Posts Tagged ‘appreciation’

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Friend Donut

For two summers in Charleston, SC, I worked at an independent donut shop. Circus Donuts. It used to be a Burger King. But it was transformed by vintage circus posters, an offbeat couple of donutologists (as they called themselves), and enough donuts to leave me smelling like them each day when I came home and hugged my mom. In the mornings, the place was humming with business and a crew of workers, but in the afternoons I was often left to run the place by myself. And, as is my style, I took it personally. I had heard my boss say, “When there’s time to lean, there’s time to clean,” and I took it to heart. The booths sparkled. The coffee (that I loved to smell but hated to taste) never ran out and the little diner mugs were stacked and ready should a busload of old folks suddenly descend upon me. Times like that, it was *my* donut shop. And when my good friend Jennifer would stop by, I would always conspiratorially place an extra donut on her tray, calling it the friend donut. The one you get for being my friend.
“Friend Donut” is a love song to a friend. It’s about giving your friend the royal treatment. In an imagined future donut shop. Jennifer and I continued to refer to the “friend donut” for years to come. It came to mean “that extra thing you get because you are my friend.”
In recent years I have made a friend named Aaron in my current home of Columbia, SC. He is unusual in his extraordinary appreciation for both friends and donuts. He writes memorable, singable songs of family and friendship for his band Those Lavender Whales. He puts out his friends’ records on a label called Fork and Spoon that he runs with…his friends. He daydreams about opening his own donut shop. He goes for donuts in a nearby town where I once discovered donuts that were surprisingly, emotionally reminiscent of those I once sold at Circus Donuts years ago. So today I offer you this simple version of “Friend Donut,” with cheers and love to friends old and new…and to the royal treatment.
P.S. You can download the audio at my Soundcloud page.

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

When I’m Sad, I Make My Friends Sing to Me

A lot of us are intense about music, whether or not we make music ourselves (there are so many ways to build your life around it). You meet people and, when they tell you what albums they love, their taste speaks volumes, right? It’s shorthand. We feel love and loyalty towards our favorite artists and experience a genuine, powerful sense of loss when they are gone.
Through my life as a musician, I have been drawn to fellow songwriters as friends, and it has been our songs that did the introducing, providing that very same shorthand. And one night, when I was up past any hour that would be appropriate to make a phone call, I realized I could go over to my stereo and put on something by one of my friends. And everything got better. Voilà. So this is a love song to records and the people who make them.

You can download the audio at my Soundcloud page.

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Snow Globe

Here’s a song from the Lunch Money album Original Friend. Most of the lyrics come from my memory of a day from my childhood when a light dusting of snow got us all sent home from school. Snow was, and still is, so rare in South Carolina. That day my brother and I just started walking home. I don’t even think our mom was notified that school was closing. Even the old guy who served as a crossing guard on the highway was not at his post yet, and we hesitated for a second and then shrugged and navigated it on our own. We made our way the couple of miles to our house, surrounded by miraculous snowflakes. I remember being confused that it could actually snow when all I had brought that day was a red sweatshirt! For me, this song is about the beauty of snow and also about the exhilarating freedom to be kids wandering home in it.
My brother now lives in Massachusetts, where snow is not as rare. I was visiting him one October and it started snowing. I was so moved by this unexpected bonus and, on a whim, I lay down on the ground and looked up. When I did that, I was astonished by how different the world seemed from that perspective. It was suddenly quiet and thick flakes were floating right towards my face for as far as I could see. It was one of the most surprising sensations I have ever experienced.
Feel free to download this mp3 at my Soundcloud page.

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Junior Volunteers

As I said in my last post, I often wind up writing a song for a special occasion. Several years ago, my library asked us to perform at the annual summer ice cream party for the Junior Volunteers. We were happy to oblige, and I thought it might be nice to write a song just for the event. When I asked the volunteer coordinator to tell me more about the junior volunteers, I was soon grinning and scribbling away with my pencil as she listed off things like windexing sticky books, cutting out nametags, putting out the little pencils and slips of paper by each computer. And their time commitment, for me, was the cherry on top: one hour a week. Oh yes, I was going to enjoy writing this anthem. Here is the song that resulted:

Junior Volunteers

Sunday, July 25th, 2010


Sometimes I write a song in trade, or on a dare, or in support of a cause, or to salute something or other. This song “Smokey” was written in trade. An artist friend offered to swap a painting of my son for a song about her dog. I went over and spent a few hours chatting about Smokey, hearing about her photo being used in a giant ad in Times Square, her  growing understanding of Japanese, her ability to swear at the neighbors, her various quirks, likes (peanut butter) and dislikes (other dogs), and her life together with cat-friend Banjo and her favorite human, Leslie. Here is the song that emerged: