Ep. 4: At the Stone Quarry

ComposerDad receives an intense compositional challenge from BIBLE to write a song personifying the biblical city of Jericho, while out with his kids at the local stone quarry.

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Builderboy, SquishyBaby, and I are out at the local stone quarry. Stone quarries are usually not child-friendly, but today it’s the worksite of a local children’s event called “Building with Rocks”. We learned about this event from a mom in town. 

“I want to build a city,” says BuilderBoy 

“No problem,” I say. “There are rocks everywhere. We can build an awesome city” 

BuilderBoy stacks rocks on top of each other to form a walled city. Suddenly, one of the stacks of rocks topples over toward SquishyBaby! I quickly grab Squishy and shield him from danger. “That was a close one,” I say. 

BuilderBoy blames SquishyBaby for the wall falling down. “He knocked my wall down!” 
“No he did not. I saw it.” 
“He knocked my wall down!!!” 

I feel myself getting frustrated. I take a deep breath. 

“I hear what you are saying. I understand how frustrating it when something breaks that you built. Let’s snuggle and then work together to build an even better wall.” We snuggle. 

Suddenly, BuilderBoy builds everything really fast and super high. BuilderBoy laughs. What’s happening? How did that build everything so fast? Did I just see a forklift? 

Before I can figure it out, I hear a mega-horn blast echo across the quarry. The ground shakes and there’s rubble everywhere. 

Guess what else I see? BIBLE, with another intense compositional challenge for me, ComposerDad. 

“Hello Bible, we meet again,” I say, standing tall. 

“Hello ComposerDad, I see you and your little ones are surrounding a walled city.” 

“Yes, we built it with rocks.” 

“This reminds me…of the walled city of Jericho. In Joshua Chapter 6, the Lord instructed Joshua to march his army around Jericho in silence for six days. On the seventh day, they marched around seven times, blasted their trumpets and shouted. The walls fell down. I want you to write a song telling this story from a new perspective…the city’s point of view. Goodbye.” 

I knew Bible wasn’t far away when I heard that mega-horn blast echo across the quarry. “No problem, Bible,” I say. But Bible is already gone. 

Composing music about Jericho will be no problem. The real challenge will be crafting lyrics from Jericho’s point of view. It’s an intense exercise in personification. 

"What's personification?" 

Good question, BuilderBoy. This sounds like a job for…ProfessorMom, on her way home from teaching class at the local university. 

“Personification is the act of applying human traits to something nonhuman. For example, if I say the city is looking at us with bright eyes, that’s personification!” 

Always ready to jam, ProfessorMom pulls out her bassoon. She plays an extremely low tone which reverberates across the quarry. The tone brings in other musicians at the quarry with their kids. We begin to jam and walk around our city. As we play, it’s like the city comes to life, moves, and quakes, singing its story. Suddenly we have a whole song personifying the city of Jericho. See you next time on ComposerDad Vs. Bible. 

I guard myself I know who you are
That you will pursue me if I let my guard down
So I stay secure, nothing in nothing out
Still you say that I am, that I am, that I am already yours
That I am already yours
I am delivered in your hands

You take your soul and your song and you play, 
you play music as you circle me once a day
You never shout, 
You wrap around me early in the morning and you hold me for days
You hold me for days
I am delivered in your hands

A week later you are still circling me
A week later you are still circling me
A week later you are still circling me

You are circling me when I hear the blast
I hear your voice, I hear you shout
And all my walls, my walls fall down

And I am exposed
My silver and my gold
What’s sacred, in your hands

I can’t keep you out everything I have, everything I have is being destroyed
I am cursed
And so is anyone who helps me, don’t try to help me cause I’m already– 

I’m burned, Everything is over, 
There’s a fire behind my gates and I’m gone, 
I’m devoted, I am devoted, I am devoted by the edge of the sword  

Yet one small part of me that’s a harlot, 
a part I was sure you would hate, you love
It’s a life you carry, a life you love, she's gonna save the world

There’s a part of me that’s a harlot, 
a part I was sure you would hate, you love
It’s a life you carry, a life you love, she’s gonna save the world

ComposerDad's secret identity is Jonathon Roberts. That's Jonathon with an O. This song is part of an incredible album personifying biblical cities. It's available at jmtroberts.bandcamp.com. That's J for Jonathon, M for Mountain, T for Tiger, and Roberts, dot-bandcamp-dot-com.

Jonathon Roberts: vocals, piano, drum programming
Emily Clare Zempel: vocals, bassoon
Ariana Rosen: violin
Kevin Gosa: soprano and alto saxophones
Meaghan Burke: cello, backing vocals
James Hall: Trombone

Music, lyrics, and production by Jonathon Roberts