52 Songs in 52 Weeks: 2009

by James Hersch

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about

'52 Song in 52 Weeks' was always about putting myself in a place I'd feel accountable to others. It wasn't a marketing strategy or an attempt to sell my music to people. It became like a weekly one-song concert that I could host myself.

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released March 1, 2010

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about

James Hersch Minneapolis, Minnesota

Hersch, a native Minnesotan, has fifteen album credits and is known for his story song style. He has been a finalist at the Kerrville Folk Festival and recognized for his original soundtrack for the PBS documentary, "Paving the Way". His reachwithme program has been honored with the Harry Chapin Award for Contributions to Humanity by the National Association for Campus Activities. ... more

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Track Name: Well Watered Lawn
Number 30
July 23rd, 2009

Well Watered Lawn

I walk the block this July morning
I catch the 7:10 Express
I'll do the same thing come tomorrow
This is what I call my life I guess
Sometimes... I sneak a look around me
Sometimes... I'm afraid of what I see
Bouncing in a bus with all these faces
Thinking about my life and how it's supposed to be

And I wake up to the sound
Of a sprinkler on my lawn
And I pack my lunch up everyday
Go to work and earn my pay
I don't listen to the voice that says run away and be gone
From my well watered lawn

I bet everyone here's a different person
Standing in their backyard sipping something with their friends
Taking out their shiny dreams for each other
Sharing their somedays and their happy ends
Sometimes... I sneak a look around me
Sometimes... I'm afraid of what I see
Bouncing in a bus that we call living
On a freeway to somewhere that's anything but free

I watch the yards go flying by me
Some of them look so dead and brown
Makes me wonder why I care about green lawns
Why I'm putting so much nitrogen down
Sometimes... I sneak a look inside me
Sometimes... I'm afraid of what I see
A thirsty life waiting for the water
Nothing but brown where my green grass used to be
Track Name: After the Snow
Number 16
April 16th, 2009

After the Snow

The girls get so pretty in the spring
And the eyes of the boys go wandering
The life inside them starts to flow
After the snow
The sun gets higher over the towns
The river's fast and floods the ground
The shadowed ice is the last to go
After the snow

Oh darlin', we've shed another year
Oh darlin', it's changing that we fear
But the bluebird's in the nest
And the big black crow is
Singing what we already know
Life is good, after the snow

The paths are telling on our face
The years have taken their rightful place
But we have ways to make them glow
After the snow
Laughter still makes music here
The cold can't touch the melody we hear
And we have so many songs to go
After the snow

Now I know you think I might have changed
And true, the time is passing strange
We fell in love so long ago...
Track Name: The Good Son
Number 03
January 15th, 2009

The Good Son

Dad
You hear me now
I found my way
Found my way somehow
Dad
I have a boy too
Don't you think I know
He looks a little like you
Dad
The dream is done
The changes come
The changes run right through me
Time
To let it go
I think of you
And I think I know myself

And I
See your face
By the light of the dashboard
We would drive all night long
And I
Hear your voice
From the dark of my room
And everything's all right
And I'm
Trying to be strong
The way you showed me
The way I saw when you were young
The good son

Dad
My heart is weak
Too weak to follow
The path I told you I would seek
And Dad
You gave me time
I took your blessing
But I left too much behind
'Cause Dad
The dream is done
The changes come
The changes run right through me
Time
To let it go
I think of you
And I think I know myself
Track Name: Balance
Number 24
June 11th, 2009

Balance

Looks like your world is a little overloaded
Out of step and over bloated with the
Expectations you've collected
And all the little promises you've neglected

Balance, it's been a long old time
Since you had balance
Life is the judge and you fit the crime

To every road there's a fork now and then
To every rule there's a little bit of bend
But every turn I see you take, a little closer to the line
A little closer to the break

Everyone knows and you keep smiling
You've got demons and they're all speed dialing with a
Room at the end where the party's going on
Who pulled the plug, Billy, who, now you're surely gone
Track Name: Tomorrows
Number 04
January 22nd, 2009

