Tiny Desk Music


I am excited to share the entry for NPR’s 2016 Tiny Desk Contest that I made with my friend Libby. I wrote this song 9 years ago (!) while I was living in Thailand.

The most fun part of making this video was watching the other entries on Youtube for ideas about how to go about this one. There are so many tremendous musicians, so many fun ways to record music.1599354_10201366556065653_350168024_o

My husband, Jeremy, recorded this one and my friend Libby O’Neill is on the violin.

You can listen to her music here.


We’ve made it. It’s the end of June.  Hopefully you know how to play more songs than you did in May.  Maybe you’ve got some originals to work on, too.

Why not learn one more cover?  You choose which one.  Let it be another song that you’ve liked for a long time.  Or maybe it will be the first song you ever said, “This might be my favorite song” about.

TODAY’S SUPER-PROMPT:  Look over the songs you know (maybe from this month!) and put together a 30 minute set.  Play it.

SONG OF THE DAY: Folsom Prison

The whole album. Because I am obsessed with it.


Romulus, Michigan

TODAY’S PROMPT: Write a song somehow inspired by a place.

This is inspired by Sufjan Stevens’s notion to try and make an album for every state in the union.  I’m not sure if he got past two, but one of the states he wrote about is Michigan and Michigan is my home state (and his home state. Whoo!);  I love that album because it’s full of songs about a bunch of places I recognize.

What makes his songs compelling, in my view, is that they are really about people. He names a place in the album title and many of the song titles but his albums or songs are really about people living there. Sometimes he directs them to a person living there.


Romulus is a suburb of Detroit–the city that holds the airport.  Who knows? Maybe it has a pretty downtown somewhere. If so, I haven’t seen it. If so, most people don’t know about it.  From my understanding, it’s pretty much an airport, a field, a bunch of gas stations and car rentals.

I tend to like sad, slow Sufjan over happy quick Sufjan, and when it comes to sad, well, Romulus just nails it.   It captures Romulus as a weary place, its people sorting through debris left by the car industry’s whirlwind tour through Southeast Michigan (and the United States).  I mean, this song would be great even if I knew nothing about Romulus, but because I do, because I’ve been there, it just means so much more. To me, this song IS Southeast Michigan.

Or part of it.  There is another part of Southeast Michigan that he doesn’t capture in this song, a part that might be better captured in a song called “Downtown While There’s a Tigers Game Going On,”  but for when there isn’t a Tigers game going on, this song really captures my impression of the region where I grew up.


I have decided, at least this summer, to be a genre-by-month artist.  I did Poetry Month in April and was so happy to see thirty new poems at the end of it that I’m going to try to be productive like that always–by tackling a creative project one month at a time.

May is Revise the Novel Month (as you know). Now the novel’s in the hands of some trusted readers.  I do plan on thinking about it during the month of June, maybe doing some free-writes associated with my protagonists, but I decided that I would dedicate June to songwriting.

I’m a songwriter, too.

I have a Facebook page for my music: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nora-Bonner/44922051108

And a (really old) Myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/norabonnermusic

I have come up with a Thirty-Day curriculum that’s pretty ambitious. I’m thinking it will require that I set aside at least an hour a day for playing my guitar and then some.  I have geared up for this by playing five songs a day—you know, for the calluses.

Each day this month has a songwriting assignment.  Some of them are to learn songs that already exist.  Some of them are to write songs in different styles.  My hope is that I’ll be able to get through a song without stopping (rather than say, nail it).  I’d like to learn a bunch of songs that I can have in my repertoire for later nailing.

I will post the assignment on my blog and perhaps, if I have time, I’ll also post a link to a song that holds some significance in my life—not sure if it will be related to the assignment.

I will, if all goes well, come out of June knowing how to play thirty more songs than I did when I started.  Ten of these songs I will have written and twenty of them are from other artists.

I invite anyone who wants to write songs to participate in that aspect.  Lots of the assignments are lyric-driven.  I’m a writer, remember? I think about the words first.

I also invite you to share songs and musicians with me.  I want to know what you’re listening to.  I want to know why—the significance of this music in your lives.

I don’t know if anyone will join me on this semi-crazy endeavor but if you feel compelled to do so, please do.

I can’t even tell you how excited I am for this.

(I’m also expecting this month to feel a bit like Cash in this song:)