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One Thing 

New CD Release One Thing

Thanks to Sand Forest Farm whose task list demands a little disipline and whose welcoming beauty and constant transformations inform my work and inspire me daily.

I sometimes know in one or two notes that I have a song brewing but I don't always know if completing it is going to take months or minutes. Chasing this unpredictable spark is an endlessly fascinating and joyful part of creating music; it drives me to create it and share it with you.

"He’s the best!"
- Lydia Hickling, daughter


Canadian Purchases

MP3 Downloads & U.S. Purchases

Roy Hickling

For expedited shipping or International purchases, inquire at roy@royhickling.com

Snail Mail Purchases

Mail me a cheque payable to Roy Hickling and i will send you your CD:
Roy Hickling
1115 Old Barrie Road East
Oro-Medonte ON L0L 1T0

Don't forget to include a cheque for $23.00 per CD (includes shipping within Canada)
with your return mailing address.

 About Songs, Lyrics & Credits

Click on the each header to expand and collapse the panel

In a Garden

One Thing - Roy Hickling
In a Garden
(Inspired by the fearlessness of “There is a Season: A Memoir in a Garden” by Patrick Lane)

Your garden still stands
Overgrown, ‘cause you are gone
Holds the pressure of your hands
Feels the moisture from your brow

I see you kneeling there
A flash of red at your hair
I don’t want to keep you here
I see you through the ferns
There’s beauty at every turn
Every turn away

My garden holds my mind
Provides another spring
Filtering my blood
Measuring my time


Roy Hickling- vocal & electric guitar
Chris Bennett – electric lead guitar
Ray Dillard – drums
Pat McPhail – electric bass


 (During the 2008 BaDAS/S DIY weekend Paul Court handed out fortune cookies, with a brief fortune. Mine read “At the circus” and Zelda was on the way.)

Ladies and Gentlemen, your attention please
Behold the lovely Zelda on her flying trapeze
Wires slice the darkness, she flashes to the light
A daring spin into mid-air, a grip that’s true and tight

The lions and the tigers take the center ring
Zelda smiles softly as she watches from the wings
Now the show is over, they leave the stage
Zelda turns her face away as they lead them to their cage

Zelda longs to fly alone, without a net
Zelda lives for flying she just hasn’t tried it yet

Now the circus is packed up –awfully glad you came
Leaving for another town, but it will look the same
People wave but they don’t look into Zelda’s eyes
A skimpy sequined suit sure makes a great disguise

Zelda longs to fly alone, without a net
Zelda lives for flying she just hasn’t tried it yet

One day Zelda grabbed a rope, the crowd began to roar
She swung across the bleachers and flew right out the door

She landed in a quiet place
Where all the neighbours know her face
In a tiny house with a great big yard
That’s full of pets and life’s not hard
She’s glad that she is on firm ground
And the circus never… comes to town

Roy Hickling – vocal
Don Bray – acoustic guitar
Pat McPhail – double bass

Still Pissed Off

(The fresh wild flowers placed at the mass graves of Culloden make me wonder about the power and the horror of our ability to hang on for centuries.)

Neanderthal in an empty cave
Bigger, stronger and awful brave
Scrawny homo sapiens live there instead
A little better at knocking heads
Kindergarten, playground
Trevor has acres to play around
Gets too close to the sand box
They knock him on his temples with building blocks

And they’re still pissed off, pissed off
Think by now they’d a had enough
Of holding onto grudges and acting tough
...still pissed off

April in Culloden, seventeen, four six
Five thousand Scotsmen in a fix
Prince Charlie was bonnie but he was a twit
And they got their asses kicked

You’d think a few hundred years
Woulda dried up all the tears
But they’re laying flowers on the graves
Like it happened yesterday

Ted loves Debbie, Debbie loves Ted
You wouldn’t know it, they fight instead
Petty nonsense they’re on the skids
No I didn’t....Yes you did!

The problems of mankind are bred into the bone
You can’t change other’s lives, but you can change your own
You still can change your own.

Roy Hickling- vocal & electric guitar
Chris Bennett – electric lead guitar
Ray Dillard – drums
Pat McPhail – electric bass

One Thing

(I first learned of Pando - with its thousands of trees sharing identical ancient DNA - about ten years ago. While contemplating the theme of my CD, the title song with its unifying metaphor popped out. The last song written at the last minute has its roots in all aspects of this project.)

A grove of Quaking Aspen trees
Alive for eighty centuries
50,000 side by side
From one root they’ve lived and died – one thing

A dab of colour trembling leaves
Is it all or one you perceive?
Never know how high they’ll climb
Each one in their own time – one thing

From borrowed earth we arise
With borrowed time, live our lives
The Aspen trees, the globe and us
All connected by the dust - one thing

Roy Hickling – vocal, acoustic guitar
Max Dyer - cello

My Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather George

(Who says that ancestral history is boring?)

