The Meteor Motel

  • Submitted on time! Jan 31, 2024
Meteor Shower at the Motel

I was traveling for work during the first week of this assignment and knew I was leaving again half-way through the second week, so I ended up writing the majority of this song while walking around with no instrument in hand. I remembered reading that Mitski often writes that way—melody and lyrics first, chords later. Much to my surprise, I found it extremely freeing. The first chunk of lyrics that showed up was “if you’re crying tired on the Million Dollar Highway” because I had just read about the Million Dollar Highway in Colorado, and I thought ‘crying tired’ was a nice phrase. From there, I found myself essentially writing an advertisement for “The Meteor Motel”—a janky little thing in rural Colorado that no one ever visits on purpose, but once they’re there, they learn its great secret—there’s a meteor shower every night. That became the chorus. Had a hoot writing the rest of the lyrics.

Would love to record this tune with a live band, so that’s the direction I took the demo in.


If you’re cryin’ tired

on the Million Dollar Highway,

or you’re broken down

at the Red Mountain Pass—

You got no money to spend

but you need yourself a bed?

Follow all the signs

for the Meteor Motel.


Hear that knock on the door—

Tell ya what we’ve got in store.

More than squeaking floors

More than beds with busted springs.


Nobody believes us,

But we swear to Jesus and the aliens

God sees ya.

And he’s winking through the stars.


Midsummer eve,

Fourth of July.

Say what you saw and all your friends’ll say you lie.


If you’re cryin’ tired

on the Million Dollar Highway,

or you’re broken down

at the Red Mountain Pass—

You got no money to spend

but you need yourself a bed?

Follow all the signs

for the Meteor Motel.

Don’t mind that light in the hall,

better not to see it all.

Make a deal with the dark. 

All the more to see the sky.


Nobody’ll tell ya,

Just where to turn to see the diamonds

Or the craters

Cause they’ll find you all the same.


Light on a string,

Cow on the moon.

Your face lit up like all the silver in a spoon.


I can’t say when

It’s happening

But once it does you swear you’ll never blink again.

Looking for feedback on

This song showed up more fully-formed than I expected—I'm looking for help tightening it up. Any ideas for edits?


Caleb February 25, 2024 7:12pm

wowza, really beautiful composition and lyricism. and thank you for that lil anecdote about how you (and mitski) approached this song with melody and lyrics first and then chords. i’m going to try that next time, i think that will help free up my melody writing.

i’ve really struggled to find cuts/edits here, but after like 5 listens i think the only thing that comes to mind is maybe find a way to end the piece after the (rightfully lauded in other comments) silver spoon & never blink again sections. I think you don’t need the chorus afterwards, that is such a special moment on its own.

I can’t say when it’s happening, but once it does you swear you’ll never blink again”

Boom, mic drop. Such a powerful line to end the tune imo. Almost teasing the audience to stop this song, and look to the skies so you don’t miss the meteor shower.

awesome tune

EliasSZ February 14, 2024 10:38am

Love the cut out of that first chorus. This tune is just such a pleasant experience. The way the arrangement swells into fleshed out sections always feels so rewarding.

If I had to say anything, I feel like I need a little bit more growth towards the end in that last chorus – someone mentioned horns, I could even just see a larger vocal arrangement swelling up. Great tune!

danhunt February 10, 2024 7:14pm

Hell yeah, Ry! This feels at first tongue-in-cheek, but behind that is truly an all-around beautiful piece.

I love the little chromatic twiddles in the guitar interlude solo melody that give this a more Western feel.

I’m terms of arrangement, because I’m a silly, exuberant guitarist, I’d wonder about grabbing a slide and a delay pedal and using those to create the sound painting of the meteor shower happening. And I’m definitely feeling the entrance of a horn section towards the end that mirrors the choral vocal melody and gives a real powerful uplift at the end. Inspiring job!

Tengo February 9, 2024 5:56pm

Friggin yes to starting with a chorus

Friggin yes to a lovely live arrangement that I’d love to play on someday

Friggin yes to SPACE imagery.

Friggin NO to the fact that we still haven’t watched Interstellar together. When that happens, let’s throw this puppy on while we’re cooking popcorn before the movie.

Congrats on another beaut!

Ryan February 9, 2024 6:03pm

Um ok come over

nurphgun February 8, 2024 10:50pm

Lovely. Like @@bogfoxmy favorite part is “light on a string/cow on the moon/your face lit up like all the silver in a spoon” – what a special line. I’m not envisioning tattoos though, more like a childrens’ bedtime book illustrated in really cozy, comforting pastels. On that note, this is so lovely, and I think tightening it up is actually a great idea, because I’m really feeling it more as a lullaby rather than a ballad. It’s comforting & sweet, but it also takes you on a journey and immerses you in somewhere that’s clearly not your bedroom, which is the best way to fall asleep. It reminds me of Goodnight Moon and Headspace’s “sleep stories”, and there is a nice dose of childlike wonder in there. Would you ever consider making a short version that’s only the second “if you’re crying tired” to the end? I think that would be such a sweet lullaby.

