“A Few Stones Down” was an idea I’d been trying to figure out for a while.
I originally heard the phrase on an NPR broadcast. A man was talking about being just “a few stones down” from others in his family and wondering who would know their story.
I’m also a big graveyard and headstone fan. I’m not sure why, but it seems like the markers are left there for us to go find the stories. Everyone had a connection to someone. Is that someone close by? Are they here by themselves? What’s their story?
But, who wants a song about gravestones for 3:30? What if the story was a progression of their relationship starting with the person sitting in a bar thinking about him/her and using the “stones” as the music on the jukebox. Now how do you get to the stones in the graveyard where ultimately, they’ll both be?
A perfect song to finish at the Arroyo Seco retreat!
The Seco Connection: I had picked this song out for the retreat specifically to have John Gorka help me on it. It was an odd idea, which required a clever twist on the phrase in a way that didn’t seem awkward and worked well to get the message of the song across. I had gotten stuck on how to connect the ideas and the song as a whole.
John’s songs have some interesting approaches to phrases and visuals, for example, “I Saw A Stranger With Your Hair,” “Airstream Bohemians,” or “Jack’s Crows.” And, with phrases like “Jack’s crows are loud in the morning, critical of other birds,” or “The cows in the moo yard are making their plans / For the long winter nights and the cold winter hands” I knew he’d be able to help me sort the song out.
So at the retreat, I sat down with him and ran through the song. We focused on creating a tie between the stones in the graveyard, rolling a stone down a hill and the Rolling Stones. And, I think we got there.
He also suggested a rearrangement of the verses – check. Then he played a very cool guitar lick to create a musical motif – ummm oops! I didn’t record it! I did write it down, but when I tried to play when I was back in Houston, I mangled it pretty good and ended up with the blues.
I guess that’s how songs turn into what they want to be!