Joe Garland

10156175_1035676983129409_8807814283867819642_nSince I don’t play, sing, or write particularly well, I try to combine the three. My chief instrument is the electronic, fretted bass, but I also play guitar and some piano. I generally write lyrics first, and then work out a tune on the guitar or, sometimes, the piano.

Separately, I’ve taken to writing fiction. In a few cases, I’ve written a story from the kernel of one of my songs. Here’s a list of my books.

My recordings are rough, generally using Audacity software. Sometimes I do the acoustic guitar while singing to which I sometimes add a bass and guitar. Sometimes I record each track individually. Here are some of my songs, all original: They are not meant as performance pieces but as the presentation of songs.

The following or more-or-less in reverse chronological order. I have a separate spot for ballads, because they’re a bit trickier to listen to.

It’s the Old Story: Did this quickly while away. It also sounds good on a piano with 9ths, but I’m not good enough to play it.

But Not Me: A Blues.

I Have Always Loved To Look At Her: Self-explanatory.

Going to California: In some respects the opposite of The Visit. This was longer, but significantly cut-down. It is also the basis for my novel Coming to Terms.

He Is Gone And I Love Him Still: Peculiar. Covers a very brief “encounter”. I wrote free-verse on the subway a while back and then tried to create a song out of it. The “He Is Gone” part is supposed to be “the” song in the song, but needs a female voice.

Nothing Mattered To Me But You: I had the first couple of lines and they sat. I then gave it a shot, and this is what came of it. My initial chorus was not liked by a bandmate, so out it went and a new one took its place. It’s better, I’ll admit.

Notorious Harm (Patrick): Written largely as a stream-of-consciousness in a dentist’s office. Patrick is my nephew, known as Wiki. Hence the reference to “What I Know Is.” Kind of/sort of a rap.

Eldorado: I started with a bass line on this because the tune uses a blues scale. So it’s Cm with c-g-g#-g as the bassline with Fm (and a quick visit to G) for the verse. Just bass, voice, acoustic guitar.

Eight In The Evening: The beginning of this was around for a while. I then was playing with a simple chord progression, and thought it got interesting. This was recorded with an acoustic and voice to which I added the bass and some fills on the Epiphone.

Hold Out for that Ring: This is a quickie, written for a woman to sing.

The Prison: Not much to say on this one. Started with a few lines and went from there.

Long Time Coming: This was a song that went missing for a while. I stumbled upon the first few stanzas recently and decided to see where the song went. In a restaurant in Montgomery, NY I pretty much finished them off on Dec. 3, 2016. At first I tried it with a chord progression that didn’t work. So I went back to the drawing board and came up with this. I recorded my Epiphone electric then did vocals and then bass and finally some piano.

Summer’s End: This one was built off a chord progression from pianist Lynn V.

I Saw: I normally don’t write political songs. They tend to be too narrow. But these are not normal times, although this may well be a narrow song.

The Curious Incident in the Bar in the Nighttime: I was rehearsing with One Eyed Cats, a band with which I’ve played once and that I might join. One of the songs on the set list was one I found objectionable. So I wrote a different perspective in about 20 minutes (for the verses; the chorus was done later). This is the result.

When I Found You: I wrote most of this on the train one afternoon. The idea was to have some short, simple verses and then have space for solos. For current purposes, I put in a brief bit of guitar soloing. My vocals are low key; I thing someone who can sing would be able to blow it out a bit.

31: For my 31st anniversary.

Christmas Trees: My attempt at a Christmas song.

Don’t Tell Me: This tune was from someone else who had written a piano piece. I immediately thought of the opening lines — “Don’t tell me more of your lies, find someone who still cares who’ll listen”. She did not think it was anything like what she was thinking. It’s also a song for a woman to sing. I re-recorded with an electric guitar and bass with vocals on top:

Little Baby: Written after a baby stared up at me on the subway. The bass is particularly overwhelming on this one. Oops.

Waiting: Making it through a crisis.

Things Would Be Simple/If They Weren’t So Complex: Married life on the Upper West Side.

Falling Trees: Not sure how to describe this one.

Rain: Chiefly written long ago. Part of the Alameda Drive set list.

Shot: This is pure fiction.

Subway: Written on many trips on the 4 or 5 or 2 in Brooklyn.

The Wind: This is something written about someone I know, a musician, who just went through major, transplant surgery. He’s slowly on the mend. One of the issues with this is the extent to which you can right a song that is too specific and too personal, and lose a more general connection with the listener.

Thinking About You: A stream-of-consciousness thing, begun on a train ride into the City.

What Do I See?: A love song.


The Visit: The first part of this was around for awhile and I couldn’t figure where to go with it. Then I re-visited it and the story went its own way.

Rivertown: Another one in which I wrote a portion and then lost track of it. I then picked it up again and finished it off.

Sag Harbor: A song begun about a place. A ballad.

Mary Elizabeth Moved to Brooklyn: This was written on a guitar in open-G tuning. That’s how it’s played, on a mock Telecaster bought at a tag sale.

Newtown: This is a bit out there. I played on a g-tuned electric with a slide and sang through a mic.