Track 3 - Iowa Weather

Hello and welcome to the Ol' Big Bear Blog!   This is one of a series of  blogs where I will attempt to convey the inspiration and background of each of the 12 songs on my album Iowa Weather.  I hope you enjoy and are somewhat entertained.

“This life we have could always be better                                                                                                                 But it’s best we remember, things change like Iowa Weather”

I am writing this on a Saturday night in January, in Iowa.  It’s 13 degrees outside.  Today it got up to 20 and it literally felt like spring as we just came out of a single digit week.   When it starts to get down in the 20’s and 30’s in November it’s shocking.  We seem to forget how frickin’ COLD it gets even though we brace ourselves for it each fall.  But once you’ve braved a short ice age and get past the teens, the coats are thrown to the floor and everyone is outside walking the dog, shooting hoops and chatting it up with the neighbors.   I think that weather is a favorite topic of conversation in Iowa because it’s unpredictable and failure to plan ahead could be life threatening.  People freeze to death and die of heat stroke every year in Iowa.  But I didn’t write a song about that, thank god.  I did however, write about the unpredictability of life, the love for family and a dream. 

Iowa Weather was born on a cold February night in 2009 while my wife Ellie and kids (Charlie 2 and Quinn 3) were fast asleep.  This was the year of the biggest blizzard Iowa had seen since 1971, the year I was born.  There was lots of snow on the ground and elsewhere and it was cold enough that the carport had become an extension of our freezer.  Inspired by something I wrote down while journaling I concocted the lyrics first and then sat down at the piano to work out the chords and melody.  I quickly adapted it to guitar - an instrument I am much more proficient on.  I’ve actually had a couple of people tell me that this song would sound good on piano not knowing it originated there.  Maybe a B-side someday if I get practiced up a bit?

Ellie had taken a 3 year furlough from her job as a flight attendant to avoid being out of town for days at a time while the kids were still young.  Turns out she felt like she saw the kids more when she was flying.  She started out her furlough working in a cubicle for a formidable bank in downtown Des Moines.  Not a good match for her, maybe anyone for that matter.  She actually had to press a button when she went to the bathroom!  If she was gone for what they considered too long she’d be called into an office and questioned.  If this were me,  I might be tempted to make up excruciatingly detailed stories about explosive diarrhea and painful genital warts.   Ellie would leave the house at 7:30 in the morning and get back at 5:30, five days a week.  And the pay was nothing near what she was making at her previous job.  Needless to say, Ellie only lasted 3 months at the bank. Luckily she found a different desk job that included a variety of tasks that better suited her infectious  personality and allowed for much needed time away from the man eating desk trap.

We had moved from Dubuque, Iowa about a year earlier.  My new teaching and gigging endeavors in Norwalk and Des Moines were picking up nicely which meant I was working most nights and at home with the kids during the day.   I became equipped with skills such as vegetable consumption negotiations, sleep inducing mini van rides and preschool hunting.  We would often fantasize about working “regular” jobs and having a routine. Sometimes you need to visit the other side of the fence to realize that there’s just as much shit in the neighbor's grass.  It may smell different and have different shades of brown and green but…okay I’ll stop there.   

A lot of my songs are very straight forward, not a lot of metaphors and what not.  This is one of those.  It’s all in the song folks.  Things were tight financially.  Ellen worked days, I worked nights. Although at the time we may have been wishing for a better life,  I knew that “this too shall pass” and that we had a whole heck of a lot to be thankful for.  Also the scary or hopeful fact that things can change on a dime and everything apart from an underlying current of spirit, energy or love (if you fancy that kind of thing and can dig it up) is impermanent.   So this song is a reminder and perhaps a warning that things could always change for the better OR they could actually get a lot worse.  So, be in the moment.  Enjoy what you have and don’t take it for granted.  All that stuff.  And yes, this is also a song for Ellie.  A “love song"  if you will.  A reminder that I’ll be there through the hard times, the mundane times, and the awesome times.  And really, it’s all awesome if you take a moment and attempt to fathom the gifts we are given every day.  

Thanks for hanging out.  I hope to have you back for my next blog, Track 4 - Self Made Man.

