The Project

February 2018

“I fully expected January’s submission to be a struggle. I’m happy to say, it wasn’t. In fact, it might be the easiest song I’ve ever written”

I wrote those words above only one month ago, and in the weeks since, I have eaten them over and over again. Yes, my friends, February’s song was a struggle. I’m not even really sure why. Perhaps it was the elusive “pressure of the follow-up”, or the fact that I am using a new-to-me recording unit,  but more than likely it was that I thought I could repeat the formula I used for January’s submission to the same success.

I could not.

It turns out that for me, there is no substitute for sitting down and writing a song. In fact, the song I am presenting to you this month is the second song I created this month after deciding to scrap my entire original idea, which was based around drum loops and keyboards in the same vein as the January submission.  Since this decision came late in the month, I scrambled to put together something for February.

While frantically scrolling through the little handheld recorder that I use to sketch ideas with, I found a guitar riff that I had been tinkering with for a few weeks. Though I had not yet found a vocal melody to accompany it, I trusted my instincts and decided that I would use it to create this month’s song. I recorded my acoustic guitar in a modified dropped-D tuning and used a partial capo to find some voicings that I thought were interesting.  I brought the song to my trusted collaborator Adam Kierstead, who played a bassline, some sparse rhythm guitar and a beautiful solo that suited the mood of the piece perfectly.

Next, I brought the song to my bandmate Bill Preeper, who added a few takes of slide guitar that Sean Boyer and I liked so much we decided to use all three. While at Bill’s studio, I borrowed his expertise (and microphones) to record the drum part. Everything was sounding great and I felt like I was well on my way to a completed song. All that was left to do was to find a melody, write some lyrics, and sing it.

That’s where the trouble began. I wrote and re-wrote lyrics a whopping seven times,  the key ended up being too low for me to find comfortable melodies for my voice, and I ended up in a panic that this song would not see the light of day.

All this leads me to what I present to you now. If I am being honest, it still feels unfinished to me and is certainly miles away from the topic I started writing about. I make no apologies though, this is part of the process and some songs take longer to complete than others. Ultimately, this is what this project is all about.

I hope you enjoy it.

Flowers On A Grave
(to download, right click and select “save as”)

As always, my sincerest gratitude to Sean Boyer for not only the mix, but his dedication to the project.

Note: This song is also available in both .WAV and FLAC formats. If you’d like a copy in either format, please write to




January 2018

Well, here we are again.

I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to do this project again. When I did this experiment in 2011 it turned out to be one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done musically, and year after year I have thought about reviving it.

So why now?

To put it simply, I needed to. While I have stayed active in the local music scene playing with numerous bands and recording projects, my output for my own music has slowed to a crawl. I’m not sure how it happened, or why for that matter, but I found myself playing fewer shows, writing fewer songs and putting other music ahead of my own. Aside from some short-film soundtracks and writing for the Bonnett House debut, I have not completed a song since 2013!

So this project means a lot to me. I’m hoping to find my feet again, work some muscles that haven’t been used in some time and ultimately, find a part of me that I lost along the way. I invite you to join me.

So, if you’re reading this, THANK YOU! I feel so grateful to have an audience. I won’t let you down.

Now onto January’s song….

They say the hardest part of doing anything creative is starting, and I fully expected January’s submission to be a struggle. I’m happy to say, it wasn’t. In fact, it might be the easiest song I’ve ever written. I’m gonna chalk that up to time, luck, and a backlog of ideas roaming around in my head. Also, I didn’t write this song as I typically would, sitting on my bed with an acoustic guitar. This song was born out of loops, samples and messing around with a synthesizer that my friend Adam Kierstead gave me (thanks Adam!).

The Night Is Long, The Morning Is Coming was recorded on the same Boss BR-532 that I used for the entirety of the 2011 project. I sampled a drum track and an ambient electric guitar part before finding a melody with my Yamaha CS2X synth. I recorded an acoustic guitar part using my Avalon AS200CE in a modified tuning of C G C G C C, and added some counter-melodies with my Realistic Concertmate 500 (essentially a Casio SK-1). Some textures were added with my Roland R5 and a Korg Monotron before bringing the song to my good pal Adam Kierstead, who played a complimentary bassline and two wonderful electric guitar parts. I finished it off with a melodica and a little vocal help from a rented Boss VE-20 (thanks for the harmonies Long & McQuade). As always, this song was mixed by my good friend Sean Boyer (this project is as much yours as it is mine).

