Monthly Archives: April 2015

Coming Home

Here’s a gospel-tinged, piano ballad about being apart and coming back together. Are those religious overtones I hear, or just soaring guitars?

Songwriting inspiration from the most mundane of things

The story of My Life On A Shelf couldn’t be simpler. I was literally (in the old-fashioned, actual meaning of the word) looking at some books on a shelf in the spare room, considering their history.

I don’t have an accumulation of a lifetime of possessions. Over a decade ago I moved to Abu Dhabi with my family and we had to purge a lot of our possessions. Some we chose to keep, even though it was a costly proposition. But getting rid of stuff also has its costs.

As I perused my remaining books, I noticed old geology texts, my sci-fi collection from high-school and university and thought about why they had survived the purge and were still with me. It occurred to me that they were markers in my life. I began to look through the rest of the apartment taking stock of what was around and how each item was once a part of me, even if it wasn’t anymore. Every item had something to say about who I was.

This song came fairly easily, though I did spend some time exploring the Em vs. the A chord in several position, eventually using a combination.

The lesson to be learned from this song is how even the most mundane of subjects, thoughts, and activities can inspire, if you look deep enough. Ask yourself some questions and don’t shy away from your feelings.

I know this is a rather short post. It’s that time of year where marking looms large in an college instructor’s life. Plus, I’ve got another song that I’d like to release and don’t want to break the rhythm of song, lyrics, article. I’m happy to answer any of your questions about this song. Just ask.

Lyrics for My Life On A Shelf

My Life on a Shelf

© 2015 Stephen K. Roberts

Poking through the spare room,
Walls are lined with a clash of colours,
I pull out one of a thousand aligned spines.
Over here a textbook,
Over there a world shared mind to mind.

Flipping through the pages,
The words and smells and textures all combine.

That’s my life on a shelf,
Reminding me of who I once was,
My life on a shelf,
Souvenirs from the world of self,
Where’s the harm in traveling back.

There beside the TV,
A hundred movies climb to the ceiling,
Among them are a few that mark our time.
Next to them, the CDs,
Dwarfed by what’s on vinyl in import and size.

Sometimes a painted jacket,
Emerges from the cover like a prize.

That’s my life on a shelf,
Reminding me of who I once was,
My life on a shelf,
Souvenirs from the world of self
Where’s the harm in traveling back.

Photographs in albums, or in frames,
A shell, a stone, a coin, may do the same,
That totem in your hand,
Sparks some magic in your brain,
Keep it safe to kindle memory’s flame.