Prickly Pear

Prickly Pear

I have been creating an eclectic variety of songs as of late, and with this one I even surprised myself. It now sounds like a bookend to Peace on the Path, another walking song, in my ears. I’ll probably try to slip this on my wife’s walking playlist, too, even in this pretty rough form!

The moral of the story is you can write a song about anything. I’m not sure the melody is particularly original, but sometimes that feels like it happens and sometimes it actually happens, I don’t think I can tell.

I’m falling behind in the BTR, I know, and I am anxious to catch up! There is always some extra special music to be had.

Prickly Pears by Steve Bancroft

I bought a big bag of prickly pears
In the grocery store for a $1.99
I could not recall ever eating one before
But right then they were looking mighty fine

It was a bargain by the pound
And perhaps I would miss out
On an exotic new taste sensation
And now I’d soon find out what it’s all about
Why it’s the rage of the nation

And so it was I was home all alone
Craving some afternoon snack
And there on the counter in the kitchen
Was that untouched paper sack

So I picked one up that was redder
As if I knew that was a sign it was ripe
And without another dally or a diddle
Proceeded to cut it down the middle

The skin is akin to a cactus or lizard green
But the inside was a lovely shade of dark pink
And the center had seeds like a cantaloupe
And not to be eaten was what I did think

Which left a thin layer of meat on the outside
So I sliced the skin off a small piece
That I felt pretty comfortable trying
And popped it seeds and all in my mouth to eat

It tasted OK, kind of bland, and the seeds
Were hard and slippery like a grape
So I sucked up the fruit and the seeds I spit out
Which was kind of a hassle, I must say

Now watermelons are no problem
But this was like pomegranates or wild grapes
So I decided to check on the internet
If there were more recommended ways

I watched a man prepare one on Youtube
He cut off the ends and a strip down one side
Then effortlessly peeled off the frog like skin
And cut himself a quarter inch slice

And the consensus was swallow the seeds, they are good for you
Contrary to what I had thought
But I had trouble imagining eating that way
All the prickly pears I had bought

And to this day they still sit on the counter
And I wonder how long they will last
Especially left at room temperature
Because I’ll probably not eat them very fast

Let the prickly pear be a metaphor
For things on shelves within life’s store
Odd and forgotten and easily ignored
That sneak up on you so quietly like bargains when you’re bored




In my opinion this song deserves a better arrangement and a better mix. As it stands, I can’t help but focus on a few annoying details that prevent me from really getting caught by the song and actually listen to it.

About the mix, what bothers me is mainly the drums, too low and sounding a bit tacky and repetitive, and the vocals, muddy and inconsistent.

About the song, it sounds a bit long to me, I stopped at the watermelon/grapes thing. :wink:

Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t hear a chorus, bridge or hook, which made it difficult for me not to get bored after a while.

Hope you can hear this as constructive criticism, as it was intended. The song does have a '60s British psychedelic rock touch to my ears (reminded me a bit of Syd Barrett), which could be interesting.



Thanks for the detailed criticisms, Lophophora, they are all very helpful.

As to the drums, I didn’t get too creative or attentive to them, so they do kind of do their own thing. They are kind of subdued, too. I could probably do a lot better on both aspects. There to me is an 80s dance beat going on, so the drums are central.

Since this is a story structure song ABCDEFG… with no chorus or bridge (ABCBDEB…F) it is important I am consistent on the vocals, and this version predates that version. But I think I could sing it better even in this basic arrangement. I am sure I could have phrased it to finish a lot faster or sped up the tempo, but what would be best is more meat to the music to sustain the length and not be so boring.

I can understand that. The early stuff from Floyd and Moody Blues and the Who and others had some really campy lyrics and sounds at times, before they were polished and symphonic. But the comparison to Syd even vaguely is very kind.

Oh, and as it turns out, prickly pears last about a week on the kitchen counter, although I’m not certain what an overripe prickly pear would look like.



Hi I was wondering why all the long spaces between the vocal melody line. There is potential here, but it did not hold my attention. The storyline is way out there IMHO. Sorry You do have a very pleasant voice.



I had this idea I could use that space for some catchy instrumental riffs, Paul, which I haven’t added yet because I haven’t figured it out or am confident I can perform or produce. I last added all that noodling but not doing enough musically. But that was my arrangement idea, to be a little unexpected.



Thank you for the reviews! For some reason, whenever I see your photo, I think of the Moody Blues, like one of the band members. Hopefully you take that as a compliment. Prickly Pears always remind me of Disney’s “The Jungle Book” (the original animated movie from the 60’s), with Baloo the bear eating those. By the way, since I am a notorious name-dropper, did I ever mention my wife’s grandfather doubled for Kirk Douglas in Disney’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” (from 1954), in the hardhat diving scenes? OK, now onto your song: I hope the lyrics are intentionally humorous, because I got a kick out of the lyrics. If it were me, I would add a bit of treble to the vocals, don’t ask me what frequency. At around 3:40, the vocal melodies get more catchy in my opinion. There is a good chance I have mentioned in the past your vocals remind me of Pink Floyd, but I can’t keep track of everyone with perfect precision. I like the tremolo effect guitar. What did you use for the synths, I like 'em, I like them y’all? I lived in Fort Worth for 3 years, so I am qualified to say that once in a while. Anyway, I found the song entertaining and it put a smile on my face. :slight_smile:



I always wanted to be the creature from the black lagoon or something of equally high caliber, but alas! no one in my family has any such claim to fame. My dad did meet Raymond Burr in the Air Force in Greenland, who went on to star in Godzilla. Now there’s a stretch.

I hope! It was a true story, though.

For the synths, I use three older synths- Sonik Synth 2, Alchemy and Korg M1. Sonik Synth 2 is probably inside Syntronik, it is 32 bit but has a lot of samples. The M1 has a big beautiful sound, not fancy. And Alchemy is now in Apple Garageband, I think. It has fewer sounds, I never owned all the modules, but they are fancier. I think this song was based on holding down a key for as long as you can and see where it goes. And layered I manage an illusion of something more powerful.



Thank you for replying! Since a person can only tolerate so much name-dropping, I am only bringing this up because you mentioned the Creature from the Black Lagoon. In 1956, a ‘Grade D’ sci-fi movie called “The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues” was released. The monster in the movie looked very much like the Creature from the Black Lagoon: was played by my wife’s grandmother in a rubber suit. My wife’s grandfather shot the underwater scenes with his movie camera in his own homemade underwater housing. Strangely enough, way before I met my wife, I made 3 different homemade underwater camera housings for a couple of different cameras. Anyway, my mother-in-law was in the movie for a few seconds as one of the victims of the sea monster. My wife’s grandmother used a primitive rebreather while playing the sea monster so a bunch of bubbles wouldn’t be coming out of the suit. It didn’t work well, and she almost died at one point. Anyway, the movie was very cheesy by today’s standards, and only worth watching for a few laughs because I knew some of the people involved. I have used the free version of Sample Tank in the past. It has a good female soprano sound I used in a few songs.

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