Nothing in its Place by Jack Burton


Last week’s writing prompt was “please move on.” Annnnd we were required to make and post some kind of video of us performing the new tune.
Man, I had nothin. For days. A couple of ideas about waiting in lines, or how hard it can be to let the ol’ heart move on from some hurt.
But nothing was landing. Felt like I was spitting out a bunch of emotional grandstanding garbage.
But on Friday as we were walking the kids to school my wife and I starting talking about the incredibly awful Stonehenge puzzle that the family has been working on for more than a year. Yep, more than a year on the table and not yet completed. The truth is, it is a VERY poorly made 1000 piece puzzle of an image that is mostly grass. And it seems more than 3/4 of the pieces are the same shape. It just sucks. Sucks real bad.
I have been campaigning for them to either finish the thing ASAP or just give it up. But my smoking hot wife says that after so much effort and time, it’s just too hard to “move on”. Boom, song prompt connection.
Somewhere in there we also talked about how hard it is for me to move on from trying to make the piece I’m holding fit somewhere. Can’t give up. She’s way more systematic about the thing. Me, I just wanna make it fit by sheer force of will. So yep, I suck at puzzles.
And yeah, it turns out a puzzle is a giant, life sucking, fountain of metaphor. But that’s not really news to anyone, I suppose.
Uh huh. So this is definitely an 11th hour effort that I whipped up for the deadline. I think I’d rather find another musical style or Time signature and the lyrical phrasing needs a ton of work. But I like the general concept and feel like I was a little clever and cheeky with some of the lyrics.
I hope you dig it.

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You keep staring at it like something’s gonna change
Nothing’s gonna change
Nothing’s gonna fit in the hole you made
That’s the hole you made

Some things you can’t rearrange
Just can’t rearrange
Break the rules and the beauty fades
Broken and it fades

Please move on
You’ve stayed too long
Sometimes you just get it wrong
Does no good to keep hangin on

All those pieces but not one in place
Nothing in its place
Its just a truth that you’ll have to face
Stares you in the face

Might as well give it up
But you can’t give it up

You keep staring at it like something’s gonna change
Nothing’s gonna fit in the hole you made
All those pieces but not one in place

Some things you can’t rearrange
Break the rules and the beauty fades
Its just a truth that you’ll have to face

#singer #musiclife #dothework #art #singers #originalmusic #newsong #sing #songwriter #puzzle #pieces #indierock #folkrock #rock #rotterdam #thehague #netherlands #holland #kiel #lubeck #germany #deutschland #tour #timeforlove #timeforlovetour

When the Hurt Comes Early by Jack Burton

This song comes from some thoughts and experiences in seeing the lasting damage that can be done when a kid suffers. It doesn’t take much. It doesn’t even have to come from abuse. Common things like a parent who never follows through or just isn’t around, bullying, poverty, loneliness, learning disabilities, etc. can lead to so many problems in adult life.
So this should end up being a song about a girl who is desperate for attention but tends to seek it in all the wrong ways or from the wrong people. Same old story. She has talent and gifts that she wants to believe in, but she can’t overcome the negative, or just silent, voices of her past. She has worth but is so damaged that she prefers a life of moving on a soon as someone gets close enough to fail her just like the person who caused all those scars.
...In our wicked busy and connectedly-disconnected age, it’s so important that we pay attention to those around us and make every effort to show love and be caring and empathetic. Maybe going that extra mile will help someone see that they are worthy to be loved and that even when we do fail them we will work to make things right.
As for the songwriting, this is a first draft. I’d like to add a bridge after the second chorus, since it feels like a straight ahead pop/rock song. And I’ve got some word choices I may change to help it feel more story-like. It be good if I could bring some imagery of her music life and connect that to the second verse discussion of how she views men.

Listern Here on SoundCloud

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Sold her guitar for 25 dollars and a
Bottle of bathtub gin
Put her back to the bones of that dusty old town
Feet on the road again
Back on the road again

Cuz when the hurt comes early
Just won’t leave you alone
One night only
Same sad song
Same old story
She’s been singing it so long
Maybe it’s wrong but she keeps moving on

They say man’s worth much more than just the sum of his parts
But boy she’ll tell you she’s got her doubts
Spent her whole life falling
down into that hole
Never did wanna climb out.

