On Dylan’s “Mama You Been On My Mind”

Mama You Been On My Mind

See lyrics

Perhaps it’s the color of the sun cut flat and coverin’
The crossroads I’m standin’ at.
Or maybe it’s the weather or somethin’ like that.
But, mama, you been on my mind.

I don’t mean trouble please don’t put me down or get upset.
I am not pleading or saying I can’t forget you.
I do not pace the floor bowed down and bent but yet,
Mama you been on my mind.

Even though my eyes are hazy and my thoughts they might be narrow
Where you been don’t bother me or bring me down with sorrow.
I don’t even mind who’ll you be waking with tomorrow.
Mama, you’re just on my mind.

I’m not askin’ you to say words like yes or no.
Please, understand me.
I have no place I’m callin’ you to go.
I’m just whispering to myself so I can’t pretend that I don’t know.
Mama, you been on my mind.

When you wake up in the mornin’ baby look inside your mirror.
You know I won’t be next to you. You know I won’t be near.
I’d just be curious to know if you can see yourself as clear
As someone who has had you on his mind.

This is one of my all-time favorite Dylan songs. It provides a rich and moving glimpse into a relationship that is at a “crossroads”– forced to pivot into a new phase by some unnamed force. It’s a love song that is not cut from a clean template. It’s not about love sought or love achieved or love betrayed or any of those timeless motifs that abound across musical genres. It’s about something subtler and more complicated. It’s about a love that burns but does not consume; love required to exist in ambiguity.

To my mind, the song is doubly tender– tender in its show of affection, and tender in its show of restraint.

Dylan doesn’t say “I need you” or “you complete me” or “baby come back” or anything like that. Instead he sings “I’m not asking you to say words like yes or no, please understand me / I have no place I’m calling you to go … Mama, you’re just on my mind.” It’s a kind of half-hearted resignation. It’s both childish and mature, and ultimately just genuine. And beautiful and tragic.

It’s a song about love that should be acknowledged but not manifested for the time being. It’s about love that should be seen but not touched, like a painting. A song about love deferred. I have long been enchanted with the way the words fall together in every verse, and the honest, instantly intimate scene they create.

Make New Humans (A Meiosis Song)

For my genetics class, we were tasked with reviewing meiosis and then producing evidence of our review. To that end, I give you: “Make New Humans (A Meiosis Song).”


Double-stranded DNA
Gets undone by helicase
But you don’t really care about interphase, now do you?
The subject here is meiosis
The first prophase the cytokinesis
The process by which we make new humans

Make new humans [x4]

Well mitosis works pretty well
For cloning autosomal cells
But if you want real evolution, baby, it just won’t do you.
But imagine if during anaphase
Cohesin kept the chromatids in place,
So homologous chromosomes were the ones split by microtubules

Microtubules [x4]

Now when you’re making up haploid cells
Independent assortment is swell
If you wanna guarantee your progeny don’t look just like you
But why not pick up even more variation?
Through interchromosomal recombination
“Crossing over” helps us make new humans

Make new humans [x4]

[For lyrics with chords, click here].

[Original Song] Ode to HD 40307g

While doing some research for a blog post that I will probably never publish, (a fate that befalls most of the blogs I start to write,) I learned that scientists have recently discovered a planet that could be habitable by humans. My initial reaction, sadly enough, was something along the lines of “hey, that’s great, because when we trash this one, we’ll have another in store.”

I felt that concept could make for an interesting song, and when I realized the “D” and the “g” in the planet’s name basically rhyme, making the name sing-able, I decided it had to be done.

This is my ode to the poetically named and utterly ineffable HD 40307g.

(Note: The video at the start is from “slatester,” the Slate News Chanel.)



It’s the year 2073
And the world’s no longer habitable by you or by me me
So it’s pretty clear we’ll simply have to leave
We’re headed for HD 40307g

Continue reading “[Original Song] Ode to HD 40307g”

[Original Song] Inside Out

This is a song I wrote a couple months ago, which was the winner of a songwriting competition my high school put on. I sing and play all instruments in the song except for some of the percussion tracks, which are prerecorded Garageband loops.

The song is about how finding myself in uncomfortable, difficult, or foreign situations, I have noticed the tendency to turn to those around me and constantly ask questions along the lines of “Is this right? Should I do this now? What would you do?” Wanting to be normal, it is easy to slip into this self-conscious, overly-reliant state, and simply mimic those around us, rather than attempt to act with genuine individuality.

This song is about the realization that it is a futile exercise, because the “normal” environment we seek is constantly changing, and following someone else entails that they will remain ahead, discovering and achieving things, while you lag behind. Normal is exhausting and dull. The song is meant to be invigorating, instilling a message that it is better to act in a way that’s free, genuine, and entirely your own. Take nothing for granted and hold nothing back.

(Note: Song sounds best with headphones or other stereo, not mono speakers.)


Verse 1:
Seek approval of normality
Individuality, can wait its turn
Not easy to be alone, you see
Deciding everything, out in the unknown

Finding now that in reality
This impersonality, will just leave you cold
I find myself surpassed, you see
By the one’s who dared to act all on their own

Verse 2:
Some inflated fear of failure, some fear of sticking out
Don’t you talk to loud, here let me show you how
No, no, you gotta kick the structures down
You gotta stand up tall and proud, dig up what’s buried in the ground

You gotta ask a lot of questions, argue all you can
Kick up some commotion, and stick it to da’ man!
Be intellectual and optimistic, search for underlying truth and meaning
Normality’s worth nothing in the end

My new, old guitar

Just recently I purchased a new guitar off of Craigslist. I call it my new, old guitar because while it’s new to me, the guitar is actually about 35 years old. It’s a Yamaha g245 classical guitar, and it’s way cool. I love it already. My guitar teacher is a big advocate of classical guitars, even if you don’t play classical music. You can get a very decent classical guitar for super cheap if you buy it used, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Here’s a quick jam I recorded.

The cool thing about classical guitars is they’re comparatively small and really easy to play. They are equipped with nylon strings, rather than steel, making them easier on the fingers. I really like the tone of nylon strings as well. They don’t make as big of a sound as steel, (they’re not so great for shimmering open chords). But they do great with picking patterns, (which is a major purpose of classical guitars,) and I think you can get awesome sounds strumming or playing licks too, you just have to treat the guitar a little differently. Play a little softer.

The size of a classical guitar is really nice as well. It makes it easy to curl up on the couch or lay down in bed and strum on your guitar, which is something I was missing on my other acoustic. Also, the size makes it a little easier to travel with, which is one of the main reasons I got this guitar: to bring with me on my travels this summer.

One more thing I really love about this guitar is the wood. Guitars are apparently like cigars or wine in that they get better with time. When you get a new acoustic guitar you are required to humidify it to ensure the wood doesn’t crack. Over time, the wood settles into a cured state, and you don’t have to do this anymore. Also, older guitars are often made from better wood. There’s wood that isn’t available anymore, or only available in super expensive, high-end guitars, that is totally common in guitars from 30, 40 years ago. You can really tell the difference between quality, aged wood and brand new cheaper wood.

Buying used guitars is awesome as they’re usually way cheaper, have better wood, and have had time for the wood to settle. And in the world of acoustic guitars, I think there’s a lot to be said for a classical instrument.