For robins themselves, it’s robin time whenever they want it to be.

But for me, robin time occurs in late spring, specifically around 3 o’clock in the morning. It’s the interlude when night is on the cusp of day and accordingly, I am somewhere between sleep and consciousness — with all that implies about the workings of the mind (hence “Night Logic”).

At some point in my 50s I realized how much I value robins (to the extent that I now wear one on my arm). They are welcome harbingers of spring and as the days grow longer you can’t walk a block without encountering at least one. What speaks to me in particular is the robin’s way of running around looking irritable as it makes its living. Been there!

I carried the unripe idea for this song around for a year until, in April 2024, I noticed anew on a Stan Getz album the title of a song by Benny Carter: “People Time.” That sparked this recording. Its four guitars, accordion and voice can’t say what a robin can say even before it’s had breakfast. But it nevertheless conveys my gratitude for the robin’s music, especially when I hear it in those weird hours before dawn — robin time. — by Doug Hubley

Hear “Robin Time (Night Logic)” below! Buy it on Bandcamp! (“Robin Time (Night Logic)” copyright © 2024 by Douglas L. Hubley. All rights reserved. Photo credits: Above, Jeff Stanton. Below, robin tatoo by Phuc Tran, Tsunami Tatoo, Portland, Maine.)






Depicting a lovers’ quarrel, the lyrics of “Why This Passion” never changed after I wrote it, in 1983. But musically, the song shifted shape quite dramatically — from rococo New Wave romanticism to something like punk to something less easily defined — during its long tenure in the repertoire.

I wrote “Why This Passion” for my band the Fashion Jungle, an ensemble distinguished by credible sorties into high drama. But the song’s ornate original arrangement ultimately proved too utterly utterly even for me. So after keyboardist Kathren Torraca departed and Dan Knight succeeded Steve Chapman on bass, I turned the song into a musical hot rod, stripped down and sped up.

We kept that chopped, channeled and supercharged setting when Steve returned to the FJ in 1987, and that’s the version presented here in a rough recording from a Geno’s Rock Club show (at the Brown Street location) in May of that year. Ken Reynolds plays drums, Steve is on bass, and I’m singing and playing my trusty “two-knob” Strat.

(The song would hang on through two more bands, bringing its stay in the repertoire to a total of 20 years. It evolved with the Boarders, whose dabblings in “world music” inspired Jon Nichols-Pethick’s rolling tom-tom beat with its vaguely Middle Eastern feel. That propulsive rhythm worked so well, in fact, that Howling Turbines, with “Rumblin’ ” Ken Reynolds back on the drums, made sure to keep it. Gretchen Schaefer was the bassist in both combos.) — by Doug Hubley

Hear it below! Buy it on Bandcamp! (“Why This Passion” copyright © 1985 by Douglas L. Hubley. All rights reserved.)



The 1987 Fashion Jungle: from left, bassist Steve Chapman, guitarist Doug Hubley, drummer Ken Reynolds. Photo: Minolta Self-Timer



“Je t’aime” is an interpretation of an affair I had in central Europe in 1976. I changed the setting for the sake of the song because, well, Paris.

Also altered were the emotional facts of the matter. I wanted to make a song about being betrayed in a romantic locale and used that 1976 relationship as  the departure point. The result is hardly fair to the woman in question — there was betrayal but it was mutual, and merely a betrayal of naive expectations.  But it works on its own terms, which is the only basis for judging any song, and remains one of my favorites among my compositions.

“Je t’aime” needed a long time to come into its own. I wrote it in 1982 to perform with the Fashion Jungle, but with that band it has settled into place only during reunion shows since 2021. Instead, it was with The Boarders, heard here in spring 1996, that “Je t’aime” coalesced. Later it was part of the Howling Turbines repertoire. — by Doug Hubley

Hear “Je t’aime” by The Boarders, below: Doug Hubley, bassist Gretchen Schaefer and drummer Jonathan Nichols-Pethick. Buy it on Bandcamp! (“Je t’aime” copyright © 1983 by Douglas L. Hubley. All rights reserved. Photo above: Doug enjoying a happy relationship in Paris, June 2000; photograph by Gretchen Schaefer. Below: The Boarders in 1947, er, 1994, in a photograph by Jeff Stanton. From left: Doug, Jon, Gretchen.)


