I Wanna Play



I Like to Sing
©Bill Harley, All rights reserved
Reprints with permission only

Also found on "Yes to Running!"

Singing is part of being alive. Open your mouth

From early in the morning to when the stars all shine
I have got a song in this head of mine
Sometimes I sing it softly, sometimes right out loud
Sometimes when I’m all alone, sometimes in a crowd

I like to sing (la la la la)
Open up my mouth a song comes out
I raise my voice (la la la la)
Make a joyful noise and sing

When I was a baby on my mama’s knee
Everybody worried, what was wrong with me?
‘Cause I would scream my head off, I’d do it all day long
But I was only practicing my little baby song


I got some vocal chords
I got a pair of lungs
I got a great big mouth
That’s where I keep my tongue
Well, they all work together
When I tell them to
‘Cause there’s nothing I like better
Than to sing a song for you


Every creature’s got a song, listen you will hear
Whales out in the ocean, mosquitoes in your ear
Wolves out in the wilderness, dolphins in the sea
Hooting, howling buzzing, growling
One big symphony

They like to sing (la la la la)
Open up their mouths a song comes out
They raise their voices (la la la la)
Make some joyful noises and sing

Barbie's Head is Missing
©Bill Harley, All rights reserved
Reprints with permission only

I had a contest via my web page, asking people to send in titles of tons. I got a lot of good titles, but this one, from the Price family in New Jersey, was my immediate favorite. How could I fail with a title like that?

You keep a look out the window
Tell me when you see their car
They only had a couple of errands
They couldn’t have gone too far
I don’t know what I was thinking
I should have left those things alone
But I’m in trouble and how
If I don’t find it right now
Before my sister and my parents get home

Barbie’s head is missing
I don’t know what I’m going to do
I got to find it before they get back
Or my head’ll be missing too

My sister’s got a dozen Barbies
Why is just a mystery
They got skinny little arms
They got skinny little legs
You know they all look the same to me
I took them all apart this morning
Never had so much fun
But when I got the arms and legs back on
You know one of their heads was gone

Barbie’s head is missing
This is an emergency
I got to find it before they get back
Or the same thing’s going to happen to me

It shouldn’t be such a crisis
If you ask me she acts just the same
As far as I can tell
She’s doing quite well
It’s not like she ever had a brain
I’ve turned this whole house upside down
I’ve got a sinking feeling in my chest
Cause my little puppy just threw up
From eating something that he couldn’t digest

Barbie’s head is missing
Somebody dial 911
I got to find it before they get back
Or my days on earth are done
My days on earth are done, done, done
Done, done, da, done

Bella Bella Tula Monga
©Bill Harley, All rights reserved
Reprints with permission only

Music is, in the end, mostly about feelings and emotion. I tried to communicate that through nonsense words in this song.

Bella bella tula monga
Bella tula monga say
Bella bella tula monga
Tula monga de manay
Oh loza tula monga
Loza loza monga say
Bella bella tula monga
Tula monga de manay
Tula monga de manay

I’m taking a walk I’m taking my time
Got no place I got to be
I feel so good the day is mine
Singing this song that comes to me
Singing this song that comes to me


What am I singing makes no sense
It’s just a bunch of words I found
It’s just about the way I feel
I just like the way they sound
I just like the way they sound


I see the colors all around me
I hear the world the colors bring
The dance of life it all surrounds me
I can’t help it if I sing
I can’t help it if I sing

CHORUS (repeat second half)

You've Got to Ask
©Bill Harley, All rights reserved
Reprints with permission only

I still need to remind myself to ask the stupid question.

When I started kindergarten
Everything was new
I wondered where the bathroom was
I didn’t have a clue
I didn’t want to look too dumb
So I didn’t ask
Just sucked my thumb
When I couldn’t hold it anymore
I left a puddle on the floor

You’ve got to ask
If you don’t know
You’ve got to ask
That’s how you grow
If you’re not sure
Don’t be concerned
Go on and ask
That’s how you learn

When I got a little older
My neighbor hired me
To work out in her flower garden
Pulling all the weeds
I’d never pulled out weeds before
Which ones were flowers?
I wasn’t sure
Afraid to ask,
When I was done
I’d pulled her flowers,
Every one


It might seem crazy but it’s true
Sometimes asking stupid questions
Is the smartest thing to do

It took me awful long to learn
These things I’m telling you
And you might be a bit like me
And done some dumb things too
The message that I’m here to sing
No one I know knows everything
If I’m smart I guess that I
Will ask dumb questions till I die


©Bill Harley, All rights reserved
Reprints with permission only

I love T-Bone Walker, and I wrote this song thinking of his music and hoping I could get one of my favorite guitar players, Duke Robillard, to play on it. The band plays a "flat tire" rhythm, and that's what it sounds like. A nod to Donald Davis for the song title.

