Snow Mountain River

Butterfly
Last Dance
After the Wars
Kind Hands
Unconquerable
Look at the Stars
Green
Turtles Song
Halleleujah







Lyrics and a few of thoughts behind writing the songs on Snow Mountain River

All Songs Written by Linda McLean (p&c Mandolin Records. 2011)

Butterfly (2008)

The sweetest story, can still be sad, I'm thinking of monarch butterflies
They spread their wings to circle the earth to find a place to die
Oh you gotta feel for butterflies

It's a heroes journey if you ever heard one, as they find their way
They say one flutter of those pair of wings, can change everything
Oh it can make a grown woman sing

For her life, from her birth, for her heart and all she's worth
And in the universal mind
She is all, and all am I,
And I am butterfly.

The oldest story, that makes me want to cry, is the one my children sigh
They want to spread their wings, go their own way, and kiss their mom goodbye
Oh they want to be just like butterflies

For their lives, from their births, for their hearts and all their worth
And in the universal mind
They are all, and all am I
And I am butterfly
I am butterfly,
I am butterfly.

(This song was written in a very short time, about an hour from start to finish, though the words in the chorus have evolved. The first version was "for her life from her birth for her love and all it's worth, in her heart and in her mind, she is all and all am I and I am butterfly" and I recognized that was a bit of an avoidance of what I really wanted to say in this song. In the big picture ie universal mind', in the macrocosm of existence, we are all one, there is no difference between me and you and the butterfly. All life is energy from the same one source. We are all one ...)


Last Dance (2007)

Make the last dance a waltz
Make the last dance a waltz
Make the last dance a waltz
Make the last dance a waltz

They say the lonely die lonely and only the good die young
Let's dance for the lonely hearts and the good ones

Make the last dance a waltz
Make the last dance a waltz
we'll twirl til we we laugh and lose count in our feetz
to the one two three one two three one twoz
z
Cry for them who are leaving and them who won't come home
Let's dance in the moonlight, under the street lights

Make the last dance a waltz
Take my hands, you can lead
We'll twirl til we laugh and lose count in our feet
To the one two three one two three one

Make the last dance a waltz
Here s my heart, you can fall
We ll twirl til we laugh and lose count in our feet.
In this one two three one two three

Make the last dance a waltz
Make the last dance a waltz
Make the last dance a waltz
Make the last dance a waltz

(The melody of this song came through after a conversation I was having with Andy was interrupted by a phone call. While he was chatting away, I started playing the chords to the song and it felt like an endless circle. I imagined I was being spun around a room and the melody came through my mouth. It was so familiar I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out which song it was. When Andy got off the phone, I sang it for him and asked him if he knew this song and he said he d never heard it before. I was surprised and realized it was true, the song was just lying unheard in me, for I'm not sure how long. It's a simple song, barely more than an idea, but it felt strong enough for me to love love love playing and singing it. I have played it in concert only a handful of times. At one concert, I chose to not play it because I found out many people in the audience were connected to two young girls who had just died suddenly tragically in a car accident. The power of the song has to be respected.)


After the Wars (2010)

He sang from his heart like a bird on a wire
and heard his desire in every song he learned
He dreamed of the girl he had loved dear in the mountain
The deepest his love he found and sang them all for her

After the war, after the war
After the war, after the war

He sang for the boys, all the old songs, all the good tunes
Every song he ever knew,
For the boys out on the line.
All through those days hauling water, mending old ties
His whistle could make you cry, when he thought of her

After the war, after the war
After the war, after the war

Oh my darling, you are my sunshine
You ll never know dear, how I cried for you
You ll never know dear, how I cried for you.

(I love the simplicity of the chord structure. G to F gave me the main melody, I am always thinking of my father in this song, and I wanted to pay respect to some of his favourite tunes, a few of the songs he knew and played for us with such joy on the guitar. As a little girl, I would beg him to play Oh My Darling, or Waltzing Mathilda. I would sing along in the choruses, and was amazed at how he could make the guitar do what he wanted it to do. Singing with my father was a miracle, it taught me the basics of folk music. From there I taught myself as many of the songs in Joan Baez's, " Traditional Songs" book as I could find recorded versions of or be taught by my siblings. I knew how to play chords but couldn t figure out what the notes meant, so I asked my brother one day if he knew the melody for Donna Donna . I was attracted by the story and thought it would be a fun song to sing. He didn't know it but told me we could make up our own to the words. Which we did. And I played the song that way for years, until I performed it at a Jewish summer camp and my audience laughed at my version and taught me the correct melody. I was 15 that summer, and I was traveling around on a bus with a group of thespians, performing plays at camps and old folks homes all over Hastings and Prince Edward County s. My father brought me a guitar the day I was leaving. He passed it to me through the bus window. It was the greatest gift I had ever received from anyone. I loved this guitar for years, and it was the only one I owned until I bought my Takamine in 2004.)


