"Exquisite…sweet, timeless pop."

—Eric Snider, Creative Loafing

"The songs on Paper Boats are marvels of construction…each a three or four minute work of art. A literate and intelligent, fresh-sounding collection…It’s a warm album, a ship’s log full of life insights and observations."

—Rob Caldwell, MusicToEat.com

"Paper Boats is the album that Harry Nilsson had made in my mind backed by the Beatles, the one where every song is a little gem and where every lyric mattered and either raised a smile, a knowing nod or had my eyes filling up for various reasons. ‘Paper Boats’ is, quite simply, a perfect pop album."

—Malcolm Carter, pennyblackmusic.com

"Melodically inventive, ethereal, full of wonder, Bird’s Eye feels like ... flight."

—Eric Snider, Creative Loafing

“Every song exhibits supreme musicianship and an insightful yet earthy lyricism.”

—Quentin B. Huff, popmatters.com

“…a dozen of the most radiant pop songs I’ve heard in quite some time. ‘Carried Away’ has quality and intelligent pop coursing through its veins.”

—Geraint Jones, leicesterbangs.co.uk

“Fans of Elvis Costello and Squeeze may want to have a fainting couch nearby.”

—Curtis Ross, Tampa Tribune

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March 1, 2014 — Don't miss the Paper Boats CD Release Show at The Hideaway Cafe in St. Petersburg. This show also marks the debut of Ed Woltil and the Loaded Question featuring Ed on lead vocals and guitar; Jeremy Douglass on keyboards; Michael Hoag on bass; and Dan DeGregory on drums and backing vocals.

 

Opening the show will be special guest Dean Johanesen. $10 admission gets you into the show with a free copy of Ed's brand spanking new Paper Boats CD. Doors open at 6, music begins at 8. For more information and to buy tickets in advance, please visit www.hideawaycafe.biz.

February 24, 2014 — The first review of Paper Boats is in, and it's glowing —Rob Caldwell of Music To Eat weighs in on it here:

 

Paper Boats review.

HOMEMADE

In the early part of 2013, Ed Woltil felt an unmistakable change in the atmosphere and knew he would soon be immersed in writing mode. But following the process of completing his band The Ditchflowers' second disc—the meticulously ornamented baroque-pop opus Bird’s Eye (“a charming album chockablock with lush, grown-up guitar pop”—popmatters.com)—Woltil's muse was whispering in his ear that sometimes a sketch can be more evocative than a lavish oil painting.

Keeping his focus tight, personal and intimate, Woltil dived in and surfaced with a dozen new songs. The result is Paper Boats, Woltil’s defiantly gentle new CD. True to his muse’s advice, he maintained a fast and fresh approach in its execution, recording most of it in his home studio. Built around his sumptuous acoustic guitar work and emotively supple voice, production touches are kept to a minimum, bringing the writing and Woltil’s soulful delivery to the fore.

Although Woltil’s McCartney-centric tendencies are in evidence, many of the songs here hearken to American influences such as Paul Simon, Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson and Jimmy Webb. Rounding out the 12 new songs to a baker’s dozen is a fresh take on an old Ditchflowers favorite, Boys from Carried Away.

 

Please continue scrolling for audio samples, lyrics and personal observations from Ed for all of the songs.

Once again, I put pen to paper, plectrum to string, and lips to microphone to scratch out my small observations and make my mark. A nip here, a tuck and fold there, and voilà: a little flotilla of homemade vessels that just might float. Placing them precariously upon the face of the deep, I wonder —perhaps a little too late—whether these humble craft are better suited to navigate the puddles in the backyard than to venture forth on the unforgiving seas of the wide world…

 

Oh well; I close my eyes and—with a hopeful puff of breath—
set them adrift.   —E.W.

Please click on Song Titles to open or close.

(Lyrics, audio samples, track notes and more.)

  • An anthem for the math-challenged (that's me!), and a thinly-veiled confession that I'm not that great at solving any other kind of "problem" either. If the world is perfect and can be described neatly in mathematical terms—as some physicists and other brainy types have claimed—then why do I feel so confused? "Spell" it out for me, please—I'm better with words than I am with numbers.