Lyrically this song was inspired by the death of someone in my neighbourhood, or at least I think it was. I was struck by the dichotomy of the police cars, firetrucks and ambulances set against what was a sunny spring-like day. How something so tragic could happen on such a beautiful day didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t know the man well but somehow he left a hole. Hopefully you’ll take your own meaning from the words.

Without further delay, I present to you January’s submission:

The Night Is Long, The Morning is Coming
(to download, right click and select “save as”)

*This song contains samples from When I Get My Hands On You by The New Basement Tapes and Spiderwebs by Bonnett House.

Note: This song is also available in both .WAV and FLAC formats. If you’d like a copy in either format, please write to

December – 2011

It’s hard to believe that we’re at the end already but here we are. It certainly does not seem like a year ago that I started this project, and it comes with both a sense of accomplishment and sadness. This has been such a rewarding experience, and has taught me so much about myself and my music, that I have been procrastinating posting the last song. Truth be told, I considered doing another year, January Through December 2.0 perhaps, but eventually decided that it would be best to leave it as it was initially intended to be.

When I started this project, I wanted to present my music as close to it’s inception as possible, while still leaving myself enough time to deliver a quality recording. In that regard, I think it was a success, and my home recordings have improved immensely since my first EP “These Stars We See” in 2006. I expected that there would be some clunkers in the bunch, and there certainly are some songs that will die along with this project but, for the most part, I am extremely satisfied with the music that availed itself to me over the past 12 months. I’ve learned a lot about songwriting and trusting my instincts, and I walk away from this project a better writer.

I have so many people that I need to thank for this experience and I’d like to use this opportunity to acknowledge their generosity with their time and talent:

Sean Boyer – Sean mixed every single song on this project, usually on the last day of the month when I finally got him the tracks (sorry Boyer). Sean is easily one of the most talented musicians I have ever met. He is a drummer of the highest caliber, and I was lucky enough to have him play the traps on the first song of this project. A talented guitarist, songwriter and singer, Sean surprised us both with his clarinet solo on ‘The Last Dance’. As if that weren’t enough, Sean was also the drummer and back-up vocalist for our one-mic experiment in November. Thank you Sean Boyer, this project is as much yours as it is mine.

Jordan Stewart – Jordan made this web-site and was the one who helped me sort out the very loose concept I had in my head very late in December of 2010. Jordan is a top-notch dude and a great friend to have on your side (and a killer poet who you all should check out at

Chris Braydon – It’s possible that Chris spent just as much time on these songs as I did. Chris is one of my dearest friends and a scary good guitarist and songwriter. Chris lent his talents to almost all of the tracks on this project, with very few exceptions. Chris’ experimentation with feedback, looping and effect pedals is inspiring to say the least. He built the bed that songs like ‘Opening Night‘, ‘Autumn On Sherbrooke St.’ and ‘Lead Me On‘ layed on. He spent endless hours in my spare bedroom trying to make heads or tails out of my scattered direction and often times, showed me a new way to look at the song. I cannot thank you enough Chris Braydon.

Dan Culberson – Dan made the video on the main page of this site. Dan is always the first person to raise his hand when I need help with a project and refuses to take a dime for it. You’re a class act Mr. Culberson, thank you sir.

Chris Fudge – Chris has been an inspiration to me for a long, long time. Though he had a full plate this year with school, two young children and a musical career of his own, he made time to mix a couple of these songs and even perform on ‘Haven’t Got The Time To Spare‘ and ‘I’ll Be A Bird‘. Thank you brother.

Adam Kierstead – I’d like to extend my sincerest gratitude to Adam Kierstead for lending his talents and support to the project. He was a late edition but certainly made his presence known with amazing performances on a multitude of instruments including guitars, bass, keys, drums and vocals. Phew! Thank you Adam, making music with you is truly a privilege.

