Memories Of The Road

May 23, 2019 § 2 Comments

In an earlier life, I spent some time working in radio in television. That career took me from the coast of Washington to both sides of Montana, from the Black Hills of South Dakota to the Acadiana region of Louisiana and, finally, to the northern part of Alabama.

I once thought I would one day write a memoir of my life in small-market radio and television. I even had the title picked out.

The book, had it come about, was to be titled “Life In A One Camera Town,” a reference to my first television job, in Miles City, Montana. The station was notable at the time for being the smallest television market in America.

The title for the memoir that never was came from the fact that the station owner, when he first went on the air, in the late 1960s, would set up a camera on a street corner in downtown Miles City, then broadcast what he filmed without editing the footage. When I worked at the station, the owner still took the same approach with regard to commercials – no editing.

As a result, a 30-second commercial could run close to a minute, which made coming in and out of local breaks during network programs a challenge in terms of timing. The owner also had a strict policy of not covering or reporting bad news. The only bad news we reported during my time there concerned a hotel fire that occurred while the owner and his wife were out of town.

In small-market television, the only way for most people to advance (or at least the only way I was aware of), either in terms of responsibility or income, is to move to a larger market. Not counting changing jobs in the same market (or my first radio job after which there was a three-year gap), I moved seven times during a ten-year career, once from television back to radio.

Those moves and the places I lived were the inspiration for today’s entry, an uptempo country-folk tune. I hope you enjoy it.

Traveling Man

Well, I loaded up the U-Haul, and I left to make my name
Never found the fortune; never found the fame
Never got too close, I never stayed too long
Always one more town ahead where I just might belong

REFRAIN
Those wheels keep on rolling, and the miles slip behind
The last town I left a distant memory in my mind
Each place I stop, I think I might make my stand
But I was born to be a traveling man

From the mountains of Montana to the Gulf of Mexico
The California desert to the land of Zydeco
Every place I went, it wasn’t long before
I’d get into my car and drive, drawn by the engine’s roar

REFRAIN

INSTRUMENTAL

BRIDGE
From the hills of South Dakota to the heart of Dixieland
I went where the road led, nothing really planned
Always headed off someplace I’d never been before
The road, an invitation, just like an open door . . . and

REFRAIN

Yes, I was born to be a traveling man
You know I was born to be a traveling man

© 2019 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

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Bringing The Past Into The Present

May 21, 2019 § Leave a comment

Over the last several months, I’ve found myself writing a lot of lyrics that are either based on the past or that draw on childhood memories. One such song, “Boys From The Base,” (shared here) drew on the memories of my mother’s time as a waitress and cocktail waitress in Rosamond, California, a small city located west of Edwards Air Force Base.

Today’s entry was also inspired by memories of my mother, a strong woman who endured spousal abuse before spousal abuse had a name. Her second marriage, which began and ended before I reached my teens, was an especially volatile one, featuring routine violence and threats of violence, along with the obligatory yelling and name-calling.

The subject is not a pretty one, and the songs that come from such a subject are not likely to be pretty. I’ve tried to focus at least as much on her inner strength as I have on his lack of it, and I hope I’ve succeeded. Let me know what you think.

Above The Fray

He raises his hand, she lowers her eyes
And then lifts her spirit up to the skies
He’s thinks he’s in charge, but he cannot see
Her heart is elsewhere, she’s already free

REFRAIN
Deep inside, there ‘s a place that he cannot touch
Where she safely keeps tucked away
The love he can’t reach, the heart he’ll never hold
Protected, well above the fray

He yells out her name for the hundredth time
Like she was guilty of committing a crime
And though he believes that he’s in control
She knows that he’ll never capture her soul

BRIDGE
She’s looking for love, he’s looking for power
He raises his voice in hopes that she’ll cower
But she’s come too far to let him win now
She won’t give up or give in

REFRAIN

© 2019 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Feeling A Little Philosophical

May 19, 2019 § 1 Comment

It’s been a few days since my last post. My apologies. Today’s entry finds me getting a bit philosophical about time and what is and is not in our control.