My great, great, great, great grandfather George
Was an adventurous kinda’ guy
Left a tranquil London life
For the navy and the sky
Where Georgie and some boys
Who didn’t make much noise
Snuck in after dark
Where the pirates loved to park
And stole a ship back for the queen
(She was amused…gave Georgie a big reward)

My great, great, great, great grandfather George
Landed back at Bethnal Green
Settled down, had six kids
At least until 1819
When he put on a push
To move out to the bush
And carve a life out overseas (that’s just what he did…up near Barrie)

My great, great, great, great granny Eliza
She really loved her London Town
“Sure, build me a house outta mud and sticks
I’ll move right down”
But she never did
Neither did the kids
Until they all sailed over when she died

Sometimes a journey is a race
Sometimes a journey is a place

The great, great, great, great thing about this
Is Georgie lost his need to roam
Seven generations since
Have called this place their home
That’s the reason
You knew there had to be one
George is the reason that I’m here

Roy Hickling- vocal & acoustic guitar
Chris Bennett –rhythm guitar
Don Bray – lead guitar
Pat McPhail – double bass

I Didn't Ask Why

(A contemplation of creativity, posterity and retirement.)

Just a bit longer, I need my rest
So I said to the wind in the west
But it breeches the screens and it rattles the blinds
I won’t be getting more time

The trace of a dew drop, path down the pane
A metaphor ready, but really quite lame
The trials of the day and the big easy chair
Watch from the foot of the stairs

Pacing a lifetime a run and a crawl
A few fleeting decades to make sense of it all
The wheels of wisdom spin on the shelf
As I bumble on by, by myself

The sunrise spills on the mist on the grass
So goddam pretty it’s kicking my ass
There are snippets of answers spread through the sky
But I didn’t ask why
Snippets of answers smeared through the sky
But I never, nor would I ever, no

Roy Hickling- vocal & acoustic guitar
Chris Bennett –electric guitar
Pat McPhail – double bass

Scattered Seed

(Starting this song about my four times great grandfather ended a ten year block that had settled in after thirty songs. A twenty minute song prompted by Sept 11 butted in the line-up and started a flow. Here we are fifteen years and one hundred songs later.)

When the snow melts and the earth warms, there’s planting soon to do
There’s a scent as old as springtime, and a pull that feels brand new
You first knew it in these fields, 200 years ago
And coaxed this farm out of the forest, tree by tree, stone by stone

In the fencerow a white pine stump
Greying fingers pointing to the land
Beneath it rich organic traces leave a painting in the sand

You walked each acre of each field in the hoof prints of your team
Earned your rest along the fencerow, drew your water from the stream
Saved some seed from every harvest, sowed by phases of the moon
Now I sit up in a tractor and I work it all by noon

In the furrow a horseshoe was thrown there
and gently worked on in
Hoof beat rhythm, heavy breathing echoes like a song played to the wind

Clear a path, not knowing where it leads
Scatter seed, let the earth say which will grow…
Or lie fallow

I don’t know why you left your homeland
I don’t know why you left your wife
I don’t know what it was that gave you colour in your life
I don’t know if you ever wondered where it all leads, too
I just know that you loved the soil, ‘cause I feel it too

Roy Hickling- vocal & acoustic guitar
Chris Bennett –electric guitar
Pat McPhail – double bass


(I woke up - wide awake - with the vibe, melody, metaphor, marimba, the first couple of lines, soft focus hippies running through wild flowers and the name Cordelia in my head. I was busy with spring planting and completed the lyrics in the tractor. The rest came later, after it rained.)

Why is she a mystery? Cordelia
We see her every day (hey- ay, ba, ba, ba-da, ba da-ba)
The grace of a sand dune the swell of a breast
That’s the curve that I like the best
We have been so wondrously blessed by Cordelia

Greet every day, let your senses obey Cordelia
And she will take you home
Some say she’s changing, some say she’s not
Most never give it one passing thought
One thing for certain that girl is hot - Cordelia

It’s her nature to give that’s how she lives - Cordelia
And her gift is time
There’s a light in the west that sets in her eyes
The sea at her breath that floats to the skies
She needs to rest yet she always tries – Cordelia, Cordelia

The way that we treat her is really insane
We’ve all been so careless to cause her such pain
I’m not sure she will warn us again...

Roy Hickling- vocal & acoustic guitar
Chris Bennett –electric guitar
Pat McPhail – double bass
Dan Morphy - marimba

Cecil J Kinross VC

(This one is a gift from Cecil, received while visiting his home town Lougheed, Alberta.)

Deep in the mud at Passchendaele
Digging a trench was like digging to hell
Cecil J Kinross fought there
He won the Victoria Cross

General Haig measured the progress in yards
I guess counting the dead was a little too hard
A quarter million wounded and gone
But Cecil saved some

Machine gun fire had them pinned down
When Cecil took off across open ground
After taking the gun and six men
They made 300 yards on that day

Come to me, run to me, can’t you see victory here in Victoria’s arms?

Most awarded VC’s were already dead
But Cecil survived getting shot in the head
Four men fell trying to stretcher him down
He walked in alone

Cecil would say - wasn’t brave what I done
We’d save up our rations, fight fear with the rum
We were all just regular guys
With a job to do

But Cecil was brave, he proved it that day
He knew the risks, a friend heard him say
Here I go for a Victoria Cross
Or a wooden one.