I’d like to thank my friends and bandmates Chuck Teed and Ali Leonard who also lent their talents to several of the songs. Thank you guys, it’s an honour to play in a band with you!

Finally, I’d like to thank each one of you for subscribing. Having an audience, no matter how large or small, was important to me from the onset. I had considered making this a free web-site but, in order to commit to the project, I needed my audience to commit with me. Thank you so much for that, it means more to me than you could possibly know.

and without further delay….The Last Song!

This month’s song came with it’s own set of pressures. I spent the first couple of weeks of December trying to come up with some kind of grand statement. A swan song to wrap the whole thing up so to speak. Forcing a square peg into a round hole has never been my strong suit and this month’s song didn’t rear it’s head until I had let go of that idea. ‘I’ll Be A Bird‘ was written on a Sunday afternoon in mid-December. I wrote the song on a banjo but ended up recording the song on guitar to avoid the harsh tones and offer some of the low-end advantage of an acoustic guitar in open-tuning.

This song features Chris Fudge on acoustic guitar and shakers, Adam Kierstead on electric guitar, bass,drums, and keys, and me on acoustic guitar, shakers, snare drum and vocals. Adam also sang a really great harmony on the track. It was recorded in my spare bedroom by both Chris Fudge and myself. The song was mixed at Chris Fudge’s house by Chris and Sean Boyer.

Lyrically this song is a fitting finale. It deals with death and has themes of reincarnation and the after-life. Maybe it’s not even about death but rather my way of saying how important music is to me. I picture the bird in the song as a songbird. Hopefully you’ll take your own meaning from it.

So without further delay, I present to you…

Clinton Charlton – I’ll Be A Bird
(to download, right click and select “save as”)

Note: This song is also available in both .WAV and FLAC formats. If you’d like a copy in either format, please write to

November – 2011

Okay friends…confession time.

I’ve been in a slump for the past few weeks. Maybe it’s the change of season. Maybe it’s not enough daylight or sleep. Maybe it’s the financial stress of the upcoming holiday season. I don’t know. Fact is, I’ve been down in the dumps and, unlike my contemporaries, that is not a good formula for me to get songwriting done.

My music is not fueled by heartache and depression. Nor is it littered with sadness and darkness. No, I need to be in a good place to make music. I need to have my life in order and for things to be in their rightful place before I can let my mind get into that creative state. To make a long-story short, it’s not been a very productive month.

In fact, I dreaded the thought of writing a song this month and, even moreso, going through the painstaking ritual of tracking each part and lining up click-tracks and finding tempos, etc. (stuff I usually love to do!). I watched as the month’s end crept closer and closer, and panicked with each passing day in hopes that inspiration would strike.

It did, but not in the usual way. I decided that I would experiment with the actual recording this month. If the songs weren’t flowing, why not have some fun with recording? I wrote a quick little number with a catchy chorus that would suit my needs perfectly, and then contacted some of my friends to come play with me. The idea was to show them the song, set up a microphone and then position ourselves around the mic so that we could all be heard, and then record the song in a take or two. And that’s just what we did!

Never Gonna Let You Down was written on a Monday night after a 13 hour shift at work. It was recorded the following evening and posted the next. The song features my friends Ali Leonard on violin and harmony vocals, Adam Kierstead on acoustic guitar and background vocals, and Chris Braydon on slide guitar and background vocals. Sean Boyer tapped away on a suitcase and joined the choir for the background vocals as well. I played acoustic guitar and sang lead.

Since the song was one track, there was no mixing to be done, but Sean did spend a considerable amount of time editing out the multiple fits of giggles that erupted throughout the evening.

Without a doubt, this was the most fun I have ever had recording. I think it’s safe to say that my slump is over and with just this one evening, my excitement to create renewed. My sincerest thanks to my friends for doing this with me.

This one’s for Flester Scruggs & The Tuesday Night Minstrels (you know who you are)


Never Gonna Let You Down

One month to go! Thanks for your support and for taking this trip with me. It is much appreciated….

