Tag Archives: Writing

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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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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“LA” EP Part 2

Nowadays I feel like what I write about

has nothing to do with what the song

is actually about. I write about something

specific, but it’s not about that specific thing.

It is, but it goes beyond that.

I think my lyrics would be boring if it didn’t.

They should cause people to think, interact,

and go beyond the obvious. People don’t

like to do that these days, and I’m included.

Yes this EP is about LA but it’s also not about LA

at all.

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Finished Writing

I set out to write 10 to 12 songs

for this album. I just finished

my 10th song. Now onto the

recording process. This doesn’t

mean I’ll stop writing songs over

the next few months, but I probably

won’t feel the same pressure to finish

a project. I think I’ll feel more free. If

I want to write I can, but if I don’t want

to I shouldn’t burden myself to birth

10 songs/ babies like a Catholic mother.

 

I think the first 6 songs I wrote

for this album are my favorites.

It’s possible I actually don’t like the

other 4 as much, or maybe it’s

because I haven’t spent as much

time with them. They haven’t had

time to sink in and effect me in the

same ways as the first 6. Who knows,

maybe the 4 will never grow on me

like the 6 have, but I plan to give it time.

I mean, they were only born within the

past 2 weeks.

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