Je t'aime




“Bittersweet” broke a 12-year dry spell in my songwriting, a drought that began after 1998’s “Caphead.” I finished a few lyrics during that trek through the desert — making singable words out of other peoples’ translations of a few bossa nova classics, so those weren’t even my own ideas. That was it and it wasn’t much.

I never gave up on songwriting during those years. I just never finished any songs. If excuses for that lapse aren’t interesting and the root causes are hard to pin down, it’s nevertheless clear that what roused me again was Day for Night, the acoustic country duo in which I perform with Gretchen Schaefer, my life partner inside and outside music.

Once we had stopped trying to be so darned eclectic and had focused on antique country music, my songwriting path became clear. And what better topic than an invasive plant as a metaphor for love gone wrong?

“Bittersweet” began as a few lines scribbled in my pocket notebook during a lunch-break stroll around a Maine downtown. In 2007, I spent several graphomanical hours in a hotel room roughing out ideas for it. Several years after that, at the dining table on a gray cold day, I polished off the lyrics in one intense session. In the basement studio on a different cold gray day, I devised and recorded the music.

And I was a songwriter again . . . just like that.

Hear “Bittersweet” below in a 2018 performance by Doug Hubley and Gretchen Schaefer — Day for Night. Buy it on Bandcamp! (“Bittersweet” copyright © 2012 by Douglas L. Hubley. All rights reserved. Photo above: A Day for Night selfie taken on Peaks Island, Portland, Maine, in 2010. With “Bittersweet” new to us that year, the viney pose was no coincidence. Below: Day for Night at the 2019 Deering Center Porchfest, in a photo by Jeff Stanton)



Day for Night relaxes after performing at Deering Center Porchfest, Sept. 8, 2019. (Jeff Stanton photo)






Whether or not gang-related violence really increased in Maine’s largest city during the 1990s, the public statements of a certain chief of police certainly made people more aware of the issue. And during those same years, whether or not those pronouncements affected my perceptions, I started seeing a lot of young guys wearing ball caps and looking coldly murderous as they tooled around in their small souped-up cars.

All that set the stage for “Caphead,” performed here in August 1999 by Howling Turbines — drummer Ken Reynolds, bassist Gretchen Schaefer, and yours truly. What sparked the actual creation of the song was a nighttime rumble in a Denny’s parking lot in 1998 that resulted in a fatal stabbing, which remains unsolved (despite the 19 months behind bars served by one teenager awaiting trial on an indictment that was ultimately dropped).

Hear “Caphead” below! Buy it on Bandcamp! (Above: Photo illustration by Doug Hubley. Below: Detail from a poster — one of a series inspired by the Three Stooges — by Gretchen Schaefer advancing a 1998 Howling Turbines date at the Free Street Taverna, Portland, Maine. “Caphead” copyright © 2010 by Douglas L. Hubley. All rights reserved.)





Not to be confused with the Boston ska band or the reggae song by Dennis Brown, this Day for Night number was inspired by a conductor’s announcement on Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited. The conductor said we’d stopped to wait for an eastbound train, but I had to bend the facts to suit the song’s own reality — hence “westbound.” Alliteration is nothing to be sneezed at in snongwriting songwriting, and the switcheroo also activates the fraught and many-layered symbolism of East vs. West in American mythology. “We’re headed back East as we always must be / To the same old and the good old and the old used-to-be.” (Note, too, that I managed to make use of the time-honored country songwriting tradition of rhyming a word with itself.)

I wrote “(Waiting for A) Westbound Train” on the back porch of a cabin at the Chautauqua in Boulder, Colo., in June 2019. Gretchen Schaefer and I recorded the version heard here in a basement rehearsal just three months later. We now perform it as the first half of a medley that concludes with another Chautauqua product, “Just A Moment In The Night.”