The Fire and the Fury by Jack Burton

Just started on this one last week. The phrase I am working from is “the fire and the fury”. For me that is a decent writing prompt because it offers lots of imagery and emotional context to choose from. It’s also alliterative which I like - that often helps to set a rhythm or rhyme scheme in my head - the sounds of certain letters or words, or the combinations of them, tend to create a tone or rhythm for me. As if they already have a musical context in my head.
The imagery of the phrase was giving me ideas about the stereotypical “girl chasing the bad boy who uses her up and leaves” story. But I also wanted to think about how that might be if the roles were reversed. So I wrote it from the perspective of a girl who loves a guy who keeps chasing after someone else.
In the end I may flip it all back to the typical song about a girl. Or maybe put it into first person. Not sure. Which idea feels most compelling to you?
Need to find more ideas for the first lines of each verse, rather than repeating those lines.
Not a bad start, I think. Hope you enjoy it.

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#singersongwriter #newmusic #songwritingsession #musiclife #vocalist #heartbreak #sadsongs #lovesongs

Sharks are Bald by Jack Burton

Warning! Cuteness alert! My little dudes sing on this one! Follow the link to hear the full thang.

The writing group has started up again for the spring semester. Our first week had no actual prompt - we could write anything we wanted to write. This gave me the opportunity to work on an hilarious and awesome song idea that came from our youngest son, Leif.
I have a list of wacky kid song ideas that I want to write. Most of them come from insane stuff that our kids have said. Many of which are direct quotes from Leif. He says the most amazing things!!
So the story goes: a few years ago I had just taken Leif out of the bathtub and wrapped him in his cool shark towel - the kind where the shark’s mouth makes a hood - and he was staring at himself in the mirror. I had just noticed the wheels turning In his head when he casually said, “sharks are bald.”
I think I kinda froze for a second as my brain tried to comprehend that amazing observation. And then I fell on the floor and died laughing, and am still laughing, and I will never stop laughing about that brilliantly hilarious thought which had certainly never crossed my mind before. Little kid brains are just incredible.
Maja of course contributed to the lyrics on this one and we also brain stormed with our two youngest about lyrics and ideas for the song. Such a blast to work on music with them. I hope to do a lot more of that!
Paden (10yo) sings the verses and 1st Chorus and Leif (8yo) is singing on the last chorus. Don’t judge them based on my rushed and sloppy editing skills. Haha!
We’ve got some more writing to do to finish this one. But it is just so dang cute I’ve gotta go ahead and post it, so their grandparents can enjoy it;)
Hope you dig it, too!

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Sharks are bald
I was swimming in the deep blue sea
When a shark came swimming up next to me
He said “hey buddy please don’t think I’m weird,
But I really like your cool haircut and your beard”
So I thanked him for the compliment
And I asked where all of his own hair went
He said “whoa dude, didn’t you know
Sharks are bald our hair don’t grow
But if it did, I’d have a ‘fro”
Bet you never thought of that before

Sharks are bald
But they don’t mind
They save a lot of money on shampoo
Sharks are bald
But sometimes
They wish they had a really nice hairdo.

“We sharks are built for speed
So hair is one thing we just don’t need
But I’ll tell ya every now and then
I wish I had hair down to my dorsal fin
And I wish every once and a while
That I had fluffy mustache to go with my smile”
Could you even imagine that?

