandfathers. They died before I was born. But I knew then that the power of a grandparent is unique and mighty. And I know now, firsthand, how precious the relationship between a child (or an adult), and his grandparent can be. I hope my grandchildren will learn that true things never fall.

If you'd like to hear this song, scroll down to the entry entitled THE BUILDER and click on Stone On Stone in the red music box.

Friday, February 19, 2010



Anybody who knows me well also knows my sister Libby. And anyone who knows Lib knows this: EVERYBODY NEEDS A LIBBY! Libby has been my pretending partner, my confidant, my fellow mischief maker, my tender-care giver for all my mortal life. All but one year. She was born 16 months after me. She is my kids’ other-mother and my husband’s fishing buddy. We spend some portion of just about every day together and if I don’t see or talk to her I go to bed feeling like something is missing.

Growing up, Libby and I, along with our older sister Ann Marie, pretended all sorts of things. We whispered our hopes and dreams between the scenes. I recall one humid night in Pittsburgh, when we were young teenagers. We each had a swing at the park by the Pleasant Hills Municipal Building. We pumped the soles of our feet up toward the stars as we pondered our futures, each of us announcing the description of our husbands-to-be and what we would name our children. Lib was going to have 12 children. Or maybe that was me. Could have been either at the time. Libby was going to name one of her sons Levi George, the middle name after the grandfather we never met (and our brother, of course). We had our futures roughly defined.

And then the future came.

I was going to be a psychologist or an advertising mogul and I was not going to get married until I was at least 26.
At 26 I was pregnant with my 4th child. I had happened, by the fates of Heaven, to marry the man of my dreams a few months after my 19th birthday and everything shifted.

Libby was going to be mother to a passel of kids. She might do something like teach History, but mostly she would snuggle those babies.
Instead, by the time she was 26 she was the youngest regional sales manager TWA had ever had and she won the Alfred E Packer award for “eating the competition alive.” (Alfred E Packer cannibalized traveling companions in a blizzard…another story). And she was still single. Being single and an un-interruptedly faithful Latter-day Saint, she also had no children. But mine. She snuggled mine like they were her own. No wonder they love her so.

Anyway, while I changed diapers, Libby climbed the corporate ladder. She ended up moving to Boston as Director of Marketing and Reservations for Sheraton International. She oversaw 17 regional offices all over the world. She had the world, quite literally, in the palm of her hand. Then they transferred her to Chicago. She had the dream job, and a free pass to anywhere in the world. What she longed for…was home.

With the help of the Lord and to the delight of her family, Libby left the clutches of the corporate world and came home. “They’ll grow up with or without me,” she determined. “I would rather them do it with me.” So she left the daily life of Dana Buchman suits and Sesto Meucci shoes; of Hors D’oeuvres and unlimited room service and came home to baseball games and chicken noodle soup. She found, again, the girl who sat in the swing next to me on a long ago summer night.

OUT OF THE BLUE was written for Libby, and for everyone who prioritizes and sacrifices for the sake of family.

Again, this song is autobiographical in principal but not in detail.

Growing up green in the hills of Kentucky
She thought she’d be lucky to leave there one day
So fresh out of school she moved on to the city
Cut from her past like the tractor cuts hay
But her roots held the ground and they’re there to this day

Life in the fast lane was driving her crazy
Caught on a fast train that fought with the wind
There’s a little old house where the sunsets are blazing
And sunflowers are growing, they’re gold and they bend
That’s where she’s going to find her again

Out of the blue gray haze
That covered her nights and days
Out of the steel blue walls of Fifth Avenue
She took her spring bouquet out of that cobalt vase
Tossed to the wind
She found her again
Out of the Blue

There’s a closet of blue two-piece suits she is leaving
Deposits and blue chips she sold at a loss
Yes there are tears, but the reason she’s grieving
She just now discovered what fortune had cost
And she cannot recover the time that was lost


On another summer night, under an Idaho sky, with her nieces and nephews and brothers and sisters and her beloved mother circled around her, we gave Libby a cobalt blue vase full of Idaho wildflowers. She was with us at our annual Sun Valley Bar Meetings trip. We stood at the side of a hill, where she lifted the flowers out of their vase and tossed them into the Idaho Wind. She was home.

To hear OUT OF THE BLUE Scroll down to the entry called THE BUILDER and look for OUT OF THE BLUE on the red music player.

Thursday, February 18, 2010



Songwriting is just pretending, with words, and rhyme and meter, and music and hopefully some well placed counterpoint.
Some of my songs, in fact most of them I suppose, are autobiographical. At least the premise for the song is. I claim poetic license and reserve the right to alter some of the specifics. Its part of the beauty of creative writing.

The Builder is not autobiographical.
First line:
My daddy was a builder, that’s how he kept us fed….

My dad was a mathematician. Sadly, he eventually kept his beer glass full and we resorted to things like raking leaves and cleaning peoples’ garages to get a few dollars to buy a gallon of milk. Before he left he did occasionally leave quarters under the cushion of the easy chair. There was a time when he did somewhat responsibly keep us dressed and fed, when I was very young. By the time I was a teenager he was gone and nary was a cent given to put a meal on the table. Therefore there are a number of truly autobiographical songs about our mom.

Back to the song.

The Builder was one of the few songs for which I wrote the lyric first. Usually the music will haunt me before the lyric appears. I made a conscious decision to write a song that emphasized the values of devotion and family and hard work. Maybe I wish my dad had heard such a song when he was young, and the theme behind the lyric had haunted his brain and infused such values into his heart. Maybe.

The principles behind the lyric are absolutely true to my personal beliefs. I think they are universal truths. But what I try to emphasize to my songwriting students is that the more specific you are in your writing, the more universal the feeling is. I would not want to say “We are responsible for our own happiness and we should take care of the people we love…yeah, yeah, yeah”
First of all, only the Beatles can get away with putting yeah, yeah, yeah in a song. Secondly, that’s not storytelling, that’s preaching. No one wants to be preached to. So the idea is “show - don’t tell!”

So the picture I tried to paint was of a father and his daughter, who could sit comfortably in silence as they rode out to the work site. There is a place deep in the darkest middle of me where I believe my dad and I could have had that. It’s that place where the joy and the hurt dance daily. I usually forget its there, but I instinctively keep it alive with chocolate chip cookies.

Merlyn Schofield was my best friend and singing partner. She taught me many things about music, and about life, and she was such a good person to sing a song to. She always asked to hear it again. She’d sit and listen through the second time, then ask for a third and she would hum a harmony against my melody and we soon owned the song completely. We made a demo of the Builder. It won some songwriting awards. I pitched it to a publisher at a songwriting seminar and he picked it up. This was sort of a big deal for me. So big, in fact, that my mom and Libby and Dave bought a bouquet of helium filled balloons and tied it to the lamp post in our front yard when I signed the publishing contract on it. It said something like “Way to go, Cori!” This was early in my songwriting career, before I knew that just getting a song published was not balloon bouquet worthy…unless the publisher was a good one. Lucky for me he was a good one.
His name was Dude McLean and his name fit him perfectly. I liked him. And he liked my song. He worked the song like a publisher should. A publisher in popular music (as opposed to sheet music) is basically an agent for the song. His job is to exploit the song, to get it heard by the “powers that be” and hopefully get a “cut” or recording by some fabulous artist who sells millions of records.
Dude worked the song so well that we had a hold on it from Bette Midler. She eventually released the hold and Tanya Tucker asked for a hold. I think he continued to pitch it even with the hold, because I recall distinctly the day he called and told me Linda Ronstadt also asked for a hold. He made me promise not to tell a soul because it might jinx it. Songwriting and sports have similar superstitions.
Anyway, turns out that Linda did record THE BUILDER. We waited a long, long time to hear it.
You’ll have to wait for me to explain the writing of GET BACK ON THAT PONY to hear the end of the story.

Verse I:
My daddy was a builder, that’s how he kept us fed
And my hometown knew what the man could do
With a hammer and a dream in his head
I sat right beside him in our old flatbed Ford
And we hauled a load down to Old Town Road
Daddy never said a word

It was his quiet meditation before the work began
Then when we reached our destination there was a level plot of land
When I broke the silence I’d ask him if he knew
Who we’re going to build this home for anyway
Then he’d look across the land
This is what he’d say…
CHORUS: We can build a man a house, but we cannot make his home
It’ll stand against the wind, but we can’t make it warm
It’s the spirit of a family that makes a shelter whole
And its love that gives it a soul
We can build a man a house but we cannot make his home
That’s something they’ll have to do alone
Daddy taught his children to work an honest day
If we tried real hard and we kept our word
We’d get an honest pay

Now there’s a good foundation under my entire daddy made
We could change the wood if we thought we should
But the stones stayed where they were laid

Build: Now I’ll take my little children and set them on my knee
And tell them all the stories he used to tell to me
Sometimes we’ll sit in silence and speak without a word
And my mind can drift through thoughts of yesterday
Then I repeat the words I heard my daddy say… REPEAT CHOURS

There you have it. More than you ever wanted to know.
THE BUILDER is not autobiographical. Just wishful thinking.

You can hear THe Builder by scrolling through the list of Cori's Songs in the red music box below. Click on THE BUILDER, then click the play arrow.