Kind Hands (1996)

Lying in your arms reminds me of something
Who was that I thought I'd be
Wrapped in this silence barely breathing, it's like eternity
And scares me so all this letting go, when staying might be easier than leaving
The way you kiss me and touch my skin
When you're gone I feel you surrounding me still

And this love is out of the blue

I'm so afraid of giving in, of going under, mourning some memory
Cause these hopes that dreams are built on
Always end up eluding me
So why has your touch come so close
And who am I now I don't know
Heaven help this girl as she learns how to love
Her heart's never lead in this dance before

And this love has fallen out of the blue and brought me to you
And I'm falling into your kind hands

It's magic this place that you live where love just gets bigger the more you give
If I'm only dreaming I'll keep my eyes closed and know when I fall into you you'll never let go

This love is out of the blue
I'm falling into
your hands, your kind hands....

(This is the first song I ever wrote with a conscious decision to write a song to tell a story. It is also my first love song. I ve performed this song many times over the years, and always, without fail, someone, usually a woman around my age, comes to me and tells me this song made her cry. Trying to retell those first moments of intimacy, when you have followed your heart, and suddenly your head begins to make battle with what you feel. Something in you rises and says this person is going to change everything. A line in an early version said just that, explicitly, "All at once everything has changed. All at once, nothing is the same." The original song had a different chorus. I m falling into your kind hands, help me I m falling , but I kept seeing myself flailing like I was falling into an abyss in some horror movie, so I changed the words. Andy suggested the melody for the bridge and I think it is perfectly stunning.)


Unconquerable (1998)

Your hands are small and your eyes are blue
As blue as any sky the sun shines through
I'll hold you up, help you see this world,
You are a part of it and greater than the whole
Seven horses guide your spirit, you're unconquerable.

When your hands are old and your eyes are gray
Knowing yourself will keep the fear away
And the hands of friends, and seeing all the world
That you're a part of and greater than the whole
Seven horses guide your spirit, you're unconquerable

When you sleep, remember your dreams, let them make you who you want to be
Then you can dance, you can dance, you can dance, then you can dance ...

(This is a lullaby I started writing with my first daughter's beautiful baby hands and eyes in my mind, and finished when I was inspired by the story of Stephen Biko.)


Look at The Stars (1999)

I was this girl who wanted to be bad
But I'm not that flexible, I was just sad
I hugged a tree, climbed a hill so I could really see
Shot myself into the air in a prayer, hundreds of prayers
And yah I found there is sanity all around here, and it's free
And in regarding who we are
I just look at the stars
I just look at the stars

You say black and white
I say shades of light
You say right and wrong
I say morning is a song
And yes, there is harmony all around here and it's free
And in regarding who we are
Just look at those stars,
Just look at those stars
Just look at those stars
Just look at those stars

Yah I found there is harmony all around here and it's free
And in regarding who we are just look at those stars ...

(This is the first version of this song, and the way I originally recorded it, with a simple repeat of D A C Em chord progression. The chorus line was inspired by a friend who wrote these words in a dissertation;, "In regarding who we are, we are made of the same stuff as the stars in the universe." I loved the idea, and the words inspired this song. I also loved the idea of reclaiming the word Star from our fame-obsessed culture. The song has morphed into a completely different one, after Andy suggested taking the chorus and using it in a different arrangement..

The second version of the song is interesting too, but much more dark, though it's a totally different verse with the same chorus. I may record it on the next CD. We'll see. Here are the words and you'll know what I mean my dark.

It'll drag you down, take you deep into its depths
A sad so sad you haven't known what hit you yet
But ah you'd give it up so easily
One more step outside and you'd be free
To Look at the Stars, look at the stars, look at the stars

Second chance, harder than the first
Turn the page, take another step and see
If you give it all again so easily
Forgot to turn the pages to be seen
And look at the stars, look at the stars, look at the stars
Ah ah ah.