I’ve been listening to John Gorka all morning, and as I’m looking back over my lyrics, I’m imagining them being sung by him or in a vocal style similar to his.

The verse structure is a little different, I think. The first four lines sort of flow together, then the fifth line sort of tags on like a closing statement in each verse.

As always, let me know what you think. Enjoy.

Back Around The Sun

I can’t look into the future
I can’t think about the past
Whatever’s in between is all I have
Like something fleeting in a photograph
Out of focus, almost out of frame

Every day’s another struggle
To do better than the last
I can’t measure life by victories won
Every day’s another one and done
No two are ever quite the same

REFRAIN
The days they come, the days they go
Where they’re headed, no one can know
Somewhere into the great beyond
There, to circle back around the sun

I don’t ask about tomorrow
I won’t relive yesterday
Today’s the only thing I can control
The rest just disappears into a hole
Not mine to see or to understand

BRIDGE
Time is just a construct of the mind
One moment here, the next one gone
Who’s to say that what we leave behind
Isn’t waiting up ahead to help us carry on

Every night’s another mystery
When the light has gone away
Find ourselves on the dark side of the sun
Real and imagined, they both seem as one
Looking for the promise in the Promised Land

REFRAIN

© 2019 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Feeling My Leonard Cohen

May 14, 2019 § Leave a comment

I just recently wrapped up three years of voice lessons. One of the things my voice teacher wanted me to do was to use my lower register (as well as my “head voice”) more.

One of the times we talked about using the lower portion of my vocal range was after singing Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” at the end of a lesson. He sings the song so low that I sung it up an octave in order to hit the notes.

My teacher lamented that doing so took me away from some of my lower capacity, though I am not able to sing quite as low as Cohen could later in his life.

I was recently listening to that song again, still trying unsuccessfully to hit those really low notes. Afterward, I was inspired to try to write a song of a similar vein, keeping the melody toward the lower end of my vocal range, though not as low as Cohen’s melody.

The lyrics are of a similar theme and seem to fit with some of the current discourse going on in America. As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.

The Game

One born white, one born black
One born rich, the other poor
One has all, one has nothing
Yet the one with all is wanting more
Right from the beginning
It’s always been the same
Someone’s always trying to rig the game

One is privileged, one is not
One succeeds while one can’t rise
One knows how to take advantage
One can’t break through all the lies
It’s either who you know
Or just your daddy’s name
That helps you get ahead to win the game

REFRAIN
The game is always played by different rules
Whether you live with the angels or the fools
Roll of the dice, turn of a card
Determines whether life is easy or if it’s hard

One born with a silver spoon
One born with no spoon at all
One is given the advantage
One dreams of the other’s fall
One walks among the gods
One stuck among the lame
Some always have an edge playing the game

REFRAIN

One is healthy, one is sick
One grows old while one dies young
Is there someone keeping score
When the final bell is rung
When the curtain falls
Will you be glad you came
No choice but for you to play the game

© 2019 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

In A Boozy State Of Mind

May 9, 2019 § 2 Comments

It’s early May and it seems every plant and its offspring is in full bloom around here. My sinuses have me wishing I had purchased stock in any or all of the companies that make and sell tissues, and my eyes itch so badly there is the temptation to take a spoon and gouge them out.

All of that made today’s entry seem like a no-brainer. I wrote this while my wife and I were at a songwriters’ showcase, in which we were one of the four performing acts. She has been battling some kind of cold (or whatever it is) for a little over a month.

While we were at the showcase, my wife complained about having a sore throat, and I told her that what she needed was a shot of whiskey. Although she settled for some hot tea, the shot of whiskey idea stuck in my head

Within a few minutes, I had started writing the lyrics I post below. The rhythm is sort of a steady blues-rock beat and follows a verse-refrain-verse-refrain-bridge-verse-refrain structure. Let me know what you think.

