When We Were Ten

Mobirise

When We Were Ten

Click to play or download MP3s. Scroll down for credits, backstory and lyrics. You can leave a comment at the bottom of the page.

Credits

Words and music composed, performed and produced by Ned Danison except where noted:

Piano excerpt from "Going to the River" performed by Ned Danison, taken from the song of the same name by Dave Bartholomew and Fats Domino.

Dale Haskell played toms and sang backup on "Once You Feel It".  Also on that song is a recording of Albert Camus reading an excerpt from his book "The Stranger".


Cover photo of me playing bass on the roof of my house, circa 1979, by Leif Zurmuhlen, copyright (c) 2017.

In memory of Peter Danison, 1952-2015.

Backstory

My goal was to write a batch of songs with the common theme of childhood, both from the perspective of my childhood self and my middle-aged-dad self.  

I've been making music since I was about ten years old. I've written thousands of bits and peices of music and several dozen finished songs. I was motivated by the death of my childhood musical hero, Peter Danison, to put together this collection of songs.


Lyrics

(Click the title to play the MP3)

I Heard You Play (1970)

I was looking out the window from a shadowy basement
It was summer 1970 and the daylight poured in
I saw my father blocking the sun
And a silly little dog, his body trembling
He was begging for affection

I was much closer to the ground in those days
I was close enough to smell the grass
I could feel black dirt on my fingers like a universe in my hands
Always digging to China under the lawn
Like a silly little dog

Meanwhile music poured like water
rolled like thunder
blazed like summer
flowed from the secret room

I heard you play

Small things were big in those days
And my whole world was in that house
I'd sneak around and listen to your music
I was hiding like a little mouse
Threadbare easy chair and Sears catalog
I was fifty inches tall

Meanwhile music poured like water
rolled like thunder
blazed like summer
flowed from the secret room

I heard you play

---------------------

Maybe We Can Play There

I'm watching out the window from my tower room
You are on your bike, and you'll be here soon
I am gonna show you the Sears catalogue
You'll bring your radio and your little dog

I'm watching from my window way up high
We're gonna do cool stuff today, you and I

We're gonna build a tree fort out in our back yard
Are you gonna bring your dad's nudie cards?

And I know a secret garden in a lady's yard
She has treasure hidden in her barn
Maybe we can play there
Maybe we can stay there all day today
All day today

I've got a couple dollars from my paper route
We'll buy an Almond Joy and some Juicyfruit
We'll take off our sneakers down by the creek
We can catch crayfish in a pail with a leak

But I see that you have that look upon your face
Do you want to go to our secret place?

I can see the water welling in your eyes
I won't say a word if you wanna cry

But I have to go home when we hear the whistle blow
Night comes when the streetlight starts to glow
Maybe we can play there
Maybe we can stay there on another day
Another day

If you want to run away
I will stay with you today
You can always tell me
You can always tell me
If you're not okay
You're not okay

You don't want to go home when you hear the whistle blow
Night comes when the streetlights glow yellow
Maybe we can play there
Maybe we can stay there on another day

But I have to go home when I hear the whistle blow
Night comes when the streetlight starts to glow
Maybe we can play there
Maybe we can stay there on another day

(What're you gonna do? I don't know!)

---------------------

I'm Watching

I see you learning new things
I hear you saying your new words
Your little world is growing every day
And I am right here watching

I'm right here
Always watching

And when you're playing in your happy world
And you think nobody's watching
I'm filling up a treasure box
And I will be forever

Right here
Always watching

And you'll grow up
And I'll grow old
You'll go away
And I will stay right here

I'm putting you to bed now
Between sheets of angels' breath
We'll read a bedtime story
Your little eyes are sleepy

I'm right here
Always watching

You'll go away
And I will stay right here

---------------------

I Was Right There

I know that you won't forget me
Sometimes you might try
A seed won't fall far from a tree
Let's not say goodbye
It all looks so small in your rearview
The road ahead is all brand new
I paved it for you

I was there the moment you were born
I cradled you when you cried
In that little blanket soft and warm
I was there when you opened your eyes

I gave you words when you could not talk
I carried you when you could not walk
I bore the burden that you could not bear
I was right there
I taught you things that you did not know
I took you places that you could not go
You looked around, I was everywhere
I was right there

I know sometimes you don't like me
That's just a small thing
You'll go your own way just to spite me
I did the hard thing to give you the good thing
It all looks so free in the distance
Down the path of least resistance

You used to think I was a superman
But now all you see is this old man
I didn't do all I should
If I could go back I would
But I did the best I could

I gave you words when you could not talk
I carried you when you could not walk
I bore the burden that you could not bear
I was right there
I taught you things that you did not know
I took you places that you could not go
You looked around, I was everywhere
I was right there

---------------------

Going to the River (Goodnight)

As a boy he had a secret life
It started with a wee small voice
He knew unbidden love is the one forbidden love
But boys will be boys, and the little ones had no choice

The pull of blood, the need for love
Whispers of shame among men
Your heroes are all fallen now
You must not love them, no you must not love them

As a man he lived a double life
He stalked the haunted shadows of the city
He went to seek his comfort there but dared not hope lest he despair
'Cause when the guard dog bites, you can't expect pity

A life denied is a lonely life
It screwed his mind and made his body wither
He found no forgiveness here, he could not drink his conscience clear
So he went out for a drive, said, "I’m going to the river"

The pull of blood, the need for love
Whispers of shame among men
Your heroes are all fallen now
You must not love them, you must not love, you must not love them

There was no funeral for him
Just timid men who came out of the shadows
Each with a voice trembling, they took a turn remembering
His mother told a story from a long time ago

As a boy he had a funeral for his frog
And mother asked, are you going to say a prayer?
No, he said, it’s already dead, I’ll sing Goodnight Irene
And throw him in the river (for as much as anyone cares)

The pull of blood, you need their love
You want to look up to them
Your heroes are gone, all fallen now
And the ones you want to love, you must not love

Just a few tears were shed
It’s a single death that kills a double life
Hey now mother don’t cry for me, I’m tired of living in misery
I’m going to the river, it’s time to say, it’s time to say good night

---------------------

Hiding Fire (in a Paper Bag)

goes on and on
inner monologue
it gives me no relief
the trespasser
bitten by a dog
no one to tell his grief

I keep my finger in the dike
when the memories strike
when the past comes to nag

in smart attire
I'm hiding fire
hiding fire in a paper bag

don't recognize
what I've become
like a frog in a boiling pot
desensitized
and just too dumb
to escape when it gets too hot

who did what to whom
in the secret room
carving up the blame

what you did
what was done to you
to a kid it's all the same

you send me postcards from childhood
just in case I've forgotten
well, I was feeling pretty good
until you dropped in

don't tell me that you are cured
and there's nothing left to say
don't fake a smile
don't say a word
turn around and blow away

it's your death by degrees
kid yourself if you please
but we share this disease

good luck with that
in respectable drag
hiding fire in a paper bag

---------------------

Once You Feel It

I've been having a dream
But I don't know
Maybe it's been having me
It's all the same
When I am alone

I always end up living a script that has always been there
and reading lines just like breathing the air

Once you feel it, it disappears
What kind of life is it anyway
If you won't cry
And if that doesn't leave you in tears
I guess you've missed it, haven't you
And then you die

Life
is full of regrets
Lies that I'm living
I wish that I could take them back
I'd rather believe them
When I am alone

I always end up living a script that has always been there
and reading lines just like breathing the air

Once you feel it, it disappears
What kind of life is it anyway
If you can't cry
And if that doesn't leave you in tears
I guess you've missed it, haven't you
And then you die



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