Home at the farm he hadn’t the touch
Sometimes he drank a little too much
He was known as a wild one
But he was well loved

From the Legion at Lougheed to the hotel door
It’s 200 steps and not a step more
Cecil lived there for twenty odd years
He died there alone

Who knows what old soldiers carry inside?
The guilt of survival, the horror, the pride
The weight of the dreams of buddies that died
All those years ago

Come to me, run to me, can’t you see victory here in Victoria’s arms?
Oh come to me, run to me, can’t you see victory here in Victoria’s arms?

Roy Hickling- vocal & acoustic guitar

The Last Mermaid

 (There are plenty of unrequited love songs, but not enough about mermaids.)

I heard the ancient sailors used to see’em
Singing songs to lure them into the sea
Men far from home and weary
Longing for a little company

One morning I was walking by the water
I saw a flash of skin, hair flowing wild
I wasn’t sure what I was seeing
Until she looked at me and smiled

I know you don’t believe I saw her
I’ll tell’ya buddy I don’t care

Diving, streaking, splashing, a shimmering veil of water
I tried to call out to her, what could I say?
The ocean’s call is louder
She drifted away

There are times I can’t believe I saw her
And such beauty was here

It seems I’ve spent my whole life by the water
I didn’t jump in, I just grew old
My memories of her are faded
And a little hard to hold

All these years I thought that I might see her
While out walking on the shore
But I don’t look no more

Roy Hickling- vocal & acoustic guitar
Max Dyer –cello
Pat McPhail – double bass


(Man it was cold in the barn when there was a raw wind in the east.)

Zephyrs, mistrals and gentle Chinooks
Frothing the surface of babbling brooks
Leaves set to rustling, stirred in the breeze
Gusts that’ll knock you straight to your knees
There’s one type of wind that I like the least
Goddam the wind that blows from the east

The cattle look puzzled dusted in frost
Their water bowl’s frozen, the barn cats are lost
The gale’s found each crack and wickedly hums
And rattles the steel like nails on a drum
It slickens the surface and seizes the stink
of frozen manure, hard as a rink

The wind is forever it shouldn’t be strange
It moans from the corners, it’s calling for change
I make it to shelter, deep in my bed
While visions of shingles fly through my head
There’s one type of wind that I like the least
Goddam the wind that blows from the east

Roy Hickling- vocal & acoustic guitar
Chris Bennett –electric guitar
Pat McPhail – double bass

When I was a Boy

(I love childhood sensory memories, they are always a welcome surprise.)

Oh, the scent of curing hay
Always brings me back
To the summer I was ten
And the ground was dry and cracked
But our hip roofed barn was full
Mowed up to the peak
You can put up real good hay
When it doesn’t rain for weeks
And the cows dug in
Because it was a treat
And carried on their breath
Smelled so sweet

The cows would lean, the fence would squeak
Stretched for all it’s worth
The thud of falling hooves
Made a soundboard of the earth

There was a pasture field
Right outside my window sill
Sometimes awake at night
I hear them still

The barn, the cows, the fields, the lane
A life of time to spend
The good luck of a long dry spell
Coming to an end
I awoke to the sound of rain
Felt such joy
And I knew that I would farm...
When I was a boy

Roy Hickling- vocal & mandolin
Chris Bennett –rhythm guitar
Don Bray – slide guitar
Pat McPhail – double bass

Sunlight on Thunderbolts

(The image of “sunlight on thunderbolts” was a gift from a stranger commenting on another of my songs. Three words and you’re off and writing! Thanks.)

Sunlight laced on thunderbolts
Whipped a purple cloud through a yellow sky
Some folks sat to watch the show
Others thought that they would die
Thought that they would die

We all survived that storm
But it knocked the power out
Some were filled with hope
Some were filled with doubt
Some were filled with doubt

When that darkness fell
We were amazed to see so far
The forgotten light
An endless sea of stars
Endless sea of stars

We are not alone
Underneath the starry night
Reflected from above
By seven billion candle lights
Seven billion candle lights

Roy Hickling- vocal & slide guitar
Chris Bennett – electric lead and rhythm guitar
Ray Dillard – drums
Pat McPhail – electric bass

In Between

(My friend Christianne Williams called proposing a joint artist exhibition with the theme Lost and Found. The next day I wrote this song. I always pay strict attention to Chris’s suggestions!)

Lost in a crowd, each on his own
Swept along like a leaf in the street
Feeling bone weary, feeling alone
Feeling the souls of my feet

Searching the faces, looking away
All of the barriers unseen
All the connections, falling just short
Lost in the space in between

Lost in between

Between each raindrop falling to earth,
Gathered to make up the sea
All the molecules spilling along
Between each galaxy

Between our dreams and what we achieve
The night and the day
Our arrival and when we depart
What we feel and we say

In Between

I’ve heard we enter life in a spark
And we leave in one too
In between we are beings of light
Who can’t remember it’s true

Wish I could tell you what I believe
From here on the ground
But I’m searching for answers somewhere between
All the things that I’ve lost and I’ve found
Found In Between

Roy Hickling- vocal & acoustic guitar
Chris Bennett – electric slide guitar
Ray Dillard – drums
Pat McPhail – double bass

Sea Change

(I love songs that arrive quickly and are to the point.)

