Songs in my Songbook

A Star Fell is the first song in my songbook.

What is it that drives some of us to create? To write, to draw, to compose? I suspect both demons and angels–working deep within us–are partly to blame. Works of art are attempts to bring meaning and order to the chaos of our life’s experience. Edward Hirsch says, in his book, The Demon and the Angel, Searching for the Source of Artistic Inspiration, “Art is born from struggle and touches an anonymous center. Art is inexplicable and has a dream-power that radiates from the night of mind. It unleashes something ancient, dark, and mysterious into the world. It conducts a fresh light.” Those are some of the essential characteristics that I hope the songs in my songbook, A Star Fell and Other Songs, exhibit. Especially the part about “conducting a fresh light.” One always hopes for originality! The mysterious power of both music and words has always fascinated me, but I am doubly intrigued by the magic that can occur when words are creatively set to new music, combining both the words and the music into one coherent work of art. The combination often yields more than the words presented alone, or at least, a new expression, a new “take” on the words. The composer’s task is to underscore the emotions and images of the song’s lyrics to dramatic effect. I intend to post here on this site,, from time to time, ruminations about the various compositions in my songbook and will begin by discussing the first song in that songbook, A Star Fell, one of the very first compositions that I ever wrote. It uses a poem written by my mother, Florence Rubert Graves in 1938, several years before my birth:

A star fell, Tearing night’s veil. It was then I discovered Night’s weeping. Are they for us–these tears? Is this, then, for mortals– This great compassion? How silent you are, Night, Gathering us in– How silent and tender! How comforting!

Does this poem not have a dream-power that radiates from the night of mind? That unleashes something ancient, dark, and mysterious into the world? That conducts a fresh light? Tell me what you think.

My songbook, A Star Fell and Other Songs, is available online.  The first edition was for soprano voice only. That version is available in two different editions: the South Carolina Edition and the Arkansas Edition. The only difference between the two editions is the information and photos on the back covers. Nine of the songs were written to my mother’s poetry, which she composed during the years that she lived in South Carolina. You can see more information about the soprano editions of A Star Fell and Other Songs, and the covers up close, by clicking on the links below:

   A Star Fell and Other SongsThe Carolina Edition

   A Star Fell and Other SongsThe Arkansas Edition

I will soon make the tenor and baritone editions available online. The covers are shown below.

All of the cover art is by my wife, R. S. Perry.

You may view the contents page of my songbook by clicking here.

You may view the first page of my song A Star Fell, and my other songs individually, on my other website,, where all my songs, piano and choral music can be viewed, purchased and downloaded individually in high quality, print at home, PDF files. For those who want more information on Florence Rubert Graves, go to Mr. Hirsch’s book was published in 2002 by Harcourt, Inc. Used by permission from the author.

YouTube videos of some of my songs: J. S. Graves – YouTube

J. S. Graves

One thought on “Songs in my Songbook”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.