    Apologies to my dear friend, Chuck Darling, who gamely recorded a fine drum track for this one. But alas, his efforts remain on the cutting room floor, for better or worse (quite possibly the latter). In the end, I decided to trust my muse and my instinct to keep this project "all Ed."

    Everything is algebra, algebra, algebra

    Everything is algebra but life gets in the way

     

    All the world is x and y

    the answer works out every time

    but I keep searching for some sign

    to get to point b from point a.

     

    Everything is algebra, algebra, algebra

    All of life is algebra, but hearts get in the way

     

    Sorting through the plans I plotted

    every factor in its slot, except the

    promises that I forgot

    to keep along the way.

     

    Everything is algebra, algebra, algebra

    Everything is algebra but words get in the way

     

    Rows and rows of fingers and toes

    don’t add up any which way

    and if the answer’s up to me

    then all we can do is pray.

     

    All the world is algebra, but we get in the way.

     

    Line by line your equation looks fine

    until I lurch into the fray…

    If anyone can break algebra

    count on me to lead the way.

     

    Algebra is greek to me

    but your blue eyes, they speak to me…

    If algebra really is the key,

    well, then who am I to say?

    I guess everything’s OK.

     

    Everything is algebra, algebra, algebra

    All of life is algebra but we get in our own way.

  • Confessions of a mind slightly out of step. I have long wondered why my memory doesn't seem to function quite as reliably as it's supposed to…important items—whether past, present or future—seem to go missing, while the trivial things remain vivid, often frustratingly so. My mind has always been prone to wander at the most inopportune times.

    One of a handful of recordings here that utilize thigh slaps for percussion. Seemed to work OK in keeping with the homemade, keep-moving-and-don't-overthink-it work ethic. (And perhaps I was a bit too lazy to replace it with anything more sophisticated.)

    Sweetest memories from out of nowhere

    breeze across my mind’s eye

    Halcyon summer sky.

    Back to present tense, I clench my teeth against

    the wind and the ice,

    reveries put to flight.

     

    I may nod and smile, but I want to cry

    and I’ll be the one laughing at the funeral

    I’m a random access memory kind of guy.

     

    That momentous day, the grand occasion

    you want me to recall,

    I can’t replay at all.

    But what’s crystal clear is sitting near you

    on the river one night

    counting the fireflies.

     

    Ask me when it was; well now, let me see…

    please don’t ask me where, don’t interrogate me

    I’m a random access memory casualty.

     

    A quarrel from years ago

    still rattling round my head

    but I can’t for the life of me

    remember what you just said

    what was it you just said,

    I can’t get it through my head.

     

    In a cheering crowd, I stand and stare

    I was just elsewhere momentarily my

    random access memory caught me on the fly.

     

    I’m a random access memory kind of guy.

  • The world is getting smaller and we’re all more connected than ever, right? Hello?

     

    Actually, more and more often I feel disconnected and I have to remind myself to look away from the screen and toward the big beautiful world. I get the feeling I'm not alone…

    A friend was worried about the robotic tendencies of the percussion against the lilt and swing of the acoustic guitar—precisely the conflict at the heart of the lyric!

    In 1’s and 0’s the data flows

    this is how we roll.

    In an endless freefall zone

    I feel so alone with my old dumbphone

     

    Grant me cyber grace

    I’m falling through space

    floating at the speed of light

    We are everywhere and barely there

    hiding in plain sight.

     

    Lost and found, the network's down

    how do we connect?

    Can you peek beneath the lid

    Read my face in lights winking on the grid

     

    Here in cyberspace

    I’ve fallen from grace

    floating at the speed of light

    I am everywhere and barely there

    hiding in plain sight.

     

    We had twin dreams

    and we woke up afraid midstream

    two thousand miles in between.

     

    Sending password prayers

    in bits through the air

    streaming homeward in their flight

    We are everywhere and virtually nowhere

    ever hiding in plain sight.

  • Unrequited love, that songwriter's staple…sooner or later, everyone becomes acquainted with the lopsided feeling of being simultaneously obsessed and rejected.

     

    Not much else to add. I wrote this with a capo way up at the sixth fret and play it in the key of B major (so it's actually F major). Most guitarists hate playing in B, but I love it.