It was an average morning
Knocked out cold
Could’a used a warning
But I had been told

Things were rearranging
In my mind’s eye
I felt the current changing
And so was I

A sea change, is just water
A sea change is just change
Hold tight? Why bother
Ride it the remainder of your days

I know I will...
I know I will abide
I have realized I am a river
Spinning through a tide

A sea change, is just water
A sea change is just change
Hold tight? Why bother
Ride it the remainder of your days

Roy Hickling- vocal & acoustic guitar
Chris Bennett – electric lead guitar
Ray Dillard – drums
Pat McPhail – electric and double bass


Roy Hickling – words and music
Ray Dillard – producer, recording, editing and mixing
Roy Hickling – assistant producer
Don Bray – assistant producer
Graemme Brown, Zen Mastering - mastering


Roy Hickling, Don Bray and Ray Dillard recorded at Mark Abbott’s Orange Lodge in Wyebridge, Ontario.
Ray Dillard, Pat McPhail and Dan Morphy recorded at Crush Studio, Barrie, Ontario
Chris Bennett recorded in Toronto by Ray Dillard.
Max Dyer self-recorded in Houston, Texas.
Don Bray self-recorded at Meek Monk Studio, Barrie Ontario.


Chris Bennett – electric lead guitar, electric slide guitar and acoustic guitar
Don Bray – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, lap slide and baritone lap slide guitars
Ray Dillard – drums and percussion
Max Dyer – cello
Roy Hickling – vocal, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, slide guitar and mandolin
Pat McPhail – double bass and electric bass
Dan Morphy – marimba


I have listened to the above musicians deliver their contributions through hours of hard work or by catching them out of the ether - and often through a combination of both. Thank you to Chris, Don, Ray, Max, Pat and Dan for your diligent and awe-inspiring, collaborative contributions to One Thing. My education continues.

So what does a producer do? Listens. Before the songs are selected (or even all written) they are determining the sensibility behind the music and are helping to select the songs that will express it. Then additional musicians are invited, to heighten the mood and add layers, sometimes with a little direction and sometimes not (especially when they are ringers!).

Keen ears then attend to the mysteries of vibe and the tweaking of delicate elements. Obsession is in the details. Having a couple of extra producers contributing makes it more fun. I think. Thanks Ray for wonderful work, enriching insight, pointed advice and endless support. Thanks Don for your valued friendship, constructive opinions, tasty slide guitar and tardy editing suggestions.

To the many people who have asked about my next CD - Thanks for your patience.

I am grateful for the love and support of my dad Harold, my siblings and their spouses, my nieces and especially my wife Sue and daughter Lydia.

Art Credits

Art direction and layout: Christianne Williams. Thanks for doing such a beautiful job.

Original artwork: Lydia Hickling's wonderful artwork is freatured on the inside cover and throughtout the lyric booklet. It gathers from work she painted between the ages of two and twenty two and her creativity continues.

Photography: Christianne Williams shot the barn images and the one of me in front of the barn. The recording sessions shots of Ray, Don and I were taken by Ray Dillard (except for the one i took of him).

thanks to Robert Rountree for the late evening house call to set up the intonation of my mandolin and thanks to the many others who are always pleased to help.

a little time

Roy shortlisted for the Colleen Peterson songwriting award with three songs!...Lay Your Fences Down, Voices In the Well, Jenny's Dream. Read about it here!

"Humour, intelligence and just the right amount of quirk. Roy Hickling writes great songs."
- Don Bray, singer songwriter

"I really appreciate your perspective- so grounded and "cosmic" at the same time."
- Max Dyer versatile, improvising cellist and studio musician

"Roy’s accomplished playing and resonant vocals are his canvas and brushes, but his inspired lyrics are his colours. Their bone truth, poetry and wit have me rocking with laughter one minute and moved to tears the next."
- Susan Braedley author, teacher, folk aficionado

"He’s the best!"
- Lydia Hickling, daughter


Canadian Purchases

MP3 Downloads & U.S. Purchases

Roy Hickling

For expedited shipping or International purchases, inquire at roy@royhickling.com

Snail Mail Purchases

Mail me a cheque payable to Roy Hickling and i will send you your CD:
Roy Hickling
1115 Old Barrie Road East
Oro-Medonte ON L0L 1T0

Don't forget to include a cheque for $23.00 per CD (includes shipping within Canada)
with your return mailing address.

Roy performing: Cecil J. Kinross V.C.