Consequences, Regrets, & Beatings by Jack Burton

We were prompted to write a song that include two actual street names.
I had been thinking about the little Texas town where I grew up. And at the time I had written several songs that seemed to be themed around the proverb of the Prodigal Son - I wasn’t really doing that on purpose, they just kept turning out that way. Probably some subconscious brain stuff due to packing up and moving abroad. Or more likely it was God stuff. Ya know what I mean?
So, all of that led me to this memory of the time 3 guys tried to jump me in a shady part of town. I was prolly 16 or 17 at the time.
I had gotten a call from a friend that I knew had been hanging with said shady types. She was in trouble and needed a ride. So I told her I’d pick her up.
The minute I jumped in the car I had a feeling that something was hinky about the whole thing. Couldn’t shake it. But couldn’t leave her hanging. So I went. With my guard way up.
All I can really say is that, it felt like God was warning me to keep my back to the wall and be aware of the exits. Heh.
Got to the place and of course the friend was nowhere to be found, but these 3 punks oozed out of the shadows.
One was a childhood friend who had taken a dislike to me at some point. Who could say why? I’m certainly a charming fella. The other two were your standards high school misfits. Prolly guys I would have been friends with if the other dude wasn’t part of the equation.
Now, because I had felt that spidey-sense thing, and because I’m smart enough to know that I’m no Chuck Norris, I managed to...extricate myself from the situation.
But man, I learned a lot from the whole ordeal! The experience really stuck with me and served to prepare me for so many other moments in life when that unseen friend would somehow speak into my guts to warn me of some dumb thing I was about to do or encourage me to be on the look out for some upcoming opportunity. So yeah, I hear voices, I guess.
Musically, this guitar riff has been under my fingers for YEARS!! I tried 4 or 5 other times to write lyrics for it but they never seemed to mesh. I think I’m pretty happy with this a start...I’ve got several additional lyrical ideas that I’d like to play with - could help the tune from a storytelling perspective (I’ve left them in the lower portion of the song lyrics, if you’d like to peruse and make suggestions;).
Hope you dig the tune. Feedback is always welcome!

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“At the corner of Brazos st
dead end at prairie Lea
That’s where trouble came and found me

Came at me from the shadows
One old friend, the others unknown
Felt the warning from somewhere down deep

I never shoulda been there
Knew the odds but didn’t care
Rolled the dice and they fell fair, but not for me.

My defenses can’t relieve me
From Consequences, regrets, and beatings
In the shadows tryna fight the demons
Don’t make no difference that I had my reasons
Situation’s goin south and it’s on me

Blood and sweat muddy the ground
Had me outnumbered takin me down
Knew I never shoulda come around near that street

Couldn’t make out what he said
Maybe a threat of life or death
Made my peace and gathered a breath to go out clean

(*Just when I knew it would all be over
A felt a hand upon my shoulder
An unseen friend came and...

Seen him again once or twice
When a shadow’s falling on my life
Feel that presence at my save me(fighting, protecting, carry me*)

But sometimes you can’t see
The other side before you take the leap
My excuse not enough to keep from falling
The fall from happening (beat*)”

Paper Airplane by Jack Burton

My wife, Maja Burton, wrote this tune, so of course it got tons of compliments and positive reactions from the writing group.
She always brings great ideas and is definitely more succinct. And she’s prolly more honest or open in her songwriting than I am. Either way, I think she makes an incredible songwriting partner. And we make a great team. When I’m too wordy, or am drifting away from the subject/idea she typically has a couple great words or ideas to put things back on track.
That’s basically the same as our life together. Ha.
Yep. So, I had these chords progressions rolling around in my head/fingers and her lyrics definitely fit the mood. I should have had her sing on the demo, cuz this is really in her rock&roll wheelhouse, but I was pressed for time. I hope we can use it for her own project sometime soon.
I’m digging the imagery and general vibe. We have a little tweaking to do to make the whole thing more cohesive, but I think there is a killer tune in here.
And I think we can all relate to these feelings of drifting away, feeling separate or lost. I hope we can also relate to that feeling of someone out there calling for us to “come up air.”

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You don’t know me
I don’t even know myself
Standing right next to you
You think I’m someone else

Maybe she swam away
The one you recognize
Caught in the undertow
Gone with the tide

Come up for air
Are you lost in there?
Come up for air
Or are you lost in there?

I am drifting
A paper airplane on the wind
Maybe I’ll fly away
Never to be seen again

Floating through outer space
Only sound is my own breath
Wrapped in the cold black
Nothing of my head

Come up for air
Are you lost out there?
Come up for air
Or are you lost out there?”

