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Make It Good – Lyrics & Notes

All songs (including lyrics) -©2001 by John Finan, except where otherwise indicated.
Guide Me Through The Darkness
You Make Me Smile
Hymn In The Open Space
The Last Call
I Still Do It
She Flies Away
Remember Me
Except A Man
Make It Good
Refrigerator Science Projects
Prayer To Innocence


The opening note to this is my Strat played with an E-Bow, recorded May 2001. The rest was recorded in August 1999, shortly after it was written. Instruments: guitar, synth, and several layers of Ensoniq percussion.

Somewhere, there’s a barrier,
Somewhere, there’s a wall,
Somewhere, there’s a fortress,
Wide and deep and tall,
Somewhere, there’s an entrance,
Somewhere, there’s a door,
Leading to the secrets
I’ve been searching for,
Somewhere, there’s a signpost
Aiming straight and true-
Pointing to the passage back to you.

Once, I saw a season,
Once, I saw a light,
One day, I’ll see clearly,
Once I put it right,
Once, there were directions
Showing where to turn,
Now, there are just lessons
Left for me to learn,
Scrawled across that signpost,
Aiming straight and true-
Pointing to the passage back to you.

And it leads where it leads-
Where, exactly, I don’t know,
And it leads me to believe
It must be there to tell me I should go,
I should go, I should go.

Tonight, I see the passage
Before me as I walk,
Tonight, I’ll close the distance
So we’re close enough to talk,
Tonight, I’ll hear your voice again,
And use it as a guide
To keep my spirit moving
And let you know I’ve tried
To keep in sight that signpost,
Aiming straight and true-
Pointing to the passage back to you.

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Guide Me Through The Darkness

I brought half of the lyrics to this with me to Blissfest in July of 1998, and finished it there. That part of Michigan can be very inspirational. Instruments: 2 guitars, bass, and voice.

I walk among the forest pines,
Planted in a rigid line,
Looking for a helpful sign
To guide me through the darkness.

The moonlight and the stars are lost
Behind the limbs and branches crossed,
I’d pay for light at any cost
To guide me through the darkness.

And if you asked, I couldn’t say
Precisely where I’d lost my way,
Or why I can’t lie down and stay
To sleep until the light of day.

I walk in trails through the trees,
To hear a sound or feel a breeze,
And fall in prayer to my knees
To guide me through the darkness.

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You Make Me Smile

Written for my daughter’s seventh birthday in 1999 – and still every bit as true today. This was adopted as a Big Green X song last year, and BGX came over to sing on it as well. Instruments: 12-string acoustic, Ric 12-string lead, bass, drums, voice. Backing vocals by Leslie Frederick, Charlie Monterey, Charles Sanderson & myself.

In the morning, when I’m late
To pass through my starting gate,
And I’m feeling far from great-
You make me smile.

And when I do return
From an afternoon’s long burn,
And I’m tired and concerned-
You make me smile.

You make me smile, you make me smile,
And the troubles in my heart all disappear,
When my mind is clear,
I hope you’ll still be here
For at least a while…
You make me smile.

In the middle of the day,
When my mind is far away,
It returns to hear you play-
You make me smile.

When I’m tense or when I’m stressed,
When I’m light years from my best,
I just hold you to my chest-
You make me smile. (C)

I can’t help but smile around you,
I’m so very glad I found you,
Just a hug from you can take away my pain,
I can’t criticize or doubt you,
I don’t feel complete without you,
And your kisses saturate me like the rain.

When the sun sits back
From a summer’s long attack,
And I long for what I lack-
You make me smile.

When the moon comes back around
Far above the evening ground
And you lay your soft head down-
You make me smile. (C)

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Hymn In The Open Space*

Before she joined her choir group, Elaine Belz spent many of her Wednesdays reading her work at Xhedos, and converting the masses- including myself. I came across this piece in one of her books, and started humming a melody almost immediately. I hope the music does justice to these lovely words. Instruments: guitar, Casio digital sax, bass, voice.

I said to the wind: Come and hold me-
We could sit together in the silence and the sun.
As nature whirls around me after your command,
I inhale your breath and we are one.

You are strong, yet gentle as you move,
Stirring the leaves and the grass, and rippling waves,
And I am weak, but your caress sustains me;
You soothe me, give me rest from restless days.