Iowa Weather

by Dan Trilk

 

It’s been a long, cold winter, it’s been a crazy year

It’s goodbye in the morning, I’ll be staying here

You brewed a pot of coffee, set out my favorite mug

The burner is still warm, but it ain’t warm like a hug

Printed on that mug is “World’s Greatest Dad”’

And apart from missing you I’m happy and I’m glad

When you come home for supper I’ll already be gone

Guess you gotta make a dollar to keep a family strong

 

Oh, this life we have could always be better

But it’s best we remember things change like Iowa weather

And that sparkle in your eye is like the North Star                     

And I’ll always follow, no matter how far

 

Now I’m sorting the laundry, scraping food off the kitchen floor

Trying not to step on the kittens, making sure that the kids ain’t bored

And you, well you’re downtown working, trying to get it all done at best

Hoping for that dollar raise to help make up for what we lost out west

 

Oh, this life we have could always be better

But it’s best we remember things change like Iowa weather

And that sparkle in your eye is like the North Star                     

And I’ll always follow, no matter how far

 

And when the evening’s over I’ll slip into the house

Half trying not to wake you, I’ll kiss you on the mouth

But we got a baby sitter next Friday night I think

We’ll put on nice sweaters, probably have a drink

We’ll get caught up on some things, try to forget about all the rest

You tell me I’m handsome, I tell you you’re the best

 

Oh, this life we have could always be better

But it’s best we remember things change like Iowa weather

And that sparkle in your eye is like the North Star                     

And I’ll always follow, no matter how far

Oh, this life we have couldn’t be any better

But it’s best we remember things change like Iowa weather

And that sparkle in your eye is like the North Star                     

And I’ll always follow, no matter how far

 

winter dan.jpg
 Quick selfie during the video shoot for Iowa Weather

Quick selfie during the video shoot for Iowa Weather

 

Track 2 - I'm Gonna Drink

Hello and welcome to the Ol' Big Bear Blog!   This is one of a series of  blogs where I will attempt to convey the inspiration and background of each of the 12 songs on my album Iowa Weather.  I hope you enjoy and are somewhat entertained.

I enjoy having a few drinks and have had more than a few on more than a few occasions.  But, like many of my fellow 40 somethings, I've learned how to keep it under control over the years.  Being in control doesn't necessarily make for a good song though does it?!  Well, it's the truth (for the most part) and I suppose the alternative would be a bit sad not to mention unhealthy for me and my wife and kids.  This song was written a couple of years before the family showed up.  

I never really saw myself having a drinking problem.  It's not like I was ever a morning drinker or ever lost a job. And I didn't lose any friends by being a drunken ass (that I remember) ;-)  There WERE those times when the wall was holding me up during gigs... and I WAS known to fall off of the stage from time to time.  Never missed a note though. (Okay, maybe I could have used a 12 step program!) I even had a few nights where after the show I was bellied up to the bar whooping it up with new friends while my bandmates hauled the gear back to the van. LAME. I had never been THAT guy before!  I blame it on playing too much bass... I had become all the bass players that I had ever known!  Still some of the best dudes ever. (I get it now!). I think it all came to a head when my bandmate at the time had to have a couple of sit down sessions with me. Thanks, man.  That forced me to look at things and set some parameters.  

 

My general rule of thumb these days is a drink per set.  I guess I don't get out much these days other than playing shows.  This last weekend I played both Friday and Saturday night and stuck with the program. Easy Peasy.  Sure, I may double up during a set or two but I usually play 3 sets and never more than 4.  If you do the math I could have maybe 6 drinks tops in a night. Wait, sometimes there's a warm up round before I start playing... so maybe 8 at the most.  Spread that out over 5-6 hours and 250 pounds of fella and you have someone who is loose, not drunk.  It did take me a while to find that fine balance though.  

 

So, back to the raging alcoholic that I have been in denial about for 20 years.  Back to the guy who read "No One Here Gets Out Alive" one too many times.  I'm kidding!  It was just youth and the feeling of invincibility and all that crap, right?  During this period (late 20’s/early 30’s, circa 1998-2004) I had half way given up what I wanted for my life and just kind of floated for a while.  I don’t think I even knew what I wanted.  I was in projects that weren't fulfilling and relationships that were purposefully going nowhere.  I remember telling people that my new way of life was to just say "YES!" to everything.  It took the guesswork out of it all. I let others make life decisions for me because I didn’t trust myself to make the right ones.  I had failed in the past, why wouldn’t I fail in the future?  I knew this was faulty thinking but it wasn’t all bad.  I always had great friends and we had some really good times.  I had also never written as many songs as I did during these tumultuous years. 

 

That brings me back to track 2 of my album Iowa Weather.  When I sat down to write “I’m Gonna Drink” I really just wanted to say “You know, I just can’t get this life thing right and I’m tired of trying.  I’m tired of ‘going for it’.  I’m just gonna drink and forget all about that crap”.  I was obsessed with Merle Haggard records from the 1960’s when I wrote this song too.  In hindsight that probably didn't help the drinking!  So good though.  I listened to so much Merle that I was having dreams about being at BBQ’s with him and his family.  Now that’s some good eats folks!

 

So there ya have it.  My drinking song and a little bit of my drinking story.  Thanks for letting me drag you threw that and stay tuned for my next blog, Track 3 - Iowa Weather, where I will get back to the family again. 