Tomorrows

I put some weight back on
I got some sun on my skin
I got up early enough
To make the kids something
I even walked
Them to the bus stop
I even talked
To the passing cop
And as she drove by she smiled
And I smiled at her

I lived a nightmare out
Like a prisoner in the dark
I have a husband who did not run
Somehow I didn't kill my heart
I know about
Covering your tracks
I know the route
To hell and back
But the morning sun
Is rising on me

And I see tomorrows
Rows and rows of tomorrows
Like a garden of flowers
Fed by the rain
I'm burying my pain
In my tomorrows

Swing set
Backyard
Hear my babies laughing
So hard
Who knew
Tomorrows grew
So heavy on the vine

I put some weight back on
I bought a new outfit
I talked to my neighbor at the mailbox
She didn't mind a bit
I got a new prayer
For the bedtime
A little family there
That seems to be still mine
And I am theirs again
Track Name: First to Break
Number 25
June 18th, 2009

First To Break

Be the first to break
For someone else's sake
When someone else's heart
Is breaking in two
Be the first to hear
Someone's silent tear
Be the last to say
I'm giving up on you

Be the turning tide
In someone's darkest night
Be the sun's first light
Of a morning yet to come
Be the tiny spark
In someone's lonely dark
A flicker of hope for a heart
Waiting for the sun

Be the nick of time
The last chance danger sign
The exit that we find
When life speeds away
Be the get away path
For someone who is lost and trapped
In the lies and the glitter flash
That blinds our way
Track Name: The Table Of My Family
Number 46
November 12th, 2009

The Table of My Family

Driving the back way to Big Lake
Up the old Elk River road
Caramel rolls like only my Mom makes
Fill my nose, make me hungry as we go
My cousins all are there
The noise fills the air
And into the house we tear

And we pass around the memory
Around the table of my family
In the gathering time of the year
I'm connected to the heart of me
Around the table of my family
And we bless the ones who aren't here

Laughter from the crowded kitchen
Too many aunts - not enough room
We put a scroll into the player piano
Uncle Albert sings a tune
My cousins all are there
There's music in the air
My Dad says the table prayer

Then we pass around the memory
Around the table of my family
In the gathering time of the year
I remember who you are to me
Around the table of my family
And we'll bless the ones who aren't here

Driving back home from Big Lake
Past the farm with my family's name
CCO on the radio and Mom's still reminding Dad
Who won that last card game
The Ford roars through the air
I fall asleep without a care
And there are memories to spare

When we passed around the memory
Around the table of my family
In the gathering time of the year
I'm connected to the heart of me
Around the table of my family
And we'll bless the ones who aren't here
Track Name: Fear Of Falling
Number 05
January 29th, 2009

Fear Of Falling

Long ago when the winter snow had drifted high
We would climb the baseball bleachers, my friend and I
Stare down from the top rail on the blanket of snow
Eyes wide and daring each other to be the first to go

And the fear of fallin' so clear in my eye
And the fear of feeling I was afraid to try
And the fear of missing a chance to fly
Fear of falling

Many times I've stood and felt that same fear I knew
At the edge of something I wasn't sure I could do
When your heart is pounding and you're doubting yourself
Surprise to find you're really just like everyone else

And the fear of fallin' is the reason you climb
Fear of finding you've run out of time
Fear of gravity that weighs on your mind
The fear of falling

The fear of falling is a gift to us all
How it keeps us creeping back to the edge of the wall
And tonight I'm climbing as the snow's falling down
Another leap of faith into the snow covered ground
Track Name: Jacqueline's Dreams
Number 08
February 19th, 2009

Jacqueline's Dreams

Jacqueline's dreams
Float in a cloud above her
High as the moon
Bright as the sun
Jacqueline's dreams
Float for the ones who love her
River of smiles
For everyone

Jacqueline's dreams
The Rodeo days of summer
Eyes of a boy
Bluer than rain
Jacqueline's dreams
Riding the way out yonder
Free as the wind
Over the plain

Spinning photographs
Of sleepovers and belly laughs
Running down grandma's path
The cold, the lake, the water splash, the moon...