Roy performing: Lucid Dream


Roy performing: Voices In The Well


Roy performing: Dancing On The Moon


Roy performing: I Didn't Ask Why


Roy performing: Zelda



About Songs, Lyrics & Credits

Click on the each header to expand and collapse the panel


I read somewhere that the atoms that made up Genghis Khan have scattered around the world and are a part of the make-up of all of us. This song couples that thought with the image of the dust cloud over New York City on September 11, 2001. While there is comfort in the idea of continuity from ancestors to descendants, there is also sadness and frustration in the repetition of the behaviours. “Dust” is an insistent song and is first on the CD so that it can speak quickly and we can get onto other things.

Dust from earth, and to the earth returned
We are ashes that our ancestors have burned
Our time is brief, so it always seems so strange
When lives are spent as casually as change

Does what we learn and how we grow
What we feel and what we know
Return with us or linger as a gift?
We’re gone too soon, but once we lived

When the dust boiled in the sky
Like a warning that was twisted with a sigh
It hangs in time, yet was scattered to the wind
To touch the earth and be taken up again

With a touch of understanding, and a touch of hate
A new perspective, just a little bit too late
What would the fallen say if they could just live twice?
To live and learn and live... wouldn’t it be nice?

Roy Hickling - vocal & guitar
Douglas Romanow - keyboards

Dancin' on the Moon

Moon landing, eh?  If you must date yourself at least do it in a love song.

(for Sue)
Soon ... soon ... soon we’ll be walking on the moon
That’s what they said when I was just a kid
A few years later that’s just what they did
But first they had to even dream they could

I ... I ... I felt exposed beneath the sky
Another try and another start
Another chance to reveal my heart
And yet somehow I knew that it was right
I saw it in my dreams
Simple as it seems
It’s like I’d always been, with you

You ... you ... you like an ever changing view
A little push and a little pull
A little work to keep life full
A little time to open up my mind
I saw it in my dreams
Simple as it seems
I know I’ve always been, with you

Do ... do ... do do do do do do do do
Love is the answer to your dreams
Love’s the answer when you dream
I sensed it was but now I know it’s true
And I know that soon
I’ll be dancin’ on the moon
Dancin’ on the moon with you

Roy Hickling - vocal & guitar
Max Dyer - cello

One More Round

My grandfather was often late for dinner after being lured into completing one more round of the field before coming in. In this song I’m driving around the field in my old combine thinking about my life and heritage as a farmer as well as my new interests. Farming, art and music may not seem to fit together but they are similar in that they are all callings.


I pull up to the wheat field, it’s harvest time once more
What’s more bountiful than harvest songs, I’ve heard ‘em all before
But nature’s voice and engine noise, are spinning out the sound
So I add my voice to the din, one more round

There are patches on the patches of this combine that I drive
It’s duct taping and curses that are keeping it alive
I swear that I’ll be sitting on it, until it rusts into the ground
I hope that it can make it for one more round

If I’ve ever been more itchy, I’m not sure how I’d tell
Because the dust behind that combine’s blowin’ straight outta hell
And harvest songs can’t tell you how it feels on your neck
I guess I’m here to tell you that...it feels like heck

Some men dream of wealth or fame, some dream of Paris France
Some men dream of dancing girls in frilly underpants
I’m dreaming of the shower, I’ll just stand there until I drown
Hope that I can make it for one more round

The markets are diving down again, it’s really quite insane
How my life follows the day traders and their computer games
And other folks are making more because the price is down
And toasting their good fortunes with one more round

I’m sitting out here thinking ‘bout what keeps me on this mud
Is my life what I imagine it, or is it in my blood

‘Cause my father farmed before I did, his father too
And his, and his and his and his, I guess it’s what we do
It isn’t such a simple thing to go moving into town
I’ll be the last man in my line, one more round

Each round ends where it started in this combine that I drive
It’s like the cycles of the seasons, and the weather and our lives
Generations spinning down through time without a sound
Glad that you could join me for, one more, one more round

Roy Hickling - vocal & guitar
Don Cameron - mandolin
Ray Dillard - button accordion & percussion

Underneath the Snow

This song was triggered by looking out the window at a beautiful snow scene and thinking about loss. The “stretched out on the couch” line came from a childhood memory of our neighbour on the next farm, having his afternoon nap behind his wood fired cookstove on winter afternoons. Don passed a week after I finished this song and it is dedicated to his memory. Rebirth in the spring is a common metaphor - I’m back at the fact that you still have to deal with the loss.


(In memory of Don Giffen)

This ground is so damned hard
You’d think that I would know
That the frost was creepin’ in
Underneath the snow

It hardly rained all summer
In the fall it wouldn’t stop
I couldn’t get the plowing done
I barely got the crop

The tractor’s pulled up in the shed
The last place that I drove
And I am stretched out on the couch
Behind the kitchen stove
What else should I do?

Harvest left this farm in a mess
There’s a rut in every row
But it’s smoother than a wedding dress
Underneath the snow

Spring will be here soon enough
When winter sets her free
Another year, another crop
Another pot of tea

In the shadow of the fencerow
Where the snow has drifted through
The wind has carved an ocean
In a dozen shades of blue
What else should it do?