 

 

I'm Gonna Drink

by Dan Trilk

I woke up from a dream
Of a parallel existence
That was twenty times better than my own
So I spent the entire day
Trying to figure out a way
To pull some pretty colors from this gray
 
And through this simple test
I learned about momentum
And I’m quickly going where I’m going to
 
And now there’s no stopping
This aging man from rocking
And I know exactly what I’m gonna do
 
I’m gonna drink
I’m gonna stink
I’m gonna pass out in the garden of eden
I’m gonna laugh
I’m gonna cry
I’m gonna beat around this burning bush I’m needing
 
And now there’s no stopping
This aging man from rocking
And I know exactly what I’m gonna do
 
I’m gonna drink
I’m gonna stink
I’m gonna pass out in the garden of eden
I’m gonna laugh
I’m gonna cry
I’m gonna beat around this burning bush I’m needing”

 

 

 
 
 
 

Track 1 - Mississippi Woman

Hello and welcome to the first Ol' Big Bear Blog!   This is one of a series of  blogs where I will attempt to convey the inspiration and background of each of the 12 songs on my album Iowa Weather.  I hope you enjoy and are somewhat entertained.

Mississippi Woman was one of several songs that I wrote when my (soon to be) wife, Ellen was pregnant with our daughter Quinn.  I was enjoying writing fingerstyle guitar pieces and once Ellen and I teamed up and started a family the lyrics presented themselves readily.

To back up a bit, Ellen is from Dubuque, Iowa and I'm from Norwalk, Iowa a suburb of Des Moines.  For those of you not from these parts it's a good 3 1/2 hour drive from the Mississippi River town to the state capital. Although it's reasonable that we could have met in our homeland it actually wasn't until we were both living in the San Francisco Bay Area that we crossed paths.  I moved there to play music and she to work as a flight attendant.  We were good friends for many years before joining forces.  I knew right away that she was the "the marrying kind" but I also knew I wasn't ready for such endeavors.  It took me years before I finally wised up but once I did we made up for lost time.  Rather immediately we multiplied into a trio.  Definitely one of the best things to ever happen to me.  It was a no brainer for us both that we needed to get back to the heartland to raise our baby, and that's what we did.

To back up a bit more, our families had crossed paths in many ways in the past.  My grandparents grew up and met in Dubuque.  Ellen's parents grew up and met in Dubuque. My dad went to Holy Trinity grade school as did his mom and her brother and sister. Ellen's dad went there too. In fact he would reminisce fondly of when those cute blonde Stierman girls moved into town.  One of them would become my Grandma Trilk years later. Ellen and I both have grandparents buried at Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Dubuque. As a kid my family used to go to family reunions every summer at Eagle Point Park in Dubuque.  Ellen's family met there for special occasions as well.  I wonder if we were ever there at the same time?

We decided to move from the bay area to Dubuque as her folks were quite a bit older than mine and we wanted our new baby girl to be a daily part of their lives.  It was so nice to get to know Ellen's wonderful family and the city that I grew up visiting and hearing about.  It was strange to hear of Trilks that I had never met too!  

So, back to the song.  I had this kind of Mississippi John Hurt inspired guitar thing that was begging for words. What shall I write about?   I decided that I wanted to express in the song how blessed I felt to have Ellie in my life and also to convey the serendipitous nature of us meeting and the fact that there were ties long before we were ever born.   The fact that it all started in a town on the Mississippi was compelling to me too.  I had to go to California to do it but (just like my grandpa) I found me a Mississippi Woman.  Man us Trilk boys are blessed!  Mississippi Woman it is!!

Stay tuned for the next Ol' Big Bear Blog,  TRACK 2 - I'M GONNA DRINK. This will reveal a whole different side of me!

 This is my Mississippi Woman.  Love her sparkly eyes.

This is my Mississippi Woman.  Love her sparkly eyes.

Mississippi Woman

by Dan Trilk
 
I’ve been blessed
With a Mississippi woman
Her love flows
In a Mississippi way
Just like my grandpa
I got a Mississippi woman
Her love flows
Far beyond the gulf bay
 
She makes my coffee
Every early, early morning
And makes sure that I’m comfy
At the end of each day
She loves me
Although I’m scraggly and I’m scruffy
She’s my strawberry muffin, I’m her ol’ big bear
 
She knows what to say
When I fidget and I fumble
And knows what the hell I’m talking about
When I can’t get it out
She knows what to do
To keep my heart booming
Yeah, she got a way
To keep those flowers blooming
 
I’ve been blessed
With a Mississippi woman
Her love flows
In a Mississippi way
Just like my grandpa
I got a Mississippi woman
Her love flows
Far beyond the gulf bay