song 39: magnolia + when you smile

why i repeatedly wait until 10pm to start writing the story behind the song, i’ll never know?! even worse, i just started recording a harmony at 11:30pm. to be honest, this whole thing is so much more humbling and exposing than i had realized it would be…

i think our last installment in the relationship saga left off somewhere in japan in mid-april on the outs? but back in seattle the dance parties just kept coming and honestly it’s extra hard to stay mad when you’re dancing. fast forward to june, when “magnolia” happened. i recorded it at Phil Peterson’s studio (House of Breaking Glass) in july of 2005, and handed Noah a CD to listen to on the plane on his way back to japan. he returned to me with rave reviews and declared that it was “epic” — clearly he was tuning out the part where i was super pissed off (at him), if that’s even possible?! it’s funny now, but at the time, it didn’t go over well.

after a few months of boycotting him, i eventually relented. miss japan was no more, and since i had some tickets, i suggested Noah ask me out on an actual date. he took me to my first sushi experience, i took him to a death cab for cutie show, and he took me to a 2am playing of the muppet movie. i will never forget the shock i felt when he arrived all dressed up in a baby blue silk blouse (complete with a neck bow) and beatle boots… and here i was in my tiny pig-tails and a snuggle fabric softener t-shirt. i’d provide a photo but it’s trapped with all the other photos of our life on a broken external hard drive! photo or no photo, it was a marvelous night. while i tried and tried to reconstruct the beloved muppet song, it never fully revealed itself, and perhaps it’s for the best… as at the end i incorporated (ripped off) the whole “life’s like a movie” section of the actual muppet song, and i’m not sure what the rules are about that sort of thing? but in other news, i was able to restore a sweet little song i wrote about a month later, on december 23, 2005, called “when you smile”. i only had time to start writing this song because Noah was wicked late picking up me and Carly Jean to whisk us away to the Skagit Valley, where both Carly and Noah’s parents lived just a few minutes away from each other. i was spending Christmas with Carly’s family — her parents are the ones who we ended up going to Jerusalem with in 2014! i sat in the back on the way up and finished the lyrics. and when we arrived, Noah gave me a Christmas present: a recording he’d made of his “Julie Jane” song (which we released in february). i loved it until i got to the part in the song where he said he probably wouldn’t marry me, at which point i gasped in utter disbelief and immediately turned it off!

although admittedly the first line of my “when you smile” song came to me after some other really cute dark haired boy that i didn’t know very well smiled at me, after finding out that said boy was, in fact, a vegetarian, i decided it was OVER. the rest of the song is about my darling boy, who when i once popped by for a visit, i found lounging on the back deck, alternating between a BBQ rib in one hand and a new york steak grasped tightly in the other. “that’s what i’m talking about,” said i. “if that’s not a sign, i don’t know what is?”

i've always wished i'd recorded "when you smile" and regretted not taking the time to document it when it was fresh...but i spruced up the bridge and finished the last verse this afternoon, and recorded it tonight after Moses went to bed, and here it is for you now — hot off the press!

a lazy, warm, bright, midnight drunken drive
a crazy turn, we never learn… you and i
we hope a fence and wander stumbling
thru the grass to tall and full of play
and i fall as all the other times
into your arms and there we lay

what’d you say, Julie Jane you have me
well you have your fantasy and she has your heart
and i have my guitar
tangle underneath the bright sky
staring at the wonderful divide
suddenly i see how great a distance there has been

but you have changed
and you have changed me
we are not strange as we once were

dawn falls on the bluff and exposes us
let’s be real, you like how she makes you feel about you
she’s a dream but do you love her
for who she is or what you want to see
fantasies are dangerous creatures
take it form me

still you have changed
and you have change me
we are not strange as we once were

so what then — carry on, how long
we’re waging war, my heart is sore
every arrow is a chord
a stone, a sword, a withheld word
but i am not undone
thought it would seem that you have won again
you lie and call me friend

but why should you change
you’re not complaining
you’ve got a girl on both sides of the world
you claim no harm, it’s just who you are
but you’re unkind and out of time
and this is goodbye

when you smile
life is a dream
there isn’t anything
that i wouldn’t do for you

when you smile
suddenly time gets lost
but somehow it never lasts
where does it go, if only i knew

you’re such a mystery to me
i’m just not sure should i believe
and pray that we’ll find a way
i’ll be yours, you’ll be mine… someday

when you smile
i am at ease
suddenly nothing’s as it seems
life is all possibility

when you smile
i am set free
wave and wave after wave
of joy washes over me