Every season has its turn
That’s just the way things go
And not everything will be coming up
From underneath the snow

Roy Hickling - vocal & guitar
Max Dyer - cello & bass
Don Cameron - mandolin

Pluto is a Star

Time for some fun. Pluto is off the list and he is ticked!

Say it ain’t so
I’m not a planet, dammit
How would you know?
It’s kinda arbitrary
You get to say who is out, who is in
You’re the masters of spin

People of Earth
Have an exaggerated
Sense of self worth
And I just don’t get it
For seventy years, you have all been so nice
Then suddenly, I’m just rock and ice?
I’m not a rock, I’m not a rock...I’m a star

You sing to the moon
Think you’re hotter than the sun
It’s the same inept tune
It’s utter lunacy
To put a spotlight on us and place us up high
Just to shoot for the sky
Bright light mars your view of the stars

Saturn gave me a ring
Mercury was boiling mad
When he heard of this thing
Venus agrees with me and Uranus and Jupiter
We all think that your list couldn’t be stupider
‘Cause I am not a rock, I’m not a rock...I’m a star

Say what you will
But I’ve been out here all along
I’m out here still
Why don’t you just leave me alone?
I’m not stuck in your orbit, give me my space
Don’t look at my face

Roy Hickling - vocal & archtop guitar
Douglas Romanow - keyboards

My Backyard

I alternate between thinking that I need to be more informed about what’s going on in the world, to feeling that I should know a lot less. After all, the word newsbreak can be taken two ways.

There’s a little oasis that I know
Where the shrubs and flowers love to grow
Perfect demeanour, grass ain’t no greener
Behind any other house along this row
Straight out the back door it’s waiting there for me
And I’ll be laying down my load...
Not too far from the middle of the road...in my backyard

My yard is short and not too wide
Pressure treated lattice fortified
When I’m out there weeding, there’s no interceding
By the people walled in on the other side
The birds are calling, their fledglings to wing
I’ve seen em fall, I’ve seen em fly
Eventually the little peckers try...in my backyard

In the treetops the birdies are sweetly singing
That special song
And the roses are brightly blooming
What could go wrong?

Facing down the news is quite a chore
Politics, crime and the latest war
The sky is churning, forests are burning
And I don’t think I can take it any more
So I’m changing the channel and I’m dressing in flannel
I’ve got to ease a troubled mind
And I know exactly what I’ll find...in my backyard

Roy Hickling - vocal, whistling & guitar
Douglas Romanow - keyboards
Ray Dillard - percussion

Voices in the Well

We recorded my tracks in a creaky, old Orange Lodge with a couple of jail cells and a bricked well in the basement. After completing a vocal track, I was in the habit of walking around with my guitar to practice the next song. One evening this chord progression popped out instead and as soon as I had a moment to work on it the lyrics followed very quickly. Half ghost song, half metaphor for the unconscious mind. Make sure to play this on great headphones or speakers and listen to the cello voices descending and ascending the well.


There is a well below this house, but we don’t know
The men who dug it there by lantern glow
Each pail of earth hauled up, each brick sent low
And laid beneath the earth, row on row on row
There are voices in the well

The water is dark and cold and stretches deep
Beyond the reaches of shovels and sleep
The men would tunnel down, the water seeps
Into the shadows of the secrets that it keeps
With the voices in the well

Bubbling echoes swallow the din
Casting a whisper of places they’ve been
The light reflecting up, sparkling begins
Betraying surfaces, while coming from within
Like the voices in the well

Roy Hickling - vocal & guitar
Max Dyer - cello & bass
Douglas Romanow - marxophone


In 2003, our family vacationed in Scotland, took in its magnificent cold beauty and connected with some family history and ancestors. On the Culloden battlefield there are mass graves marked by standing natural stones with the name of each clan carved in. People were leaving wildflowers and thistles on the stones and appeared to be mourning a loss from last week – not 1746. There is something very powerful and very horrible about that.

The mist is marching down the glen from the highlands this morning
I can’t see inches from my eyes
The dew is hung on ancient trees like a warning
Blue peaks lie shrouded in the skies
They say to sit until it lifts, move ahead and you might risk
a fall... but I know these hills

Sun dappled high mountain gleams, woven with streams
Each ribbon has wandered and flown, carved into stone

The rolling moor and loch and stone have a cool clear beauty
Giant trees are standing fast
Anchored firm through centuries like a sense of duty
That will not yield to the last
So draw us into two straight lines of what is yours and what is mine...
and we’ll fight for a way of life.

Deep forest blankets of green spun in a dream
Faint echoes pipe in the dawn, where have you gone?

Five thousand men are on their feet
to face their foe through cold and sleet
The heather waves in wind and rain
Is trampled in to grow again
The earth is soft
The earth is soft the earth is warm
The earth is soft the earth is warm as blood
The earth is soft the earth is warm as our blood

Roy Hickling - vocal & guitar
Don Bray - baritone slide guitar
Douglas Romanow - keyboards
Ray Dillard - percussion

Lay Your Fences Down

This song is dedicated to my dad and to all the horses that he worked with growing up on the farm that his grandfather cleared. It’s taken from a few of his many stories of these powerful, gentle creatures that he obviously loved.

