iTom: Free Music From Tom Smith

Music in every style -- except dull. Tom Smith, the World's Fastest Filker and the prototypical geek folk-rocker, releases new music for free download on a regular basis. (It was a song a week for almost a year.) You can subscribe to the RSS feed, purchase a better-quality MP3 of the song, or purchase three months' worth as a downloadable album.

Friday, January 26, 2007

iTom 2.0 Now Available

It's here: iTom 2.0: Transitions is now available for only $8.99, including the most recent thirteen iTom songs and a bonus track, not available anywhere else -- a little thing called "An Ecclesiastes For Rose". I haven't finished the HTML interface yet, but that's coming soon.

And I'm nearly caught up with a bunch of other stuff, finally finally finally, just in time to begin iTom 3.0: True Love Waits.

026: Yeah, Yeah, Transitions

I got the idea of loosely theming this album under the title "Transitions" because of a road trip to a house concert in Rochester, NY. Fun trip on many levels. That weekend, a lake effect blizzard came off Lake Erie like cannon blast, burying Buffalo under two feet of snow. Everywhere else around it was untouched. I ended up taking a southern road, through an Indian reservation, a strange and nifty oasis in the mountains. I saw white and purple skies laden with snow above a gorgeous national park forest that had not completely changed the colors of its leaves. And I got to thinking about the changes in the world, and in my life, and my mom's life, and many lives around me.

And when I tried to write this song, from a half-dozen serious angles, nothing worked. I even finished a couple of songs. And then I wrote a completely different song, not bad -- not even close to bad -- but not what I wanted.

And then I woke up at 2:00 a.m. and realized what I wanted was to make fun of all these pretentious song ideas trying to stick themselves in my head. I'll be pretentious on my schedule, dammit.
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Yeah, Yeah, Transitions
Words and Music © 2007 by Tom Smith
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As I drive through the mountains, the sky is so cold
But the leaves are still green and crimson and gold
With the sun shining down, it's so cool and bizarre
That I don't even notice when I wreck my car

My mom was a singer, a painter as well,
She lived with frustration, her art didn't sell,
But then she went west and her fortune was made,
Though only one millionth of Thomas Kinkade.

And life is change and change is good
I'm tryin' to write the songs I know I should
The ones that touch your soul but all I got
Is stuff that sounds important and is not

When I was a child, we were so darn poor
I had to beg for my first Commodore 64
All my clothing was hand-me-down, never replaced,
But I got 'em from sister, and she had good taste

I remember the first time I ever had sex,
It was down at the pound with a collie named Rex
It was really romantic, except that alarm,
And it truly prepared me for life on the farm.

And I'm trying hard to be profound
While everybody yells "Shut up, sit down"
There are so many songs about what life is,
I'll never understand the music biz.

You're s'posed to write about things that affected you intensely
The changes in your life that we as humans all can feel
But every lyric that I write is used as evidence against me
And I don't mean metaphorically, my lawyer's trying to cut a deal.

And so my life's in transition, the cycle renews,
And I think I know now why I can't write the blues.
I've gone through so much since the day I was born
And my soul is reflected in my choice of porn.

And if you're in transition, it can change your life,
It can kill with a word, it can cut like a knife,
It's a day at the beach, it's a walk in the park,
And I think that my metaphor just jumped the shark.

The more things change, the more things change,
If you've got something else goin', that's mighty strange
But if you want to get on M T V
Just set some music to your therapy.

There's lots of things that happen every day,
And everybody thinks they're doin' okay
They never see it coming till it hits,
Goin' from high on the hog to bacon bits.

And all the changes that your life goes through
Are prob'ly gonna impact most on you
And when I say "impact", it's not a trope
So cover up your head and rope-a-dope

And if you still are listening to this song,
Please have your head examined, something's wrong
I don't have much to say, and I took too long
But you suspected that part all along.