It’s a crazy world, don’t you know it’s true
It’s a crazy world, don’t you know it’s true
But I don’t mind it, ‘coz I’m crazy too

The day I was born my parents looked at me
The day I was born my parents looked at me
My Dad said, “That boy must be ours, He’s crazy as can be.”

If they call you crazy, if they say your nuts
If they say you’re loco, no ifs and or buts
They say there’s a screw loose, your marbles are gone
There’s nobody home but the lights are still on
Don’t be sad, don’t fret or fume
‘coz when they say you’re crazy
They give you lots of room

Are you C-r-a-z-y
Are you C-r-a-z-y,y,y,y
Are you C-r-a-z-y
Are you C-r-a-z-y
Don’t be sad or blue
Because I’m crazy too

If you want to be crazy, but you don’t know how to do it
If you want to be crazy, but you’re just not sure how to do it
Just follow me, baby, there ain’t nothing to it

If they say he’s crazy, if they say he’s nuts
If they say he’s loco, no ifs and or buts
They say there’s a screw loose, your marbles are gone
Nobody’s home but those lights are still on
Don’t be sad, don’t fret or fume
‘coz when they say you’re crazy
They give you lots of room

Are you C-r-a-z-y
Are you C-r-a-z-y,y,y,y
Are you C-r-a-z-y
Are you C-r-a-z-y
Don’t be sad or blue
Because I’m crazy too

To the South Pole
©Bill Harley, All rights reserved
Reprints with permission only

With a nod to the Riders in the Sky and the Sons of the Pioneers. I hope you've never been in this much trouble!

Dear Mom, please read this letter
Before you walk inside
I think you’ll feel just a little bit better
If you’re not too surprised
I know when you see what happened
You might sit down and cry (might sit down and cry)
I know that you might start thinking
That someone has to die (someone has to die)

It’s a long way (it’s a long way)
I’m bound to travel (bound to travel)
To where the snow falls and the cold winds blow
(those cold winds blow)
Where the penguins play on the icebergs
To the South Pole (to the South Pole)
I must go (he must go)

I didn’t know about the carpet
I didn’t know about the sink
I didn’t know that the cat would do that (meow)
I didn’t know the paint was pink (P-I-N-K)
You know I tried to make things better
I thought I could fix it still (he couldn’t fix it)
Next time I won’t use the hammer (not the hammer)
Or the glue gun or the drill (don’t use that drill)


Tell Tommy (tom-tom-tom-tommy)
He can have my lizard (lizard)
Give little Sarah my old teddy bear (with just one eye)
Mom, maybe you could just go ahead
And rent my room out (rent his room)
It just might help pay for all those repairs (all those repairs)
Goodbye Mom, (goodbye Mom)
I’ll always love you (he’ll always love you)
Please don’t cry, (please don’t cry)
Don’t shed no tears (don’t shed no tears)
I’ll be back when things are better (fat chance)
In twenty-seven years (twenty-seven years)


Sleep the Whole Day Through
©Bill Harley, All rights reserved
Reprints with permission only

Written the morning of the recording session with Mary, Duke, Vinny and Keith. Nice solo by Keith on piano, huh?

I got a brother ‘bout the age of fifteen
He’s a teenager, if you know what I mean
I get up every morning and get myself fed
Four hours later, he’s still in bed

Oh brother, what is wrong with you?
You know you’ve got to get up,
You’ll sleep the whole day through

I get my breakfast and go outside
I get on my bike and take a ride
I come back later after playing all day
He’s still in his bed just sleeping away


He finally gets up around four o’clock
He stumbles downstairs like he’s still in shock
He goes into the kitchen for some jelly and bread
He gets back to his room and climbs back in bed


You can call out his name, you can knock on the door
Does no good, you can hear him snore
You can’t see him, goodness knows
‘Cause his whole room’s buried ‘neath a pile of clothes


I Wanna Play
©Bill Harley, All rights reserved
Reprints with permission only

That's what I think!