(For Harold Hickling)

Not so very long ago it used to really snow around here
You’d park your car until the spring and wait for it to clear
Because the roads were drifted in and the banks would climb
You could take the phone line in your teeth if you were so inclined
They’d pull the steeples from the posts and lay the fences down
Hook the horses to the sleigh and head it into town
Breaking trail out across the fields ... working like a charm
Gliding through the neighbours place, goin’ farm to farm

When my dad was just a kid he could work like any man
One day he took the team to town, he was headed home again
It was clear and cold and the stars were out, the snow was fast and deep
He’d made it half way up Kidd’s hill, when he fell asleep
...and the horses took him home

The years have slipped by since those days of harnesses and teams
The horses that have worked these farms have faded into dreams
But take some time to think of them, there are lessons to be found
Trust a little in the ride and lay your fences down
Trust a little in the ride...and lay your fences down

(Dedicated to and thinking of - Frank & Fan, King & Queen, Bess & Topsy, Fred & Ted, Frank & Minnie, Tom, June, Pat, Cyclone & Maude)

Roy Hickling - vocal & guitar
Don Bray - baritone slide guitar
Douglas Romanow - keyboards
Alyssa Wright - harmony vocal
Ray Dillard - sleigh bells

Jenny's Dream

I’ve carried the memory for years of Remembrance Day interviews at the Cenotaph with tearful, elderly ladies mourning the loss of their young loves from decades ago. Many of them never married in honour of their men. This song imagines the spirit of one of these men coming to greet his Jenny at the end of her life - did she hang on to his memory or did he haunt hers?

Jenny, go to sleep now, dry up all your tears
I can’t believe you’re crying after all these years
I said, "I’m glad I’m going", but that wasn’t what I meant
Did you forget your promise in the letter that you sent

We were both so young then, so much still to do
I could not imagine that I would not come back to you
We started up that damned hill, we were cut apart
Vimy holds my body, you still hold my heart

You’re such a foolish woman you said you’d live your life
You promised you would move on, be someone else’s wife
You are old and gray now, yet beautiful to see
I can’t believe you’ve waited your whole life for me
Jenny can you hear me

Go to sleep now Jenny, I’ll see you in your dreams
The time we spend there is more real than it seems
Lay your head down Jenny, I promise that I’ll stay
Can’t you feel me Jenny, I’m just one breath away

Roy Hickling - vocal & slide 7-string guitar
Max Dyer - cello
Douglas Romanow - keyboards
Don Cameron - mandolin

Summer Sidecar

Playing the guitar in open tunings requires completely different finger positions to form the chords. Within moments of my first attempt at open tuning, I began writing the elements that came together to make this instrumental song. I played it obsessively for hours, with new elements gradually finding my fingers until I completed the song over a period of several days. I then had to practice it for months until I could do it justice. The song remained untitled until I dedicated it to the memory of my friend Peter who had restored and tooled around on a motorcycle with a sidecar.

(Instrumental )
In memory of Peter Holler
Roy Hickling - guitar


I met a steelworker who had survived a horrifying fall from fifty feet when an open steel structure he was working on collapsed. He was standing on the peak and when it started to fall he took off running along the ridge on a 6 inch wide I-beam with the intention of leaping off into a nearby tree. I interviewed him and learned of his difficult childhood, violent and hardscrabble youth and challenging, painful and somewhat alienated adult life. I wrote a ballad about Mick and was on the way to sing it for him and his family. As I was driving an image flashed into my mind of Mick falling but he was frozen in midair and the earth was spinning out from underneath him - another (and much better) song was born.

Gonna carve a lazy arc across the skies
Burning time to kill
‘Cause it’s the earth that moves - the sun is standing still
And to see it turning on and off the power
We’re spinning at a thousand miles an hour

The planet’s face
It should be spitting us off into outer space
And for what it’s worth
It’s not gravity that’s holding me on earth
Nor does duty, joy, destiny or fear
It`s the force of habit that keeps me here
Spinnin’ round

I’m hunkered in
Cause I swear that I can feel the damn thing spin
And it wobbles too
As the seasons flicker in and out of view
Is someone gently holding everything aloft?
Or did he spin it once and then just bugger off

I can feel it spin, feel it spinning, feel it spinning around
I can feel it spin, I can feel it spinnin’, feel it spinnin’ around

Calm it down
Feel my connection to the ground
Hold on more
Although I feel that my spirit wants to soar
If I could leap and pull my feet out of this clay
Then I would land about a million miles away

Roy Hickling - vocal & archtop guitar
Douglas Romanow - keyboards

Lucid Dream

This is a slide guitar tune played on a very cool antique store find – an eighty year old, tiny, eastern European, bolt-on neck, cantilevered fret board, 7-string guitar. Wonky and challenging to tune and keep it tune, it’s fun to play and sounds great. Perfect for Lucid Dream, a mortality driving song. The last verse’s image of the long black line in the rear-view mirror arrived courtesy of a dream.