A Shot Or Two Of Whiskey

Woke up with a sore throat, the hot tea did no good
Took a shot of whiskey, worked like I knew it would
Then I took another shot, I wanted to make sure
A shot of two of whiskey, that’s the perfect cure

REFRAIN
Every time –
Every time-
A shot or two of whiskey gets me feeling fine

Woke up with a headache, aspirin didn’t do a thing
Took a shot of whiskey, I felt just like a king
Then I took another shot to keep the pain away
Before I knew it, Tuesday became Saturday

REFRAIN

BRIDGE
One shot leads to another
Then the war breaks out in my mind
Should I stop or keep going to discover
What new states of consciousness I can find?

INSTRUMENTAL

Woke up feeling tired, the coffee wore off quick
Took a shot of whiskey, you know that did the trick
So I took another shot, then another two or three
A couple shots of whiskey (or more) always works for me

REFRAIN

© 2019 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Feeling A Bit Novel

May 6, 2019 § Leave a comment

Every now and then, I have people (including my wife) tell me I should write a funny song. Anyone who has ever tried to do so knows it is much easier said than done.

My humor tends to be reactionary, in that I react and respond to things other people say or do or to things I see at that moment. That type of humor doesn’t really lend itself to sitting down to write a humorous song.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t tried to do just that on occasion. Today’s entry is another such attempt.

I was going to bed for the night when the opening line came into my head. I tried to ignore it since I was tired, but it persisted to the point that I had to get up and write it down.

I ended up staying up until I had finished an initial draft of the lyrics. Whether I succeeded it writing something humorous I’ll let you decide. I will say that one line in the song is based on actual personal experience, but the rest is purely the product of my imagination.

4:20 On 4/20 (High As A Kite)

I was in the record store
In the section labeled “rock”
When I saw her standing next to me
Just staring at the clock
4:20 on 4/20
She looked and caught my eye
Gave a knowing smile and said
“Hey, wanna get high?”

She took me back to her place
And we smoked a joint or two
Made love on a waterbed
From 1992
Then we split a pizza
And smoked a little more
She had my head spinning
By the time I hit the door

REFRAIN
I was high as a kite
But I was feeling alright
Not even dark
Already one hell of a night
This was turning into
The best day I had seen —
Until I ran that red light
And then, stopped at a green

Well, the cop who pulled me over
Simply stood and shook his head
He stared at me a moment
And then, he finally said
“I don’t know if you’re stupid,
Drunk, or simply colorblind
But I think you’d better come with me
And leave your car behind”

BRIDGE
I tried to tell him ’bout the girl
And ’bout her waterbed
But I could tell he wasn’t listening
To a word I said
I asked if I could smoke
And said that I would gladly share
The last thing I remember —
The sweet smell that filled the air

The moral of this story
Is simple, but it’s true
It’s better to do as I say
And not as I do
If you’re gonna smoke a joint
Maybe think twice, then stop
But if you’re gonna light up
Don’t do it near a cop

REFRAIN

© 2019 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Getting in-Animated

May 4, 2019 § Leave a comment

In my previous post, I shared some lyrics for a song inspired by an old rag my wife was using to clean up a spill. Today’s entry follows along those same inanimate lines.

One day, I happened to be looking out my rear sliding glass door at the house bordering our back yard. I noticed that the paint on that house looked worn and faded and uneven.

We had just had our house repainted. I put the two together and came up with the first line of today’s entry, from which the rest quickly followed. I hope you like it.

The Old House

The old house is faded, it could use some new paint
The lawn ain’t been mowed in a week or more
If somebody comes to deliver a package
It takes a while to answer the door

They lived in this house for forty-five years
Today, they are saying goodbye
One will move on; the other is gone
Got wings and learned how to fly

REFRAIN
Now, she’ll see all the places that they never went
He’ll sit and remember the things they have done
Though the future’s unknown
There’s a date carved in stone
When together, again they’ll be one

The old house is silent, a “For Sale” sign out front
The memories all boxed up and put away
He sits and he stares out the window and wonders
Just how he’ll get through another day

They knew it was coming, but he wasn’t prepared
Now doesn’t know what he will do
Her journey done, now there’s only one
Where once there used to be two

REFRAIN

The old house is faded, it could use some new paint
The lawn ain’t been mowed in a week or more

© 2019 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.