The Song Journal

Miscellaneous news and writing by Bob Franke, mostly about songs as a portable art form, and the process of creating them and enabling them to do their work in the world.

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Location: Peabody, Massachusetts, United States

from Bob Franke began his career as a singer-songwriter in 1965 while a student at the University of Michigan. Upon graduation in 1969 with an A.B. in English Literature, he moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has since made New England his home. Bob has appeared in concert at coffeehouses, colleges, festivals, bars, streets, homes and churches in 33 states, four Canadian provinces and England.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I worked on a new song tonight--Joan had admonished me to practice for my gig this Saturday night at the Eighth Step's 40th anniversary show in Schenectady. The song showed up in the middle of the night one night in the lovely notebook my daughter had given me for my birthday. So I decided to take the song one step closer to reality by picking a key and testing out the tune. The act of singing and playing the guitar has changed the song, as it usually does, and lucky for me, I like it better as it matures. I was looking for a key, an arrangement, and a sense of lightness, and as I explored my friend Bennett Hammond's remark that the 12-string guitar is a treble instrument, I found them. The melody evolved a bit to accommodate my limitations, but then, the song in part is about limitations.

Joan was off at an art class she's been taking--she's really quite talented with pencils and charcoal, and exploring this talent for the first time in her life. I took advantage of the solitude. As my touring schedule contracts, I have less of the solitude that seems so necessary for my songwriting. It was kind of her to remind me of the opportunity.

Being a business person has been a necessary evil to me, necessary to my music. Being a mechanic has a Ghandian sense of right livelihood to it, but it sure takes up a lot of energy. I was tired at the end of the workday today.

I suspect the idea that my music is an avocation says a lot more about Bush's America than it says about me.

One day at a time. Today was a good one.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Bob,

Eh..I'm just some normal girl in Taiwan.
And i happened to read a book named "Hard Love."
If my memory serves me right, your great song "Hard Love" is attached to the book.

And, God! That song is really awesome.
How did you write it?
Where did you get the inspiration?
My best friend and i love it so much!!
And it's mainly because your song is really close to our hearts.


Thanks for the song!
Thanks for reminding us that Hard Love Can Be Sweet and is Never Wasted.
Thank you!

1:23 AM  
Blogger Bob Franke said...

Thanks for your kind words, and please forgive me for the delay in my response. I was in love at the time I wrote the song; it was a time of personal crisis in which I had to sort out my values. The song was my attempt to express gratitude for that relationship despite the fact that it was clear there would be no "happily ever after" for it. It was a relationship that helped me grow into the person I am, and that's what I have in common with the young man in Ellen Wittlinger's novel.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Poor Mad Peter said...

The 12 string is a treble instrument? Hmm: sometimes, I think so, and other times, I think it's like the cello, an instrument that sings like a human in a human range, but has some pretty good bottom to it.

I am working out "Israelite" on the 12, come to that.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Bruce said...

Hello Bob.
I just discovered your blog as I was looking for one of the humorous ones you did at a show several years ago. It was a bawdy motorcycle song.

I've admired your work for quite a while now and am glad to meet you here, virtually. I too have roots in Michigan, live around the Mass north shore and sing/play with 12-strings and look to music for healing, for myself and for others.

1:38 PM  

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