This is the song that my Dad asked me, “What do you mean by, ‘When I don’t want to be somebody, then I will be done'”
When I explained, he said, “No, you’re wrong”.
I started writing Will Be Done in 1997. The music came first, a chord progression reminiscent of Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry or Jackson Browne’s These Days. It was around 14 years before I completed the lyrics, the longest I’ve worked on a song. I suppose that’s very appropriate, seeing as the lyrics turned out to be about the passage of time.
This song provided a couple of lasting memories for me. First was getting my brother, and old IC3 band-mate, Joshua (aka Dizz Astor) to play organ on it. He did a beautiful job. My entire White Album was recorded “at” 44 Square, my home studio. I called it that because it was in a walk-in closet and the actual space I had to work in was 5 1/2 x 8, 44 square feet! Having the two of us in there was a crunch.
The second memory was one of the greatest moments of my musical career. I was visiting (warning – name drop coming) my dear friend, and former sister-in-law, Ruth Underwood at her home in Laurel Canyon. Ruth was recovering from exhausting chemo and radiation treatments. I could tell that she was doing her very best to put on a brave face, all made up and looking pretty. She said, “Joel Dear, I know you have a guitar in your trunk. Please go get it and play for me.” I had never before played a single note in her presence. I nervously got the guitar and sat on her garden bench and played a song, “Little Things” that I’d written after having a long discussion on the phone with her about composing. She said she loved it, offered 15 or 20 suggestions to improve it (“It’s your song. What the fuck do I know, Dear? These are just thoughts.”). And then she said, “Play me track 7. I don’t remember the name, but I know it was #7. The one that reminds me of Jackson Browne for some reason”. So I played Ruth, Will Be Done. She closed her eyes and smiled, her head swaying to the gentle beat as she played percussion on her thighs. When I finished, she said, “Play it again.” When it was over, she said, “I don’t know what it is, I love all of your music, but that song just speaks to me. One thing though, Joel Dear (which she pronounces as “JO-wool DEE-a”, by the way), change the last line. Maybe a butterfly. Moths are yucky”. For the next couple of months, I sang, “A butterfly and now I’m heading for the light”, but that’s not the line. Sorry Ruth. Love you!
Will Be Done
I was walking down the street the other day
In a town I called my home
Had a plan but then my feet got in the way
And then I wandered
Held a baby in my arms the other day
Another life had just begun
Blink my eyes and how the time has got away
And then I ponder
When I can’t be somebody
Then I will be done
When I don’t want to be somebody
Then I will be done
I was looking at my son the other day
Not a baby anymore
Turn my head and now the black’s turned into gray
One more summer
But I am young and strong
And my life is oh so long
But wasn’t it just dawn?
Tell me where, where has the day gone?
Where has the day gone?
I was thinking of my youth the other day
In a place so far away
So much closer to the truth I’d have to say
How much longer?
I was looking at the stars the other night
Didn’t seem so far away
Not a moth but I’m still heading for the light
And that’s all I’ll say
words and music by bobwhite
©2004 Hannah’s Dad’s Music/Samsongs
bobwhite – lead vocals, acoustic guitars, drum programs
barlow sample – electric guitars and background vocals
cliff – bass and vocals
joe bob “don’t call me bob” bob – drums and percussion
DeWayne “Whitey” Roberts – slide guitars
Special guest: J “Dizz” Astor – keyboards
produced by Roman Cliff
engineered by Hans Asperger
mixed by Joey Abersom
recorded at 44 Square, California, USA
vocals recorded in the blue room
executive producer – Joel Abramson