Home Music Articles Forums Blog Chat More...      

When You Left

Get Flash to see this player.

This is the oldest song in my repertoire. I wrote it when I was 16, following the death of my sister, Toni. The song art, "Watch," is by a friend of mine, James Neff, who died a few years ago after falling on stone steps in his backyard, a rather freak and tragic accident. I thought they went together well.

I started with the two track mix, voice and guitar played together, trying to capture a live performance feel with the mic. TheTiler added some acoustic guitar riffs, and I thank him, but I ended up deciding that they didn't really go with the original picking pattern so I began to replace them with understated organ. One thing led to another, and this is where it led.

I decided to post this because of a very nice email I received from ledebutant. Music for healing. Thank you, Lisa.

This track was remastered and appears on my 2007 release, A Bit Of Light, available through CDBaby.
Leave a Comment
You must be registered and logged-in to comment.
When you left
the clock erased your voice
in time now tilted and tumbled 'round.

When you left
I doted 'long the wall
unconscious of the world around me in fall.

And when you left
my heart fluttered no more like a bird
my hands knew no warmth, my mind knew no words
a sudden fear began to swell up in my chest
swell with emptiness...

When you left I lost all feeling,
the room collapsed atop of me.

...my heart flutters no more like a bird
my hands know no warmth, my mind knows no words
a sudden fear...

When you left I lost all feeling,
this room collapsed atop of me.
Song Stats
Hits: 7197
Comments: 38
Fans: 15
Plays: 504
Downloads: 275
Votes: 28
Uploaded: Jul 24, 2005 - 09:33:45 PM
Last Updated: Jan 23, 2009 - 07:30:48 AM Last Played: Jan 12, 2019 - 02:00:45 PM
Song License
Creative Commons License:

Creative Commons

Song Actions
share on facebook share on twitter download song
GB and AMG expansion organs and electric pianos
Roland JV-1080 nylon guitar
Roland A-90ex controller
Mackie mixer; EV mics
GB 2
said 5166 days ago (July 24th, 2005)
very heartfelt song, I like the vocals they lend to the
sensitivity of the subject nicely, a great song for the greiving
people go through,,,
the keyboards sound great, hard to do when you its coupled
with one acoustic guitar, nice song :)
TobinMueller said 5165 days ago (July 25th, 2005)
Thanks Tom. I always felt like I had a cowboy voice, and I conceived this as a
folk song sung in a cowboy fashion. The organs added a new dimension. I used
12 different keyboard settings for the organ and ele piano, to give it movement.
Thanks for noticing everything.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
said 5165 days ago (July 24th, 2005)
It's hard to comment
on such a personal song. I can only say thanks for sharing
TobinMueller said 5165 days ago (July 25th, 2005)
It's hard to comment
I know what you mean. You're welcome. This is a hard song to sing sometimes,
too. But the holes left behind, I guard them, and remembering is important,
feels like the right thing to do while I'm singing it, the right way to remember.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
EdensEve said 5165 days ago (July 25th, 2005)
Devastatingly beautiful
Devastatingly beautiful. The organ flows around the guitar
like memories, happy and biitersweet, like the song of birds.
That one sustained not toward the end is so tragic. An
amazing tearful song. I had to listen many times, the song
clung to me like a magnet pulling things from deep inside.
TobinMueller said 5165 days ago (July 25th, 2005)
Devastatingly beautiful
Thanks for mentioning that last note. And the flute organ that flutters about like
a bird without, I hope, ever seeming trite. The high overtone whine on that last
organ note has a devastating effect on me too, like it is the searing edge of loss
always just on the edge of thought. Thanks you for your careful listenings.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Jim Bouchard said 5165 days ago (July 25th, 2005)
Thanks for posting this...it's something that really relate to right now.
Check out my latest song called Big Yawn (Apogee One mic demo)
perceptualvortex said 5165 days ago (July 25th, 2005)
So honest and beautiful, reminds me so strongly of the people that have left my life. Haven't experienced such an emotional impact from a song in a long, long time.
Check out my latest song called Mercury (RPM 6)
Peter Greenstone said 5165 days ago (July 25th, 2005)
Very moving lyrics and melody, Tobin. The organ has some
strange frequencies to it that at first seemed a little piecring
to my ears but then became something that added an eerie
tone like a ringing deafness after an explosion that seemed a
perfect metaphor for the emotional devastation of that loss.
Like floating peacefully in the smoldering aftermath.