#singersongwriter #musicofinstagram #thehotness #demo #theprocess #enjoytheprocess #songwriting #jackburtonmusic

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Cahoots by Jack Burton

I don’t remember the dates for this one, but it did come from our writing group. The prompt was “cahoots”. ...That’s not a word that would typically fall into my habitual writing style. But it IS a word that made me think of James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem). So I thought, “Sweet! I’ll write a funky, danceable, snarky tune about hipsters.”
With that in mind, I leaned into Murphy’s approach which gave me an excuse to play some drums and bass. Poorly. But man, I had a blast!
As usually (and super obviously) this is just a hastily thrown together demo made via garage band, using the on board iPad mic. But that kinda gives a cool lofi vibe that I would like to incorporate if I ever lay this down in the studio.
I would love to eventually put together enough songs in this style that I could cut an album....and it would be a blast to play these in a club sometime.
But mostly, as I listened back to this today it made feel grateful that there are so many styles/genres of music that I really enjoy. So many great artists making good music. Grateful that I have been exposed to so MUCH music AND that it still gets me excited to find a new “jam”! That doesn’t seem to be the case for many in the music biz. The hustle of it all, or maybe playing the same stuff over and over just to earn a buck, etc. can lead to some serious burn out. So I’m feeling really thankful that for the most part I’ve managed to avoid the burn out, due to opportunities that allowed me to break up the monotony.
I’m not saying everybody needs to love every style of music. Just saying that has been a blessing because it really helps keep things fresh for me as a professional musician. I just really love music, man. You dig?

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Stay Just a little bit longer
Dance just a little bit louder

Dirty little dress and your high heel shoes
Curly mustache and your bow tie blues

Better get up whicha get down

All the cool kids in their hipster suits
Breakin it down cuz your in cahoots

Dance til the sun turns black
Get up and we do it again

He Knows Wonder by Jack Burton

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You think cool is…“this.”
Ain’t foolin’ the kid in the corner of the Room,
(He) knows wonder
See those eyes, see that shine
But he won’t hurt you, if you let him…Try

He ain’t fakin this.
The real thing comes on unexpected
Makes you wonder
See those eyes, see that shine
But he won’t hurt you, if you let him…Try

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April 2015 - our song prompt was “corner of the room”.
That sense of wonder can be a great guide. It can settle into you and keep you on your own genuine path. It’s also a little frightening.
It’s scary to look the taste makers in the face and say “I know you think ‘X’ equals cool...but, here’s how I get down.”
It’s shocking to feel so passionate or at home in your strength that it makes you bold enough to be your true self in front of others. Heady stuff.
And it scares them, too. Everybody’s vying for position. Clawing to hang onto their spot. Or they haven’t figured out how to live in their own strengths so they get jealous, dismissive, or defensive. But if they could let go of that fear they might see that someone else’s success can be a lift to everyone around them.
I identify with both sides of this coin. Many times I’m the kid in the corner just waiting for my moment, for some chance to shine. Other times I’m tempted to be threatened by or jealous of the talent or success of others.
Sometimes we need somebody to blow us away and shock us into a new perspective. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to be open to that? Maybe we could find some wonder of our own in a moment like that?
So in part, this tune is kind of a “note to self” to hold on to the wonder (the good stuff that inspires me to create) and to remember that it might require making space for someone else’s moment.

