Category Archives: Song

Erwin “Cannon Ball” Baker

Who’s Erwin “Cannon Ball” Baker? After this blog post you’ll be asking the greater question. Why have I never heard of him? If you’re ahead of the game and know all about Baker, then you’re either really into history, Indiana, or motorcycles.

I got my first taste of Baker from an IndyStar article published a couple weeks ago. I was blown away my this man, and even more so that he slipped under my radar for so long. Here are some facts I found interesting about Baker.

  • He lived in Garfield Park just a stone’s throw away from where I used to live when I first got married, and since moving, now only about a mile and a half away.
  • He won the first motorized race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909, which was a 10-mile motorcycle race. Side note: the first race ever at the IMS was a balloon race.
  • He also raced in the Indianapolis 500 in 1922 and finished 11th.
  • He made more than 143 attempts at a variety of timed, long-distance records. One of his most noteworthy transcontinental rides was in 1914 when he rode from San Diego to New York City in 11 days, 12 hours, and 10 minutes.
  • He rode and drove roughly 5.5 million miles from 1908 to 1933.
  • He is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.

These are just a few facts that sparked my attention. It just so happens that we are in the midst of the 103rd anniversary of his record-setting 1914 ride. He began on May 3, 1914 (today is May 4) and finished May 14, 1914.

I found a website that has Baker’s journal notes from his 1914 trip. It was such a wondrous story, I had to write a song about it. I just finished it today, so I thought I would  share the lyrics with you. I typically don’t like to share the lyrics right after finishing a song, but it seemed fitting.

Verse 1:
Headed East from San Diego
to the City of New York.
For a record-setting ride,
I filled my canteen to the cork.
The sand pushed me to the limit
as I pushed my two-speed horse.
With only a few paved miles laid out,
I would have to set the course.

Verse 2:
Spent the morning in the desert
at triple-digit degrees.
By the time I called it quits,
I rode a mile above the sea.
I worked my way toward the valley
full of bleached-white cattle bones.
Would this machine keep me alive,
or would it become my tombstone?

Verse 3:
Took all day to cross the river
that was swollen on all sides.
I looked for a shallow answer,
but learned the depth of my pride.
I had thousands of miles ahead
with no easy route in sight.
I worried about tomorrow
before I made it to tonight.

Verse 4:
Tried to not let the storm catch me,
so I mounted my machine.
With no time to stop for breakfast,
the thought of mud was my caffeine.
I rode atop the railroad ties
to escape the tough terrain.
“Clear the road: I am a-coming”
was the native-spread refrain.

Verse 5:
Made up my mind I would not stop
till I touched the city streets.
As my journey came to a close,
it all felt so bittersweet.
I came in strong though late at night
upon my seven-horse steed.
Little did I know that I’d be called
the pioneer of speed.

 

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Avenoo Blues – Song 2

My second song is about Indiana Avenue, and the music

scene during the early to mid 1900s. Blues was one of

the popular genres during the Avenue’s heydays. The

song is written from the perspective of someone who

knew the saloons, bars, and juke joints during its golden

years, which is why they are singing the blues. They miss

the greatness that once was. I also did my darnedest to make

it sound as if it was recorded during that time period. Give it

a listen here.

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Victory – Song 1

I can’t believe this is my first post of the new year.

On the other hand, I’ve been living my life more in

the real world instead of online, so I guess I can believe

it.

 

My most recent and exciting endeavor is my 10-week

music residency at the Harrison Center for the Arts. I’m

in the middle of my third week, and I have to write and

record one song per week. Each song must be placed-based,

so it has to be about Indianapolis in some way. My first song,

which you can listen to here, is about Lady Victory atop the

Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

 

This is my first attempt at recording all by myself, so it’s

not perfect but it’s a great learning experience. With that

said, it turned out pretty good. I definitely have a greater

respect for sound engineers. Make sure to give it a listen

and stay tuned for the next 9 songs.

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Song 5 and 6 “Boss Angeles” and “LAX

I figured I would combine the last two songs

into one blog post just to keep it brief. I won’t

say much about “Boss Angeles.” It’s similar

to “City of Angels” but slightly different. “City

of Angles” is meant to be ironic, and “Boss Angeles”

is meant to be satirical. That’s all I’ll say about it.

Go ahead and listen to the songs, and you’ll see what

I mean.

 

“LAX” is the most uplifting, happy, and resolved song

on the EP. Every other song is full of questions, doubt,

darkness, uncertainty, and ends on an unresolved note

musically. This song has no questions or uncertainty,

just a sense of longing and waiting. But it’s not the kind

of waiting that causes doubt, uncertainty, strife, and

uneasiness. Like when you go to the doctor to have major

tests done, and you’re anxiously waiting for the results

for the results. It’s a waiting filled with trust, certainty,

rest, and patience. Like when you’re sick and tired of winter

and you long for spring. You know spring will come, the

snow will melt, the sun will come out, and the temperature

will rise.

 

This is the kind of longing found in this song. It’s the

resolution we’ve been waiting for the whole EP. The

peace we’ve been seeking for the previous five tracks.

Just as the first five songs long to be resolved and the

tension dismissed by the sixth, so to do our souls long

to be resolved, the tension dismissed, and wholeness

ushered in.

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#Wordpainting

On January 1st, I posted about something new I was

going to try in 2015, which I titled “word painting.”

In the past, I primarily used journals to house my ideas,

chord progressions, lyrics, and sketches, but I thought

it would be fun to spice things up a bit. I found a brand

of paint swatches that were about the same size as the

pages in my journal.

Down the road, I would like to find a way to display

these in more of an artistic fashion. If anyone has an

idea, I would love to know.

#wordpainting

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Concrete

I was driving home to Indy from my hometown,

when the first spark flew. As I merged to one of

the exits, I saw the criss-crossing interstates at

a favorable angle. The imagery was reminiscent

of spiderwebs, which was the inspiration for the

first verse of Concrete.

This photo isn’t a photo of what I saw, but

somewhat paints the picture I wanted to paint

with my words.

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Partial to Partial Songs Part Two

The two partially finished/ started songs I mentioned in my last

post are now complete. I guess I got the spark I was looking for.

That is all. Happy Friday!

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I’m Partial to Partial Songs

I haven’t written or really worked on a song in a couple months, which

is kind of strange for me. I feel like I’m always plucking away at something

or trying to write new songs. Since I have the EP in the on-deck circle, I

don’t feel pressured to write new songs, but I’m not feeling extremely

inspired either. I suppose you could say I have writer’s block, but I’m

not really putting forth much effort sooooooo… Yup.

 

I came up with a fun riff today that I really like. I started mumbling some

words, and I actually like the words I came up with for the chorus. Not so

much for the verse. I started looking back through my journal, and found

another partially finished/ started (however you prefer to look at it) song,

and I forgot how much I liked it. So out of no where, I have two new songs

in the works. I just need that extra bit of spark to push me over the edge

of creativity, so I can finish them.

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“War in the Sky”

 

Oh you know, just singing a song and getting it on camera.

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