Thanks for sharing this one.
Check out my latest song called Iridium Flare (2013 Re-Release)
TobinMueller said 5164 days ago (July 26th, 2005)
Thanks for the careful ears and patience to get what I was doing. I spent some
time tweaking the organ sounds to get a mixture of what I thought would work
well for the song. You're right on in your analysis. I tried to get at the thinning of
ones soul that happens at such moments, the timeless stringing out of thought,
the suspension of action. Thanks for noticing.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
futzpucker said 5165 days ago (July 25th, 2005)
Deeply felt
The arrangement of this song is spectacular. It supports
the lyric with perfect finesse. The keyboard sounds and
voicings set a mood of beautiful sadness and love. Your
vocal underscores the pain and confusion you must have
felt at the time. This song is another masterpiece, Tobin,
and written by a sixteen year-old? Wow...

As close as I am to my brother and sister, I don't even like
to contemplate losing one of them. I'm comforted on your
behalf knowing you have music to help you heal from
such a tragedy. This song is a great tool for dealing with
pain, and for remembering the love of your sister, which,
of course, cannot die. Thank you for being so open, which
serves us as well as it serves you.
Check out my latest song called Just As It Is
TobinMueller said 5164 days ago (July 26th, 2005)
Deeply felt
Thanks, Patrick. If there was one saint in my life, it was my sister. She is forever
19 in my mind, always in a place of anticipation and discovery, always just
beginning life. Altho she the disease that took her life she contracted at the age
of 12, she was never "dying." She lived until she couldn't anymore. She taught
me music theory at the piano, gave me my first guitar lessons, and told me to
learn "River" my Joni Mitchell on her deathbed. Her inspiration has never left me.
Thanks for your thoughtful remarks.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Ed Hannifin said 5165 days ago (July 25th, 2005)
I have enjoyed a number of your pieces, from a number of
different places within myself. I have enjoyed the sounds
you use, your obvious facility with instruments, especially
keyboards, your feel for melody and harmony, and your
gift for arranging. I have always given them their due in
terms of "points" and "ratings", even though they were not
always what I would seek out to listen if left completely to
my own devices.

The breakthrough piece for me, just this past week, was
What Thou Lovest Well, which has a great deal of heart
and lyrics that I love. Even so, I was aware that I was more
moved and enjoying the Packosmokes vocal than the
background vocal that I have assumed is you.

That being said, this is a tune where it all came together
for me, and your work, and honestly, it left me crying.
Everything works for me. The lyrics are moving, from the
heart, sophisticated...and they are driven by where they
want to go, not by a need to repeat or take a particular
form...this is in the mode of a "setting" of a poem to
music--the lyrics could stand on their own as a poem--
and it is a song that could go either way...you could
perform this is in a church with a chorus and a big sound,
or you could sing this with a guitar in your lap...

Your vocal is perfect for this, simple, ungarnished,

I can tell it was played on keyboards, but it is the kind of
song a guitar player and a folksinger can relate to.

Hard to even write about the "facets" of this work, for me,
'cause I'm sitting here still very moved...


Check out my latest song called Chime (Alone) (Inspired by Particle Dots)
TobinMueller said 5164 days ago (July 26th, 2005)
Thank you for not only taking great care to listen to this and imagine it in
different settings, but in wading thru my posted songs and giving many others a
listen. I enjoy your comments. Yes, the guitar is from a Roland JV-1080, the
nylon string patch with layered fret noises. It initially inspired me to put this
song down. I used to play acoustic guitar but my fingers are too soft now
(arthritis doesn't help) and time became too limited over the years to keep it up.
(And the Roland is so much easier to tune!) Used to play sax too. Keeping up on
one instrument is hard enough. Thanks again for your thoughtful comments.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Tom Atwood said 5165 days ago (July 25th, 2005)
The shift into present tense
is what really got me in this fine, sorrowful piece. That
shift ("my heart flutters...my hands know no warmth...")
links you with the 16-year-old who wrote this, who is still
a brother, still grieving, still creating, still living.

