comments, bits of poetry, & fiction

Ould Soul 

old soul...   you are  traveler

old soul...   odyssey unraveling

old soul...   trying to find a way home

...

heartbeat... like an ancient drum

complete... vision soon will come

defeat...      something you've never known

...

you see the universe in a grain of sand

a lifetime in the blink of an eye

always hungering to understand

never demanding why...

...

old soul... immune to siren's call

old soul... seen empires rise and fall

old soul... so together, so alone

seeking that sense of certainty

shining in a true love's smile

the fleeting glimpse of eternity

in the eyes of a newborn child...

...

old soul...   you are a traveler

old soul...   one more life unraveling

old soul...   trying to find a way home

something  you've never known...

so together… so alone.

     ... well... this song seems complete enough that I've been singing it in my sleep, so I'll put it in here and not lose track of it. Just the other day a bit f verse from recent times got married up with a song that has been with me for a long while (Virgin Heart)…  I'll track that down and make revision... recent weeks have found me singing much more and enjoying it in equal measure. love to all, d.

TheGift of the Moon and Stars 

I can only give you the moon and stars

they're yours for the asking... there for the taking

we can catch fireflies in jars

we'll be basking in the light they're making

let this summer's night roll slowly

your love makes me feel real and holy...

...

lazy days come and go...

the moon waxes and wanes, and comes 'round again

we can watch our love grow

a bit of you and me... and now we are three

how shall I interpret your sigh?

is that a tear come to your eye?

...

I can only give you the moon and stars

spin rings from Saturn, and roll you in clover

anything your heart desires

as long as we can dream, I'll be your lover

lover, take me in your arms...

...

and I will give you the moon and stars...

   ... well... a song from a time of wonder and amazement... a child in the making... hearts full of love and promise... from the 1990 live recording, and written while Kyle was preparing to make entry into the world... seems so long ago, now... and the dream died with him, I suppose... gallant effort was made to make a life beyond, but in the end it was not to be... the moon and stars remain; and on this day of a 'super moon' this old song comes to mind, so it takes it's place among the others... it was as close to 'jazz' as the '& Friends' got, I suppose. " and s it goes..." I dedicate this song to every couple who try to make a 'go' of parenting,whether or not the child is of their own making... love to all, d.

True Love's Time has Come 

men are born to be bound by duty

bred to be slaves to beauty

bled by social pressure from the cradle to the grave

I've worn my heart on my sleeve, and it's led me to believe

that true and lasting impressions are the only ones I'll crave

...

love would do well to be blind; but not so, deaf and dumb

there's a song in my mind... singin' 'true love's time has come'

true love's time has come

...

I believe they broke the mold, when they cast your heart of gold

you are a boon companion to this lonesome old fool

call it proscribed romance; be it luck or circumstance;

sometime it seems so brand new

times it's for sure 'old school'.

 

... love would do well to be blind...(repeat chorus)...

 

I'm serving you fair warning; I'll be loving you each morning

I'll be bugging you for hugging every hour of the day

I'll be scribblin' you new songs, trying to right all my wrongs;

I believe we belong, in a betrothed way!

...love would do well to be blind... (repeat chorus and fade...)...

    ... well ...  this is a country 'romp' of one sort or another... never been recorded, and not near the top of the list; but it came to mind, and I thought I'd put it down while it was still in my head. An older tune, for sure; from the Bandanna! days, no doubt. Having had some small success as a recording outfit; the lure of the 'radio rodeo' was strong. Our friends in Prairie Oyster were making a splash in Canada, and even south of the border; it seemed as though there might be some sort of future as a singing cowboy after all; even just on a local level. There had been a well established C&W scene in Peterborough, with places to play (sometimes six nights and a matinee ...honky-tonkin' night and day...); but mostly weekend work; and that was beginning to dry up. I consider myself fortunate to have been able to 'cut my teeth' in the fading 'glory' of a flourishing bar scene; but of course a 'bar scene' is just that. When came a time to 'get on the bus' and go out on the road with a real touring act; I chose to go back to school and get some 'working papers' in social services. It was time to start considering 'family' as opposed to a full time career in music; and even with all the changes in my 'family' status over the years; I'm glad I made that choice. 'The Brave Work' took it's toll on me; but it was good work; and effort spent in the service of others helped me keep my head more or less together; at least more so than it might have fared in the blind pursuit of 'fame and fortune'. love to all, d.