Green (2005)

Send in the armies
Kill 10000 men women and children
Armies haunting our minds
We build them
Our burgeoning armies, kill 10 million, kill them all in one go
I need a new dream, I want a new dream, new dream
I want to dream of
Green
And sweet love, and kindness
Sweet life, loving kindness

This either or either or either or either or either or
This right or wrong right or wrong right or wrong
It's none of these, and it's all of the above
Or everything we're dreaming up
I want to dream of
Green,
And sweet love and kindness
Green life, sweet love, and kindness, loving kindness

Dream with me, dream with me, dream with me
Put your head on my shoulder and dream, dream, dream of
Green
And sweet loving kindness
Green Life and Love an kindness
Sweet life, and love and kindness
And kindness, sweet love and life and kindness

(A spider was hanging from the ceiling in the studio one day. I asked her what she would have me sing. This song, I call Green, is what came through my fingers on the guitar and out of my mouth.)


Turtles Song (2000)

Come into the water, It's quiet here
Don't be afraid of the waves, they're just love moving,
Feel the water,
It's warmer here
No such thing as sinking when you're lighter than air

Throw your whole body in and move your limbs, move them more
throw your whole body in and swim

I figured out swimming, when the tide pulled me in,
Grabbing at surfaces, that's what sinks you
When you move like the water, you're wider somehow
No such thing as sinking when you let yourself go, let yourself go, let yourself go

Throw your whole body in and move your limbs, move them more
throw your whole body in and swim

You're walking around there, your head's in the clouds,
still haven't noticed, One by one those kings fall down
Don't go with them, though madness has an easy pace
They're dangerous, those giant footsteps, no grace
Throw your whole body in and move your limbs, move them more
throw your whole body in and soon you'll know how to swim

feel the water feel the water feel the water

(Remembering meeting a mommy sea turtle laying her eggs on the east coast of Costa Rica. She layed her eggs and pulled her way back into the dark ocean under a lightening sky. I was thinking of her and heard the melody for this song while sitting on the shore of Lake Superior. No one has ever heard this song before it was recorded and included on this CD.)


Halleleujah (2001)

I went into the mountains to be as high as I could be
I went into the mountain and it mountained me
I lay down with my love, my love lay down with me
I lay down with my love and my love was me.

Halleleujah I let heaven come
Halleleujah I let heaven come

I went into the river to flow into the sea
I went into the river and it rivered me
My love came into the river my love came flowed to the sea
My love and I in the water my love is me

Halleleujah I let heaven come
Halleleujah I let heaven come

I went into the forest to listen to the trees
I went into the forest and it forested me
My love came into the forest to listen with me
My love came into the forest and my love was me

Halleleujah I let heaven come
Halleleujah I let heaven come

Halleleujah I let heaven come
Halleleujah I let heaven come
(repeat)

(This song was inspired by a Steve Earle song. I can't remember which one it was, I don't have the CD any longer. But I remember he was lamenting and asking for an answer, and this song was my response. I wrote it about 10 years ago. It was one of those, it wrote itself kind of songs, and I always enjoy singing it, These days I'm thinking, everybody's got to have their own hallelujah song, even one spelled halleleujah)


This Life You Live (unlisted bonus track)

Sit back watch the rain, life is dripping from the trees
Those leaves that breathe you in
You see you've always had enough don't go it's better if you know
It's easier to stay
All you ever really needed is in this life you live
All you ever really wanted is in this life you know
Just stay til February cold, cold crystals sing on fallien snow
You'll hear them
The sun reflects and warms your skin
Cold air feels hot when you breathe it in
This cold can make you love your home
Sit back watch the rain, life is dripping from the trees
Those leaves that breathe you in
You see you've always had enough don't go I say it's better if you know
Wise women say go with the flow
All you ever really needed is in this life you live
All you ever really wanted is in this life you know

Just stay til February's cold so cold no matter where you go
You'd stay you say if you liked the snow
The sun still beats blood to the face
The lungs still burn with the air
The air in every moment brings you here

All you ever really need is in this life you live
All you ever really want is in this life you know
All I ever wanted is in this life I live
All I ever need is in this love I am

Sit back and watch the leaves
All you ever really need is in this life you live
All you ever really want is in this life you know

All I ever wanted is in this life I live
All I ever need is in this love I am

Sit back and watch the leaves ... (outro)

(My friend Betty Munsie was diagnosed with lung cancer, and within a few weeks of this discovery, it was clear the cancer was through her body. This song began with her dying in mind. I had a dream in which Betty was lying on a concrete slab in an empty grey darkened room, and two spirits came to her and her own spirit rose from her body to join them. The song was my attempt to remind her it's better to be alive, in a way. In general, that life is precious and we have to value it, and feel our connections to all life on the planet. )



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