Check out my latest song called Vanishing Pezzicato
TobinMueller said 5164 days ago (July 26th, 2005)
The shift into present tense
Thanks for noticing the tense change. To me, it is the most emotional moment
of the song, from a performance point of view, when I flip into present tense. I
was hoping you'd like that part.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Del said 5165 days ago (July 25th, 2005)
Your words still bleed
I am used to you writing rather complex songs, but this one
stuns with its simplicity. Like your masterpiece "Dreams".
The synths at the beginning are like whispers, and Peter is
right, the high harmonics in that unique ghostly organ sound
you get is like ringing in the ears after sudden shock. The
entire arrangement has such power and control, but your
words and voice remind us how little control we have over
life and death. Awe. You are able to open yourself so
completely. Exceedingly well done.
Check out my latest song called The Androgyne
TobinMueller said 5164 days ago (July 26th, 2005)
Your words still bleed
Thanks, Del. I really appreciate how closely you listen. Thanks for your kind
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
ledebutant said 5165 days ago (July 25th, 2005)
I'm staring at this box
and I have to tell you how you made me feel, but I can't because nothing goes together. I'm in tears, but I'm overjoyed, I feel loss, but I also feel really alive and deeply connected to another person. Thank you so much for posting this song.

Honestly, I don't know if I will ever hear another piece of music again in my whole life that will make me feel like this. Raw grief, closure and gratitude for life all at once.

It goes without saying that this is masterful, Tobin, I agree with what has been already been said about that eerie top note that just dies. What I think makes this work most of all is, as Tom said, that your 16 year old self is present here. Some of the lyrics, especially "I doted along the wall," are the kinds of things that get schooled out of adults, but it's just a perfect lyric.

I'm blathering because I'm feeling more than I know how to express. Just thank you. That's what I want to say most of all.
TobinMueller said 5164 days ago (July 26th, 2005)
I'm staring at this box
Thank you very much for sharing your reaction, your own emotions. After my
sister died, that evening, a friend came over and made me go for a walk. He was
an energetic fellow and jumped on a fence, tightrope walking along the top. I
stayed on the ground, but smiled up at him for his life and friendship. I often
think of that moment when doting along new walls. Separations, compartments,
decisions, standing amid ruins but not seeing beyond the one one left standing;
everything at once. Thank you for inadvertently encouraging me to post this.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
mandolinquent said 5164 days ago (July 26th, 2005)
A beautiful song...
... and I'm with Edenseve on the ending - which never
quite resolves. It's like you're still asking questions about
what happened. The organ part is really wonderful; such
good choices there to deepen the song even further.
Check out my latest song called Fair Jenny's Jig and Matthew Briggs
jgurner said 5164 days ago (July 26th, 2005)
This is beautiful
Thanks for sharing something so lovely and emotional.
Check out my latest song called Mr. Moon (Woodstock50)
Emily Rohm said 5164 days ago (July 26th, 2005)
What can I say...
When I listened all the way through, I thought: Wow, that
was a pretty song. But then I read the words alone and
that really hit me. I was flooded with tears and felt that
feeling of the room getting smaller... I've felt that feeling
of deep loss like that too many times. Not that anyonce
has the right to say "I know exactly how you feel/felt",
because everyone grieves differently, but reading the
words remided me of those feelings during times of loss
of staring at the ceiling talking to no one but still hoping
someone somewhere would hear. Those intense feelings
of grief are suspended in time. I'm usually very
consevative when it comes to showing emotion or
weakness, but I had to share my appreciation for your
poetry on this one. You captured quite a moment. Thanks.
Check out my latest song called Monica's Waltz
seabs said 5163 days ago (July 27th, 2005)
nice and easy song cool

Check out my latest song called forest orchestra
alley-oop said 5163 days ago (July 27th, 2005)
Oh man,
what a sad song. The broken heart. The loss. A sorrow that always stays, somewhere beneath the trappings of everyday life. I respect your courage to share this. And respect the dignity and strength it takes to sing of great loss so beautifully. Your vocal phrasing and cadence flow so well, allowing the listener to hear your words. Let their own emotion well up by your words.
That's my lesson from you today Tobin. Singing of one's personal sorrow slightly removed. Obviously, if you let your complete feelings out you'd never make it through the song. Because you sing with courage you allow the listener be washed in feelings, their own and yours.
Check out my latest song called rain
TobinMueller said 5160 days ago (July 30th, 2005)
Oh man,
Thanks for the perfect comments. I really appreciate them. Yes, this event
changed my life, and Toni was the main "audience" in my head for probably 20
years, for everything I wrote, music and books. Trying to please, to live up to, to
justify. Sorrow stays, as part of the process to hold on and not forget, but it
brings strength too, in feelings of meaningfulness and loyalties. I know you
know what I mean.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
thoddi said 5162 days ago (July 28th, 2005)
From where does it all come...
If you where only 16 writing this I'm thinking...he must
have this experienced knowledge of words and music with
him from a past life. It isn't many young boys who could
make something so suttle and beutiful like this. Both
lyrics and music fits so well to the feeling you must have
had a the time. Loosing our near one's makes us see life
in a different perspective than we usually do in our
everyday lifes.

