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MP3 Tom Guard - Shy River

Shy River flows in many directions. Influenced by folk, jazz, blues and fusion, its thirteen songs often reflect the style of his father, Kingston Trio founder Dave Guard who wrote the album''s country-style ballad, Above and Beyond.

13 MP3 Songs in this album (47:11) !
Related styles: FOLK: Folk-Rock, FOLK: Acid Folk

People who are interested in John Lennon Nick Drake Dave Guard should consider this download.

How can I describe Shy River? A rocker both colorful and complex with roots in folk, blues, jazz, and fusion. The title brings to mind the book Harpo Speaks. After years of being mostly non verbal, Mr. Marx is said to have become quite garrulous. The levy has broken and Shy River is flooding in and none of its tracks are instrumental. It flows in many directions. Inspired by films, family, heroes, emotions and thoughts, the thirteen songs reflect the influence of his father, Dave Guard who wrote the album''s country-style ballad, Above and Beyond. Another song proudly covered is See Emily Play. Backed up vocally by his kids, Tara and Pascal and sister, Catherine, Tom mixes the Syd Barrett classic with tabla, bagpipes and banjo. Tom''s song, Between You and Me shares diverse spiritual nudgings from slack key master, Gabby Pahinui, Pete Seeger and Pete Townsend.
About the Songs
Lyrics and History
Crossing Over the Road
lyrics and music by Tom Guard © 2008

They''d been told about him
crossing over the road
He''s the good samaritan
Through time his words echoed

They knew who he was
He wore no disguise
Though they were young
he told them no lies

He ran with the wind
Cold night, then the day begins
So he hid a way
in their barn
sleeping in hay

She snuck out and woke the man
Frightened she she be came
She asked "Who is it?"
In vain he said his name

What if he''s come back?
He''d see things have changed
No more anecdotes
The subject remains
There are still bad folks
Don''t ignore the lies
Kathy thought "No, really!
Let''s open our eyes."

They knew who he was
He wore no disguise
Though they were young
he told them no lies

This was the first song I wrote for Shy River and it is followed respectively. I thought I''d rather start a song with a vocal melody than develop a catchy riff. There was a movie I''d seen as a kid called Whistle Down the Wind. It was about an escaped convict who hides on a farm and is found by a girl who believes he is Christ. Soon rumors get out but the secret only lasts until the adults catch on and Blakey is captured. He never claimed to be Jesus but the kids were convinced having been reminded repeatedly about the good samaritan himself.

The twelve string''s tone provided a great theme. I''d begun creating MIDI files at home and actually produced a few we were able to use at R Productions, Peter Rubbo''s studio. Peter was very taken by the uniqueness of the song and urged me to sing more harmony tracks. My sister Catherine''s husband Leonice was in town so we recorded some tabla as well. There were quite a few tracks for a first song but it felt right. At one point I wanted some cymbal crashes to resemble thunder at the onset of some verses. Peter took a sound byte of a cymbal, copied it, reversed it and combined it and we had thunder. I tried tin whistles and it added an even newer tone to the song.

The track list became so full that the song was discovered by musician/producer friend of Peter''s who was needing a photo of his mixer in action with lots of meters ablaze. Quick thinking brought Crossing Over the Road to mind. When the guy heard it, he loved it. Peter emailed me to share what he''d said, "This is good stuff. you don''t hear songs like this. Hat''s off to him." That vote of confidence pushed me to really get some more ideas out without hesitation. Peter still thinks it''s the best song. George Dussault, another producer who drummed on the record later, had also singled out the tune from several others and said "I like this. My band needs more tunes like this." Hopefully more than just producers will like it but it but that''s not a bad group to have on your side.
Shy River
lyrics and music by Tom Guard © 2008

One day when I''d gone around
one last town and there I found
you holding all those golden reasons
and so I visit that town a lot

Get up and dance tonight
lose your fear and feel alright
No one can criticize
the love on which we base our lives

I''ve been around
just long enough by now
to know my mind
and learned just how
to set things right

Waves are like words you know
Some of the get lost below
Here come those creepy sinking feelings
of reaching deeper than words describe