    Hiding in Plain Sight, Illinois Sunset, and Dance With Me One More Time are also all played in B major (Hiding in Plain Sight with the capo at the third fret, so that's really in the key of D). Sorry to geek out on you there...

    I see you walk on air

    humming without a care

    I recognize that look about you.

    And I know what you’re feeling ‘cause I’ve felt it, too.

    Notice my past is tense,

    your heart was on the fence

    now I’m left behind to puzzle it through

    and my heart is still reeling though I should pursue

     

    Someone who loves me like I love you

    Someone who loves me like I love you

    Someone who loves me like I love you

    now I know the price of buying into

    a dream that never can come true.

    Pardon my long dog face

    You tried to leave no trace

    but it’s all too plainly written in view

    and I don’t have the power to hide it from you.

    I hope that I could show more

    common sympathy for

    an old friend whose heart has started to unglue

    even if that someone should turn out to be you someday, too.

     

    If somebody loved me like I love you

    If somebody loved me like I love you

    If somebody loved me like I love you

    I hope that I could forget you someday

    and stop clinging to these hopes of one day

     

    drowning out the voice of reason

    hounding me to this self-treason

    haunting, wanting you…

     

    Someone who loves me like I love you

    Someone who loves me like I love you

    Someone who loves me like I love you

    now I know the price of buying into

    a dream that never can come true.

     

    now I know the price of buying into

    a dream that never can come true.

  • Identity crisis wrapped in antique blues with a dash of tin pan alley. It's hard to stay true to yourself and make your way in this world, and every once in a while I look around myself and wonder, as David Byrne once famously sang, "well, how did I get here?" (And I couldn't resist quoting that line in this song either.) It can be hard to reset and get yourself back on the right track.

    Nearly every night of my childhood, my dad would sit down at the piano and run through some of his favorites…he was a great "stride" player and I regret not having any recordings of him playing. I often find myself leaning toward the spirit of those old songs, and I did not resist that impulse when I came up with this tune.

    I woke up this morning haunted by a dream

    of an honest man without a plan or a scheme

    Can I be candid? I’m stranded in someone else’s life.

     

    I rushed to the bathroom, looked myself in the eye;

    the mirror was no clearer to help me see this guy

    Woke from a dream into a dream

    of someone else’s life.

     

    Hey, Mr. Postman, there’s no forwarding address

    for the man who’s been replaced

    by this disgraceful hot mess

    My crystal ball is muddy

    so the rest is anybody’s best guess.

     

    Life is a mystery, a clue or two at best

    and sometimes we play our cards

    too close to the vest

    I guess I’m folding,

    I’ve been sold into someone else’s life

     

    Those dreams of one day finding fortune and fame

    all on my own fine terms, not playing anyone’s game

    they fade into Monday in the din

    of dingy corporate shame.

     

    Old dog, new tricks, I’ll tread water somehow

    Long haul, quick fix, feet don’t fail me now

    Well, how did I get here, livin’ someone else’s life?

     

    While I wasn’t watching, I failed to see

    I turned into who I pretended to be

    The ruse has cost me, I’m lost in someone else’s life.

    And when at last the fateful day does arise

    and the whole tableau goes passing before my eyes—

    hey, something’s wrong here…

    that’s somebody else’s life.

     

    I don’t belong here…

    driven to the edge and wedged

    into someone else’s life.

     

  • Several years back, I helped my daughter move from our Florida home up to Wisconsin to start her post-graduate life. There was a certain night in Illinois when we pulled off the road for a picnic dinner and paused to watch a breathtaking sunset. A profound feeling overtook me and I understood the distinct possibility that she might just meet a midwestern boy and settle down up there in the land of my ancestors.

    Thoughts of the great Jimmy Webb haunted me in the making of this, right down to the geographical specificity in its title. Why not shoot for the moon, right? Even if you only get halfway there, the view is still pretty good. Halfway to Jimmy Webb -- I should be so lucky.

    Love is a place; in the dream

    we are standing face to face.

    Do we dare hope it’s there

    waiting somewhere?

    The world is not too wide

    for you to step outside

    and find your way.

     

    Illinois sunset

    light up the sky and fly, little wing, fly

    Illinois sunset

    pack up your dreams and fly, little wing, fly.