Ash Wednesday.
The first day of Lent.
It is the beginning of the Holy Season.
Last Tuesday for our youth activity we spent the evening around my family room fireplace with my teenage friends, my Laurel class. We discussed the events of this sacred season as it leads up to Easter, the most holy of holy days. I told the girls about my Lenten offering of last year: 40+ days of purposeful writing. Though our religion does not practice Lent per se’, we talked about sacrifices; how some are sacrifices of omission and some are of commission. I told them about my personal commitment to write every day of Lent last year, and publish it on my blog. My writing was a commitment which required me to suffer to some degree. I made myself write at 2 am when my bones were tired. I made myself focus on unexciting words because that was the pattern of commitment I had made for myself. I still feel a sense of maturity and gratitude that I actually accomplished my little writing goal last year for Lent. It was a good thing.
So today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent 2010. We live in Utah, and I was not out much today, and I saw not a single person with ashes on their forehead. Sort of made me sad, and made me yearn for the diversity of the place I grew-up, where my friends invited me to their Bar and Bat Mitzvah’s, where the other kids who had big families were from devoted Catholic homes and they wore ashes on their foreheads on such a day as this, where our Comparative Religions class was filled with people who actually practiced those various religions.
So this year I am committing to once again do a piece of writing every day for the 40+ days of Lent. I commit to publish what I write on my blog. That decision to publish it in a fairly safe place (all 13 of you might see it once in a while) keeps me feeling obliged. Obligation is not evil, just sometimes a little hard.
So this Lenten Season I would like to write every day something about songwriting. I just finished teaching a workshop on songwriting and it’s in the forefront of my mind. I’d like to create a little personal history about the writing of some of my songs, and perhaps share a thought or two about writing in general. So here goes nothin’, as they say.


In my late 20s we lived in what is now known as “the old house” at 1788 Kensington Street. An English Tudor home that stretches up the hill in the bend of the road as it rises toward Eastborn Court, it is the place where most of our kids’ childhood memories take place. The “old, old house” is just down the street from it, at 730 Kensington. Early memories, like the time the Simmons twins tried to buy Johnny’s salamander for 3 pennies, take place there. Annie was a baby when we moved up the street. I remember how old she was because it was at 1788 that she broke three cribs from bouncing in them. We called her Boingy Annie. She was full of energy and laughter and she loved her daddy. At night, to settle her down, Dave would bounce her on his knee. Really fast at first, then he would gradually slow down until he hit a steady pace and her heart beat would try to match his rhythm and he could lay her in her bed and read a story. The blue pony in Annie’s lullabye is her daddy’s knee covered in comfy old blue jeans.
Annie’s bed sat under the window that overlooked our back yard. The early moon seemed to sit in the nest of scrub oak trees outside her window. Here in Utah the moon is silver at night. In the east it has a yellow hue, I suppose because of the humidity in the air there. But here it is silver.


Verse I:
Big silver moon out through the window
Sits in the old willow tree
Smiling on one little girl and her daddy
Tellin’ stories at her bedside as she sits on his knee

Verse II:
Into the night when the birdies are sleeping
And all the lamps are aglow
Papa will dust off the blue jeans he’s wearing
And will take you on a ride where only princesses go

Verse III:
Ride a Blue Pony out through the meadow
Over the hill to the sea
Ride to the shore where the sandman is waiting
And the breeze will strum the willow and will sing you to sleep.

Then he’ll lay you on your pillow and will sing you to sleep.

I still hear the sweet melodies through the walls of my memory, of a young dark haired daddy singing to his children at night…of David reading to his kids.

When Annie was a bit older and we had moved to the “new house” we live in still, he and Annie read Little Women every night. It remains a sweet memory. When Beth was about to die, and they knew it was coming because they knew the story, they didn’t read for a whole week because neither of them could bear it.

I recall when I wrote this song that I found the melody and chord progression first. I felt the song evolving into an AAA pattern song, without a chorus, and it was perfectly suited for a lullabye. It was as much a tribute to Dave as it was a song for Annie. Only thing was: I was miffed at Dave at the time. I don’t know why, but I do recall it was a multi-day miffed. A long-term irritation about something I do not recall. I remember the words coming, demanding to include Dave, and I did NOT want to write a song about Dave at the time. But the chords insisted on this melody, and this melody insisted on Dave. I actually think the song tried to convince me he wasn’t so bad after all.

True confessions in songwriting.

You can hear Ride a Blue Pony if you can find the red music player somewhere in this blog. Scroll down, I think. I am not the most techno-savvy, but I think maybe I figured out how to get it here somewhere. Hmmm.