Because you helped me through the tower
Now I can laugh and enjoy every hour
Oh yeah

I watch the waves roll by
now and then on the River Shy
I always leave with a good feeling
that there''s a meaning in what I got

Looking back I can tell you
I found out what love can do
Seeing now what we been through
makes me feel close to you

Get up and dance tonight
lose your fear and feel alright
No one can criticize
the love on which we base our lives

Waves are like words you know
choppy talk just runs shallow
Come tell me all about still waters
and when they disappear

Developed from a chord progression and freestyling vocals onto a cassette, this song gradually grew into a myriad of verses, choruses, two bridges and an outro. Keeping it simple to start would have been wise but something said, "Make it whatever it needs to be." I brought in Andy Solberg, a fellow music teacher who could really play. He said exactly what my sister, Catherine said about it, "It''s all over the place." but I convinced them both it had gravity and they could do it and they did. Andy did a great job of putting a Duanne Allmanish feel all around by playing responses after vocal lines. We ended up letting all of his three passes play loud simultaneously and it worked. Catherine advised me that certain harmonies like some on Crossing Over the Road could be improved upon. She re-iterated my father''s advice by stating that harmony lines should rise or remain if the main vocal is falling. So we managed to do some fast changes before recording her backing vocals. Peter offered to both drum and record so we chose to take four songs-in-progress and see what would result. His abilities really added to the jazzier aspects of Crossing Over the Road and especially Shy River which has a bright bridge towards its ending. I Have It In Mind, was not so jazzy but a common musical influence of ours made it a good match as well.

In 2001 my younger sister, Sally passed away after battling the same form of cancer that took our father''s life ten years before. I moved from California to Massachusetts to help her family and co-parent my kids. After months of getting settled I met a woman named Karen and any feelings of loneliness disappeared. We both had kids we loved and we were working hard to keep it together. Neither of us had been in a relationship for a long time since we were working and co-parenting. Something had said to me in my trying moments, "Hold on. Something wonderful is coming" and that was Karen. I often draw from the symbolism in Pamela Eakin''s book, Tarot of the Spirit. In the chapter about the Tower card she shares Allan Watts'' WW2 experience of feeling Satori despite bombs exploding around him. Everything we ever build, know and love can crumble at any time. Karen helped me through my tower of sadness and change. The song is there to thank her by saying, "Maybe I say too much but being shy can pass for being shallow and my love runs deep." Ironically, this is among the longest of the song descriptions. Karen and I are very happily married now. Enough said!
I Have It In Mind
lyrics and music by Tom Guard © 2008

What have you done about it?
What have you done about it?
About the things that never sat with you too well
and everything you kept inside but couldn''t tell

Yeah yeah... yeah yeah... yeah yeah

If I see through a mask I won''t know
to leave it behind when I go
and I know I''ll have to cry when I wanna cry
It''s something that I have in mind

Yes I have it in mind
just to cry if I want to
when I have it in mind

And if you keep these sticky things around
They''ll only weigh your soul down
and when... when you come around

It''s time to let go of your pride.
Things will improve... you decide Ahhhhhh

Yes I have it in mind
Yes I have it in mind...
Yes I have it in mind
to cry if I want to
when I have it in mind
''have it in mind

For this one I made use of one of those riffs I couldn''t ever get out of my head. It started as an angry lyric, "Cry if you want. Nothing''s going to make me hang around." Lots had to change there. The vocal line was too closely matched to the riff. I freestyled a vocal over just the bass line and came up with, "What have you done about it? ... about the things that never sat with you too well" I was never one to tell someone I didn''t care about their crying so I followed with, "I''ll cry if I wanna'' cry, ''cause I have it in mind" ... about the things that never sat with me too well ... that is.

