Works in Progress #12: Kill a Unicorn

Do you know what’s hard? Go ahead, smart-ass — I’ll throw in a caesura here for you to formulate an ultra-perverse answer.

[Excellent work.]

Some people think coal-mining is hard. Some people think landing on and subsequently destroying an earthbound comet is difficult. Child’s play. Writing lyrics to songs? Now we’re getting somewhere. Some of the songs on our forthcoming album have been lodged in my head — like an iron spike — for well over a decade. I thought I knew the words to them. Guess what? I don’t! That’s because the lyrics in my head, which have fit so nicely in these songs for so long, don’t actually fit in the space allotted. I have apparently been given the remarkably frustrating gift of being able to conjure up a 5-gallon music pail and then fill it with 22 gallons of lyrics (most of which are about monkeys, pies, or rage). Do you know how badly those lyrics stain my priceless Oriental rugs?

Enough of my completely valid first-world problems, here are some lyrics that do fit.

“It’s way to late to do us any good —

I should have started earlier: I know.

Now an opportunity has been missed

And everybody’s pissed

Off, and rightfully so.

When you’re young life can go by so slow:

At a glacial pace, at the speed of tree

And waiting on the sideline is me

Waiting for a silver bullet — waiting for a god to fall from the sky

Saying, “Me oh my, get to the front of the line.”

But it’s too late today, it’s too late tonight, it’s too late for me to put up a fight.

It’s too late today, it’s to late tonight I know.

I should have planned ahead

Or even even just planned,

Nothing I do is even in demand.

I could’ve worked harder,

I could’ve done more,

Now all that’s left is to go fight the war.

“The war is over, son.”

I don’t even care who won.


It’s time to grab life by the horn

It’s time for you to get on board:

It’s time to kill a unicorn.


It’s way too late and the sun has come up.

I need something inside this cup.

Do they have coffee at the God-I’m Awesome-Cafe?


This moment shall pass,

It’s just that life goes by so fast

When it’s too damn hot

And you’re down to your last shot.


Run my unicorn, run free,

Over the mountains majestically.

Run my unicorn run —

Over the rainbow and under the sun.”


All of this particular material is copyrighted 2014 by Jeff Nelson. So no writing your own songs about unicorn slaying — at least with these lyrics.


Works in Progress #2

Washing dishes, by hand, is the second best way for me to work on a song. The best way is to drive from Saint Paul to Fargo, but that demands far too much time and money to be practical on a regular basis. Plus, there seems to be a never-ending wealth of dishes at my house. Someday, when I am crazy, I will have a friend throw our plates into the air and I will shoot them. From that day forward I will dine on paper plates or eat out of non-conventional dishware (soup in a hat! pie on a magazine!).

So, being Thanksgiving, we had some dishes that needed washing. I managed to tie together one of my songs that had a lot of neat parts, but lacked any semblance of flow. This is a problem that must plague more people than just me because my attention span is that o…squirrel!

“Sweet Potato Pie” is about sweet potatoes prepared in the holiest of food vehicles: the pie crust. Food inside of food. If Lao-Tzu ever ate a homemade apple pie (especially one from the America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook) he never would have spouted off the Tao te Ching — he would have drawn a pie.

“Who wants sweet potatoes?

I want some sweet potato pie,

With marshmallows piled five miles high.

I might regret it,

But probably not.

When you’ve got a sweet potato pie,

You’ve got to love what you’ve got.”

And on some level, isn’t that what it’s all about? The awesomeness of a perfect pie? It’s a rhetorical question.

I’ve been thinking about unicorns lately. This is from “Kill a Unicorn.” I double-dog dare you to guess what it’s about.

“You don’t have to be smart,

Don’t have to be well-bred,

You can try to make fire

With the rocks inside your head.

Don’t curse the day you were born;

It’s time to take life by the horn.

Hey ho, let’s go kill a unicorn.”

Do you have a daughter? Do not sing this song gently to her as she nods off to sleep. Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving.

– Jeff


All of this particular material is copyrighted ©2011 Jeff Nelson.