October – 2011

Every songwriter I know keeps a guitar out and ready to be played at a moment’s notice. It’s the one they pick away at while watching television, or a quick distraction before running out the door. It’s usually not their best guitar, and certainly not the one that is best cared for, but it holds a special place and is usually the one being played when inspiration strikes.

For me, that guitar is a 2005 Canadian made La Patrie Etude nylon string that I picked up at a swap shop for next to nothing. The guitar has some battle wounds but it rings like a bell, and is easily the guitar I play more than any other instrument in my collection. It’s the guitar I was playing when I wrote what turned out to be my second instrumental in this project.

‘Sleeping Molly
‘ was born out of a lazy Friday night on the couch with my beagle, Molly, fast asleep beside me on the couch. The song is in a modified open-G tuning (D G D F# B D) and is capoed on the first fret. The song is in 3/4 time, which lends the melody a waltz-like feel.

I recorded the parts in my spare room and fleshed out the arrangement with a counter melody on my SK-1 keyboard and an 18″ china cymbal played with mallets. My friend Chris Braydon lent his talents to the song with a beautiful accompaniment on another nylon string guitar (with only five strings). As always, Sean Boyer mixed the song.

I hope you enjoy!

Sleeping Molly
(to download, right click and select “save as”)

Note: This song is also available in both .WAV and FLAC formats. If you’d like a copy in either format, please write to

(As always, I’d like to thank Sean Boyer for his assistance with the mix and Chris Braydon for his contributions)

September – 2011

The greatest compliment you can pay to a songwriter is to cover one of their songs. I was given that gift when my friend and frequent collaborator Chris Fudge did me the honour of recording my song Nothing To Say for his 2010 solo release “In Idle’ ( Chris did a bang up job on the tune and I’ve been looking for excuse to record it myself ever since I heard it. So while this month’s song is not a new composition, it is the first time I have recorded and arranged the song.

I recorded this song in my spare room and played my trusty old Gibson J-45 for the finger-picked acoustic part. My friend and bandmate Adam Kierstead played two amazing electric guitar parts on the song, as well as electric piano. As always, the song was mixed by Sean Boyer.

Lyrically, this song deals with moving on from the past and speaks directly to those who dwell in it.

I hope you enjoy!

Nothing To Say

You show up unannounced and every word that you pronounce is with disdain
The story is so old it’s getting hard to tell the print from the pages
Every other turn reveals a bridge that you have burned along the way
and I have nothing to say…

You’re talking in my face of times I long since have erased and locked away
The story is so old it’s getting hard to tell the facts from the fiction
Every other word recites a story we’ve all heard and can repeat
I just want to be me

You’ve come to the conclusion that the source of the confusion is this town
The story is so old it’s getting hard to tell the words from the whining
Every time you speak reveals a reason to critique this history
I Just wanna be

Nothing To Say
(to download, right click and select “save as”)

Note: This song is also available in both .WAV and FLAC formats. If you’d like a copy in either format, please write to

(As always, I’d like to thank Sean Boyer for his assistance with the mix and Adam Kierstead for his contributions)

August – 2011

“…the daylight is fading”

It’s hard to believe it but summer is almost over. This one seemed to fly by like a blur. I had such high hopes for this year and have still only done a fraction of the things I planned on. It’s funny how life gets in the way huh? I’ve only fished once this year, swam twice, and have barely touched my bicycle. Perhaps I’ll try and play catch-up as the fall approaches.

It has certainly been a busy summer though! I’ve played a LOT of shows this summer and have had the pleasure of taking part in some pretty great festivals, including the Summer’s End Festival in Grand Manan this past weekend. Fitting since the end of summer has been on my mind as of late and while I welcome the fall, there is a certain sadness that comes with the end of anything. Autumn has always been a great time for music in my life and I look forward to the creative burst the changing seasons seem to bring. August’s entry touches on those themes and, while I am still figuring out what this song means to me, there is a definite feeling of loss and resignation to it.