Hear “(Waiting for A) Westbound Train” below! Buy it on Bandcamp! (Below, Day for Night relaxes following a September 2019 performance at the Deering Center Porchfest. Photo by Jeff Stanton. Above: Gretchen Schaefer waits for a southbound train in Brunswick, Maine, 2018. Photo by Doug Hubley. “(Waiting For A) Westbound Train” copyright © 2019 by Douglas L. Hubley. All rights reserved.)






April 2023 is a far cry from the depths-of-the-pandemic November of 2020, but one thing those months have in common is rain, at least in Maine.

“1,000 Pounds of Rain” was Song of the Month! that November, but here’s a different rendition. Where the previous example was recorded by Howling Turbines in 1997, this one comes from a rehearsal two years earlier by The Boarders — the band that introduced the song.

I finished “1,000 Pounds of Rain” in spring 1994, but got the title earlier. The inspiration was a 1990 Cowlix performance at a Portland, Maine, seafood joint called the Drydock. So as not to disturb the tourists in the dining room enjoying their lobster and fried clams, we were told to carry our equipment to the second-story performance area up a cast-iron fire escape. It was pouring rain.

I liked the title, but it took me years to figure out what the song should be about. Finally completed around the time the ’Lix were splitting up, “1,000 Pounds” turned out to be a cry of despair at reaching middle age. (If someone complained to me about such a thing now, I’d tell ’em, “It beats the alternative.”)

It was one of the first numbers the Boarders learned (and as a matter of fact, the Boarders’ future drummer Jonathan Nichols-Pethick was in the Drydock audience that night and, liking what he heard, later joined the ’Lix, which segued into the band heard here).

Hear “1,000 Pounds of Rain” below! Buy it on Bandcamp! (The Boarders, below, from left: Doug Hubley, guitar and vocal. Jonathan Nichols-Pethick, drums. Gretchen Schaefer, bass. “1,000 Pounds of Rain” copyright © 1995 by Douglas L. Hubley. All rights reserved. “Peaches in the rain” photo by Doug Hubley. Boarders photo by Jeff Stanton.)






Sometimes it’s an anger-management problem when you manage it too well, and that’s the case in this ode to catharsis from 1987, inspired by the expression “buyer’s remorse.”

I wrote “Breaker’s Remorse” for the Fashion Jungle, which made the mold for this fast, sprawling and mean Lindy Hop. Yet, as one of my rare uptempo compositions, it lingered in the repertoire through the years of the Boarders (1994–96) and Howling Turbines, who recorded the version presented here during a rehearsal in 1998 or ’99.

Hear “Breaker’s Remorse” below! Buy it on Bandcamp! (Howling Turbines, below, from left: Ken Reynolds, drums. Gretchen Schaefer, bass. Doug Hubley, guitar and vocal. “Breaker’s Remorse” copyright © 2010 by Douglas L. Hubley. All rights reserved. Howling Turbines photo by Jeff Stanton.)





Slow sad songs constituted much of my output after I resumed songwriting, in 2010, after a 12-year layoff. So when I started this song, in 2016, it was time for something upbeat. Typically for me, “The Other Me” is still wordy, overly self-referential and wry — bordering on bleak, actually — but it has a good beat and you can dance to it. And if Hank Williams provided a spark of inspiration for the lyrics, things always go a bit better with a hint of the Monkees. (Or is it Stevie Wonder?)

I wrote most of the lyrics in the bar of the Samoset Resort, in Rockport, Maine, while Gretchen Schaefer, my partner in life and music, was showing her original mosaics at a craft fair there. Performing as Day for Night, we recorded this version at Quill, a coffee shop in Westbrook, Maine, in August 2018.

Hear “The Other Me” below! Buy it on Bandcamp! (“The Other Me” copyright © 2016 by Douglas L. Hubley. All rights reserved. Banner image by Doug Hubley. Day for Night image by Jeff Stanton. All rights reserved. )