85. More Easy Than Good or Jesus Saves

EIGHTY-FIVE

On tour we drove through a few southern states which I had never visited before: Memphis, Little Rock, etc.  On route to Austin, we saw many billboards, but it wasn’t until we got to the south that we saw huge ones that boldly stated: Jesus Saves. I grew up in a very religious culture, so this song expresses some feelings (guilt, blame, worthlessness) I remember hearing from various members of congregations as I was growing up, and personal feelings I’ve had as well regarding, but certainly not limited to, Christianity and a general spirituality.  It’s important for me to be honest, and I find exploring these kinds of topics freeing.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about Johnny Cash recently.  He’s such a fascinating man and had a really interesting relationship with hymns I never knew about before I started reading about his life.  I’m also aiming for this song to be a kind of hymn-like, in a way.  I will structure this better and that idea will hopefully be clearer at a later time.

Due to a huge time crunch these past 24 hours, I’m submitting a 365 song that is vastly unfinished.  I don’t mind unfinished necessarily because it gives you an idea of the drawn out process a song can have, even if it is a part of a 365 project.

Writing: I generally don’t write narratives, ballads or story songs.  It was suggested I do one, and I took up the challenge.  They are really difficult to do and do well.  With this song already, I find major issues with the story line: in verse 4 it says she loved a boy, but in verse 5 is says she never loved anyone.  Also, who is verse 5 about?  It’s supposed to follow a life-line of this women from birth to near death.  Each verse should be a major event: birth, childhood, adolescence, marriage, present, death.  Even this rough out line is just a sketch or a guess, really.

I also have problems with the general form of this song as it is.  How many verses before a chorus are there?  Will there be words in the chorus?  The form of the song was basically improvised.  I just played the baritone uke after figuring out a few shifts and had the verses in front of me with no plan.  This can be really good or really bad.  I found I did something completely different for the chorus than what I had practiced, which might be better, but the general layout of the song is very wonky.  I’m actually happy you get to hear it like this.  I think this song has potential, but not there yet.  I will work on it.

I’m also still working on a catch title.  Not sure I like what’s here.

Recording: I did this about 4 times stopping and starting to get the intro right.  I recorded it as a whole about 2 times, this is a second take.  I didn’t try this kind of singing for it until the very last take, this take.  I like the singing ideas and think it would sound nice with some harmonies.

I’m off to the airport to fly to Utah tonight for two solo shows this weekend.  I’m excited to play, although already anxious to return.  There is a lot to do still, and I still haven’t packed yet!

EHP

More Easy Than Good or Jesus Saves

“Jesus, He saves,” she said from her swing
“But, He’ll never get this far, you’ll see, not for me.”
“For I lived such a long time, a long way from there,
“So you see it’s just too far, just too far I fear.”
I was born from the britches of witches with wings
Or so the old fable my nana did sing
Left on the steps of a mayoral race
Well, he won on that day I arrived at that place
Brought up so pretty with paper and skins
On my shoes, red bows with lace and buttons
Beat only once for the shape of my nose
And on birthdays got dresses I was sure to outgrow
Fell love with a boy but she was his prize
A beauty with ginger and emeralds for eyes
A spell she did cast unlike mine from the start
He is gone, I’m alone, my dearest sweetheart
Gave him the best and the worst I could stand
And at sun down gave beatings with black and blue hands
Doin’ my best to do all of my worst
Never loved anybody, and all did I curse
Jesus, Jesus, brother of mine
Stained my white dresses with your cups of wine
Broken my back with the weight of your rood
And I’m findin’ bad easy, more easy than good
They say Jesus comes, but no, not for me.
I’m wicked and ugly and bad company
For I lived such a long time, a long way from there,
So you see it’s just too far, just too far I fear.

3 thoughts on “85. More Easy Than Good or Jesus Saves

  1. Emily, this is such a cool song. Poignant, thoughtful, tender (tender), and CLASSIC. It sounds like it had already been written! Like a gospel soul classic. I think the quality that you think seems “unfinished” actually benefits the song immensely… it just sounds like we’re all sitting around a campfire enjoying each others company and the smell of the burning timber. Great job.

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