Sunday, February 04, 1990

Wild-Eyed Abby

sssssssssssssssssWild-Eyed Abby
sssssssssssssssssFrank Maier 2010

Intro: FssssssssssG

Well the Roaring Forties were takin' their toll;
Seemed like sweet-sixteen Abby might never grow old.
They made her boat rock and they made her boat roll
And Cap'n Davey Jones took her mast for his own.
(repeat chord change)
She was a California girl from Marina del Rey.
The folks around her thought that she really should stay;
But her parents helped her out, yeah, they helped her get away,
While the doom-crows groaned, "She'll never make it home!"

Abby and Wild Eyes alone on the deep.
(repeat chord change)
Alone, all alone, awake and asleep.
(repeat chord change)
But deep in your heart, you can hear your friends sing
(repeat chord change)
Cuz "alone" and "lonely" are not the same thing.

Down past the equator, a tsunami gave her pause.
The Chilean earthquake was that monster's cause,
But her skill and her craft kept her from its foul jaws
And she greeted each morn heading straight for Cape Horn.

Aeolus sends Zephyrus, it starts with a smile,
Across the wide Atlantic, mile after mile;
But the busted autopilot is now just a parts pile.
She is not forlorn but she is Cape Town borne.

Abby and Wild Eyes are headed for shore.
Thoughts of world records, well, those are no more;
Although deep in your heart, you know what is true:
The thing that’s important is its meaning to you.

This above all to thine own self be true.
(repeat chord change)
Bill knew it. I know it. You know it, too.
(repeat chord change)
Each generation must learn it anew
And if you don’t get it, I'm sorry for you.

(optional ride to verse form)

With 10,000 miles waked and 10 more to sail,
It's such a fell distance, a faint heart might quail.
But the journey's what matters, so she cannot fail.
Yes, the moon and the sun can both see she's not done.

The Indian Ocean is vast and it's cruel,
A broad span, beneath which, Poseidon does rule;
And if you're not careful, you'll be that king's fool.
Just make mistake one and you will be undone.

Abby and Wild Eyes are speeding along,
Nature's soft symphony their preferred song
Heard deep in your heart, the wake's burbling melody;
And the wind through the rigging adds sweet harmony.

But faster and faster, 'twas becoming unsafe.
The wind and the waves built. The gear, they did chafe
Until Abby, it seemed, might become the storm's waif
When Thuella did yowl, ol' Typhon, how he'd howl!

Oh, Abby, sweet Abby, her bell they thought toll'd.
Oh, how will dear Abby return to the fold?
A heart deeply brave and a spirit deeply bold,
Her hull disembowelled by Aeolians foul.

Abby and Wild Eyes are together no more.
Her brave barque abandoned, she heads for the shore.
Provided by Gallic hearts, a safe delivery,
Leaving sweet, faithful Wild Eyes adrift on the sea.

Abby and Wild Eyes have ended their tale
Sometimes that happens when you're under sail
But your constant heart knows that the journey never ends
For nautorious[sic] Abby or for her true friends.

Outro: FsssssGsssssAminsssssFsssssGsssssAmin

First verse and chorus:

Well, that's pretty awful. I blew a chord change and said "Bright Eyes" for "Wild Eyes." I'll try to get a better sample up tomorrow but this'll give ya the idea.

P.S. The original post which prompted this whole thing is here.

Update: 6/13/2010

Someone asked me how I could crank this song out in just one day. Well, here's my process with the following caveats:

I am not really a songwriter.
I am not really a poet.
I typically take a very long time to produce anything written because I edit and rewrite and reedit and rewrite endlessly. I have lately made the decision to stop doing that and just create something and let it go without a lot of reworking. This is an example of that.

My process for writing this song:

First, I played around with chord structure and rhythm. Having talked about Dylan in the original thread, I settled on a folk(+reggae-ish) kind of beat (old-school Dylan) and decided on the chord change for the verses. Then I worked out the chorus (refrain). Eventually, I worked on and wound up with a bridge which wasn't terrible. I'm not as happy working on bridges as I am on verses/choruses so I left that one mostly fuzzy.

With the music basically settled, I attacked the verse form. Given that I'd chosen a very simple musical structure, I leaned away from a too-simple rhyme scheme, like

After fooling around a bit, I decided on a verse scheme of a two-section stanza of eight total lines with a rhyme of



A little odd, a little more of a challenge, but I thought it might be fun. So I cut myself a break on the chorus (refrain) and made it


with the added tidbit of starting the first line of each chorus with "Abby and Wild Eyes" and starting the third line of the chorus with a reference to the heart.

I deferred all specific decisions about the bridge until later. Now I was ready to dive into actually writing the verses and choruses.

My lyric resource was a fact-sheet of Abby's actual experiences which I extracted from her blog and mined for potential verse tidbits. I opened the song in media res as the hook when she's dismasted and storm-tossed, her fate still unlearned (just like Charlie on the MTA in the classic folksong), then returned to a chronological format to reconnect to the timeframe of the opening verse by the end of the song. After that, it was just a matter of working out stanza concepts and lyrics and meeting my meter and rhyme scheme. Phew.

Meeting my chorus format got tougher as I got near the end but I finagled it, sometimes awkwardly.

I had to add in a reference to the "doom-crows" from my original post and throw in a few mythological allusions cuz that's just how I am.

Once I was basically done with the verses and choruses, I had no more excuses to avoid working on the bridge. Relying on the verse just previous to the bridge, I springboarded from the concept of being true to your own heart and brought in a line from the inestimable Wild Bill Shakespeare. You'll never go wrong using a little of Bill's work in yours, even if it means fulfilling Horace's complaint about stippling your work with purpurei panni.

And that's pretty much how I did it.


  1. This is awesome!! Touches everything you felt was important to say in your original post.

  2. KEWL!!!That's totally awesome...she needs to hear it. :)

  3. Frank, I've heard so many sailing songs of doom and despair, its soooo great to have one with an upbeat, positive spin to it! Woo hoo!

  4. Hope the Greybeards can record this, it is AWESOME!
    Oh Anguish studios?????????

  5. Thank you, one and all. I'm simultaneously embarrassed and gratified.