Only twenty minutes for recess time
You run to playground, you stand in line
Always the same kids choose the teams
It’s always ends the same it seems
They choose their buddies
They choose their friends
‘Til they get down to the very end
Always someone gets left out
I’ve had enough, I’m gonna shout

I wanna play I wanna play
Don’t say no, ‘cause I won’t go away
I won’t stop til you hear what I say
You gotta let me in ‘cause I wanna play

Just ‘cause you’re bigger and stronger than me
Doesn’t mean you get to say how things’ll be
Just ‘cause I’m not as good as you
Doesn’t mean you get to tell me what to do
You oughta stand here in my shoes
And see how it feels when it happens to you
It could happen to you, you never can tell
I’ve had enough and I’m gonna yell!


My daddy says life just not fair
You’re bound to meet people that just don’t share
When you meet someone who tries to push you around
When you know what’s right, stand your ground
We’re only talking ‘bout playing a game
Leaving someone out is just a dirty shame
We’re only talking ‘bout having fun
There oughta be room for everyone!


You Saved My Life
©Bill Harley, All rights reserved
Reprints with permission only

I got the plunky sound by weaving a paper napkin through the guitar strings. Highly recommended. This was a blast to record.

I was washing my hands in the boy’s room
When the closed door opened wide
Derek Sludge, the creature from
Ms. Martinez’s class stepped inside
He was known for terrorizing half of the school
Eating first graders for lunch
I wasn’t sure what would happen to me,
But I had a pretty good hunch
He had Kindergartners for appetizers
Third graders for dessert
He had a big appetite – he was a big kid
Well, there was no way out
I was in big, big trouble
He grabbed a hold of my shirt
He said, “Give me all your lunch money now
And maybe you won’t get hurt.”
I was cashing it in, I was saying my prayers
I could hear the voice of doom
When the door opened up
We both turned and looked to see
Who was coming in the room
I was hoping it was the principal
Or maybe the superintendent
But it was only you
Oh no, I thought, now we’re both gonna die today
‘Cause he’s really big, and we’re really not
But you opened up your mouth to say
“Hey there, Derek, ole pal of mine,
Ms. Martinez wants you on the double
You’d better head back to your room right now
If you don’t want to be in trouble.”
Derek left and I was free
I looked at you, I said

You saved my life
Thanks to you now I’m still breathing
You saved my life
Thanks to you my heart’s still beating
You saved my life
I thought that I was really done
You saved my life
You’re my pal, I owe you one

Then there was this time at the swimming pool
We were taking turns doing cannonballs
I’d been bragging about how good I was
I said, “I got the biggest splash of all.”
I said, “Hey everybody, look at me,
I’m gonna get you all soaking wet”
But you know when I jumped in
Something went wrong
I got a feeling I will never forget
I was suddenly free in a way I did not want to be
Somehow my swimsuit came undone,
And started sinking down
I was gasping for air
I was swimming for the surface
I was afraid I was going to drown
I headed up, my suit sank down
Farther and farther from me
And now because of my big mouth
Everybody was waiting to see
Even the lifeguard was trying not to laugh,
I could see her biting her lip
Because public pool filled up with people
Is no place to skinny dip
But before I knew it, you were in the pool
You were diving down right down to the bottom
You grabbed a hold of those missing swimming trunks
You swam up to me and you said, “I got ‘em”
Maybe everybody else was a little disappointed
They didn’t get to holler and hoot
Me I was breathing, very relieved
Nobody saw my birthday suit
I looked at you and said,


I finally got my chance
To help a friend in need
Everybody in class was giving their oral reports
On the books they were supposed to read
Mrs. Smart, she called on you
And I saw you begin to sweat
“Oh, no,” you whispered. “She’s going to kill me.
I haven’t even started reading yet.”
Now t just so happened, I’d been feeling weird
I think it was the lunch I had
Maybe it was the tater tots or maybe the fish sticks
Or maybe the chocolate milk had gone bad
I’d been sitting in class for an hour or so,
Just feeling worse and worse
I was thinking about raising my hand
Telling Mrs. Smart that I really need to go see the nurse
You know, I felt something rumble deep down inside
Like it was looking for someway out
You were about to confess, you were almost finished
When something made me shout,
“Mrs. Smart, I think I’m gonna be sick”
Everybody turned their heads
I left something on the classroom floor that made Mrs. Smart forget
All about your report, everyone else’s too
I’m telling you people were holding their mouths
They were running for the door,
You know that class was through
You looked at me and said,