Trigger by Jack Burton

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Our prompt for that particular week was "Trigger". A few days into the week, I was dropping off a borrowed drill at the hardware store on the corner. The kind hearted Venezuelan couple that own the shop asked me if I had heard the news of yet another tragic shooting in The States.
This phenomenon is so confusing to everyone around me. More and more I find I must agree with them. Confused. Sad. It's awful and heart breaking. Why? Why do we continue to allow this to go on? What can we do to end this plague?
I don't have the answer. But the question won't leave me alone.
I’ll tell you a bit about my thoughts specific to writing the song in a moment. But first I feel compelled to just blurt out some of my thoughts on mass shootings and gun control. Bear with me...this is all swirling around in my head.
As a kid who grew up in a small Texas town, I never thought twice about the hunting rifles mounted in the gun racks of so many pick up trucks in our high school parking lot. So, I have heard and can understand many of the arguments and rationales that people make for owning guns. I know so many people who own guns, and I can’t think of any who I worry about using them for violence. And when we moved to Spain I was amazed to learn that many Spaniards are avid hunters and it is legal to own guns. Am I the only one who wrongly thought guns were completely outlawed all over Europe? I feel like that is always part of the rhetoric in the pro gun ownership argument.
Anyway, the main difference seems to be thorough metal screening and licensing processes. I don’t understand why it would be so horrible to implement these things in the US.
Of course, via various traumas a person’s mental state can completely altered in just moments.
Ugh. Man it’s just an awful thing to have to even be thinking about. I get so sad and angry and frustrated that I can’t complete my thoughts. Hence, It’s taken me weeks to write this song description. It’s just too upsetting...thinking of all the families whose lives have been torn apart by deadly violence. It makes me so sad when my kids tell me their friends from back in Texas say they often worry about a shooter coming into their school. And, though we are not prone to make decisions out of fear, it hurts to know that this is a matter which would definitely cross our minds if considering a move back to the states.
So. Mostly this song is about my struggle trying to decide how I feel about the idea of defending myself and my family to the point at which it means I must take somone else's life. It's about my desire to dig into the idea of whether or not I actully COULD defend them. What is the deeper truth here? What about escalation? Is a handgun enough? What if the intruder has an autmatic weapon? Maybe I need something even more powerful? Or would I be a fool to believe that I have control over some assailant who shows up prepared and ready to do violence? Someone is alwasy bigger, stronger, meaner, better trained. Or is this just an excuse to let me hold on to my illusion of control. How many times have we heard "I'll do what I have to do, to defend my family!" I have heard this said many times by my brothers and sisters who follow Christ, people who I know are doing their best to live in the Faith...but, I find myself wondering if we truly think this would be Jesus' response?
All of these things roll through my head and heart as keep working on this tune.
As I said, I obviously don’t have the answer for how to fix on the National/international scale. But we must do SOMETHING!!


Living It Up by Jack Burton

A bit of a study on the story of the Prodigal Son and reflection on how I (we) tend to make the same kind of dumb choices to trade the good stuff we already have to chase after what looks more attractive. The grass is greener on the other side, and such.
Our prompt was "guiding light", which had me thinking about finding our way back home. About what draws us back to those places of deep and true peace when we find ourselves lost and beaten down. How those who love you will always be looking to the horizon and hoping for your return. And the kind of love that lets you leave but says, "we'll leave the light on for you".

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"Followed them down to that fabled town in land of the prodigals
Left every care, and the country air to join the revels of the lost souls
Neón lights track in the flow and blood and blow and the sweetest wine
Nothing that you couldn’t try and I cant lie
We was living it up

Tried my hand at every red Light stand turned every trick I could imagine
Low down and dirty smile a’pearly tellin lies like a beauty pageant
Took my beatings on a proud chin time and again I even gave a few
Made my bed where I could bad or good
I was living it up

Now and then I might lift my head
Toward the skies of the home I fled
Imagine I could see a guiding light
Lead me back from self inflected night

Funny thang about that kind of freedom when you reason you can cash it in
Is you can spend it on a little action, satisfaction, or a loaf of bread
Time I realized what I left behind, Long been blind and in a dark deep
Seemed I was drownin too far down in
the living it up"

Ceiling by Jack Burton

It was a rough week. Illness, the drama of being the paterfamilias of a family of 9, the stress of music-life hustle, drama from the day gig, the pain of seeing how busted our world sometimes seems....
I needed to rage. Thankfully I found some catharsis in the form of a prompt from our writing group which gave me some freedom to wrestle these thoughts down and get back to knowing there is always some hope to be found. sometimes i just gotta holler for some help to find it.
*This is, of course, a work in progress*

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ceiling pic.png


I wanna break it all down.
Tear it from the feeling
Rip into the form
Leave a hole forever gaping

Tell em all go away
I wanna rage against the reason
Leave em rotting in their cages
Howl as we go down

If I was meant for more
Why do I crash into the ceiling
If I was made to shine
Why is the burn all that I’m feeling
[If you were still around
Would anything have changed
Could you lift me from this ground
Could you free me from this pain]

I wanna steal into the night
Disappear behind the Vail
Fall back into the silence
Leave it all behind

I’m gonna harrow it down
Take it in my hand
Crush it into dust
Throw it in their faces

Just enough
of something sensual
Just the usual
apathy unconditional