     

    Love is a time; the cliché

    still holds sway and we are blind

    looking for what’s in store

    around the corner

    but when you least expect

    the moments to connect,

    your clock will chime.

     

    Illinois sunset

    strike up the stars and fly, little wing, fly

    Illinois sunset

    pack up your dreams and fly, little wing, fly.

     

    Goin’ down the road in a moving van

    just the sketch of a plan

    and a prayer to make this right.

    Suddenly you’re there

    in the middle of somewhere

    walking up a flight of stairs straight into his life.

     

    Hearts throughout time

    down the line

    pass the beat along in song.

    Now it’s time

    for you to shine,

    sing your life—

    and if it feels like time for you to fly

    then fly high.

     

    Illinois sunset

    light up the sky and fly, little wing, fly

    Illinois sunset

    pack up your dreams and fly, little wing, fly

    Illinois sunset

    strike up the stars and fly, little wing, fly

     

    little wing, fly…

  • The thing about a dog is that he can be the most worthless animal alive, and you're still going to love him. Sometimes there's no correlation between a mutt's "goodness" or "badness" and the degree of affection you feel. And so it is with Anderson (Andy), though in fairness, if he could talk, he might share a few opinions about my worthiness (or lack thereof).

    The music here, and something of its playful spirit, put me in mind of Harry Nilsson (you understand when I mention a personal hero like this, I'm not so presumptuous as to think I'm anywhere close to being in his league). I worked hard on the harmonies in the last verse -- Nilsson could have tossed them off as first takes and sounded worlds better. Oh, and that's Anderson himself barking in the bridge section (I pressed 'record' and then went and rang the doorbell).

    In the morning when I rise

    and rub the sleep out of my eyes

    my little sidekick licks my face

    to say we’ve got a new day to chase.

     

    The one and only Anderson

    The one and only, the one and only one,

    The one and only Anderson

    Oooh, the one and only Anderson.

     

    He only stands about shin high

    not the world’s most handsome guy

    but he puts up with my vagaries

    I guess I’ll keep the little bag of fleas

     

    The one and only Anderson

    The one and only, the one and only one,

    The one and only Anderson

    Oooh, the one and only Anderson.

     

    We spy a rabbit on our walk

    and Andy barks out his warning loud and clear

    to let that bastard know that he’s not welcome here.

     

    We play the game where I put down his food

    then spring back before I lose a hand

    I teach him things but he just doesn’t understand

     

    Except for phrases like ‘Good boy’

    or ‘Take a walk’ or ‘Get your toy’

    but when I tell him to ‘Come’ or ‘Stay’

    he tends to up and run away.

     

    The one and only Anderson

    The one and only, the one and only one,

    The one and only Anderson

    Oooh, the one and only Anderson.

  • This piece started life as an attempt at a soundtrack for a remake of the 60's TV cult classic "The Prisoner." Some other composer got the nod for that, but I decided to turn it into a song and ended up going to a fairly dark, Peter Gabriel kind of place. I'm hesitant to talk about the lyrics, so I won't.

    Everything you say, everything I do

    all we can imagine

    In between a breath, glimpse a secret path

    following the passion

    Here in the dark we lie broken wide open.

     

    Man within the boy, boy within the cell,

    cell inside the petri

    Long division trick, soul arithmetic

    halfway where you meet me.

    hope beyond hopelessly hopin’ to open.

     

    Oaths of the heart left unspoken.

    Fall through the dark like a token.

     

    Did I see a trace pass across your face

    hiding in the open?

    Pass protected file, coded in your smile,

    will the code be broken?

    Aimlessly, shamelessly hopin’ you’re open.

  • This one breaks the rules and uses electric guitar (gasp!). It also started the Paper Boats project rolling, as this song clearly had no future in The Ditchflowers. My deep love for classic soul and R&B rarely surfaces in my writing, but it came bubbling to the surface one day, and here are the results.

    In high school years, I had a job delivering flowers, which

    afforded me many hours of driving time when I could yelp at the top of my lungs in a vain attempt to emulate the masterful vocal stylings of the likes of Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Sly Stone, et al. Many more years of yelping have fallen by the wayside since then, and I still haven't given up!