I press my face toward you, close my eyes,
And spill into your cleansing flow the whispers of my fears;
A shiver in my soul breaks into laughter
As with a kiss you gather all my tears.

The force of every storm is hidden in you:
The violence and fury of nature’s darkest hours-
But in the quiet afternoon I find you,
And in this peace, all nature’s bliss is ours.

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The Last Call

I attended a party in 1999 and had just finished discussing the origins of ‘Party of One’ with several of the other guests. I continued the discussion with myself on a party napkin, which became this song. Instruments: 2 guitars, organ, & voice.

I’d like to dance with her tonight
Close and slow,
Feel her arms around my waist,
But I don’t know, I don’t know
If she sees something more about me
Than I think,
Or if this feeling’s just a product
Of my drink,

(c) Walk away,
Turn my head,
Find something else to do instead,
Walk away
From the signs
That I could ever call her mine.

I’d like to get lost in her eyes-
Wide and blue,
Instead, I’m nervous and unsure
What to do, what to do,
If she sees just another loser
With a grin
Then I’m just waiting for disaster
To begin. (c)

I like the tone of her goodbye
When she speaks,
And the brief but tender kiss
On my cheek,
There’s a method to this madness
After all,
Just when they begin announcing
The last call.

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A recently-married ‘Evil Poet’ & friend of mine had the misfortune to spend her first year or so of marriage living next door to her last ex-boyfriend, who was given to displays of un-neighborly conduct as described in the song. (She moved away and is doing fine – but she’s not bitter.) Instruments: acoustic & electric guitars, bass, drums, organ & voices.

Over there is a guy that you went out with,
And you got over him and found another man,
He’s over there, now, watching this guy make you happy,
He’s overwhelmed because he knows he never can.

He knows it’s over but he won’t admit it,
He’s overdosing on his own regret,
He knows it’s over but he can’t accept it,
He isn’t over you yet.

He’s not aware that he might’ve overdone it,
He’s not aware that a change was overdue,
He overestimates the feelings you may still have,
And overreacts when he finds it isn’t true. (C)

Now he’s sending over letters like a stalker,
Making trouble over things he can’t control,
Overstepping any limits that he once had
And overacting his role.

He’s overlooking anything he might’ve done wrong,
He’s got a lot of things he’s got to overcome,
He’s knows you’re happy and he wants to overthrow it,
He’s oversensitive or else he’s only dumb. (C)

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I spent several of my best summers on the beach at Lake Huron, near Oscoda, MI. Much of this song came back to me over the last several years- and I did finally return there last year. Instruments: 2 guitars, 2 voices.

Midnight at the water’s edge,
Tall grass to my knees,
Running on the Huron beach,
Sheltered by the trees,

My footfall and the water
Produce the only sounds,
Startled me like thunder
Finding someone else around.

Flowing dress and flowing hair
Like something from the tide,
Lips that spoke without a sound
And eyes that never lied.

Approaching in the evening fog,
Half in silhouette,
Her hand familiar to my own
As if we once had met.

We walked along the gentle pulse
Of waves against the sand,
Our hands above the fine line
Where the lake caresses land.

She laid me down upon that line
And loved me on the beach,
And let me glimpse, through her, a place
Where none but God had reached.

I woke up with the sunrise,
Alone and in a heap,
Wondering if she was just
A product of my sleep.

But in my head and in my heart
I find her image burned,
Thinking she’ll be on that beach
If someday I returned.

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I Still Do It

A song about habits. We all have ’em. I’ve got lots more that I could’ve listed, but I would’ve had to add an advisory sticker. (Besides, some folks are still giving me grief over ‘Thinking With the Wrong Head’.) Instruments: 2 electric guitars, bass, drums, & 2 voices.

Can’t dance to save my butt – but I still do it.
Drinking beer goes to my gut- but I still do it.
Little vices, smaller sins,
Mannerisms wearing thin,
I still get a goofy grin
When I still do it.

TV shows that rot my mind- but I still do it.
Habits that might make me blind- but I ain’t telling.
Jaywalk at a busy street,
Drink white wine and eat red meat,
I might die from stuff I eat
But I still do it.

Bike rides at the crack of dawn,
Mow my name into the lawn,
Run my laps until my knees give out.
Pizza- breakfast, also lunch,
Dinner- maybe Captain Crunch,
There’s some things I just can’t go without.