Jacqueline's dreams
Cutting a perfect figure
Painting the ice
The point of her toes
Jacqueline's dreams
The girl in the movie picture
Clicking her heels
And home she goes

Jacqueline's dreams
Shine like a silver dollar
The day she was born
Magic and new
Jacqueline's dreams
Paint like a water color
The bright of her eye
To color her view

Jacqueline's dreams
Float in a cloud above her
High as the moon
Bright as the sun
Jacqueline's dreams
Float for the ones who love her
River of smiles
For everyone
Track Name: Sixth Sense
Number 09
February 26th, 2009

Sixth Sense

It's time to leave the harbor
Safe where I've been
Time to read the stars
And fill my sail with wind
Roll out the big water
No direction home
Sail into the mystery
The reason I was born

Fill me with believing
What I feel inside of me
Fill me with a sixth sense
When the other five lie to me

It's time to leave the harbor
That's not where I belong
But the open sea in front of me
Is where my soul is drawn
Keep my hand from trembling
As up the waves I climb
Mercy rain upon me
At the unexpected time

Fill up my eyes
With unfamiliar skies
Fill up my eyes
With glory I don't recognize
Fill up my eyes
Show the truth and where it lies
Fill up my eyes
Leaving these harbor lights
Track Name: He Reminds Me
Number 18
April 30th, 2009

He Reminds Me

Who says he can't talk
He says it all with his eyes
He reminds me
Who says he can't walk
He glides easy with a smile
He reminds me

Of what I really love in him
And in myself
How much one life can live
For someone else

He still wants to shake your hand
Touch you on the arm
As he passes
He still wants to know your name
Introduce us all to each other

And what I really learn from him
In these days
He wants to bring us all together
So he stays

So don't say you wish he could leave
He believes in the reason he's still here
Somewhere in that easy smile
For a while we can be together
Track Name: Four Thousand Miles
Number 15
April 9th, 2009

Four Thousand Miles

Four thousand miles
But the smiles speak the language
Big rivers flow
People know just who you are
They see it in your face
So much we say
Never needs to be heard
So much we say
You can say without a word

Four thousand miles
And a song tells a story
On an ancient stage
To the power and the glory
Let the voices ring
So much we feel
Never needs to be heard
So much we fear
Is in our words

So we draw the line, draw the line
On a map somebody made
Tells us that we're different
Make us more afraid
We draw the line, draw the line
And in our map we trust
Until we get a closer look at you
And what we see is us

Four thousand miles
And the smiles take me home
Though I've never been
They know me to my soul
I see it in your face
So much we say
Never needs to be heard
So much we pray
We can pray without a word

Still we draw the line, draw the line
On a map somebody made
Tells us that we're different
Make us more afraid
But still we draw the line,draw the line
And in some map we trust
Until we get up close enough to see
How much you look like us

Four thousand miles
And I'm walking through the wonder
How the distance divides:
Not at all
And the map I'm living on
With every new face I meet
Is being redrawn
Track Name: Things I Said
Number 12
March 19th, 2009

Things I Said

And if I ever said
How easy it is to be with you
How hours seem to melt into
The blue desert sky

And if I ever said
The simple way you touch my face
Can set the sun free to chase
The blue from my eye

My only regret
Would be my honesty
That I would share the deepest part of me
So if you'd be so
Kind to forget
And erase the poetry
From your heart, from your head
The things I said
Track Name: Good Old Days
Number 11
March 12th, 2009

Good Old Days

Kids are in bed
It's the end of the day
Scratching my head at the bills we pay
Oh darlin'
I miss the good old days

I add it up
Then I subtract
There's not not enough left to get there and back
Oh darlin'
I miss the fat old days

You'd buy my coffee
I'd buy your tea
Say, come along to the show with me
But I guess that'll have to wait
I guess you and I will be eating off the leftover plate
Again

They say the best things in life are free
Everyone feels the misery
Oh darlin'
I miss the good old days