 

 

The Sky's the Limit 

you want me to need you and I need you to want me

your past has freed you; mine keeps coming back to haunt me

you know much more about me, than I'll ever know about you

(darlin', what can I do?)

...

we sit separated by silence, unable to bridge the distance

between tenderness and violence, warmth or resistance

I don't doubt you could live without me;

I could get by without you...but that just won't do

...

the sky's the limit, if we just can hold on

and weather each storm through to the dawn

with so much at stake, heartache can not shake my resolve...

sure, we've got problems to solve

...

we've each got our cycles, like the moon and the tide

the give of our love; the pull of our pride

what we have together, is more than the sum of the parts

I'm talking human hearts...

...

the sky's the limit, and I'm leaving the ground

my hands are trembling, and my heart starts to pound

darlin', come what may, I want to stay around you...

I swear this love is true...

...

you want me to need you... I need you to want me

you want me to need you... I need you to want me...

     ... well ... this is an old song (first track on side 'B' of the 'O'Toole and Friends/Live at Artspace' cassette, recorded July 08th, 1990); and I don't believe it was 'new' at the time; but definitely one of the 'rockier' numbers in the 'folk/rock' set. Dave Borne on guitar, Jim Leslie on the kit; Craig Patterson on the upright bass (this unit would morph into 'The Crossing' not too long after, with J.P. Hovercraft on the electric fretted and fretless basses, as well as adding his vocals to the mix).  This was a heady time for me;t o be taking my original material out to concert and nightclub venues (mostly bars). I recall Andy Pryde giving Dave a crash course in intonating an electric guitar prior to the recording. As The Crossing evolved, I began to delve into the world of electric guitars myself; eventually ending up with three Gibsons onstage (6&12 string 335s, and a little Les Paul Firebrand) fed into a vintage blackface Fender Super Reverb. Some of this outfit can be seen in archival video clips from a concert at The Pines (some footage on the Agoraphobic Folk page, eventually to be transferred here). Looking at the cassette liner notes as I write, I'm struck by the optimism of the young man in his middle to later thirties.

   I had forsaken the world of stimulants (not coffee, of course) in my 35th year; after a woman by the name of Jan Woods had predicted that I ought not to expect to make it past my 40th year. Jan had been commissioned to do an in depth study of John Lennon's astral chart after his tragic assassination by a wealthy fan in Calgary. When I was leaving Cowtown some time after that; she 'read' charts for myself and the woman who was to become Willow's mom. Jan told me that the salient difference between my chart and John's was the ten years between us by birth; and therefore I might do well to get my living in before my 40th year came rolling around. Of course this prompted a spate of hedonistic adventurism. Eventually I settled down to getting some music accomplished; and at one point had Bandanna! on the go, as well as O'Toole and Friends/The Crossing and duo work with Dave Borne. There was a period when Joel Reynolds joined The Crossing and Dave and I in a trio setting on keyboards. Such was my 'rock'n'roll career, for what it was worth. A bit of a tsunami in a teapot; but loads of fun on occasion. Jan died in a motorcycle crash out in the mountains of Alberta sometime thereafter ( I guess she didn't see that coming) and Dave in a crossroads car crash in June of '95. He had been gigging with a bluesman whose name escapes me; but any dream of 'putting the band back together' died with him. Eventually the electric guitars and amp morphed into acoustic instruments; but of late I've been getting back into the world of electric instruments; ( I have several of Peter Cragg's) and one day hope to have an 'outfit' to take out on occasion again. Cousin Michael P. O'Toole and I have a little 'rock'n'roll history' behind us with a band of his associates the never settled on a name. I would jokingly refer to us as 'Five B'Hai and I' (due to their religious affiliation) though we toyed with the names 'Hobbyrocker' and 'Dreamcatcher' by turns. The word 'hobby' has always seemed abrasive to me. I consider music a vocation, whether or not one makes a living (or even any money) at it. Cousin Michael P. and I will play a B'Hai 'NawRuz' (Spring Equinox/new Year) celebration later this month. love to all, d.

