New tune: Slatey Day


Over the last few months, several friends have lost loved ones. Myself included. Heart break inspired this song. At the time, I was struggling to breathe when I wrote it. Posting the lyrics here, hoping you, too, can float for a moment if grief is rocking your boat. Thanks to On Pop of the World Studios and Sam Frazier for helping me put the song out there.

Slatey Day

“How’d you get so high?”
I asked the sky,
“So high and blue.

“Even when the day
goes slatey gray
you’re still blue as the jay.

“And do the clouds
get you down when they start
rumbling around,

“and the storms try
to push you away.

“What makes you stay
so high and blue
on a slatey day?”


And she said, “I’ll tell you

I’ve got a job to do.
When the storms get rough
I’ve got to hold the stars up.

“But I can only be
as strong as what’s holding me.
So if strong’s what you need
go ask the sea.”

So I asked the sea
if it could be
strong enough to hold me.

She said, “I bet you’d float
so give it a go.
Just hold on to me.

“Cause if I hold the sky
and if you’re holding me
that makes you strong as the sea.

“I’ll hold on to you
all you have to do
is hold on to me.


“Because I’ll tell you
I’ve got a job to do
when the storms get rough
I’ve got to hold the sky up.

“But I can only be
as strong as what’s holding me
So I guess that means
You’re strong as the sea.”


Because I’ll tell you
I’ve got a job to do.
When the storms get rough
I’ve got to hold the sea up.

But I can only be
as strong as what’s holding me
So I’ll hold on to the sky
the stars, and the sea.

Ornery Economy | 1 of 6

postcards from the swamp
One myth says the swamp was created by an outcast of hell.

One myth says the swamp was created by an outcast of hell.


A new force of nature

The story goes, that once there was a man so mean and so ornery, that when he died and went to hell the devil said, “No. You’re not staying here.” He gave him a piece of coal and told him to go make his own hell. He made the Great Dismal Swamp.

And if hell was created by an outcast of heaven, then what force of nature is created by an outcast of that God-forsaken place?

The swamp gave its marooned residents a treacherous kind of protection. If the mosquitoes didn’t scare you off, the alligators, bears and snakes did. Yet the swamp water’s high acidic content, stained bourbon-red from the Juniper and Cypress trees, kept its outliers healthy, immune to autumnal fevers. They made a living making small wages and food trades by working in the swamp, building roads, canals and flat boats to cut and carry out shingles from a seemingly endless supply of Juniper trees. By the late 1700s the swamp and its laborers turned out 1.5 million shingles per year.

Some businesses had great success. Others would burn, flood or buckle under the swamp’s thick, indecisive peat. Spas and mills turned to saloons and whisky stills. Skilled explorers got lost. Things had a way of getting discombobulated.

Even today, the swamp enforces its treacherous protection. In 2008 they tried to replace the Juniper trees. The 6,000-acre nursery burned after a tractor malfunctioned and caught fire. They tried again in 2011 and a lightning strike burned up 8,000 acres. The Juniper is gone now.

That ornery man made his own damn heaven when he made the Great Dismal Swamp, and he needed a damn good rocking blues song.

CHAPTER THREE | Glass Hills in Steel Heels

A song and story series by Molly McGinn, inspired by the Great Dismal Swamp. Album available now, online.

Wrecking Ball (lyrics)


Wrecking ball

Wrecking Ball
by Molly Miller and Molly McGinn
Amelia’s Mechanics

Old soul with a wrecking ball
tied to her ankle jumps down a hole
no kite. No kite.

Queen of Hearts sprints up a hill
only to stop and then stand still
no kite. No kite.

Stares down the hole and sprints again
bleeding from a bullet in her left shin
no kite. No kite.

‘Cane’s coming in.
Hurricane’s coming in.
‘Canes coming in.
Shiver and shine.

I see houses I see trees
like legos far beneath me
no kite. No kite.

I see water in a ring
a well is such a mighty thing
no kite. No kite.

And I want out.
And I want out.
Shive and shine.

She took the chain link into her hands
and pinched ankle steel to string
no kite. No kite.

She took the wreck she took the king
took the ball and through bending
took flight. Took flight.

Superjacent to
big tin foil balloon
Superjacent to
big tin foil balloon
Shiver and shine.

Know her?


Know her?

I like to do flickr searches for "Greensboro Woman." It’s usually pictures like these that turn up: estate photos, old black and whites, that mug shot I had of the woman in the silk blouse and the serial number necklace. It’s always kind of interesting to see what kind of woman is so important, yet so anonymous, that she’s identified by the city, and not her name, just the word, "woman."

Sealed with about 500 pieces of scotch tape


Deliver the letter, the sooner the better

A letter of intent

That’s one cheap, unlickable envelope. It took three pieces of scotch tape to close that thing up.

Addressed and stamped twice because stamp prices change faster than gas prices these days. What’s it up to, now, like $5 a stamp? Licked, taped, and stamped in doubles and triples because I want to make sure this letter gets all the way up there to Echo Mountain Recorders in Asheville.

This little envelope with enclosed check and hand-written letter reserves a studio spot in early May at Echo Mountain for Molly McGinn & the Buster Dillys. The Asheville-based studio, built inside an old church, is yet another one of North Carolina’s best kept secrets. For its quality technology and archive of ancient instruments that no software or plug-in could ever duplicate, an impressive list of musicians have made Echo mountain a short-term home for recording proejcts.

Among the list of musicians who have fiddled with the studio’s antique instruments and amps:

The Avett Brothers
Lo-Fi Breakdown
Smashing Pumpkins
Amy Ray

Now I’m wondering. Should I have stamped it four times? Just in case?