They say it'll all come back someday
What the hell are they supposed to say
Oh darlin'
I miss the fat old days

Now I'm not greedy, neither are you
We've both got a lot that we're holding' on to
But life gets shaky when there's mouths to feed
One bad break and we're out on the street
Track Name: Home Again
Number 49
December 3rd, 2009

Home Again

Flock of geese heading south
Feel the time running out
It's time to go
It's time to go back home again

Rise up, fly away
Words I need to say
It's time to go
It's time to go back home again

Rivers we cross, mountains we climb
But in our hearts there comes a time
To go back home again

Dream chasers, chosen ones
Soldiers or prodigal sons
It's time to go
We're gonna go back home again

Broken hearted or full of joy
Daddy's girl or wandering boy
I know
We're gonna go back home again

Rivers we cross, mountains we climb
But in our hearts there comes a time
To go back home again

So leave a light in the porch
Leave the key by the door
It's time to go
It's time to go back home again
Track Name: I Built My House
Number 51
December 17th, 2009

I Built My House

I built my house
On the rock of believing
Thankfully receiving
The gift that's given me
I built my house
As an offering for living
Swore in the building
It's slave I'll never be
I built my house

Oh I know, oh I know
Life is coming after me
Oh I know, oh I know
Love is coming for me

I built my house
From a thousand different journeys
The faces and the singing
And the joy I came to know
I built my house
In the angles I imagined
With the tools I could fathom
And learned to love it so
I built my house

I built my house
On a hill above the water
Where the southern sun can find me
And wake me from the dark
I built my house
For the mercy of the morning
The light of the dawning
The beating in my heart
I built my house
Track Name: Immanuel
Number 26
June 25th, 2009

Immanuel by James Hersch
(written for the 125th Anniversary of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Canova, SD)

Before there was a steeple
There was a sense of grace
On those who gathered here
To build a house of faith
Before the endless prairie
Turned to pasture and corn
A little prayer was answered
A little church was born

The people came to worship
In the pews of Immanuel
And came to love that little church
With the steeple bell
That rang for Sunday morning
Or someone's earthly goodbye
And all was well with Immanuel
As the years went rolling by

And the bell rang
And the people sang
Glory, glory to God

The precious wooden altar
Where many cares were laid
Many hearts were lifted
Many vows were made
Sorrow was no stranger
But hope was always found
And all was well with Immanuel
When the steeple bell would sound

And the bell rang
And the people sang
Glory, glory to God

Ten miles south of here
There's a four lane interstate
That can take you around the world
On the winds of fate
But no matter where you journey
No matter where you dwell
You faith is still your compass
And your home is Immanuel

Where the bell rings
And the people sing
Glory, glory to God
Track Name: Heaven Makes a Motion
Number 10
March 5th, 2009

Heaven Makes A Space

Heaven makes a motion
Heaven makes a space
Heaven says it's time for you to
Come and take your place
No time to be chasing
All your worldly things
Following the voice
Of the angel as she sings

You might be a-leaving
All weary and worn
You might be departing
In the middle of the storm
But the Savior calmed the waters
With a wave of his hand
Come to take you home
To the glory land

Singing I'll fly away
I'll fly away
Come that beautiful day

I know your eyes are weary
And shadows start to fall
The valley of darkness
Is waiting for us all
Shedding our burden
At the break of day
Holy Ghost is with us
Every step of the way

Now it's quiet on the prairie
On a cold winter's eve
Peace in the hearts of the
Ones who believe
And the last shade of color
From the darkening day
Is the promise of heaven
In the cold and gray
Track Name: Moving
Number 52
December 24th, 2009

Moving

From your mother's sheltering arms - moving
Through a world of risks and charms - moving
This wind's for your wings
Say goodbye to your growin' up things
You're moving

From our faces in your eyes - moving
From our backyard sunset skies - moving
From your prairie home
Where you painted out your own
Dream of moving

Oh the joy to be on your quest - moving
You often see your life the best when you're moving
The road is clear for you
You've packed the love you need to get you through
The moving