    Sister’s walkin’ home from work alone

    tryin’ to talk sense into her old cell phone

    and daddy’s drifted off again, ain’t been home for days.

    Mama shouts as she walks out the front door,

    late for work again, that’s just one more,

    and junior’s still in bed—lately he’s lost in a haze.

     

    The shortest distance between two hearts

    The shortest distance between two hearts

    The shortest distance between two hearts is love.

     

    Sister breaks down at the corner store

    counting out change, she thought she had more

    wonderin’ when and if she can ever rise above.

    Junior cuttin’ through the alleyway

    out of work since the beginning of May

    and every day feels more like push comin’ down to shove…

     

    The shortest distance between two hearts

    The shortest distance between two hearts

    The shortest distance between two hearts is love.

     

    Please R - E - C - E - I - V - E my love

    Please G - I - V - E,  won’t you please, sweet love.

     

    Sister’s late out on a Friday night

    on the phone, crossin’ against the light

    never saw the taxi driver turnin’ right, slow-mo…

    Junior sleepin’ in an ER chair,

    when she comes to he wants to be right there,

    why does life got to be so unfair, who knows?

     

    The shortest distance between two hearts

    The shortest distance between two hearts

    The shortest distance between two hearts is love.

     

    Please R - E - C - E - I - V - E my love

    Please G - I - V - E,  won’t you please, sweet love.

  • The title is an oxymoron or a contradiction in terms—a "row" of anything, by definition, must contain more than one thing. And for some things, one is one too many. I promise there is a meaning hidden in this song…well, not in the strict sense. This is blues, but not the way you're used to hearing it, and perhaps not as it was ever intended.

    I have a jar without a lid

    I have a jar without a lid

    I have a jar without a lid

    I can’t believe what my sister did

    Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no

    I wouldn’t mind, but that’s one in a row

     

    I have a cat with one green eye

    I have a cat with one green eye

    I have a cat with one green eye

    The other eye got lost in a fight

    Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no

    I wouldn’t cry, but that’s one in a row

     

    Rivers run and colors bleed

    Mountains peak, but what do they see?

    Chickens squawk, parrots talk

    And lemmings lead

    …Well, it’s just the first one and it ain’t much fun

     

    Now, I have a fence made of gingerbread

    I have a fence made of gingerbread

    I have a fence made of gingerbread

    the dog ate the gate and fell down dead

    Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no

    It’s more than enough, it’s just one in a row

     

    Rivers run and colors bleed

    Mountains peak, but what do they see?

    Chickens squawk, parrots talk

    And lemmings lead

    …Well, it’s just the first one and it ain’t much fun

     

    Now, I have a car with one flat tire

    I have a car with one flat tire

    It might be true that I’ve still got three

    but they’re really not much good to me

    Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no

    It’s just my luck, that’s one in a row.

  • Maybe I'm not supposed to do this, but some of my songs are about more than one person, a charge that can be brought at such time as I'm called before the songwriter's tribunal to answer for my crimes against art. As I pondered the meaning of true friendship while writing this song, several different people drifted through my mind.

    I always thought it was bad form for lyricist Hal David to throw all of those lovers into one song and do them the collective honor of being recognized among "all the girls (he's) loved before" (Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson made the song a hit). How special is that? 'Hey, you, and you, and even you in the back—I'm glad you came along, I dedicate this song, etc., etc…Sorry, I can't write a song for each of you, but I want you to know it was fun.' What I'm doing in Foul Weather Friends  is not the same thing at all…

    Every goodbye is bittersweet until we meet again

    I’m bound to feel incomplete and useless until then.

    And I confess I’m overblessed to count you as my friend

    I’m quick to stress and to make a mess and slow to make amends.

     

    Tonight I slide upon thin ice, I don’t know where I stand

    I nod and smile and I make nice, extend the old gladhand.

    No one is wise to my disguise, I look OK to them

    But you look right into my eyes and see me as I am.

     

    We’re only as debonair as our last dumbassed pratfall

    in the all too public eye.

    We’ll weather the storm together ignore every catcall

    and stand up with our heads held high

    foul weather friends, you and I

    foul weather friends, you and I

    foul weather friends, you and I.

     

    Every goodbye is bittersweet until we meet again

    I’m bound to feel incomplete and useless until then.