My car is tuned, the tank is full, I head out on the road
The light turns green, I still linger
So they`re waving me on with their middle fingers
Goin’ home, home, goin’ home

The road I’m on stretches back in time, it was beaten from a path
I fight the lull of ancient drums
In the hypnotizing tire thrum
Goin’ home, home, goin’ home
Driving in a lucid dream
Things are what they seem
In a lucid dream

This road‘s held many drivers before, I wonder where they’ve gone
I try to focus on my way
While the radio goads me on with clichés, clichés

I can drive to the rhythm of the broken line
And the windshield wipers can keep the time
As I travel fast and search for signs
Along the way
I can miss my baby and I don’t mean maybe
I can love my car it`ll take me far
I can drive to the sea and long to be free
‘Cause it’s so deep and blue and the sky is too
I gotta stay awake so I can make it home
Home, goin home
The road is spreading out ahead, like a big sheet lightning fan
The rear-view mirror holds a long black line
Dark and narrow as a fearful mind
A fearful mind, goin’ home

Roy Hickling - vocal & slide 7-string guitar

Questions on the Canvas

I think this one had been cued up in my unconscious for a while.  The right conversation at breakfast one morning triggered a very quick delivery of this tune – just in time to make it on the CD.  The bridge describes an actual experience when I happened to be sitting at the perfect angle as sunlight refracted through rain drops suspended in a spruce tree.  Over a period of twenty minutes I saw every colour of the rainbow in the drops.  I love painting and I love trying to analyze paintings, but for some things it’s better to turn your brain off and just experience it.   

Staring at a canvas, it’s accusatory white
Waiting for the colours to come bending from the light
I am dabbling at the edges of the things I know are true
Red, orange, yellow, green, indigo, violet, blue
Motion in the colours, harmony and rhyme
Carving through each layer is like going back in time
I’m trying to make sense of all the things that I have seen
If a tree falls in the forest is it necessarily green?
Once I saw a tree of raindrops and with the sun just right
All the colours of the rainbow were harnessing the light
Questions on the canvas, but no answers in the paint
Brushes keeping rhythm while they’re stretching at constraints
And it really makes me wonder at this life that I have led
Would I be getting any wiser doing something else instead...
Instead of red

Roy Hickling - vocal & archtop guitar
Max Dyer - cello


Ray Dillard – recording, editing and mixing
Ray Dillard- producer
Roy Hickling –assistant producer
Douglas Romanow, Fire Escape Recording – mastering
Roy Hickling – words & music

Art Credits

Christianne Williams – design & layout
Roy Hickling – original paintings & sculpture
Christianne Williams, Roy Hickling, Ray Dillard – photography


Portions of this CD were recorded at the homes and/or studios of nearly everyone who played on it.  The bulk of my portion was recorded in a beautiful, creaky, old Orange Lodge built in 1894, with jail cells and a well in the basement and raccoons in the attic.  Ray & I moved in for several days at a time and both worked and relaxed when it suited us.  The ambience and acoustics made a definite contribution - thanks to Mark Abbott.


Don Bray – baritone slide guitar
Don Cameron – mandolin
Ray Dillard - percussion
Max Dyer – bass, cello
Roy Hickling – guitar & vocal
Douglas Romanow – keyboards
Alyssa Wright – harmony vocal


Don’t get me wrong - I’m very proud of my contributions to this CD, but I must say that it would be a shadow of what it is without the people listed above. Their professionalism, generosity and sheer brilliance have enriched me personally and elevated my work. I am eternally grateful. Thanks to Doug for his additional work at his studio and for making the B3 talk. To Lorrie & Ray’s long-time friend Max, thanks for sending such staggeringly exquisite tracks from Texas. Thanks to Don B for being such a great friend and for placing Culloden so firmly on the battlefield. Thanks to Don C for adding so thoughtfully to the colour palette and to the beautiful Alyssa for adding a little harmony to my record.

There isn’t a title under credits that begins to adequately describe the role that my friend and brother-in-law Ray Dillard has played in developing this project. Here are some additions to his list – constructive critic, educator, supporter, collaborator, cheer leader, patient mentor and when the time was right - focused taskmaster. His exceptional talents in the studio and as a percussionist are truly world class, and his boundless enthusiasm continues to amaze me.

Thanks to the local musical community - the Barrie Folk Society, the operators of various open stages and especially to my friends at BaDAS/S whose talents, listening skills and stubborn opinions contribute to my process - even when they’re wrong!

Thanks to Chris for her great design work, her long-time support of my music and art and her wonderful sense of humour.

Thanks to Terry for listening closely to my newest song, looking through all of my art work, reading what I write about it and then applying a finely tuned bs-meter.

Over the past several years I have transitioned from farmer/seed salesman to singer songwriter, painter, sculptor and farmer. Thanks to my family and friends for their support and encouragement in these new directions.

I especially want to thank my wife Sue and daughter Lydia for actively participating on the front line of the changes in my life; for fully understanding the value of time spent creatively and for their unflagging support – even when the next song is circling in my brain and I only hear every third word that is spoken to me.


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