Sing with words that don’t sound right- but I still do it.
Make love on a beach at night- I’m still hoping!
Aging won’t get in my way-
It’s so small a price to pay,
When I’m 90, I’ll still say
That I still do it.

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I wrote this song back in 1995, and haven’t figured out what to do with it until this year. I performed this in an acoustic duo with Matt Steward for a while, and his guitar parts influenced mine here. Instruments: 2 guitars, bass, percussion & voice.

Outside your doorway lies a road you haven’t seen,
Far from the city to a place that’s wild and green,
You might not see it, but it isn’t very far,
And you’ll be welcome there, no matter where you are.
Don’t wait forever, for your time is quickly lost-
It’s just another threshold to be crossed.

Inside your doorway is a woman you might know,
She looks familiar and she wants to say hello,
You might not know it, but she’s loved you all these years,
To stay beside you, she’ll build bridges from her tears.
Walk to her, take her hand- her love was never lost-
It’s just another threshold to be crossed.

Why stand in place so long when movement keeps you free
From being lashed to things that you don’t want to see?
You only live so long, your life is just a door,
There inside, you find so many more.

The doorway’s open, but you don’t know where you stand,
Afraid the wrong choice might make you a lesser man,
You might not hear it, but the clock is ticking fast,
It won’t be long until it catches you at last.
Take a chance and enter, for there’s nothing to be lost-
It’s just another threshold to be crossed.

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She Flies Away

Written in a stream of (un?)consciousness in my basement in 1998. I’ve had several women I know- including my wife- tell me that I must’ve written this song about them, but it wasn’t about anyone in particular. Instruments: 2 guitars, 2 voices.

She flies away
When the darkness starts to
Fade away,
And the morning sunlight
Takes its place,
And she’s too shy to show
Her real face.

She moves along
While she’s certain she still
Feels strong,
Before the hurt can push
The other way,
Before it catches up
She flies away.

She rides the breeze,
Lifts herself up high
Above the trees,
Where the rainbows hide
Their shades of grey,
She flies away.

She flies away
When she thinks that there’s
No other way
To escape the things that
Break her heart,
She can’t let you see her
Fall apart.

She changes plans,
Keeps her distance from a
Stranger’s hands,
Never wonders if there’s
More to say,
Before she gets the nerve
She flies away. (C)

And in her mind,
All her troubles remain
Far behind,
Do the heavens tell her
What she’ll find?
She’ll never say. (C)

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Remember Me

Written in 1991 for a then-estranged friend of mine. We’ve since mended things between us. I kept the song as a reminder of where I don’t want to visit again. Instruments: 2 guitars, bass, drums, and 2 voices.

Somewhere between the chapels
And the rooftops of our dreams,
We found our way to places
That were better left unseen,
And made ourselves at home there
Where we weren’t supposed to be,
And when you pass these places now
Will you remember me?

Our friendship was an instrument
Like some musician’s horn,
It lies somewhere in storage now-
Dried-up, cracked and worn,
Longing for the older songs
That used to set us free,
And when these songs come back to you
Will you remember me?

Some say we learn from our mistakes-
What did you learn from me?
That love cannot be trusted?
That trust is never free?
That eyes kept closed in confidence
Might one day never see?
And when you find yourself alone
Will you remember me?

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Except A Man

In 1999, I was invited to perform at a benefit for Take Back the Night, which, among other things, helps support victims of rape and domestic abuse. I was unable to perform, but wrote a song anyway that I would’ve performed there. In a better world, all of these stories would be fictional. But it isn’t, and they aren’t. Instruments: guitar and voice.

I felt the knot inside my stomach
When I heard the evening news,
All about some crazy husband
Leaving his wife black and blue,
And she never told her doctor,
And she never called police,
She’d have lost her loving husband
But she’d be alive at least.

He’ll say that he’s the victim,
And the world can’t understand,
But call him anything
Except a man.

There’s a bag dropped on the sidewalk
Where a schoolgirl tried to run away,
Just a block away from school-
But the class was changed that day.
Homeroom’s a dirty alley,
One course, one dark degree,
Justice is just like tuition-
She’ll find it isn’t free.

He’ll say he couldn’t help it,
And no one understands,
But call him anything
Except a man.