    I’m quick to stress and make a mess and slow to make amends.

    but I’ll muddle through til I’m back with you,

    my fair foul weather friend,

    my fair foul weather friend,

    my fair foul weather friend.

     

    We’ll weather the storm together

    foul weather friends, you and I.

  • A stripped down version of a Ditchflowers song that has become a cornerstone of my solo performances. A bit of trivia: this song was also awarded "Runner-Up" in the Folk category of the John Lennon Songwriting Competition of 2006 (missed the top slot by this much!). Memories of a boyhood spent mostly barefoot and fancy-free filled my thoughts when I wrote this one…along with the strange realization that I still feel like that boy inside.

    This is the only song not written in the Paper Boats fever dream of 2013. I kept the harmonica tracks and vocals from the original Ditchflowers session and added new guitars and keys.

    I’ll never breathe easy again

    no one to answer to, free as the wind

    close my eyes & count up to ten

    then ready or not, here I come

     

    Up with the dawn & out the door

    hit the ground running to see what’s in store

    dig up some fun, then dig up some more

    ‘til sinking sun sends us back home

     

    but I will run with you forever

    if I have my choice

    In our hearts, you & me, we will always be boys

     

    Barefoot brigade with bloody nose

    swing from a vine and we drink from a hose

    just where we’ve been, well, nobody knows

    lost episodes we’ll never tell

     

    but I will run with you forever

    if I have my choice

    In our hearts, you & me, we will always be boys

     

    Swimming in the storm

    running with the pack

    breathless through the orange grove dragging

    contraband in a sleeping bag

     

    I guess we’re old & it’s a drag

    out in the cold & left holding the bag

    while our kids run round playing tag

    screaming so free out on the lawn

     

    but I will run with you forever

    if I have my choice

    In our hearts, you & me, we will always be boys.

  • Parting is sweet sorrow, they say...but sometimes it's just plain sorrow.  The good things in life are all too fleeting and the painful parts often drag on forever, but when it's all said and done, life is too short. When I find myself wishing life away during the trying times, well, shame on me. Here we are and the night is still young…would you do me the honor?

    The minute hand marches forwards

    beginning its midnight climb

    come out on the floorboards

    and dance with me one more time.

     

    The band is lagging

    and it’s past the waiter’s bedtime

    but we’re unflagging

    so dance with me one more time.

     

    The air brims with sweetness

    the moonlight’s sublime

    a nightbird is warbling

    in 3/4 time.

     

    Tomorrow I’m sailing

    for some far exotic clime

    and words they are failing…

    so dance with me one more time.

    Tonight is treasure

    so would it be such a crime

    to steal one last measure

    and dance with me one more time?

     

    Come out on the floorboards

    and dance with me one more time.

Tuesday is Dead – The Ditchflowers

from Bird's Eye

Random Access Memory – Ed Woltil

from Paper Boats

Hiding in Plain Sight – Ed Woltil

from Paper Boats

If Somebody Loved Me – Ed Woltil

from Paper Boats

In Memory of the Day – The Ditchflowers

from Bird's Eye

Best known for his work as singer, multi-instrumentalist and chief songwriter for St. Petersburg art-pop band The Ditchflowers, Ed Woltil has garnered numerous regional and national awards, including First Prize in the 2000 USA Songwriting Competition, Gospel category, and Runner-Up in the 2006 John Lennon Songwriting Competition, Folk category.

 

NPR has featured The Ditchflowers on Open Mic, and Performing Songwriter magazine singled out Carried Away, their 2007 debut CD, as a “Top 12 DIY Pick.” Creative Loafing called the disc “exquisite…sweet, timeless pop” (and it topped critic Eric Snider's 'Best of 2007' list) while Popmatters.com said that “every song exhibits supreme musicianship and an insightful yet earthy lyricism.”

 

Ed has had the privilege of opening for Richard Thompson (twice!), Chris Isaak, Alex Chilton, Graham Parker, Procol Harum, and Marshall Crenshaw.

 

Ed's been known to contribute to these other musical entities from time to time:

www.theditchflowers.com

www.robinsonwoltil.com

www.steveconnellymusic.com

www.mercymccoy.com

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