This song has it’s roots in a half finished idea that I started some months ago. I found the riff and some scraps of lyrics while cyphering through my demo tapes that I use to capture initial ideas at their time of conception. The finger-picking patterns are typical of my playing style but the chord structure is a bit of a departure for me as I am using a combination of Sus and Slash chords to support the melody. The double tracked acoustics remind me of my friend Chris Fudge’s signature guitar sound, which is one that I admire very much. The vocal melody is a bit of a departure for me as well and I have been told it has a strong 90’s vibe (fitting I should suppose, I am 38 after all!). Chris Braydon played an E-bowed electric slide guitar on the tune that really supports the acoustics and vocals, and provides a nice bottom end. I am quite pleased with this song and I hope to write more in the vein of this one.

I hope you enjoy it too!

Lead Me On

This is closer than we’ve been she said.
Maybe we should rest our heads,
or maybe this is all there is.
Just lay down, just lay down

Lead me on and I will follow
I’ll follow you down.

There’s nothing here for us to save,
and no light left to lead the way.
All the colours have run into grey.
Just lay down, just lay down.

Lead Me On and I will follow
I’ll follow you down.

Oh, the daylight is fading.

Clinton Charlton – Lead Me On
(to download, right click and select “save as”)

Note: This song is also available in both .WAV and FLAC formats. If you’d like a copy in either format, please write to

(As always, I’d like to thank Sean Boyer for his assistance with the mix and Chris Braydon for his contributions. I have good friends!)

July – 2011

I play drums in a band called Penny Blacks. We’re currently finishing our debut album and I have only a few percussion parts left to lay down. This led me to purchase some shakers this past Saturday which ended being the inspiration for this month’s song. ‘Beaten Heart’ is a rhythm based track that I built around a guitar riff I have been playing with for the past few weeks. I recorded this song at home in my music room with instruments that I have lying around the house. The songs features a nylon string guitar, a ukulele, electric guitar, melodica, tambourine, 18″ bass drum, electric guitar and the shakers that I previously mentioned. The introduction is a stylized piece with the original way I played the riff and some classic LP scratch noise thrown in for effect.

Lyrically this song is a time tested tale of a broken heart which, in this case, intends to stay broken and maybe even discarded. I draw the analogy to a fighter who takes a dive and stays down for the count. Something we’ve all probably considered at one point or another. The title is a little play on words that I couldn’t resist (and maybe should have!).

Beaten Heart

Broke in two is the heart I let lie
There it lays bleeding, where I left it to
and there it stays, the heart I let lie
Too afraid to do what it’s supposed to do

Like a fighter who’s down in the second round
when the bell just rang
I’m down and out for the count, hanging up my gloves
and calling it a day

Broke and bruised is the heart I let lie
Torn and frayed and bleeding where I left it to
But oh be brave, broken heart I let lie
these scars will fade in time
You’ll be beating like you’re brand new

Like a fighter who’s down in the second round
when the bell just rang
I’m down and out for the count, hanging up my gloves
and calling it a day

Clinton Charlton – Beaten Heart
(to download, right click and select “save as”)

Note: This song is also available in both .WAV and FLAC formats. If you’d like a copy in either format, please write to

(As always, I’d like to thank Sean Boyer for his assistance with the mix)

June – 2011

When I started this project in January, the intent was to write some new material, finish some ideas that had been lingering, and find a home for some songs I’ve had for a while. This leads me to June’s entry. ‘Not One To Complain’ is a song that I have been trying to find an arrangement for for a couple of years now. This song has made appearances in both my solo sets and with the now defunct Carousels. As it turns out, the best treatment for this song was to perform it exactly the way it was written years ago, which is what I present here. Lyrically, this song is a tongue-in-cheek look at a relationship gone sour with no chance of revival. Perhaps this song could have come from personal experience, but I truthfully don’t recall now…so let’s call it fiction.

It’s fitting, as we reach the halfway mark, that June’s entry features a solo performance. I laid down an acoustic guitar and a vocal, and then struggled to find an appropriate accent to compliment both the finger picking and the melody. Eventually, I messed around with a glass slide and ended up finding the sound I wanted.

As always, I’d like to thank Sean Boyer, who mixed the song (at the last minute…sorry bud).

