Thursday, January 17, 2013

“The Wishing Tree” – the Musical Version!

Happy Thursday! It’s been some time since my own music appeared in this space, but I’m expecting that to change in 2013. My expectation is to post at least one piece, either original or cover, each month, probably on a Thursday.

At one I posted songs as videos & people said they liked that, but I switched to embedded mp3s at a certain point because I was producing a cd of the blues material I do, & the sound quality on the videos was not good enough for that. On the other hand, In Idaho I had a pretty nice little home recording set up, & at least for the time being, that’s not the case. In fact, I’m using a makeshift system, as you can see from the photo: an Olympus handheld digital recorder with a Sony condenser mic; this creates a proprietary software file, which I then convert to WAV & then to an mp3. That’s a lot of converting, for one thing, & there’s no real way to set recording levels—essentially, it comes down to how far the mic is from the guitar! So while it’s not immediately audible, I can tell you there is some distortion here—it’s fairly slight, but it does affect the overall quality.

So: before I got off on that digression—yes, it’s possible I may post some of them as videos along the way. I didn’t do it this time, because I still need to words of the poem to bring the music to mind, & to my mind there are few things more boring than a video of a guitar player staring intently at a music stand.

The poem! It is one of my very favorite poems by one of my very favorite poets & one of my very favorite people, Barbie Angell: “The Wishing Tree.” I was thrilled that Barbie liked the setting. She was extremely generous about the sound quality & the few little performance glitches here & there, & I hope you will be as well. I’m still learning the piece, but this take gives a pretty fair sense of it. “The Wishing Tree” is being played on my Gold Tone resonator guitar (wood body), tuned to open G—in other words, the strings sound a G major tune when struck together.

Barbie also agreed to run the poem again on the blog, so you can find the words after the embedded mp3 player. In terms of the music synching with the words there’s a very brief intro, which I hope sounds sufficiently “intro-like.” The poem’s words would begin about 5 seconds in.

Thanks to Barbie Angell, & thanks to you folks for listening!

The Wishing Tree

Two hundred years ago
in a land so far away,
there was a legend told
to the children one spring day.

The wizard of the town
told the story of the sky.
He said the moon’s a crystal ball
with one all-seeing eye.

He said there is a fence
with a tree along the side
and the moon had seen a girl,
who sat beneath and cried.

And the moon, he felt compassion
for the girl beneath the tree.
He cried a lonely tear for her,
which fell into the sea.

The tear looked like a star
shooting in the night.
The young girl gazed upon it
as it fell far from her sight.

And aloud she made a wish,
and the moon above her smiled,
and he granted her that wish,
for her faith was as a child’s.

And ever since that night,
the moon has watched that tree,
so if you ever sit beneath,
please make a wish for me.

Barbie Angell
© 2012


  1. Nice and atmospheric! One suggestion - slide. I think this would sound fantastic to use an open tuning and a slide for the melodic line. But then that's just me...

    1. Thanks, Roy! Slide would sound nice on some parts for sure.

  2. Hi John, can you direct me to a way of looking up the histroy of folk songs like Sandy River Belle and Old Joe Clark... Tunes I am learning to play, but don't know anything about.

    1. Hi Randy: I'd try Mudcat Cafe, which is here. Also some of the better known old-time tunes have Wikipedia entries--which are of course of varying quality. I'd bet "Old Joe Clark" is on Wikipedia. Also, simply Googling the tune name & a keyword like "history" can often bring up some fun sites. Good luck!

  3. I like this; the music has in it the mood of the poem, a combination of magic, kindness, and melancholy.

    1. Thanks so much! I was definitely trying to capture those emotions!

  4. Enjoyed the music so much! It suits the poem well. Can't wait to hear more of your work :)


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