Friday, December 28, 2012

The Sunken Man Is Real

Lying at the bottom of an ocean of tears
held under by the weight of his fear
The Sunken Man is real

and dreaming...

...he convinced her to jump
she fell into his arms
she had to land somewhere
he made sure it was him.
Pretty to look at
delicate in her shell
but no help with demons
his or hers.
Her bad mood lasted a couple of years
they all knew why but never understood
they just hoped for the best and rallied to his cause 
for her sake.
With her, not within her,
where love leaves wounds that never heal
The Sunken Man is real

and dreaming...

...a small child 
music his only companion
riding majestic horses in furious gallop
to the sound of great orchestras
rhythm in his head and his hands.
As a young man
the song, the dream
travels to distant lands to spread the joy of his heart,
his comfort, his music,
it was all he needed.
Now those who share his gift sustain him
and those with none pay him
in compliments and whiskey enough to dull his pain
so he won’t miss what he no longer feels
The Sunken Man is real

and dreaming... with the madness that steals his peace
bottom of the staircase
basement rooms by the ocean
mumbling pleas through squeaky floorboards.
Falling into grey
each session deeper, darker, longer 
and he worries one day he might not make it back.
He did his best before he left
but it's the same all over again:
children of mothers who won't let go
and will not hear his appeal
with no dreams left to steal
The Sunken Man is real.

Ken Owen,  December 2012

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Love Makes Wings

Moonlight through the window
turned her skin to alabaster,
if I outlast her
let my time be done.

Dream light, cool and easy
like a creepin cat in shadow,
leaves all her cares as she goes
to the sun.

Love makes wings,
turns falling to flying,
makes living out of dying
every day.
Love makes wings,
and will teach your heart to sing.

Daylight through the clouds
kills her dreams as they fly past,
I’d make them last
if I knew the way.

Love light in the night,
I give all I have to give,
so I can live 
in her light every day.

Love makes wings,
turns falling to flying,
makes living out of dying
every day.
Love makes wings,
and will teach your heart to sing.

Ken Owen, Van Niddy Music,  December 2012

Life Is The Book

It'll happen soon enough,
Sink or swim, call the bluff.
If you listen then you'll know,
when to duck and when to go.

No remorse, no regrets,
take the chance, place your bets.
Do your best, seize the day,
you can't win if you don't play.

Every hour, every minute,
see the magic deep within it.
Don’t be humble, just be good,
and things will work the way they should.

The story is how you lived,
and the chances that you took.
Days are empty pages, 
life is the book.

Who’ll sing your song when you’re gone?
Who’ll tell the stories you’ve told for so long?
Who'll carry on with your thoughts and memories?
How long will you wait for the day?
How many hours will you give away?
How big a wave will you make through the centuries?

Learn a lesson when you fail,
back on that horse, head down the trail.
Lift your head and dry your eyes,
don’t need answers, reasons why.

All you need is deep inside,
behind a wall of foolish pride.
Look within, not without
clear the mind, remove all doubt.

Keep straight ahead, don’t look back,
do all you can to stay on track.
When the train comes stand your ground,
we'll see who wins and who leaves town.

The story is how you lived,
and the chances that you took.
Days are empty pages, 
life is the book.

Ken Owen,  Van Niddy Music,  December 2012

The Lost Church

Christ-bearing Warrior 
descended from the Mount to the precita at el rio
and began his search for The Lost Church
where hymns from the pulpit stage
float high over hot footlights 
and fall in cool shadow.

...and he'd show them the blood on his hands,
and he'd show them the pain in his heart,
contrition for all he had done.

Caravans passed of refugees 
from harder times than these
with all they had before them 
and nothing left behind.

Full moon high in the night sky
as he entered town a stranger
where one-legged dancers spun in circles in the street
and the crazed flew straight into danger.

Candle in the window - look up or you’ll miss it.
Behold the temple sublime
where holy water and holy wine linger 
with misery and melody in the House of Jack and Ginger.

As the sacrament began he wondered, 
“Will they understand a pilgrim from a distant land?”

...and he sang of the blood on his hands,
and he sang of the pain in his heart,
contrition for all he had done.

Huddled in dark communion
sinners heard his confessions
delivered salvation and praise
but his guilt be not absolved, forever stays.

Christ-bearing Warriors head out of town
go forth and sin no more
$10.00 at the door
offerings in collection
the price of soul redemption.

Ken Owen, Van Niddy Music, November 2012

I'm Going To Grandma's (Sing Loud, Sing Often)

Mother Nature’s rain
poked me right in the eye,
as her wind and clouds had their way with me.
In this city full of pain I give it my best try,
but I’m not sure you can live here 
and be free.

It’s not safe here anymore,
this place is ready to explode.
Who’ll light the fuse on this box of dynamite?
Draw the shade, lock the door,
help me lay down this load,
and we’ll sleep with one eye open tonight.

maybe I said the wrong thing...maybe I looked the wrong way...maybe I just gotta go.

Grab the cash, drive all night,
no more city left in sight,
up that dark and lonely mountain road.

I’m going to Grandma’s.
She’ll know what to do.
A cup of tea with lemon
a hug from Grandpa too.
Gonna learn me how to laugh again
from my belly, deep within,
and when Grandma sings
its like a bird on the wind.
My heart will fly,
and I’ll be fine.

She’s cooking something grand
in her antique roasting pan,
while spinning yarns into wooly hats of rainbows.
A leopard house coat suits her
as evening attire,
and with stray dogs by the fire,
I’ll be welcome in the House of Fur.

..and I complain about how obsessive people in the city 
tell phony stories and are just trying to be seen
and it’s all a game!