I think your recording of this song now is well suited to
the song. You have somewhat a theatrical (in a positive
way) or dramatic mood and quality over the things you do.

If I should give some thoughts on how I think it also could
be done, I would have chosen an even more naked
instrumentation I guess. A very honest an direct guitar
and maybe, maybe a moodsetting dreamy string
arrangement in the background.

This goes in the favorite box.

Thanks for sharing Tobin:)
Check out my latest song called How can I make it up to you
TobinMueller said 5160 days ago (July 30th, 2005)
From where does it all come...
One of the things Toni brought into my life was poetry. When I was 13, she gave
me The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. Then a collection by Rod McKuen, a favorite of
the 60s generation. She kept a notebook of poems with her that she would add
to, hundreds, handwritten whenever she would discover a new favorite; and
lyrics too, especially Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Gordon Lightfoot. I began writing
poetry at 14, then discovered ee cummings and others. I wrote my first play at
15, produced by my high school. So I was already playing with words. But this
was a special one (that's why I've have forgotten my other early songs) for a
special moment. Thanks for your kind and caring comments.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
ziti said 5161 days ago (July 29th, 2005)
thanks tobin
you've expressed some deep and universal feelings here.

Check out my latest song called The Viconian Cyclist
Suzanne said 5161 days ago (July 29th, 2005)
such beauty pain can become
i love it when you play this song on the piano best, alone in the livingroom. its always a startling feeling when you share such personal statements with the outside world, i always get a little jealous. but the organs you have layered and the guitar part are a beaufitul setting. such beauty pain can become.
Check out my latest song called Rock The Baby With Voodoo (w/Tobin)
TobinMueller said 5160 days ago (July 30th, 2005)
such beauty pain can become
There's a great song by Shawn Colvin that has the line, "At least I got a song out
of it," about the hurt of a failed relationship. Such terrible yet true consolation.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
MasonJamirez said 5161 days ago (July 29th, 2005)
Nice Counterpoint and Harmonic Movement
Beautiful lyrics, melodic flow, and harmonic content. Also
perfect modulation about 3/4 through, and then back
again. Key changes are among the most intereseting
aspects, to my ear, in song structure and development.
For some reason I take an interest in them. Your
modulation was really natural, and almost surprising at
the same time.

Perhaps it is just in my opinion, but I did not care for the
high pitched whistle sounding effect in the beginning.
Anyway, it wasn't all that offensive, and the tune was still
beautiful, the lyrics clearly stated, and what a difficult
topic to tackle.

My heart goes out to you, and thank you for sharing.
Check out my latest song called Flunked Up
Myshkin said 5158 days ago (August 1st, 2005)
What can I say...

This is superb. Love the line, "this room collapsed atop of me". It's something you can only write if you've experienced it.
Check out my latest song called Plumb Locomotion
TobinMueller said 3887 days ago (January 23rd, 2009)
room collapsed
Thanks. The "bird" and the "romm collapsed" lines are my two favorites. Both lived, yes.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
thetiler said 5156 days ago (August 3rd, 2005)
Nice tune
This really is a very nice tune.

Check out my latest song called They Went Underground
jiguma said 5153 days ago (August 6th, 2005)
Missed this
Tobin, not sure why, but missed this when it was posted.
What a beautiful piece of music. The lyrics and melody fit
beautifully with the nylon strings and the keyboard. It
must have been a tough time as a 16 year old.

Check out my latest song called Closing Down
prof_parent said 4638 days ago (January 3rd, 2007)
Late to the party but...
I enjoyed hearing this today. I'm always interested in what people are doing with Rolands and their ilk. Beautiful melody and lyrics. Thank you.
said 4272 days ago (January 4th, 2008)
When You Left

Thanks Tobin,
Artist Info
artist photo
Name: Tobin Mueller
Location: Rowayton CT USA
send a note
I am a professional musician, composer, playwright and director. I've led a charmed life. I'm married to fellow MJer Suzanne and MJer Twonicus is my son, who currently sings and writes for rock bands in the NYC, D.C. and Cleveland areas. My second s... [see more]

Check out some of my other songs:

Who's Online
Invisible Members: 0
Visitors: 63