Meadowlark Grove 

he walks in a shady grove...

lay him down 'neath a summer sky

watching dragons and castles move...

changing shape right before his eyes

he sees them fly...

...

seems so log since he was a child...

everything seemed s simple then...

he could latch right onto a cloud...

ride the waves of the restless wind...

... to be a child again!...

...

he's so far from the kiss of his mother now

he's taken, and broken a over's vow

he feels like a bird with a broken wing...

his life is stitched together with guitar strings...

... and other things...

...

there's a meadowlark sitting there on the fence

he's well fed, and he's singing sweet;

to him. life always makes sense...

he's never been beat, out on the street... 

...feeling incomplete...

...

he's never taken, or broken a lover's vow...

or done a little more than the law allows...

ventured too far in a realm of sin...

had to make peace with his soul... to sing again...

he's as free as the wind!

...

he walks in a shady grove... lay him down 'neath a summer sky...

watching castles and dragons move...

changing shape right before his eyes... see them fly...

...walking in a shady grove... lay him down...

...walking in a shady grove...

    ...well... this may be one of the last lyrics from the 1990 'O'Toole and Friends/Live at Artspace' recording; originally released on cassette (yes, cassettes and .45 rpm records were still the method of delivery for me at the time)... I often suggest that I co-wrote this poem with my father; but more likely he was close at hand when it came together. 'W.G.' lived out his years in a little house behind a not much bigger house where we lived in a rather 'communal' setting. My young man and my old man and myself were an adventurous trio for a number of years; and those memories sustain me now that they are both gone on. This song is my 'Sugar Mountain', I guess.

Song of the Sad Whip-poor-Will (Hank Fisher/dennis O'Toole) 

seems so long since I've heard a whip-poor-will

that I can scarce recall the sound

takes me back to a time when you loved me still

we lay on our backs on the ground...

and the stars up above were a witness to love

the wind sighed in sweet harmony

to the whip-poor-will's call when I pledged you my all

and you promised you'd always love me

...

spring faded to fall... the wild goose call

was my reason to wander and roam

to seek my fortune and fame

so you could proudly wear my name

while the whip-poor-will sane 'round our home.

...

I don't know how I survived when that letter arrived

and I saw that it was edged in black

"Blll; your darling is dead...".. were the words that I read

and all of my dreams were crushed by this fact

...

it seems so long since I've heard that sad ('ol) whip-poor-will

yet it seems the one sound I crave...

still the memories burn, (perhaps) one day I'll return

to stand, hat in hand; at her grave

I'll leave this dirty old town... sirens and factory sounds

for that little church yard on the hill

through my tears and pain... perhaps hear, once again...

the song of that sad whip-poor-will.

   ... well ... .this is an old timer; and yet the previous tune put me in mind of it; and by rare happenstance I could lay hand on it. From an old ledger that I transcribed some notebooks into while visiting my pal Rob Loree some time back. A 'co-write' as it turns out. ; with 'Washboard' Hank Fisher; himself a serious student of old time music. This ballad follows time honoured tradition and theme; as would the arrangement;were it ever to be recorded. 

 

Nickleodeon 

let me call you 'sweetheart'... 

like they sang back before the war...

before the battle of the sexes (and whatever that was came next) 

had us runnin' for the door...

...

I'm craving one 'true romance';

like some sweet old Tin Pan Alley song...

back when they'd put another nickle in ...that old nickelodeon...

and sweethearts would sing along...

...

I've spent my time among the 'modern lovers'

and I can tell you that's just not my style...

and that sort of callous game ...surely puts 'love' to shame

and misses the mark by a country mile...