A tear or two, becomes a smile
To see a world so new, so free, so wild
And it's waving, you're moving

So take a breath and set your feet to moving
Joy is in the bittersweet of moving
Finding your way
On this sad and happy day
You're moving
Track Name: Stories That We Tell
Number One
December 30th, 2008

Highway hum a song
A song I know so well
It's a fine line between here and gone
The stories that we tell

Rocky Mountain melodies
From the desert to the Great Northwest
Where Sadie and Buelah and Alta want to sing
Right to their final breath

Holding on through the snow
Still a hundred miles to go
Sing along to that old song
On the all night radio

I don't believe there's a finer thing
Heaven would allow
Than voices up close with the holy ghost
Doing the best we know how

Who can know the days we have
Who can know our time
But the stories and songs we pass along
Are what we leave behind
Track Name: Mystery Of Change
Number 22
May 28th, 2009

Mystery Of Change

Play the mystery of change
Play the song of a new beginning
Come from deep in your heart
Hear the sound of your true voice singing
And if the song is meant for you
If the frequency is true
Then play

The doors that close behind
Echo with a lonesome sound
The doors that open wide
Whisper now, you're journey-bound

We are like children here
So little we survey
So lost inside our fear
So found when we make our way
Track Name: Drift Away My Soul
Number 48
November 26th, 2009

Drift Away My Soul to Thee

Drift away my soul
From the suffering
Drift away my soul
To thee

Echoes in my heart
Memories of love
Drift away my soul
To thee

In the darkening day
By the sun's last ray
Light a way my soul
To thee

Round the river's bend
As I near the end
Drift away my soul
To thee
Track Name: Rivers Of Rain
Number 44
October 29th, 2009

Rivers Of Rain

Rivers of rain down the window pane
And a wake up call to nowhere
In a motel room in the morning gloom
Time to make my way to somewhere
I splash my feet up the rain drenched street
Fall into the seat of my car
And the rivers of rain are singing your name
And I'm wondering' where you are

I remember a time that was yours and mine
On the Middle Fork of the Salmon
Twenty years old with a band of gold
It was the feast before the famine
Because I caught you cryin' down where the river winds
You said you're off to find what's calling you
And the river sang and I felt the pain
And away from me you flew

I followed the work as a bankers clerk
Then the market took a tumbling
The town went bust, no one you could trust
All around me lives were crumbling
There was a job for me with a collector's fee
And a fever for the gold
And the river went dry, and in the city I
Let my heart go hard and cold

Now I serve my time on the banker's dime
Traveling and foreclosing
It's my job it seems to kill someone's dreams
And I'm gifted in the disposing
But this stone cold heart just came apart
On a morning dark I hear that song
In the river of rain the old familiar pain
And my love for you goes on
Track Name: When Lights Go Out
Number 34
August 20th, 2009

When Lights Go Out

When lights go out
Your eyes adjust
Until you're seeing in the dark
When lights go out
You might stumble around
You might break something you love
So first you need to be very still
And let your vision change
Let your world be strange

When lights go out
You reach out your hands
For something stable and secure
To catch your fall
To catch your loss of confidence
What you thought was sure
And then your first step is very small
Takes the breath from you
It's all that you can do

When lights go out
Your memory maps the world for you
Where you are, where you've been
But something shifts, something changes
Before the lights come on again
Track Name: September's Open
Number 37
September 10th, 2009

September's Open

September's open
Coming through
Forgive the summer
For leaving you
Garden is full
Overgrown , overdue
Sun's not so high, the sky's...
A different blue

September's open
But summer's smile is
Left on your face
Thrown in a pile
World is in motion
Less day, more night
Moon is more yellow
The air has more bite

Time to go out and collect all the summer has grown in you
Pull your tomatoes and pick your favorite memories too

September's open
Sweet harvest time
Gold in the apple
Like thick sunshine
Time for goodbye
Time for hello
Time to begin
Time to let go
Track Name: You Made Me Smile
When the road was long and lazy
You were my traveling friend
When my searching made me sad and lonely
You made me smile again