Peter loved the lyric and, with only the bass track to go by, managed to play some astonishing drums. We both like the band Tool. They play in odd meters and write great lyrics. Their densely compressed songs physically grab you. Tara and Pascal''s singing on the song comes through clearly thanks to a welcome addition to Peter''s RProductions studio six months before the project wrapped. That being a Yamaha DM2000 mixing console. If the record hadn''t taken a long time to make that beautiful machine wouldn''t have been involved in the mixing.
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When the Shock Wears Off
lyrics and music by Tom Guard © 2008

You are someone I don''t even know
telling me the way it all should go

In the sea when the shock wears off
you swim real'' hard, it''s not enough
And the mast that''s supporting you
it''s soon going to capsize too
One last gasp and you give up hope
and you''re getting set to meet the ghost
and the scary monsters rescue you

Remember you''re not, not alone
full circle never far from home
Oh my young lad how you have grown
You better eat, you look like skin and bones

Does it seem the monsters are contrived
there to keep your interest alive
In a day when the shock wears off
things come to terms, you''re not so tough
Anything that you suffer through
lies there on the path for you
And the movies in your mind
take you to another time
where the hero sometimes has to lose

Both the riff and chorus were stewing in my mind for a long time. There was only one lyric so far where the chorus breaks, "In a day when the Shock Wears off, things come to terms..." I just had to elaborate on that. Joseph Campbell''s mythical heroes were the basis for my story of a guy who walks the plank as pirate''s jeer him on. After being marooned the lad is saved by the dragon from his nightmares only to find it was all just a dream after all.

I''d met a guy named George Weissinger through the Kingston Trio grapevine who offered to help on the track. I asked for banjo but he also sent twelve string tracks which I used instead because they worked so well. I thought my $200 Yamaha twelve string sounded as good as any but when I heard his Martin twelve I was floored. I''d liked playing them at the store but didn''t think they would record so well ... and they do. That was the first try at farming out work remotely and it really worked. Peter told me it poses problems with the mastering since it varies things but I took his advice and created lots of head room on the tracks recorded at places other than his R Productions.

We recorded Peter''s drumming on this and the previous songs. He''d done this cracking Salsa-style thing that inspired a jazzy piano piece at the end. The piano was created in Finale with my Alesis keyboard. I''d bought a MIDI/USB cable and received with it, Cubase, the same recording program Peter uses, . That helped me realize how much I could create from home. The piano part was recorded to MIDI at half tempo and later brought to speed. The song is very short and the last half is instrumental so I''m hoping to extend a lengthy jam from that danceable groove when we play it live. It''s the last track on the record so I''m glad it ends in a very "ending" way with a big chord at the end.
lyrics and music by Tom Guard © 2008

Pascal was born on a Summer morn''
in nineteen hundred and ninety-four
The Virgo boy with his pale blue eyes
took a look out his window at the open sky

He felt out of place there in Shangri La
so he drafted a plan for a coup''détats

He was named for a mystic man
with practical thoughts his life began
but the ways he used to measure
didn''t apply to love and pleasure.

His name is Pascal
Now he''s a man and we''re alive today
because he thought another way

We call him Pascal
and he''s so full of love
It helped this living legend rise above.

He said, "Along with fate are certain things
that come with what tomorrow brings
The answer came with an obvious clue
It won''t sound too harsh if we call it a coup!"

His name is Pascal
Now he''s a man and we''re alive today
because he thought another way

He must have reached deep down inside
after seeing other peoples lives
going up in flames not knowing
that their fuel was overflowing
ah yeah

I while ago my sister''s husband, Leonice and I had jammed to a bass sequence I wrote. The whole thing turned out wonderfully and there was a hook right at the end before our tape ran out. I used it throughout Pascal. I tuned my bass to EBEA so I could easily make chords and Peter used a Cowboy Direct In Box through a Focusrite Pre-amp. Even that was astounding. We used that setup on every bass track. I had a click track but it helped to have Peter conduct it as well. Karen liked the raw sound of just the bass, vocal and harmonica but the riff is so repetitive that added a lot of guitar.

I was getting impatient about Shy River. I''d pushed the ETA back several times and anxiety was crawling in . Gearge runs his Galilee Productions out of his home in Rhode Island. He''s an ace guitarist, engineer and teacher at White''s Music where we met. Although he was young he knew all about my dad''s work and that of his colleagues. I felt it right that George should share those influences by drumming on eight of the more retro-sounding tunes.