I’d like to thank everyone who has subscribed to this project, and to all of the musicians who have generously contributed their time and talents. I’d also like to thank CFMH Campus Radio, who have started a monthly feature on the project on their Top 30 Countdown program, which airs every Tuesday.

I hope you enjoy it.

Not One To Complain

You stayed for the start but you left for the ending
You tore it apart and tried to put it back together again
and asked “you wanna be friends?”

But this broken heart doesn’t take to your mending
I’ve played my part and I’ll never be that character again
it’s just not where I fit in

And the sad that I feel let’s me know that it’s real
I’ve grown accustomed to mundane
but it’s better than smiles that are plastic
and I’ll take a sad heart anyday
I’m not one to complain

Well you looked in my eyes and you told me a story
Sold me a lie and said that you’d be mine for a song
you even sang right along

But the bridge struck a chord and it crumbled like London
it’s burning and bored and I’ll never travel that path again
No, I don’t wanna be friends

And the sad that I feel let’s me know that it’s real
I’ve grown accustomed to mundane
but it’s better than smiles that are plastic
and I’ll take a sad heart anyday
I’m not one to complain

And the anger I show is a seed I must sow
and I’m already watering
The leaves that will bloom in the dark of this room
will cool me off with their shade
I’m not one to complain

Not One To Complain – Clinton Charlton

(to download, right click and select “save as”)

Note: This song is also available in both .WAV and FLAC formats. If you’d like a copy in either format, please write to

May – 2011

Three weeks ago I bought a ukulele. I’ve wanted one for several years now, and my wife even tried to get me one for my birthday a while back, but that ended up with us being ripped off by a crooked Ebay user. Anyway, I finally made the plunge and got myself a six string ukulele at Long & McQuade that has been my obsession since I brought it home. So it’s no surprise that this month’s song was written on my new toy.

With ‘The Last Dance‘, I wanted to try and capture the spirit of those old Tin Pan Alley ballads of the 20’s and 30’s, that became American Songbook standards. The uke lent itself well to that style, and the voicing of the instrument begged for seventh chords with a waltz feel. I picture this song being something Stephen Foster or Cole Porter might have written (well, maybe when they were getting started).

To help capture the mood of the piece, I enlisted the help of my good friend and collaborator, Sean Boyer to play some clarinet. Sean’s solo is the highlight of the whole song, in my opinion, and it’s complimented so well by the amazingly skilled Ali Leonard (Saint John String Quartet, Penny Blacks), who graciously lent her talents by playing some violin on the track.

This song has been a blast to write and record. It’s been such a pleasure to collaborate with so many amazing people on, not only this song, but this entire project. Everyone has been so generous with their time and talents and, as Sean so wisely put it, “this is what music and friendship is about”.

Thank you so very much to all who have subscribed. This little idea has turned into such a gratifying experience, and I am truly grateful to have an audience to share it with.

Now, without further delay, I present to you:

The Last Dance

The moon’s cast it’s shadow on the water tonight,
the crickets are all singing their songs.
The cool summer breeze brings your laughter to me,
but here I sit so lonesome and alone.

All the boys in the barrooms are having a ball,
the band has them singing along.
Through the windows I can see they’re all dancing,
but not me, here I sit so lonesome and alone

I’m so tired of waiting,
but it’s all I can do,
the last dance is coming,
and I’ve saved it for you.

So let the stars keep on shining,
they’ll be guiding us home.
‘Til then I sit here, so lonesome and alone.

Clinton Charlton – The Last Dance
(to download, right click and select “save as”)

Note: This song is also available in both .WAV and FLAC formats. If you’d like a copy in either format, please write to

(As always, I’d like to thank Sean Boyer for his assistance with the mix and the string arrangement…he’s a good fella!)

PS – My friend and bandmate, Jason Ogden released a seriously incredible record this month entitled ‘Gold Stadards EP’ under the moniker Penny Blacks. It’s available on iTunes or at Backstreet Records in Saint John. It is well worth the money. In fact, it was Jason’s song ‘Your Wedding Ring’ that gave me the courage to release such a stylized piece of music…so thanks Jay!