...

so darlin', let me call you 'sweetheart'...

accept this song as a virtual 'valentine'...

or maybe even better... a musical ragtime love letter;

now tell me you'll be mine...

...

'cause I'm craving one true romance...

like some sweet old Tin Pan Alley tune...

where a cherubic Cupid hovers... over starstruck lovers

dancing beneath a paper moon.

     .. well ... on the topic of 'Tin Pan Alley'... this is a new song... ( like, 'brand new'... a work in progress) inspired by my current  'sweetheart' (dear heart) and a little 'lick' I stumbled across on the guitar; trying to figure out where I might use a particular chord that only ever cropped up (for me) in Fred Neil's blues classic 'Handful of Gimme'. My mom and dad would take autumn vacations, ( mostly affordable day trips) driving around Ontario marveling at the colours in the trees; stopping in little taverns to have an ale and play the jukebox (apparently Porter Wagoner's 'Carroll County Accident' was a favourite; though they were by no mean 'C&W' fans, as a rule...).      My mother would tell of a time when she approached some backwoods barkeep for change to  play the jukebox... "...for the 'nickelodeon'..." she said...he replied: "Lady, where have you been?" ... and that always encapsulated my parent's 'honky tonk' experience for me... and it seemed a highlight when I first heard my own songs on a jukebox... (or the radio, for that matter)... you may be sure that a copy of the Bandanna! 45 rpm recording got left anywhere it might get loaded onto the 'nickleodeon'...

 

Talkin' Tin Pan Alley Blues 

well, I took my song about my girl named Sally

down to the boys in Tin Pan Alley

the man's smilin' face was like a big full moon

signed me to a contract on the 06th of June...

gave me a couple 'toots' from a silver spoon...

said he wouldn't  'snow' me.

...

he had pictures on the walls of all kinds of 'stars'

big breasted women lyin' on fancy cars...

he said: "Son, I know how to play this game;

why, I hold the keys to fortune and fame...

by next week you'll be a household name...

but first, we'll change it...

...

we'll get rid of that hat, and those 'cowboy' clothes;

get you some latex pants, and a smaller nose...

Son, you sing and play real fine;

but seein' as how this song is now half mine;

let me get my 'hooks' int a couple of lines...

and I'll own three quarters..."

...

'Let me tell you; I know just what the people like;

we'll turn your girl Sal into a dyke

and she'll slit her wrists over her lost lover;

her suicide note will blow her cover...

it'll be the 'last straw' for her aging mother...

YouTube'll love the video... it'll go 'viral'...

we'll be laughin'...

...

 

he says: "There'll never be another 'King'; you know what I mean?

but country coud surely use another kind of 'Queen'..."

and with that he give my ass a squeeze;

suggested I get down on my hands and knees...

and let the bugger do whatever he please...

says: "What's the matter, boy?...didn't you read the 'fine print'?

... you're going to choke on it..."

...

friends; I left that place in an awful huff...

kept my 'artistic pride'; but Lord, times got tough...

and seein' as how my Sal's so sweet;

why, to pay the rent, I put her out on the street...

soiled my bride... kept my pride... aw, let it slide...

hell, I ain't goin' to prostitute my art...

you bet your boots... 'cause I pawned mine.

    ... well ... 'talkin' blues' was/is a time honoured tradition in 'the music biz'; though gone the 'way of  all flesh' for all intents and purposes in this digital age... (my old pal Buzz 'Mr. Soul' Thompson used to sing a laconic talkin' bIues that he had learned from his dad 'Hec'(tor) by the title of: "Life Gets Tedious ('tee-jus'); Don't It?"... and though Buzz didn't have much use for 'cowboy and western' music; he could see the value in a song that might raise a smile... I wrote this tune many years ago; after signing my first (and only) 'management' deal that went nowhere in particular (and eventually petered out in mutual dissatisfaction)... 'Tin Pan Alley' of course was the section of New York city that spawned the plethora of 'tunesmiths' in the 'golden age' of 'sheet music' (way back when...)... I sang this song 'live' on Trent Radio when I was a much younger man (and mine own mother was tuned in; to our mutual chagrin, I'm sure...)... I've 'updated' it some in this transcription (needless t o say, it's never been recorded); as there certainly was no 'YouTube' or internet 'back in the day'... the reference to 'big breasted girls ('titted' in the original) layin' on fancy cars' was a nod to the classic 'Candy-O' cover (by Vargas?) for The Cars' album. I actually bought a meticulously cut out example of this 'album art' at a yard sale some years back; and it resides (in storage) with many priceless/worthless items of 'art' in my archival 'vault'.