In writing songs , I wanted to chose from the most ernest passions and Pascal, my son came to mind. His evolution turned out to be fairly similar to a historic figure with whom he shares a name. Blaise Pascal was a seventeenth century mathematician turned mystic. Early on my son showed a lot of skill in math and, though he hasn''t become a mystic yet, he has become a great musician and social nexus. I thought I''d paste together a collage of the two. The improvised bass line was already down and it was complex so writing the lyrics and arrangement around it was tough. I must have re-written this one twenty times over the course of two years. I think this song, if any, got me to commit to smart and final arrangements and stop speculating with thoughts like, "What if we did this instead?" I owe Pascal a more personal song because there''s a lot I''d like to him still. He turned fourteen recently.

Tara Shakti
lyrics and music by Tom Guard © 2008

Move on up to the
places you''ve not been
Go explore and live some more
and the points between

Don''t back down
from a the ladders that you climb
Keep a bead on the black full moon
in a mad bull''s eye

Before you grow up
and you leave that kid behind
paint a picture of your life so far
use your own design

I like you
You''re a little bit like me
Watching flicks on Saturday
always sets us free

There were times
we''d live our lives inside a dream
We''d regret if we forget
what the symbols mean

Thank you girl
I''ll be back with you once more
Think of me in eternity
swimming at the shore

A while back I was jamming with a pianist on a four chord progression. I used a bottle neck slide on my six string Guild D40 open tuned to CGCGCE. I''d free-styled some words as we recorded onto a cassette and I knew it was worth developing. On the harmonica track I used a separate harp for each chord. A G harp where the G chord went etc.

I asked Cameron Greenlee to come over and make a MIDI piano recording. He did a great job of sight reading. It was good to know the chart could be read and performed with such feeling. George drummed on this one too. He managed to take the two songs about my kids up five notches. The song is about my daughter and, like Pascal, it wasn''t great until those drums came to be. Geworge recorded his tracks when time alloed and I''d received a daley MP3 sent via email from Galilee. I hadn''t really needed to be present when he was recording the tracks because he''d done a great job with just listening to a few ideas. Still, I wanted to be a fly on the wall for a session and Pascal and Tara Shakti turned out to be the songs that day. Something about the lead in fill at Tara Shakti''s start just ignites the song. It makes me want to dance like I''m one of the Specials wearing a Pork Pie hat.
Aloha Mr. Guard
lyrics and music by Tom Guard © 2008

How can each day begin
without you Mister Dawn?

Awake and alone and alive
I''m standing, wondering where to go
With empty hands again my friend
I ask you what I know

A change and the pain it brings
Change and the pain it brings
I remember you now
I remember everything

How can each day begin
without you Mister Dawn?

A riddle would drive us insane
and we''d go hunting for the clues
With all of the choices we had
the answer likely came from you

A change and the pain it brings
swollen with venom and things
still you would put yourself first
after years of denying the worst

And seldom a notion of you being down,
out of sorts, or all confused
The dreams and the positive plans that you had
would keep us up, in step, and on the move

I forget the lonely place I''ve been
when I think of the "Joyful" king
I remember you now
and all the songs you would sing
and the possibility
forever rings

How can each day begin
without you Mister Dawn?

My dad''s family and friends wandered around tidepools at Maka-pu''u Beach, Hawaii in 1991 debating over where to spread his ashes. His closest friend, Cyrus Faryar said it all when he remarked, "We could really use someone like Dave right now." I realized then that Cyrus knew him well. Outspoken yet trusted and rarely one to fail, Dad seldom lost an arguement. At my last hospital visit with him he described his younger self as being hyperactive. Despite his success and the smugness it implied, he still seemed to seek people''s approval by sharing the knowledge from his steel-trap memory. I was touching to see him in the role of a carried-away conversationalist at a party.

Dad would often roam around the house improvising lines like the one I wrote for the song, "Awake and alone and alive ..." It seemed an appropriate sentiment for one who has gone through another trying endeaver. In my case, it was his early passing. Another line, "still you would put yourself first after years of denying the worst" is a reflection on his only child persona. I never had a brother so it was good to have him as a friend and I hope he felt the same having never had a sibling. He once told me, " It''s funny our birthdays are exactly six months apart, but we seem to get along fine."