At Your Library
©Bill Harley, All rights reserved
Reprints with permission only

Written for the Association for Library Services to Children's "Kids!@ Your Library" Campaign to encourage kids and families to use their library. I hope you use and support your!

Let me tell you something ‘bout a place I know
You find one almost anywhere you go
It could be on the corner, could be down the hall
You know, I’ve even seen them in the mall
You can walk with your feet if it’s not too far
Or get your mom or dad to take you in the car
Everything is free there, waiting in the stacks
They’ll let you take it home, but you’ve gotta bring it back

At your library
There’s so much to see, so much to do
At your library
There’s a whole big world just waiting for you
At your library
So much to do, so much to see
At your library
If you’re gonna go, then you gotta take me

You go to the library, you walk in the door
It’s like walking in a jungle you’ve got to explore
There’s so much to learn, so much to know
There’s something calling to you everywhere you go
There are magazines and DVDs and anywhere you look
There are thousands and thousands and thousands of books
If that’s not enough, then don’t forget
You can always go surfin’ on the internet


They’ve got funny tales and fairy tales
And very, very scary tales
Books about the weather and snow and rain and when it hails
Books about cats and mice and dogs
And hogs and logs and bogs and frogs and even little pollywogs
There’s a billion things, I know that I have missed some
But you can look them all up with the Dewey Decimal system
Everything is yours, it’s not that hard
All you’ve gotta get is a library card


©Bill Harley, All rights reserved
Reprints with permission only

With Kevin's wonderful fiddle and mandolin, and the kids echoing the chorus, this became the favorite over the summer as we made the recording. I'd come home from the studio with the song on the car stereo and see the fireflies in my backyard, blinking on and off in time to the music. Pretty magical.

When summer comes singing its song
The weather is hot, the days are long
The bees are busy buzzing, browsing in the clover
Everything’s moving just a little bit slower
Meet me in the evening when the whippoorwill calls
When the sky grows dark, when nighttime falls
I’ll take you to the meadow where the tall grass grows
Sit you down there and we can watch a show

Then there’s Fireflies (fireflies)
Dancing in the dark, shining‘ in the night
Fireflies (fireflies)
Itty bitty sparks of golden light
Fireflies (fireflies)
You and me can watch them blinking off and on
Dancing summer’s song

There’s a quarter moon up, there’s a whisper of breeze
A hoot owl calling up in the trees
Milky way overhead is a beautiful sight
But right down here, there’s a thousand little lights
Stand real still, they’ll come so near
Every time they blink, they’re saying, “I’m here”
If you’re careful you can catch them
Hold ‘em while they glow
Open up your hand and then you let them go


Sometime next winter when the cold winds blow
When the skies are gray, fields are covered with snow
Or maybe when you’re troubled and you’re feeling blue
Thinking that nothing’s going right for you
Remember this night, and the star-filled skies
Remember the dance of the fireflies
A twinkle of light
A blink, a nod
Shining like a thousand little
Eyes of God


Touch One Thing
©Bill Harley, All rights reserved
Reprints with permission only

If there's one lesson to learn, it may be this one. Inspired by one of my heroes, John Muir. Take care with each other.

Touch one thing and find
It’s part of something else
Try to keep in mind
You’re part of it yourself

Out at night take a walk beneath the stars
You end up thinking ‘bout the way things are
Looking at the planets spinning out in space
Kinda makes you wonder how you fit in this place
Kinda makes you wonder how you fit in this place


Everything that breathes, everything that sings
Every person talking, every living thing
All strung together like the web a spider makes
You touch one part and the whole thing shakes
Touch one part and the whole thing shakes


What can you do when you’re so small?
Feels like you don’t matter at all
Drop a pebble in the water
Watch the ripples go
Where they end up I don’t know
There’s just one thing that I know

CHORUS (repeat)