     'Talkin' Blues' is traditionally a recitation of sorts over a simple recurring chord progression, and this little ditty is no exception. My attempt at humour; for what it's worth. And a young man's somewhat disillusioned (jaded?) take on 'The Music Biz'. love to all (especially Sally). d.

 

 

 

 

 

Hurry Sundown 

hurry sundown... put this day to rest

I'm feeling run down... not up to my best

this day is nt my own, and I'd sooner be at home

hurry sundown... I'll fly back to the nest.

...

hurry sundown, come on twilight...

let the first star herald the kind night

hurry sundown... come on moon rise 

let me lay down... and close these tired eyes.

...

hurry sundown... I need my lover's tuch

night can't come too soon

this day has been too much

and I'm feeling too rough

for naught but making love...

hurry sundown... bring me what I'm dreaming of.

    ... well ... I almost recall the day this little lyric was penned... (though it could have been any of many)... I spent far too many days in the sad homes of other people; back when it was my lot to do so, in order that folks might spend time with their children... 'supervised access'... an uncomfortable situation at best; and often far from 'best'. I would often introduce myself as 'friend of the family' (when other folks would wonder who the heck I was)... and that was who and what I tried to be...friend to the children, certainly. Some of the most heartfelt (and hard) condolences to accept after the passing of my son came from 'clients'. They knew all too well the pain of having a child 'taken'... though of course not in so final a manner. love to all, d.

 

World of Wonder 

..." We are each of us angels... with only one wing...

      we can only fly... embracing each other..."   -Luciano de Credenza.

...this inscription graven in stone beneath a statue at the entrance to St. Joseph's Hospital in Toronto... where I would occasionally visit my brother Peter William Emmett O'Toole when his mental health issues required residency. I believe this lyric was in fact a song sung at a'Songwriters Unite' evening at Hugh's Room some years back... the title, of course, also a novel by Robertson Davies... (but titles are exempt from copyright restrictions.

 walk with me through this world of wonder

smoky mirrors and mystery

even when a soul seems torn asunder

there remains a realm of possibility

...

keep your chin up, and take my advice

both love and lightning have been known to strike twice

walk with me through this world of wonder

open your eyes and see

...

we are each of us angels with only one wing

it's in the embrace lies our hope to fly...

let us join voices, and in harmony sing

raise a joyful noise to the sky

...

take a leap of faith...don't look so pained

it's true; nothing ventured nets nothing gained

soar with me over this world of wonder

don't stop to ask how or why

...

sail with me...across this sea of sorrow

we'll make it through to the far shore...

and bask in the promise and dawn of tomorrow

secure in our dreams once more...

...

take your chances now, you just might beat the odds

as the devil dances

perhaps so must the gods

join with me in this world of wonder

cling to me as a divining rod. 

    ... well ... htis one culled from an old ledger that became a repository of 'song scraps' and notes from various little books... (transcribed August 29th/2018, according to the date at the top of the page, but much older than that). Generally when there is a date on the original piece. I would include that; but dating verse has come to me later in the game than I might have wished. I actually pulled the last line today from my dog-eared copy of Bessie Redfield's Rhyming Dictionary; as the verse/lyric was missing a last line. I've rarely resorted to 'Bessie', but bought the book originally having read that Bob Dylan claimed such a thing indispensable. Mind you, I am of the (humble) opinion that such usage shows in many of the Bobster's later lyric. Sometimes the rhyme seems a little contrived, (but who am I to say, really...). love to all, (you too, Bob), d.