Song Origins

Camel’s Journey is a song that my college band played. It was written by our resident poet, Stephen “Slim” Oliver and he played it for us the first night I saw him perform. Always liked the bouncy rhythm and the transcendent lyrics. I vaguely remember him saying he was inspired by Saul Bellow’s “Henderson and the Rain King,” which already has a song inspired by its title. Doesn’t matter though, as the song here stands on its own in terms of imagery and rebirth suggestion that I don’t quite understand but feel and embrace as a positive thing.

This Recording

In this recording, friends Jeff Claypoole plays acoustic guitar and Matt Stankiewicz plays accordion, while both lend their harmony vocals. I’m on the mandolin on this one as well as tackling the main vocal part. It was recorded back in 2011, over 10 years after I heard it played by Slim back at the Williams College Log open mic night.

For some unknown reason, the three of us rehearsed a bunch as Superbullet and recorded neat songs like this but couldn’t put it together to start booking shows. We sounded solid enough and had a great instrumentation lineup. The only other lingering memory about Superbullet was I distinctly remember feeling outclassed as they were both really solid harmony singers and I couldn’t hang. That meant, I ended up doing a lot of the lead vocals, which always felt a bit like a compromise. Oh well, at this point, I think I’m ok with being a slightly below average harmony singer. Won’t stop me as I put together my next project.

In any event, I hope you like it. If you want to learn it, the chart is below the link. Please tell me what you think in the comments.

Google Docs version

Chords and Lyrics

Camel’s Journey
Words and Music by Stephen Oliver © 1999

sure i could roar but what I would roaring for?
seems like I’m only hoping someone could hear me
and I could run but what’s behind me
that I’m running from

same thing is up ahead now that
i been trying to leave in my bed while i sleep

and i tried to hide inside and outside
but still i knew where i was
and no one organized the search party
to come looking for me
and there was a time when I’d like to whimper and cry
self pity and i

when the rug seemed pulled out from under
and i thought i lost all the wonder
of all the things i claimed to have known

it’s when the doubt begins to full sprout
look away for a minute and it’s rooted in strong
yeah, it’s rooted in strong

it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay
and i’ll tell you why

G C Am D
because first you’re a camel
on the desert plains at night
with no end in sight
try to reconcile the moon
to the load on your back

but then you’re a lion
without rage for flying
you’ve been wounded and you’re ready to attack
but then you’re a child
eyes wide open and wild
with a mind
not looking to find
anything in this whole wide earth
that’s just given birth to you

to you

to yooooouuuu