Ryan February 9, 2024 6:02pm

I could totally picture a lullaby version of this haha that’s super fun. I do want it to work as a full song, though. If I may pick your brain a bit, what do you think is missing right now that would justify its being full length? More tension? More pep? Pulling on what’s interesting about the harmony a bit more? As I’m typing these, I’m realizing I could go for all of ’em hah.

bogfox February 8, 2024 2:10pm

The Light on a string / Cow on the moon / Your face lit up like all the silver in a spoon moment has been stuck in my head for days now. Good god i don’t have any tattoos and really didn’t plan on starting with sentimental cursive lyrics, but those lines make me want to throw that thought right in the garbage.

Hope this finds its way alongside a few other likeminded songs. I really love this side of you.

Ryan February 9, 2024 6:00pm


alechutson February 7, 2024 8:42pm

Calm, welcoming vibe to this song. Definitely works well as an advert for a motel as well as a track that occasionally graces the speakers of the motel bar. Really nicely done, you’re always great at setting a mood with your songs

Ryan February 9, 2024 6:00pm

Thank you, sir!

juliapiker February 6, 2024 3:08pm

This is why we come to you for lyrical advice. You are truly a poet and it shows up so well in your music. I agree with Benny- there is a confidence in your writing that really comes through in this track. In terms of tightening it up I don’t see any tightening needed here. I think that if anything I would love to hear your vocal more upfront and dryer. Because the lyrics are so intimate- It makes me wonder if your vocal was a little less behind the sonic wall of your instruments. Just a thought !

Ryan February 6, 2024 10:08pm

Yeah honestly I think the vocal is a bit buried. I mixed this in about 20 minutes. I gotta find a place for the piano to peek out, as well. Those frequencies are buried. ‘Preciate the words on the lyrics!

troods February 6, 2024 12:08pm

Love!! Was adding my own harmonies within the first 30 seconds. This has got some Billy Bragg/Wilco vibes and I’m all about it. If you ever want some live backup vocs when you take this one on tour, I know a gal 🙂

Funny that you say this sprung up fully formed in your head, because it feels like it’s always lived in mine!

Ryan February 6, 2024 10:10pm

Ah, good! Was thinking of Wilco as a reference while writing it! And yes, I want to have a bunch of background vocals on my next record and would love for you to be one of the voices!!

nick February 5, 2024 4:40pm

fun. friggin fun. “Your face lit up like all the silver in a spoon.” get outta here, that’s great. the melody on “or you’re broken down” is written and sung deliciously. and yeah i dig the whole thing. only thoughts are around the … oh wait also that knock on the door is hilarious. ok where was i—thoughts about the solo section. for one, I think the first one shouldn’t lose so much momentum by removing the drum elements/volume. let’s keep this thing cookin! maybe ride? more tambo? i do like the idea of the second solo having the drums drop out, though. and then i’d like to hear a change in the section first heard at 2:07-2:13. first thought was doing something with the solo, but i may just want a little more tension or progression with the chords. it just seems to get the slightest bit flat there for me with the quick return to the root chord. ok, well done cowboy.

nick February 5, 2024 4:43pm

oh and 2:57 bass line into drum fill is double a-ok hands

Ryan February 7, 2024 1:59pm

Thanks, brother! Yeah that drum part got way too tucked in the first interlude haha whoops.

Interesting, 2:07 – 2:13 isn’t the root chord, it’s actually two new chords that haven’t shown up in the song yet! But your observation proves I need to bring out what’s new about that harmony. I’ll work on that.

Ben February 5, 2024 12:57pm

There’s something so confident about this song—it knows exactly what it is and what it needs to be. The lyrics made me think of Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City. And like a Wes Anderson scene, everything just clicks into place with this and feels ‘right.’ But also, there’s enough to keep you interested. The chord on “highway” at 1:37 is unexpected and makes you lean into it. And those accidentals in the solo—excellent.

Ryan February 7, 2024 2:00pm

Thanks, Benny! Yeah I loved finding that chord on ‘highway’. Not a typical move for me, felt good.

Ben February 4, 2024 9:13pm

Jesus and the aliens.

Hey man, I love this. I think you’ve ordinary yourself once again. I seriously might have a new fav! Nice soloing over some very nice chords.

Here’s to ncbc work travels.

I feel like I have a similar chord in my song this week. Wondering if you know which!

More from me later when I’m on my desktop computer!

Ryan February 7, 2024 2:01pm

Thanks, brother! Seocnd chord in your “OOwhoa” section, yeah? Tasty stuff.

nurphgun February 8, 2024 10:28pm

“Jesus and the aliens” is everything

stonewindow February 19, 2024 5:40pm

Love this Ryan. Chorus is so catchy. Love the guitar licks. Wow. Maybe an lg tune around the fire.