Last night, when I left the market,
And took my groceries outside,
I saw a woman parked next to me,
Looking scared and trying to hide,
I looked around to see the danger,
And realized it must be me
That she looked upon with fear
And as a source of agony,

Because someone made her a victim,
And I could finally understand
Why she’d call me anything
Except a man.

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Make It Good

A song about healing, within and without. Instruments, guitar, piano, Ensoniq flute, and voice.

Can you start to count the years
That wasted all away?
Take them back and shrink them down
To fit them in a day?
A moment I can savor,
An hour I can share,
It may not seem like much, my love,
But take whatever’s there.

I can’t give you back the time
I always hoped I would,
But I can take what’s left
And make it good.

Can you wipe away the stone
Where wrongs are all engraved?
Write down on a page instead
The sins that we forgave,
A page for every arguement
And bitter truth we’ve learned,
Lay them down upon that stone
And set them all to burn.

I can’t change the pain that’s past-
I really wish I could.
But I can take right now
And make it good.

Can you turn around the world
And spin it in reverse?
Squeeze the wrinkles from our age
And the blessings from our curse
That cut away our time
And kept us far apart
And join us at our souls
But tore us at our hearts?

I can’t heal all the wounds-
I’d do it if I could.
But I can take the rest
And make it good.

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Refrigerator Science Projects

Written in early 1998. An early version was released on the ‘Live at the Cadieux Cafe’ compilation CD, and has become the song for which I’ve had the most requests. (Need more proof that it’s a sick world?) I was never happy with the sound quality, so here’s my own crack at it. Instruments: guitar, bass, percussion, 2 voices, and appropriate (?) sound effects.

There were noises from the kitchen
And an odor in the air,
I knew I was in my own bed
So it wasn’t me down there.

I grabbed my can of pepper spray
And went to take a look,
Everything looked fine
But my refrigerator shook.

Run, run, run,
Or you’ll never survive-
The refrigerator science projects are alive!
Run, run, run,
Or you’ll never survive-
The refrigerator science projects are alive!

Wrapped there in some plastic
Was a block of cheddar cheese,
Covered with the symptoms
Of a serious disease,

There was ivy on the hot dogs
Where they sat for much too long,
And clawing at its cardboard
Was a 3-week egg foo yong! (C)

My pastrami has a death wish
Against any mortal man,
My baloney has a last name
And it’s “Kevorkian”.

I knew I was in danger
When a rancid tenderloin
Jumped out of its foil
And tried to bite me in the groin. (C)

The rotten pears are plotting
With the moldy sticky buns,
The tater tots are toxic
And the bad eggs have a gun,
I can’t go on much longer
Unless I close the door,
Cos the smell that’s coming out
Could peel tiles from the floor,,,

I ran out of my kitchen-
I had nothing left to lose
With the rinds of decomposing apples
Covering my shoes,

Sometimes I dream they’re still there-
Clinging to my feet,
But now I have a great excuse
For watching what I eat. (C)

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Prayer To Innocence

Another song for my daughter, who remains my greatest source of hope. Instruments: 2 guitars, 2 voices.

She’s never had a heartache,
She doesn’t know betrayal,
Her innocence has yet to crack,
Her trust has yet to fail.

She’s yet to feel cynical
Of lessons that we teach,
She hasn’t seen her goals trapped
In a place beyond her reach.

And when she’s at her pillow,
And the night is dark and still,
I close my eyes and pray she never will.

She’s never given up the things
That make her feel whole,
She’s never seen a soulmate
Separated from her soul.

She’s never had to bear a cross
For someone else’s sin,
She’s never had to fight a battle
She can never win.

And when she’s at her pillow
And the night is dark and still,
I close my eyes and pray she never will.

She’s never been abandoned,
She’s never been ignored,
She’s never been dependent
On what she can’t afford.

She’s never been away from
Someone to catch her fall,
She’s never missed a doorway,
She’s never hit a wall.

And when she’s at her pillow,
And the night is dark and still,
I close my eyes and pray she never will.

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*Hymn In The Open Space
Lyrics by Elaine Belz
Lyrics originally published in
When Midnight Comes Around by Zede Publishing
©1998 Elaine Belz
Music by John Finan (© 2001 by John Finan)

All other songs written and © 2001 by John Finan