And if I had a dime for every time
I wrote another line just 'cause it rhymed
I'd have a lot more dimes than I guess I should
But then I understand that change is good

And every change you make should be done with care
Especially motor oil and underwear.
Think of transitions as life's golden cup,
Now my producer says to just shut up.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

025: Take Your Hands Off The Bear

Technically, following the theme of this album, this is a song about break-ups. But everybody does songs about break-ups. Probably Mister Rogers did a song about break-ups. What this song is really about is how much I love Da Bear.

If you've ever seen me with Da Bear at a con, and especially if you're one of Da Bear's circle of friends, you know what I'm talking about. Da Bear is irreplacable to me. And I believe and hope that I am in a position to never have to worry about any variation of this situation... but, dammit, this is how it would end up. 'Cause I got the bestest bear.
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Take Your Hands Off The Bear
Words and Music © 2007 by Tom Smith
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Well, this is it, the day it ends, the day we say goodbye,
You know I'd hoped that we'd stay friends, but you won't even try,
You've gone through my possessions, claiming everything in sight,
Stuff I got when you weren't with me, but, you know? I just won't fight.

'Cause it's worth it to be rid of you, you can strip the walls and floors,
But there's one thing you're not getting, there's one thing that's not yours
You can have my new computer, and my favorite easy chair,
But there's no way you're getting my stuffed bear

Take your hands off Mister Gumpus, he don't belong to you,
And I don't want him traumatized just because we're through
I've had him since I was a kid, before you were even there,
So take... your... hands... off the bear.

You can take my games and comic books and every DVD,
You can take my leather trenchcoat that looks all Matrixy,
You can take my amplifier, and my classic Fender bass,
You can take an anvil to the skull, or a smack upside the face

But get your hands off Mister Gumpus before you leave for good,
Oh, and, by the way, he hugs me better than you ever could,
You'd complain when he would shed on you, like your cat has no hair,
So take... your... hands... off the bear.

The kind of bear that you don't see anymore,
The kind of bear that you don't buy from a store,
Whenever I would talk to him, you'd laugh at me and nod,
And slowly back away, like I was doing... something... odd....

Well, at last our time is over, and I guess it's just as well
I'd say don't let the door hit you, but I hope it hurts like hell,
And as we part, I'm wondering what you ever saw in me...
There's a lump beneath your jacket. Mister Gumpus! Where is he?

Take your hands off Mister Gumpus! Now we're brawling in the street,
And I didn't know you could punch that hard, or that you had such quick feet,
But you're trying to steal my childhood, and it really isn't fair,
So take... your frickin' hands... off the bear.

Mister Gumpus is between us, and we've both got a good grip,
And of course this is the point where Mister Gumpus starts to rip...
But I won't risk that, I let him go, you laugh in victory...
And Mister Gumpus comes to life, and runs right back to me.

You thought you owned Mister Gumpus, but he can't be owned at all,
He's been my bestest magic friend since I was three feet tall,
You can break my heart and take my stuff, but there's one thing you can't share,
So keep... your frickin' hands... off the bear.

And when I go to sleep tonight, my bed will not be cold,
Mister Gumpus will stay with me, and he won't let me get old,
For whatever you and I once had really can't compare...
To the love of a boy for his stuffed bear.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

024: Dave

David Alway, a beloved and longtime member of the filk community, died suddenly January 9. He was a big, friendly, gentle man, who didn't have an enemy in the world as far as I know. He sang fun, quirky dittys and soft, sad ballads, a cappella or accompanying himself on a dulcimer. He made stylish and elegant buttons for his online filk community, Filkhaven. He took lots of pictures at conventions, and shared them with everyone. He brought his brother Peter into fandom, which was a very good thing for all concerned.

He was just one of the nicest people I've ever had the honor and pleasure to know, and his death has hit us all hard. The only comfort we're taking is that he was just at GAFilk this past weekend, and so he spent the last few days of his life doing what he loved best with the people he loved most.

I wasn't even a close friend or anything but I was going to see him at ConFusion in two weeks and now I won't and I'll never hear him sing again and I can't believe how much I miss him.
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Words and Music © 2007 by Tom Smith
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I had this friend, not close to me,
But still someone I liked, and he
Had passed away quite suddenly,
Had passed away quite suddenly....