The title came from a thank-you letter a kid had sent him after a talk he gave on his book, the Hawaiin Legend of Hale Mano. The third grader''s letter included a drawing of Dad sitting on a desk speaking to a classroom of kids. It came at a very healing time that followed a rocky period in his life that I shared a large part in.

Dad told me salesmen, with phonebook in hand, would often call and begin with , "Hi Don ..." Dave was actually his middle name and Donald, his first. He always knew when it wasn''t a dear old friend touching base. So I made the play on words with that fond memory in mind; "How can each day begin without you Mr. Dawn?"

This is my oldest song. At seventeen I loved John McGlaughlin''s work so I composed a similar chord progression to some of his songs and put it to a friend''s poem. Often Dad would interupt my playing to share a word of advice; A frustrating but useful thing. I was playing it once and he gave me a, " sounds good!" I knew a song was worth pursuing. After years of lyric and arrangement revisions I recorded it with Peter Rubbo on drums. I''d asked George to drum it but he had no time so it''s fortunate the cards fell that way because the song is, like Peter, on the jazzy side.

It was an honor to have my kids sing on the song. They were born shortly after his passing but they have a good idea of who he is by hearing his songs and my stories. My daughter, Tara was born five days shy of his birthday only seven months after his death. She shares his grace and insightful intellect so I''m sure it''s him visiting in a new form. I''m told Aloha serves as hello and goodbye in Hawaii so, "Aloha Mr. Guard"
Mama San
lyrics and music by Tom Guard © 2008

Mama San
Tell me the things that you''ve done
A story
for your little sleepy grandson

You are the wise old crone
living so long on your own

Let''s look
back on our lives and compare
Mama San
the wonderful things that we shared

You are the wise old crone
living so long on your own
You are the wise old crone
Papa San''s gone
but you get by just fine
on your own.

Time heals
all of the wounds and the scars
like remedies
passed along down from the stars

Sounds like your old man was mean
punishing you for those innocent things.

Tell me
about all of the jobs that you had,
and all of the pranks by my dad.

''wish I could live in those days
Call it impossible
Who''s to say?

So Mama-San
Thank You for all that you''ve done
Being there
the warmth and the light of the sun

You are the wise old crone
living so long on your own.

I love you
and the soul of your grace.
We''re on the phone
but you know there''s a smile on my face

The voices in my head were saying, "What about that ''song-a-week'' you promised?" I grabbed the twelve string and soon a verse, chorus and bridge came along. Finally I''d found a key that was great vocally as well. Mama San, my grandmother who died in 2007, lived most of her ninety-five years in Hawaii. Papa San died in 1970 and she lived in a beautiful valley near Honolulu since then on her own. Despite a lot of incidents that would point to chosing a rest home, she chose to stay there and be independent. She was truly smart and strong enough to succeed and she did just that. Taking Karen and our kids to visit her in 2004 an celebrate her ninety-second birthday was great. We remember it well. She lived in a beautiful place. Mama San and I spent a lot of time on the phone. She was lucid as anyone and equally a pleasure to talk to until the end.

George Dussault suggested he do some hand drumming on the track. During a vocal run-through I added whistling over the bridge and it stuck. A Bb harp was paired for an overdub with an Eb harp for the ending. The E string on the bass was tuned down to Eb so that low note could be reached which was good but it was easy to forget and then hit a sour note. I made it through but I''d hate to have to tune that way all the time.