..and she tells me wonderful stories
of when the smell of orange groves still came through the window
after they were gone.

..and I plead to her for the answers 
I so desperately need!

..and never losing her smile,
she sighs, then whispers:

“Sing loud, sing often,
and let them know,
this world is your stage,
they cant steal your show.
Give your gifts, they are balm for those souls
that are weary and worn from their heavy loads.
Be silent no more,
and take your time, because it’s yours.”

Of course, she’s right,
sing and hold tight. 
Leave things inside 
and they will eat you alive.
Release it,
and you can breathe again.

I traveled many miles
trying towns on for size.
They just don't fit.
So I found my own mountain
with meadows of green
and made a simple life of simple things.
There is a simple life.

I take the long drive to the ocean under a bright blue sky 
and bask in the love of friends so dear.
It’s hard when you can’t keep all your loves near.
The edges have softened,
the fear has flown,
and my purpose now is clear:

“Sing loud, sing often.”

Ken Owen,  Van Niddy Music,  March 2012


Guadalupe in the window,
bleeding heart and tortured smile 
of silent suffering,
peers through tattered curtains
absolving the sins 
of the world.

Candle at the alter
summons images 
of those since passed
to dance on walls 
in ghostly light.

She dreams,
the weight of absolution gone.
The city’s roar; crashing waves,
choking heat and stale air; the smell of sea and wind.
Hearts and letters drawn in sand,
but lovers never there
when waves wash them away
as she walks the beach alone.

Guadalupe in the window,
parchment aged and color worn
from years of nightly petition,
peers through tattered curtains
absolving the sins 
of the world.

Ken Owen,  Van Niddy Music,  July 2012

By Your Good Grace

By your good grace,
I live the life that others dream
but may never realize
through solemn servitude. 

By your good grace,
I see the world
in all her splendor
from the other side of the window.

By your good grace,
I write hymns of love
as the voice of broken spirits.

By your good grace,
I walk the cliffs 
and drink the vast horizon
where sea meets sand.

By your good grace,
my eyes have opened
to see small things 
that went unnoticed.

By your good grace,
I know why things 
appear like magic
just when we need them.

By your good grace,
I can do what I must
because you give
more than you take.

By your good grace,
I can see the path 
that brought me to you
was the right one all along.

Ken Owen,  Van Niddy Music,  July 2012

We Won't Say Good-Bye

The plans of the day,
I tried them all
one by one
nothing worked
when I heard the news of you.
If there was a way,
to hold you
just once more
I would tell you
all the things I hope you knew.

To get you to stay
I’d give it all
that and more
without question
for more time before we’re through.
The things that they say
we’ve lost you
you’ve left us
gone forever
but I know that isn’t true.

We know where you are 
you’re everywhere at once
now that the spirit has flown.
Our love will be the light 
to guide you home...

you’ll watch a million memories burn bright
and joy from all those yesterdays take flight.
Through the tears we’ll cry
we won’t say good-bye
we’ll say good-night.

As the days go by
the wind upon my cheek
the warmth of summer suns
will be you.
As I face the fears I dread
the voice inside my head 
will always sound like you.

It’s time to be strong
tell the stories
say a prayer
to remember
we will never be alone.

And our love will be the light to guide you home...

you’ll watch a million memories burn bright
and joy from all those yesterdays take flight.
Through the tears we’ll cry
we won’t say good-bye
we’ll say good-night.

Ken Owen,  Van Niddy Music,    June 2012

Ken Owen, Songwriter, Part 2: The Drummer Has A Songbook

(originally published to Facebook December 2011)

I am proud to announce that I just completed my second semester of Jim Bruno's Song Writing class at Foothill College in Los Altos, CA. I call it by it's official title, though some have mentioned that Jim's class has become more cult-like than class-like, with some veteran students taking the class a dozen times or more. The passion and dedication that these folks show to Jim and his teachings could be it's own case study in the need for the supportive environment we all seek while trying to learn and grow. Jim's class is a testament to the power of positive reinforcement, and Jim is a Master.

When I started Jim's class six months ago, I had a notebook with over 20 years of song ideas, titles, poems, stories, etc..that I had never completed. With the support and encouragement of Jim and his talented song writing students, I now have 12 home-recorded original song demos, and the new-found courage to provide them online for public review. That's a huge leap from where I was when I started this class! I can look back and see a tremendous improvement from my first song to my latest, and my folder continues to get many new song ideas.

One of the assignments we had was to write a song emulating a fellow class mate. This was an interesting experiment in not only trying to copy someone's style, but it showed how much every student in class was affecting each other. Lots of emulation assignments became "that has Brian's vocal phrasing with Paul's favorite tempo and Tom's rhyming scheme". Fascinating! And imagine my pride when a few folks chose to emulate me and my fledgling song stylings - I became the de facto country song writer of the group - I was beaming with pride!

I also learned about collaborating with other song writers, something that brings it's own positives and potential conflicts; editing a song, also an eye-opening part of the song writing process, as in "my song is too long, but where do I cut?". The music that the students brought with their lyrics was wonderfully crafted and performed, and some of the vocal performances were outstanding! I found myself rooting for others while watching their personal development, and seeing their efforts get better each week extremely inspiring!

I can't thank  Jim and his students enough for their encouragement and support I received each week with my submissions. I would recommend anyone with an interest in song writing take one of Jim's classes at Foothill or The Freight and Salvage in Berkeley. And of course, I would have never accomplished any of this personal growth if not for the encouragement of Maurice Tani: Master Song Writer, Musician, Band Mate, and good friend. It was a great experience.

So now, because of...

Maurice Tani:


Jim Bruno:

there is...

Ken Owen

Thanks to you all for your encouragement and support.