My song "Sycamore Tree," from the album Stop, Drop, and Roll, began with a beat played on the dining room table and grew into a complex story song—and ultimately one of my most requested songs at concerts.
I'm often asked about the back story of "Sycamore Tree" so am happy that it was just featured on the podcast Tell Me About Your Song, hosted by singer-songwriter Jacob Haller. This nearly half-hour episode digs deeply into the writing, performing, and complex personal meanings behind the song. Listen to the episode (or read a transcript) here; you can also download it for free on iTunes. Here's the studio version, featuring Josh Dekaney on drums/percussion.

And one live version with the JPR band—Josh plus Wendy Ramsay on harmony vocals. Plus a photo of the specific tree that inspired the song...

The lyrics

Sycamore sycamore sycamore tree Sprouted from a tiny seed Did someone plant you there for me Sycamore sycamore tree? On a soft and sunny afternoon My parents bring me home and soon They tie a bunch of blue balloons Right around the sycamore tree The grass tickles on my feet When I’m rocking in my bouncy seat The summer breezes smell so sweet Blowing by the sycamore tree I stand right up and fall back down And search for treasures on the ground Like the fuzzy seeds lying all around Underneath the sycamore tree We roll a snowman up so big And on his head we make a wig With a pile of knobby little twigs Fallen from the sycamore tree Sycamore sycamore sycamore tree Sheltering a family Did someone plant you there for me Sycamore sycamore tree? I can see the tree right from my bed All bony smooth where the bark has shed The leaves are as big as a daddy’s head Wise old sycamore tree In our front yard I kick the ball But now that space is getting small Some weeks I don’t go out at all To run by the sycamore tree I’m off to high school and one day To a leafy college far away But in my dreams I still play In the shade of the sycamore tree I move to the city, and then in time My parents long for more sunshine I hate to see that “For Sale” sign On the corner by the sycamore tree Sycamore sycamore sycamore tree, Forever in my memory Did someone plant you there for me Sycamore sycamore tree? I’m a husband now and a father too We drive for miles to catch a view Of the shady place where I grew Loving that sycamore tree There’s a red-haired girl with a lemonade stand I put three quarters in her hand So many footprints are on this land Remembered by the sycamore tree I sip the juice and the memories My little boy is on his knees Stuffing pockets full of fuzzy seeds Children of the sycamore tree Each seed is a promise that if you try If your roots dig deep And your trunk stands high Your leaves will stretch and taste the sky Growing like a sycamore tree


Behind the song The Complete Singer-Songwriter