Around that time Bob Shane had contacted me about arrangements with Martin Guitars for a Kingston Trio fiftieth anniversary issue of the model 00-21 Dad had used in the band. I received the second of four prototypes on behalf of my family. The sound was beautiful, rich and deep. I even tuned it down two whole steps more to record it on the song. I''m told the track sounds like a barritone twelve string with the 00-21 in combination with the bass. It came at a good time. I am very grateful to Dick Boak of Martin Guitars and to Bob Shane for that. It''s used on other songs but, for this one, it was especially well suited.
Above and Beyond
lyrics and music by Dave Guard © 1976 and 2008

I found a stranger and my wife in Oklahoma
I took a razor and my rifle and the road to Arizona.
It''s been a dangerous survival
Don''t know why I don''t die
But I seem to keep lingerin'' on
like a dream of a mystical song
with a meaning above and beyond

They said I "stole" that ride outside Sedona.
I call it what I call myself, "A temporary loner."
I was never one to ever not return a favor
keep in mind, I was losing time
Still I seem to keep lingerin'' on
like a dream of a mystical song
with a meaning above and beyond

Because it''s all right, it''s all over now
I said it''s all right, it''s all over now
It''s done and she''s gone
and there''s no use in hangin'' on
So long

Running desperate through the Indian nation
Something in this desert does confuse my imagination
Everywhere I go I hear her calling to me,
"Do you love me too?"

Well I seem to keep lingerin'' on
like a dream of a mystical song
with a meaning above and beyond.

I said it''s all right, it''s all over now
I said it''s all right, it''s all over now
It''s done and she''s gone
and there''s no use in hangin'' on
So long

Between You and Me
lyrics and music by Tom Guard © 2008

''been dragging my heals
down a watery road
My spirit''s on fire
and it''s time to explode

The future looks bright
still I''m keeping a candle lit
I don''t know what''s ahead
but I think I can handle it

I breathe in the air
and I look out on the ocean
There''s a strong silent earth
under all of that emotion

It''s your life, you call the shots
No one needs to Approve it
You can be alive, aware and always feeling good
living your life as you see fit

Sometimes your thoughts like the winds only show
when they push hard enough to move you
Follow the wheels as they roll down the road
turning on the axis of this ball of blue

I breathe in the air
and I look out on the ocean
There''s a strong silent earth
under all of that emotion

It''s something worthwhile
I won''t spoil the surprise
''can''t give it away
It must show in my eyes

I''d stay and explain
still you know it''s alright
When the hay truck arrives
I may be out of sight

The source of the goal
is the goal at the source.
Between you and me
there''s a mountain of course

I breathe in the air
and I look out on the ocean
There''s a strong silent earth
under all of that emotion
The Oasis
lyrics and music by Tom Guard © 2008

I''ll climb the mountain to see all the faces
Nothing will matter ''til I reach the oasis

Heaven is a place
where we all meet again
like an oasis where our worries fade away

The love flows in
like coffee in the morning
and the cool breeze leaves our minds at ease

I''ll climb the mountain to see all the faces
Nothing will matter ''til I reach the oasis

Bare it in mind
there''s no guarantee
I feel this desert
will soon set us free

I hope my sister and all who are gone
are waiting for me as I sing you this song

I climb the mountain to see all the faces
Nothing will matter ''til I reach the oasis

All I can ask is that we can go on
after our souls move along

Maybe I''ll see
the truth so easily
hoping that''s not all there is

If it made no difference
that we''d been friends
and strangely it all disappeared

A cognizant play that we had a part in
A mysterious dream full of love

I''ll climb the mountain to see all the faces
Nothing will matter ''til I reach the oasis

I''ve learned a lot from the things that I''ve done
but I won''t complete ''til I''m there in the sun
See Emily Play
lyrics and music by Syd Barrett © 1967
lyrics and music by Tom Guard © 2008

I''ve been through the asteroid belts and space junk
I''ve opened time capsules and Davie Jones trunk

I saw the Dog Star, Leo and Taurus
My life is this song, too bad there''s no chorus

What can be said for all I have lost
but, "Lover, you''ve got a lot!"

Loneliness was the source of my trouble
I''d no second mind or oxygen bubble

I took every turn that the universe shared
but with all that came commitment and care

Like a rat in a maze I had to be strong
knowing we''d meet all along

I found you on Pluto at just past eleven
They say, "That''s no planet." But either is Heaven

I guess then a flower''s not really a rose
and a dozen just equals eleven of those

I may have gone lost searching every sun spot
Still I found you and you''ve got a lot

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