When the road was dark and distant
Seemed like the miles would never end
I followed the singing and it was always to you
You made me smile again

In a blur time passes
Like prairie grasses
Now the looking glass is growing dim

But as the road becomes a mystery
You make me smile again
Track Name: Time I Spent With You
By the lake
Where the water shimmers
In the summer breeze
Memories
Of time I spent with you

There's no change
The seasons can make
Even close to the change in me
I see my life in
Time I spent with you

And the color of the city lights
Shining just for me tonight
Blue on blue
And the stars search for you
Like they know something's missing

So goodnight
To the empty streetlight
Where I held you near
Disappear now
In the time I spent with you
Track Name: Real World Comes to Call
Someone you thought loved you - doesn't
Someone you thought was true - wasn't
Someone you thought you knew
You don't know at all

That's the day you wake up
That's the day you find out
That's the day the real world comes to call

The life you thought you'd find - scatters
The master plan design - shatters
The ground is shaking and the
Sky begins to fall

And when the tears dry
From your eye
You'll find a clear blue sky above it all

The ghost that haunted you - doesn't
The face you thought was you - wasn't
The reflection that you knew
You don't know at all
Track Name: Trout Gonna Make a Fool Out of Me
River is fast
River is high
Here in my little raft
I toss my little fly
Trout's gonna make a fool out of me

There's a hatch on the water
Hoppers on the shore
Old Mister Trout
Couldn't ask for anything more
Trout's gonna make a fool out of me

I get a good drift
I mend my line
Hard to fool that fish
But I keep trying
Trout's gonna make a fool out of me

Some guys play golf
They yell at their ball
Some guys ride a Harley
Get away from it all
Some guys work on cars
Some shoot a gun
But I'm a fool for chasing trout
Out here in the sun
Trout's gonna make a fool out of me

River is fast
River is deep
I know what to throw back
And I know what to keep
Trout's gonna make a fool out of me
Track Name: Old Tree
The sound of the chainsaw splits the air
Today your tree comes down
Branch by branch, piece by piece
They lay that giant on the ground

Twas your mother poured the water from your baptizing
Around the trunk of that oak tree
When high school was over you made your plans
Under that giant canopy

Measuring years, marking time
For a restless boy to climb
Under it's shade you grew
When you left, I guess
Old Tree left too

Beautiful tree whose life was long
We marked it's final day
And you're right here by my side
Though you're 300 miles away

And it feels right that it's in the fall
With snow flakes in the sky
The sun sets through a gaping hole
That Old Tree used to occupy

Measuring years, marking time
Such a mighty tree you'll rarely find
Under it's shade you grew
When you left, I guess
Old Tree left too

The sound of the geese heading south
Lit by a silver moon
The season turns, I hear the song
Old Tree is in that tune

Measuring years, marking time
Strong in the bright sunshine
Here's a song for tree and you
When you left, I guess
Old Tree left too
Track Name: The Big Change
When the big change arrives
And you unpack reality
Try it on for size
Shift the mirror so you can see
Colors of the season
Woven in a pattern
Love you've shown
Love you've known

When the big change arrives
Blowing in like November snow
You might search the skies
For the strength to get up and go
Colors of the season
Woven in a pattern
Love you've shown
Love you've known

When the big change arrives
And you separate the gift from the ghost
You might be surprised
What you gather that means the most
Colors of the season
Woven in a pattern
Love you've shown
Love you've known
Track Name: Ketchikan, Alaska
I lost the poem I wrote for you
In Ketchikan, Alaska
On hotel stationary
On the morning after you went home

Hard for me to keep things safe
Hard for me to keep track
Good for me to miss your face
Your touch, and most of all your laugh

When you laugh so hard your eyes get wet
From something I did or something I said
And I feel like I'm king of the world indeed
I feel like I am everything you need

I found the love I lost for you
In the junk I pile inside
That keeps me from an honest view
Of who I show and who I try to hide

Now there's wood smoke in the air
And the daylight goes so fast
I don't mind the dark and chill
As long as I can make you laugh