"Passed away" -- how soft a phrase,
How gently on the heart it plays,
It shields you from life's harsher ways,
He died, he left, ran out of days,

We'd share a laugh, we'd share a tune,
And then we'd both move on,
I was supposed to see him soon,
But now the chance is gone

Well, I could tell you 'bout my friend,
But it's been said much better than
I ever could by other men,
No need for me to speak again

Except to say at last I see
The face of my mortality,
The face of Death in front of me,
And I won't go the same as he.

I make that empty promise now,
That I'll choose how to die,
A shallow, hopeless, useless vow,
But still I've got to try.

So take the time to sing your song,
Ask those you love to sing along,
You'll never know till things go wrong,
And then the chance has come and gone.

I had this friend, not close to me,
But still someone I liked, and he
Had passed away quite suddenly,
Had passed away quite suddenly....

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Blogger Culpa

I apologize profoundly to anyone who's subscribed to the RSS feed and just got blasted. I switched over to the New And Improved Blogger this morning, and it reposted damn near everything. This is a "known issue" that they apparently aren't going to fix, because, hey, it'll only happen to you once. Gaaaaaaaah.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

023: Suit of Armor

Author Elizabeth Bear (matociquala on LiveJournal) linked to a very good essay on writing, "Real Art Won't Match Your Sofa", by LJ user brni. It included the following:
Too many people write stories about spaceships. Or dragons. Or vampires. These things are uninteresting. Really. The words are just shorthand for a whole set of preconceived notions that can be inserted into a story to keep us from having to reinvent things from scratch every time. You say “dragon” and I know, more or less, what you mean, minus whatever customizations and optional packages you've had installed.

So what's more interesting? A story about a dragon coming into the village, and the heroic knight that goes out to slay the dragon? Or a story about what it means to Joe and Mary the Peasants that the battle took place on their field, right before harvest time, with the King's Tax Collector coming by in a week and nothing to give him. I've read the former before. Some of the variants are interesting, with the right elements subverted (Zelazny and Hambly come to mind), but mostly not. I haven't read the latter, but I hope to someday.
Aaaaand here ya go.

Thanks to Anne for making sure I saw this.
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Suit of Armor
Words and Music © 2007 by Tom Smith
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The sacred duty of a knight is to do good deeds and true,
When a dragon steals a maiden, he rides to her rescue,
While vanquishing that dragon, he keeps all he can from harm...
Yeah, I know all that. Let's get back to the damage to my farm.

I was minding my own business, in the backyard with a hoe --
No, a garden tool, ye stupid fool, back where the praties grow.
The sun was warm, the breeze was soft, the grass had all been cut,
When a big-ass flippin' dragon crashes head-first on my hut.

Well, right behind, Sir Gallywho on horseback sets his lance,
The dragon took the point, went slidin' backwards through me fence,
He hit a log, and stopped, and then Sir Whats-his-face went over,
And landed on my sheepdog, who's now pushin' up the clover.

The sheep, they all went runnin', while Sir Dinkus got upright,
And I'll admit he challenged Mister Dragon to a fight,
The dragon set the maiden down -- he'd held her in his jaws --
And he went right after the knight, all flames and wings and claws.

Now, I couldn't rightly tell you who did what to whom or how,
But they cleared my forty-seven acres quick as any plow,
Except, o' course, I only plow before the crops are sown,
And this was bloody August, when the bloody things are grown.

Well, finally, the dragon fled, Sir Shrinky-Dink stood tall,
He'd killed off half my animals and all my crops for fall,
And I still can pay my tax, Your Honor, I don't need my hut,
But I raised that sheepdog from a pup; Sir Doof here squashed his butt.

So what I want is simple: have him sell his metal tights.
Without 'em, maybe next time, he'll be mindful where he fights,
And with the proceeds, I'll rebuild my hut and fix my farm
(You'll notice this fair maiden, who's now hangin' on my arm).

Your Honor, thanks for lettin' me explain this whole attack,
And you, Sir Whatsis, sittin' starin' daggers at my back,
In case you're thinking vengeance, sir, there's somethin' you should know
That dragon's now my sheepdog, and he wants another go.